When I left for work yesterday morning, I was a little worried about Nemo, the aptly named runt of the baby barn swallows living on our patio. He had managed to get out of the nest and was lying on the concrete. I put him back in the nest with the others, but he was having trouble even standing. I hoped he was just “playing dead.” But when I returned that evening, I could tell immediately that he hadn’t survived the day. I don’t know if he was injured from falling out of the nest, or if he was just too small, and mama bird only fed the stronger ones. Either way, I felt horrible. When I removed his body from the nest, the strongest baby – the one that flew into the pond – flew off. His mom followed him, so I hope he was strong enough to survive on his own. The fifth bird was nowhere to be found. After having a proper burial (hey, I even buried my pet fish as a child), we found the missing baby bird laying dead just off the edge of the patio. He must have died a day or two before without us realizing it. The two that remain in the nest are getting stronger and stronger, and I bet they’ll fly off soon. I guess 3 out of 5 is pretty good odds in nature, but I still wish I could have saved them all.
Ok, to try and make a long story short, we’ve “rescued” the baby barn swallows about four times since my previous post. Maybe we should just let nature take its course, but I can’t watch as the babies tumble out of their nest and sit helplessly on our concrete patio, unable to fly. So yesterday evening I made them a nest on the patio with a beach towel, because 4 of the 5 babies were back on the ground. Without Jerod’s help, there was no way I could put them back in their nest.
In an attempt to get the little guys in their new nest, the biggest one took off … toward the pond. I chased after him and watched as he landed right in the middle of the pond – head first. I watched in horror thinking I’d killed this innocent creature, but after many long seconds he started flopping across the water in the opposite direction. He finally made it to a rock just off shore, and I contemplated if I should just leave him be. Then I realized he wouldn’t have a chance without his matured wings or mother. So I walked around the pond and contemplated again what to do. I could use the glove, but if I didn’t get a firm grip he’d jump back in the water. So I reached out and grabbed him in with my bare hand, wrapped him in a small towel, and took him back to my patio and put him in the “nest” with the rest of the birds.
As of this morning, all 4 were still in the new nest, and mama bird had been flying by with pre-digested food for them. They get so excited every time she comes! This photo is much cuter than the one I’d previously taken … so I’m sharing yet another barn swallow photo with you today. And possibly again tomorrow.
Yesterday morning I went outside to water my flowers, and a few seconds later I was frantically waking Jerod up. One of our baby barn swallows had fallen about 12 feet out of its nest onto our concrete patio. Since it wasn’t moving I was sure it didn’t survive, but when I got closer I saw that he was still breathing. So Jerod very willingly crawled out of bed, grabbed some flip-flops, work gloves, and a step-ladder, and we coaxed the baby into his hands to return it to the nest. It took quite a while to figure out how to pick it up and slide it into the nest without harming it, but a few minutes later the mamma bird was back at the nest, and all the babies were chirping away like nothing happened.
This is the second year we’ve had barn swallows make a nest on top of the dryer vent on our patio. A couple of days ago at least two babies hatched. They’re so tiny – their heads are about half the size of a thimble! Can you see the little wisps of hair on the top of its head? (Those white feathers are part of the nest, not the bird.) Every time we venture onto our patio we’re dive-bombed by the overprotective Mom and Dad.