Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Baby barn swallows


Juvenile Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica

It's that time of year, when baby barn swallows are out of the nest and zooming around with the adults, catching bugs and generally having fun. Looks that way, anyhow.

It was a good year for them here. I counted 60 on the wires near the pond. I haven't figured out where they nest -- maybe in the neighbor's actual barn. But they definitely like to spend their days here after the babies have fledged.



At first I thought they were begging, but then realized it must have been the gular fluttering that Swamp Things told me about a while back.



Sadly, most of the Google searches concerning Barn swallows that the blog receives are along the lines of "how to get rid of barn swallows". I can't help but wonder why you'd want to! I guess they can be messy if they're nesting over your front door, but...

1) They're not going to be there that long. Eggs hatch in about 14 days and the young fledge about 3 weeks after that. When they're gone from the nest, you can tear it down and put a rubber snake in its place if you don't want them to return the next year.

2) They eat bugs! Lots and lots of bugs!

3) Watching them fly around, swooping and diving in search of insects, is a sure-fire natural blood pressure medicine.

31 comments:

Faith said...

That first picture is one of the best bird pictures I've ever seen! :o)

meresy_g said...

We have lots of barn swallows too, but I think they live in the barns around us. They swoop over the cornfields in the early evening. My husband has been divebombed several times if he gets close to the field with the riding mower. It does look they are having fun.

robin andrea said...

I can't believe how little that baby swallow is. Wow. It looks so young. What great photographs.

Our yard is full of Tree Swallows and Violet green swallows. The VGs are just now starting to fledge. It's been great fun watching the parents coax the babies from the nestbox. They fly to the opening and then fly away without giving them food. That really brings the little ones out!

mon@rch said...

awww, they are soo cute! I think our BARN's are just about to leave the nest! Go eat many bugs young swallows!

Floridacracker said...

I bet they love dipping your ponds.

farm mom said...

We have a pair that nests in the covered space between our barn and silo year after year. I wish we had more pairs living here, I love watching them swoop around the yard. (In fact, my 3 year old calls them "swoopers".) They really enjoy following and circling me as I mow the lawn. They enjoy the bug life I'm stirring up. Love your blog!

Ericka said...

i love barn swallows. they nested in the neighbor's barn when i was growing up and used to swoop around in front of the mower, catching bugs disturbed by the noise. then my neighbor sided his barn and closed up all their entry holes (after nesting season was over) and they were much scarser for several years. then the crazy drunken trash neighbors hit the barn (and several important structural beams) in a car at 90+ mph and knocked it slightly askew. i fear for the future of the barn, but the swallows are back in the old homestead.

very cool picts! thanks, as ever, for sharing.

Ava said...

Great pictures! My fiance has a nest on his side porch of the house out on the farm. They were so cute to see growing up and getting ready to leave the nest.

Anne-Marie said...

We watch birds almost every morning at daily coffee and you are so right! It's a total stress reliever. We don't have any swallows though. Great photos!

cyndy said...

Beautiful fledglings! Just think, that they are the ones that will be back to raise their own babies next year! Glad to hear they had such good numbers- we have the tree swallows in my neck of the wood.

Sarah said...

Goodness, I can't imagine wanting to get rid of barn swallows, for all the reasons you noted. I'll take a little extra bird poop over tons of flies any day!

Wonderful pictures of the sweet little youngsters.

Rurality said...

Thanks everybody. That first picture proves that it IS possible to get an in-focus shot with my digiscoping set-up, but that it's just me causing all the other fuzzy photos. In other words, I got lucky!

lisa said...

I love these birds, too! Their interaction with each other is amazing, and very fun to watch. When I used to lifeguard at Potato Creek State Park in Indiana, we had them flying near the lifeguard chairs all the time. One day, I watched two of them playing catch with a piece of tinfoil! One bird flew high and dropped it, then another flew below and caught it! I'm sure they were smart enough not to eat it, they just used it as a toy.

Chris said...

My first brood of 5 just left the nest for good. However, I think the parents are getting ready for round two! I hope so, then I might have to rush out and get a webcam so I can have Barn Swallow Cam!

Anonymous said...

We have two barn swallow nests, one in a corner of the front porch and the other in our barn.

