Rosa has been acting strangely and I was concerned so this morning I set out my camera to watch her.
For new readers, Rosa and Fred are Barn Swallows. There are lots of swallows around the farm but these two occupied a nest just outside of my front door and I have been watching them all summer.
They raised their first brood very successfully and that was well documented on this blog. You can see them fledging in the “Destiny” post on the sidebar.
Their second brood died. I don’t know why but Rosa started crying. There is a call that she makes that is unlike the normal happy chirrup. I first heard it when the first brood were fledging and she tried to encourage them out of the nest. It is how a Barn Swallow calls for her young. At first it was a joyful sound as she encouraged her brood to flight but when she lost her second brood she called for them constantly.
A couple of days after she started crying I found two dead babies under the nest they had been thrown out. She kept crying and they built a new nest just opposite the old one after about a week it became obvious from the smell that there were still dead chicks in the old nest.
She cried for about two weeks and then she stopped. She lost the second brood a month ago. For the last two weeks she has been sitting on the nest. I could pretty much guess what she was up to but told myself no it wasn’t possible.
This morning I had to set the camera up and check. I wanted to see if the other birds were feeding her. It is worse than that.
So why is such a joyful and happy event as a new brood such bad news? Because it is too late for them. There is no time for them to build the strength that they will need for the flight to Africa.
If they had been fledged a month ago they would have struggled, the second brood always do but hatching now they don’t really stand much chance. They have to cross the Sahara Desert.
I think that Rosa and Fred will be all right. Swallows don’t put on much weight prior to migration, they feed on the way so the distraction of a new brood to feed won’t do them much harm and they are happy again. Anyway she was pretty determined about what she wanted and maybe the young ones will get lucky.
It is good to see them happy today and today is all that anyone can really ask for.