Tag Archives: Swallow Nestlings

Born too late

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.

Barn Swallow Nestlings

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.

The Swallows are back!

Well I think that we have a second brood. They are too small to stick their heads out yet and I can not see inside the nest but I think that there are newly hatched chicks there.

Here is Mama sitting on the nest She is just being beautiful.

The rest of this post might seem a bit gross if you haven’t had your breakfast yet.

Here is a ten second video illustrating one of the responsibilities of raising a brood, namely removing the droppings from the nest. The young birds in this video are the first brood and at this point they haven’t fledged and are nest bound.

So that is what you have to do.

I set the camera up yesterday hoping to see the parent birds removing droppings from the nest, I didn’t expect to see any more than that. Instead I got this..The male bird appears to swallow something white.

I think that amounts to the same thing he is cleaning the nest and there are newly hatched chicks in there. 🙂

We  shall be watching them grow and then sadly we shall have to watch them fly off to Africa…

But not for a bit.

Glued to the Nest

Sorry to have been away from the blogosphere for so long but I have been doing important nature observation work. I have been watching these bloomin’ Swallows for two days hoping to catch the first flight and despite all the video evidence to suggest that it is about to happen it hasn’t.

At eight thirty this evening we still have five little Swallows in the nest.

If one of them would just slip off the nest even just for a second then I would be happy to call that a flight and get on with other business but it looks like I shall be back on the nest in the morning.

Swallow Update 06.06

It is hard to believe how quickly these birds have grown. I think that they might fledge tomorrow. Tonight we still have five nestlings. I shall do my very best to catch at least one of them take it’s first flight.

I have been so  lucky to have been able to watch this.

Three videos for you tonight but they are not very long. They are proper little birds now.

Rainy Day Swallows

It rained heavily and constantly all day yesterday. I had to have a look and see how the Swallows were doing. I have let this video run for one minute, I could have given you twenty minutes just the same. They can’t feed in these conditions.Just turn the volume up and listen to the rain.

Swallow nestlings can live off their body fat for a few days of bad weather and survival rates are very good, the parents don’t need much of a break to be out hunting and they do get some food in the rain just not much. This morning the sky is clear and blue, they will soon fill those little tummies.

Swallow Update: 02.06

This is another five minute video. You have been warned. You get to see quite a lot of the nestlings as they are outgrowing the nest quite quickly. The video wouldn’t be so long but I didn’t want to move the tripod in case Treacle fell off, plus I like this kind of thing. Best watched full screen.

Eyes Wide Open

This is just going to be a quick Swallow update.

I was a bit concerned about them last night, they seemed very subdued. At one point mum came and sat on the nest with them for a good five minutes and didn’t seem interested in feeding them at all. Now I think she was maybe just putting them down for the night as mums sometimes do with little ones.

I have watched through a lot of video and we still have five healthy little Swallows and their eyes are all open now.

The nest is beginning to look quite crowded.


I think that I better warn you that this video runs for five and a half minutes.

I made it for me because I wanted to observe the frequency of feeds and what happens in the nest when mum and dad are away.

Yesterday I had to wait twenty minutes between feeds but it was raining they are much more frequent today. I counted thirteen feeds in five and a half minutes.

If you just want to skip to the best bit well, at 2:55 you can see first the adult female and then the male come in to feed the starvelings. The difference between the sexes is in the length of their tail feathers (streamers) The male’s are much longer.