All three of the babes in the barn have fledged although they return to the beams in the barn at night along with mom and dad. It was so funny yesterday when all were returning to the barn. Two of the little ones kept landing on our Shetland pony's neck as she dozed in the doorway, planning I guess to roost in her mane overnight. Our old pony kept glancing back at them dubiously but didn't attempt to dislodge her little riders. The parent birds eventually led their offspring away from their host and into the barn.

Two of the four babies in the porch nest spent today making short flights and returning to the nest. I think tomorrow all 4 may be gone.

We started out with 4 little swallows in the barn and 5 babies on the porch, but had two fatalities. One fell or was pushed from the barn nest early on, and another fell victim to our cat while it was learning to fly yesterday. (I've been keeping her in during the day since then.) I think odds look good for the remaining 7 barn swallow-ettes to survive. I hope they all live to adulthood. I just love to watch them flitting and diving about through the air eating bugs!

(The front porch will need a good scrubbing this fall!)

Marci in Vermont

Marie said...

hey my little sister was over at the neighbours watering the horses and lone behold she found one in the water it cant fly yet but is fully feathered and has been hanging around for hours also its increadibly friendly how often does this little guy need to eat and its striktly bugs it eats?

Anonymous said...

Please help! We have 5 babies in the nest. One keeps ending up on the ground and we keep putting it back. Is the mother throwing it out or should we continue to keep returning it to the nest? It does look a little smaller than the other 4 in the nest. Please respond soon! Thanks.

Rurality said...

Marie, sorry I didn't see your comment until now but I suspect you made it a lot earlier. But I don't really know the answers - you should contact the nearest wildlife rescue.

Anonymous, I would guess that it's the nestmates nudging the runt out, rather than the parents. It does not hurt to keep returning it, but if you've got a local wilflife rescue organization, it may do better there.

For reference, the Alabama wildlife rescue is here at http://www.awrc.org . The number for the wildlife hotline here is (205)621-3333.

Anonymous said...

I live in San Antonio, Texas, and have a barn swallow nest above my front door.

I came home from work yesterday, and found not one, but all four of the chicks on the ground. All but one were dead.

I got a ladder and put the livng one back in the nest. I used gloves when handling the chick.
This morning, it too, was on the ground - dead.

At first, I thought a predator had attacked the nest. However, I now think the adults threw them out. Can anyone explain why this would occur? Thanks.

Daniel

Anonymous said...

can you buy or keep a barn swallow as a pet? I'm in love with swallows.I have swallow tattoos.ha, I know they are a social bird and that they spend like 90% of their life in flight..I was just curious

Rurality said...

Daniel, I've read that unmated male barn swallows will sometimes visit nests of other birds and throw out the fledglings.

Anon, no you can't legally keep them as pets, sorry!

Anonymous said...

I had a nest of barn swallows and I was excited. I had them nest there last year and enjoyed watching the babies grow. However, this year the nesting pair are really aggressive. I am not able to walk out my patio door without getting attacked. I'm more worried about them then me but if they get tangled in my hair it could be a problem for both of us. The babies are grown and have left the nest today. I'm hoping they find a different home. I put out bird houses but they prefer to nest by the vent on the patio. I'm not sure why this years' swallows are so aggressive?

Anonymous said...

We have four babies living right on our back patio. Every year the babies die when they fall out of their nest. It makes me cry since I name them and all. Well we started realizing when it gets real hot outside the babies climb to the edge trying to get some air and they fall out. This year we have been catching them before its to late and we put them back in the nest. Then when it gets real hot and they start panting we mist them with a spray bottle and they love it and catch the water in their mouths. There are babies now. We'll be sad when they leave but hope they stick around. Every morning I have coffee with them and when I come out the door they climb on the edge of the nest and chirp like crazy. I'll miss them:(

Anonymous said...

We just had 5 babies fly off after 3 weeks in the nest. Last weekend we noticed some new activity, and there were 2 new swallows cleaning up the old nest and adding another 1" of mud and grass.

Climbed up on the ladder a couple of days ago and noticed 4 eggs.

Sadly, today, we found one of the adults had died on the back porch.

