Bonding with the Barn Swallows
Photos and text © 2014 Adele Wilson
Bonding with the Barn Swallows consists of 186 pages and includes 117 photos. The book is available from Amazon at:
Once the female chooses a mate, her mate will show her either a previously used nest or a new nesting site. If the female approves of the location, the pair will begin to either refurbish the old nest or, if no old nest is available, to build a nest from scratch.
A female Barn Swallow generally lays three to six eggs, with the average number being five. She begins incubating her eggs on the day before the last egg is laid and continues incubating them for about thirteen to fifteen days.
The male will take turns sitting on the eggs during the daytime so that the female can forage for flying insects. The female will return to the nest when she has had her fill, allowing the male to leave the nest and do the same. Just before sunset, the female will settle into the nest for the night.
Barn Swallows are very devoted parents. The papa Barn Swallow shares the duty of feeding the nestlings. It is not unusual for the parent swallows, one at a time, to arrive at the nest with food every few minutes.
By the time a chick is sixteen to seventeen days old, it has acquired much of its juvenile plumage. Chicks can fledge (leave the nest) at the age of eighteen days or wait as long as twenty-three days. Nineteen days is the average fledging age that I have observed.
But later that evening, there was a great surprise. Two of the fledglings returned to the nest and spent the night! Early the next morning, however, the two fledglings left the nest for good. As I was leaving for work that morning, I spotted all five of the fledglings on a fence in a nearby horse pasture, awaiting feeding by their parents.
In Bonding with the Barn Swallows, I share my personal experiences with three broods of Barn Swallows on my porch through text and photos. The book describes the wonders of seeing them guard the nest area from the utility wire, the male guarding his mate (from quite unusual positions on the porch!), marking the nest with a feather, incubating the eggs, feeding the babies, and even taking breaks to land on the porch rail to let me photograph them!
If you are interested in close-up perspectives of bird behavior or just want to learn more about birds, this is the book for you!
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