I have a tragic story, I have been watching a pair of tree swallows, build a nest in a nest box, with the male bird watching over the female from a distance while she prepared the nest.

They mated and I saw that too, she laid her eggs, and it had been so cold and rainy all month, I thought she will never get them hatched, but one day I could hear them all chirping in the nest box, and saw both parents coming and going with the chore of feeding the little ones.

Well this morning I couldn't see or hear them and I walked over near the nest box, sadly to see one little body on the ground and looks like adult feathers there too.

So I would say that the raccoon reached into the box and took them out in the nite.  The top of the box he couldn't open, nor the door as we nailed it shut.

We should have put up a nest box guard so this would not have happened.

Do you think I should move the box to another site and put up a guard on the tree below.

Do you think another pair would nest at this time of year?  Or is it too late now.

So please let me know what you think.

Thank you


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Sad story Barbara... a baffle/guard would be a good idea.

So sorry to hear this, Barb. We have a pair of Tree Swallows nesting in a box on a small post just just about 50 feet from our living room window and we've gotten very attached to these birds and really enjoy watching their comings and goings every day. The young should be fledging any day now.

It is probably too late now for Tree Swallows to start nesting but I believe Eastern Bluebirds are known to nest this late so you can always hope that they will find the box. Don't forget to clean the box of it's contents. Perhaps you could place the box on a small post or metal pole and put it in the open with a baffle attached to keep raccoons and squirrels out. Hopefully things will work out better next year.

Thank you Stuart, yes I was attached too and I miss them dearly.  Yes you are right, I have a new site in mind and I will put up a baffle next time.  We have a large field that they loved.  

I enjoyed them so much and their flying expertise. was so nice to watch.  I thing that maybe they were sleeping in the box and the raccoon surprised them, I think the parents tried to protect the babies and got killed too, I see some larger feathers on the ground.

Yes I cleaned the box out, but I haven't moved it yet as I can't get the screws out, but my husband probably can.

I wonder about the baffle is it a piece of sheet metel wrapped around the tree below the nest box?

Thank you again for your reply.


Hi Barb. You could wrap a large sheet of sheet metal around the tree trunk but that isn't really fair to the tree (unless it's a dead tree) that may depend on some mammal activity (esp. squirrels) as part of their natural rhythym. I think the Tree Swallows would prefer a box on a post/pole out in the open and it is easy to install a baffle to keep raccoons from getting to the box. These baffles can be purchased commercially or it is easy to construct one from a two foot section of stove pipe or even an inverted plastic bucket. Here are links to a couple of websites which show you how to make them:



Good luck, Barb. I hope you have a successful nesting next year. I believe our Tree Swallows fledged successfully today!

We did have a pair of nesting tree swallows who were successful with their brood.  It was great to see them coming and going. 


We put alum on the poles for each of the nest box. However, there other predators, e.g. hawks, cowbirds, crows, starlings.

Each year we have a different experience but of course the happiest one is when the adults and young successfully fly south about July, at the end of the season.  One year, a starling got into the nest box and destroyed the eggs. The tree swallows were screaming so I went out to assist, even banging on the outside of the nest box did not deter the starling. The good news was that the tree swallows went to the back garden where an empty nest box was and laid more eggs - and had success in rising their young. That is the good news. In short, adjust to the situation but do not let the bad experiences deter you. We have encouraged tree swallows for about 8 years and last year I had a tranquil moment when one tree swallow came to rest at my feet to greet me at the beginning of the season - a real trusting moment!  We are expecting them in two days time. Crushed egg shells have been put out for them, nesting material is on the lawn, etc. etc. 

Wishing you a successful season 2018.



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