Wondering if the 1 remaining parent can support feeding 4 babies when they hatch? Very sad either way...

Terri from Texas Hill Country said...

A couple made a nest on my front porch last spring ('08) They raised one group of four and then a few weeks later had another set. In the second set, one of the babies didn't look well. A week later there were only three in the nest. I could not find it anywhere. I would not let my husband take the nest down. I just scrubbed the porch and let life gone on. Last week--a new set of parents arrived. One is on the nest, but here in the Texas Hill Country, we can have some cool mornings. Before I leave for work, I check on them. On a cool morning both will be on the nest. I enjoyed watching them last year. They dive down into my swimming pool and drink even when I am in there floating. I think they just like to watch me duck my head. ;o)

cityplume said...

HELP! I live in the city of Paris in a 10 story apartment building. The other day I found a baby swallow on the ground in the cement-covered courtyard. It has all its feathers although still some baby fluff. There are no trees in the courtyard although a few on the street side of the building. I took it in before the neighbors' cat made its evening stroll. I set up a little nest in a shoebox in the bathtub. It's been there 3 days now and doesn't seem to know how to fly. It waddles around the tub and tries to make an effort but doesn't seem to be able to take off. I have placed it near the window to see if it might fly off from there. (I'm on the second floor). There are lots of swallows in the mornings and evenings here. I brought it to a vet who said there was nothing wrong with its wings and that it wasn't ill. What do I do? Not too many mosquitos and moths here so one day it ate some diced apple dipped in water and I am giving it a vitamin supplement the vet recommended. What can I do? Do I bring it to a nearby park and put it in a tree or try to find its parents? THANKS FOR ANY AND ALL ADVICE. And many thanks for this lovely website.

Fauna said...

VERY SAD...Colorado 7/17/10. I was so thrilled when our swallows built a nest under our porch but my husband wasn't and wanted it down...he agreed to let them be if they already had eggs which they did. I thought I saw 4 hatched but then found one dead several feet away...still no idea how it got so far as they are only about 10 days old. Tonight another baby fell out of its nest and died on the porch. I am now crying and don't understand why they are falling out. Don't know if I can take much more death. Are you suppose to keep the nest up after they leave or do you knock it down so they can build new ones next year?

bdangr said...

Well, I have to use the back door now because Momma and Poppa Swallow built a Nest near the Front Door and 2 Feet over my Head. I have some pictures and will put them up tomorrow. I think that they may have a Week or so before leaving the Nest. I really haven't looked at which Swallow they are.

Anonymous said...

i can believe why people would want to get rid of them!!!! i cant even go into my front lawn without being disturbed because those pests fly around my head and make scary noises uncontrollably. they get an inch away from my face and that scares the living daylights out of me. I normally wouldn't say this, i mean i love animals!! but these birds are just annoying, scary, and they take up my front yard!

Janie said...

I found a baby barn swallow by my front door yesterday when I went to go get the mail. A nest is right above my door and has been there for a couple of years. Anyway, I was worried but when I came back to go back in the house, it flew away a few steps. Tonight I went to check on it and its' huddled up on a different part of my porch. I heard you can't touch them because the parents will reject them, but we're having 105-110 degree temperatures here in oklahoma city. I don't know what to do; should I mist it to maybe cool it down? It's not real young but still not old enough to really take off and fly far away. I just don't want it to suffer.

Anonymous said...

I have a barn swallow nest - this is the second year and it's under my patio cover in the back which we are out there everyday. Last year, I could do anything, look at the nest, I picked them back up when they fell and put them back, talked to them and they had to sets of eggs. They came back again and in the same spot. I know the male is the same because of his habits, but this female is crazy. She scares me and my kids. I cannot walk on my patio without her coming extremely close to me which scares the crap out of me. I have a water slide in my yard and can't even dry it off without her attacking me now. a week ago one of her babies fell out, my dog almost got it, I put it back and she's crazy. They have feathers but I'm not sure what to do with her. She doesn't just swoop me, she comes directly at me, most of the time I can feel the wind on my face as that is how close she gets. Do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of her? I will be taking this nest down after this. I love to watch them, listen to them and watch and talk to the babies, but I can't handle this again. My martins have no issues - just this crazy bird