Over the past 72 hours I have only been able to locate 3 GOSW pairs throughout the bauxite mine region of Aceitillar in the Sierra de Bahoruco. The birds appear to be just beginning the nesting season. There are frequent ‘scouting’ flights around potential cavities in the rock walls of the mines, but I have not viewed a single bird flying or entering a cavity with nesting material.
Here is a map of the areas I have scanned for GOSW.
I’ve been told that the rains have just started for the season. There was a brief but intense shower the night before I arrived. As I’m sitting and taking video and sound recordings, I do notice a variety of insects taking advantage of some of the smaller blooming bushes around me. I have yet to find standing water except for a large pothole or two in the main road nearby. The ground is dry and dusty.
After revising the 20 nest-boxes that Grupo Jaragua and I erected last July, I did find one that had a nest attempt inside. It is difficult to tell the ‘age’ of the nest, and so I am unsure as to whether or not it is from this year or last. The nest is messy, but fairly complete with pine needles and lichen. It does lack a noticeable cup. This box and nest are located in the most distant (C) bauxite mine, and after 30 minutes of observation, I never heard nor saw a swallow. This leads me to think that the pair built this nest sometime earlier this spring and have moved on for unknown reasons (perhaps lack of food?). I will revisit the nest again tomorrow to check for signs of activity.
GOSW pairs are responding aggressively to decoys and playback placed on and within some of the artificial nest-boxes we have erected. They do not appear as interested in the fact that another pair of swallows is using a wooden nest-box cavity as they do in the basic fact that there is another pair of GOSW in the area competing for resources. I’ve managed to capture most of the interactions on video. After the decoys and playback are removed from the nest-box, the hostile behavior continues for upwards of another minute and then ends. The GOSW pairs return to their normal activity without any other interest in the nest-box. All three GOSW pairs already seem to be committed to a natural cavity in the walls of the bauxite mine, yet none of them are actively lining the nest with needles or lichen at this point. The following is a screen shot from a video taken of a swallow attacking two decoys attached to the nest-box. Congratulations and thank you to Silvia Struve for her excellent work designing the decoys. The attacking GOSW (streaking by in flight) is outlined in a transparent yellow circle.