The barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) hatchlings in the nest on our deck (Lookout CA) are one week old. All four chicks are still alive and growing fast. Those naked, pink babies now show a definite black color and appear to be all bill. Their eyes are still closed.
Temperatures have been in the high 90s this week. The young barn swallows have their heads draped over the rim of the nest most of the time. I am not certain if that helps them to keep cool, is an attempt to be first in line for feeding or both. Occasionally one of the youngsters flaps its tiny wings. It could be that motion helps the baby swallow position itself better in the crowded nest, helps in cooling – or perhaps it is already exercising in preparation to fledge.
Poor mama and papa fly nonstop to and from the nest all day, bringing insects to their babies. I get tired simply watching them. Unlike some birds, where the oldest or strongest hatchling gets all the food to the detriment of its nestmates, the barn swallow parents appear to feed all their offspring equally. Rather than feed the closest open mouth, the parents will often search in the nest for a baby to feed. Both parents brood the chicks.
The nesting period for barn swallows is 15 to 27 days. I will get to watch these nestlings grow for another one to three weeks before they fledge (leave the nest).