First Brood

Five Fledglings

Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) love to build their nests under the eaves of our house near Lookout CA (Modoc County). I particularly enjoy watching the yearly nest outside my kitchen window. Between the mud used to build the nest and the birds’ droppings, the area can become quite messy. But since barn swallows eat flying insects, I rationalize that the inconvenience of cleaning the porch is balanced by a decrease in wasps, flies and yellowjackets.

These five young birds from the first “kitchen” brood fledged yesterday. Most years the barn swallow parents work nonstop to feed their growing family. This year I noticed four birds, in addition to the parents, feeding the babies. Barn swallow pairs often receive help from other birds to feed their young. Usually the “helpers” are older siblings from previous clutches, however, unrelated juveniles will also help. With six barn swallows flying to and from the nest all day, there was plenty of activity to entertain me as I cooked.

Temperatures get very hot under the eaves during the summer. Often the second clutch of eggs will not hatch or the chicks will die in the nest because of the heat. We had a short hot spell a week ago and these nestlings were obviously in distress, panting while hanging over the edge of the nest. Thankfully all survived. Temperatures are much cooler now and the parents are readying the nest for a second brood. I hope it does not get extremely hot again and kill the second brood. Mother Nature will take her course.

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