Saturday, May 22, 2010

Helping Hands

For the last three years, Barn Swallows have nested under the peak of our roof. Last week the pair returned from their long winter trip to South America. It was so nice to have them back. I had a few questions and did a web search. The author of What's in My Backyard has compiled lots of good information. I wish I knew who the author was so I could give proper credit.

Life with us for the hasn't been easy. The first year their nest fell before they could even get a brood going. The next year they used the tattered edges of the old nest to build a new one and had a productive summer. Last year they returned, refurbished the nest and had two broods. All five of the chicks in the first one fell to their deaths on our porch roof. Then the nest fell at the end of the second round, but fortunately three of the chicks were ready to fly.

As soon as we knew they were back, Wayne and I decided to give Mother Nature (and our swallows) a helping hand. Barn Swallows are used to building their nests of mud, grass and feathers on vertical walls, but a little ledge doesn't hurt. Wayne installed a small wooden board just below the nest site from last year to give them a building platform.

I decided to try and help chicks that might fall. They say you can put one back in the nest if it survives the fall. I made a padded cushion out of an old sheet and some fiber fill. It will serve two purposes. Barn Swallow nests can be pretty messy. The little guys stick their bums over the edge to relieve themselves. It keeps the nest neat and tidy, but the surface below suffers. In addition to making a softer landing, the pad will keep our porch roof clean. At the end of the season it can go in the trash.

Barn Swallows take about a week or two to complete nest construction. Hopefully by the time we return to the cabin our pair will have set up housekeeping for a summer of fun and sun. -- Margy

8 comments:

  1. Precious little creatures.

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  2. Margy -- I love that you guys have done all this to help. The swallows are really beautiful and I know they really do their part by eating those pesky mosquitos. I love to watch them.

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  3. What a great idea, helping the swallows. They are such cute birds. I wish I saw them in my yard.

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  4. What a great story. The last photo is precious. I am sure your effort will be very helpful.
    I saw a lot of nests at the new visitor's center at Mono Lake last summer. I wonder if they have the same trouble. The chicks seem to get pretty big before they fly.

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  5. We do love watching our swallows. The Tree Swallows in the nesting boxes are more protected so we want to do what we can for the more rustic Barn Swallows. - Margy

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  6. Can't wait to hear how things will turn out for them this summer. I'm sure that with your help they will have many broods.

    Margaret

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  7. So glad that your swallows are back again. They are such fun birds to watch and they seem so inquisitive.

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  8. You guys are such great caretakers! I found your blog through down to earth. Love how you live!

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