I first noticed the barn swallows circling the yard about 10 days ago – they came and went a bit. Today as I was outside working on the vege garden I noticed 3 Barn Swallows circling the yard looking more serious…

Each year since we bought our house we’ve been delighted by the antics of the Barn Swallows who thought they had as much right to use our porch as we did, having built a number of nests on the very thin ledges above the windows and back door.

Barn Swallow Babies

Barn Swallow Babies

Each year they’ve usually manage to raise 2 broods of chicks, and usually it’s 5 successful chicks in each brood.

Over a Dining Room Window

Over a Dining Room Window

The parents are very dedicated to the task of raising their young, and so spend hours circling the lawn and environs looking for bugs for their young. When I’m mowing the lawn they like to swoop down just in front of the tractor to grab the moths that the tractor disturbs up out of the grass – they are AMAZING flyers as they swoop in for the moth, and make sudden changes of direction to catch the moths.

Barn Swallow Babies

Barn Swallow Babies

A newer camera yields a bit better pictures – this is the June 2006 brood hanging out, very close to being ready to leave the nest. For the first day or two after they leave the nest they return to sleep and rest, but after that they are seen circling the yard, and sitting on the power wires.

After the first couple of years I diligently washed the nests down, but I felt kind of mean about it as next year they’d spend some days making little mud dobs and rebuilding, so for the last few years I’ve left the nests in place, and they come back each year, and choose which of the 3 that are currently up on the side of the house they’re going to use, make a few repairs to it if needed, and then get about their business.

Alas last year wasn’t such a good year – they turned up as usual and were busy inspecting the existing nests and making repairs. We left for a week or so away, and I noticed one bird sitting on the nest, so thought we had another brood going. But a day or two or three later I noticed one of the birds swooping close by the nest, and chattering a lot, with no apparent response from the bird in the nest. So I got the steps and climbed up to have a look – the adult on the nest was dead – no wonder the other one seemed distressed. I removed the corpse, but there was no moore breeding last year.

But they’re back – 3 birds circling the yard today and swooping around the 3 nests still up above windows and the door on our porch – perhaps we’ll have Barn Swallows babies again this year.

  8 Responses to “The Barn Swallows of Casa del Roger and Lisa”

  1. We have had our first nest this year. They built a nest on our back porch. It has been fun watching the process. About 8 days ago the babies flew away but they’ve been returning every night along with both parents. Have you ever seen this? How long will they continue to do this? Thanks for any info you might have.

  2. Hi Kathy

    Our birds didn’t end up nesting on the house this year – they are somewhere nearby as I see them flying around the yard at times.

    The chicks will come back to the nest at night for a few days I recall, and then they’re gone, but they do hang around on the wires around the house and yard after that for a whie too.

    They’re great companions to have around :-)

  3. We had these on our front porch the whole time I was growing up in Calumet county, Wisconsin. They’d build mud nests on the inside edge of the white pillars. My mom tried to discourage them at first by knocking the nests down but they were persistant. I was always amazed at their aerial acrobatics.

    I saw one a few weeks ago here in Texas, I will always recognize them by the flight pattern and they’ll always remind me of my childhood.

    Great pictures!

  4. Yes, their flying is amazing – I was always amazed as I mowed the lawn and so disturbed some type of moth up out of the grass just ahead of my tractor that the birds would swoop in and grab that moth, making whatever adjustments needed to catch it. They rarely missed!!

  5. Hi Roger, We have ‘barn swallows’ for the first time this spring – I watched as they built the nest I’ve never seen these birds and Jeff too one look and said “they are barn swallows” the eat bugs — sounds like a good bird to me! We were gone for about 10 days (cruise to Alaska) and when we came home the swallows were still there — but started ‘dive bombing’ me when ever I went out to sit on the porch or get the mail. The next day I discovered a very small baby bird on the porch Jeff thought it was from the nest — I happened to look out yesterday from the dining room window and noticed there were 3 – 4 babies in the nest. I’m wondering how the one got pushed out. It’s been fun for me to watch the Mama feed the babies, while the papa stands guard when she goes hunting. We do have lots of bird poo on the side of our wall and on the porch floor . . . that part I definately don’t like. You said they typical raise two sets of babies a season, It should be an interesting season!

  6. Hi Candee

    Too bad the baby got pushed out. I’ve not seen that happen here yet. Yes, the dive bombing can be a bit unsettling – I’ve never been injured by them, although they have touched me once or twice as they zoomed by. Yes, the poo is an eyesore – I usually leave it there until they’re done and then clean up – it bleaches the porch boards good where it sits though :-)

  7. I’ve got a rocks on the front of the house, that’s where they found a place to perch and nest, up near the ceiling – so we have an ‘eye-sore’ all the way down to the conccrete floor — I have to admit it is nice to wach each day and see how much they have grown! And I guess in a couple of weeks they will be gone . . . .

  8. I have a brood of Barn Swallows on my front porch this year. It’s the first year I’ve seen them nest on my house. I’ve lived here for 5 years. I absolutely love having them. They nested on top of my outside light fixture. and had 4 babies. Just this past saturday evening when I looked out my kitchen window to see the babies, I saw 2 of the 4 on the ground under the nest. One had died the other flapped his wings a little so I went outside with a step ladder and a pair of rubber gloves. I picked up the baby that lived, climbed the stepladder and gently placed the little fella back in his nest with the other nestlings. The mother and father bird both have been back to the nest to feed and care for them all. And the 3 remaining baby birds seem to be in good health. Made me get that warm fuzzy feeling inside. I honestly didn’t think I’d like having birds living on my front porch but I gotta admit, it’s rather cool to watch them grow and learn about the species.

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