A pair of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) built a nest on our back deck (Lookout CA) exactly where I did not want the nest to be located. Oh, well! Once the nest was completed, the female laid four eggs. Even though the swallows planned to raise their family in an inconvenient place, I was excited about watching the chicks hatch and grow.
When I realized that the eggs would probably hatch while Leonard and I were on a short trip, I was disappointed. I would miss seeing the chicks immediately after they were born. What a surprise and delight when I noticed that the four swallow eggs were hatching just as we prepared to depart. Three of the chicks pecked their way out of their eggs while I was able to watch – literally as Leonard was warming up the car to leave. Fantastic!! Finally I could delay no longer and had to leave with one egg unhatched. I was delighted to see three naked, pink chicks arrive.
Five days later when we returned home, all four barn swallow hatchlings were covered in black down. The final egg hatched and all four babies are now squirming about in the nest. The parents are busy rushing about in an effort to keep four hungry mouths fed. The chicks will remain in the nest for 17 to 27 days before fledging. Even though I missed the first five days of their lives, it will be fun to watch the babies as they grow.
Updates to follow–