An Empty Nest

A young barn swallow on a railing near the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

A young barn swallow on a railing near the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

The last week in July was an exciting time for the young barn swallows. When I checked on them at lunch time on Tuesday, their parents were having a discussion. While the elders chirped at one another, the young Barn Swallows sunk down into the nest.

I looked up at the nest early on Wednesday morning as I left for a run. The young barn swallows were tucked in the nest and waiting on their breakfast. As I walked up the stairs at the end of the run, my throat tightened. The nest was empty! How could they have left without saying goodbye?

I went into my apartment for the camera. As I was photographing the empty nest, the barn swallow Mom flew in and perched on the edge of the nest. She flew away. Then, the barn swallow Dad flew in and rested on the top of a nearby hallway light. I was wondering why the parents would still be around if the young ones were gone. I looked down through the stairs. Three of the four young barn swallows were perched on the railing under the stairs! The entrance hallway was full of energetic chirping and the flapping of wings for the rest of the day. The aunts, the uncles, the cousins, and the older siblings of the young barn swallows came through to help them learn how to fly.

Thursday was much like Wednesday. On Thursday evening, I went down to check on them. I heard the young ones chirping, but they weren’t in the nest or on the railing. Following the noise, I found all four of the young barn swallows resting on a pipe near the ceiling in the hallway behind the nest. I was happy to find out that all four of them had survived the first two days away from the nest. The last time I saw them perched on the pipe was early on Friday morning.

(This is the second part of the barn swallow story. The first part is in the post “Barn Swallows.”)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The young barn swallows in their nest, July 29, 2014.

The young barn swallows in their nest, July 29, 2014.

An adult barn swallow feeding one of the young barn swallows at their nest, July 29, 2014.

An adult barn swallow feeding one of the young barn swallows at their nest, July 29, 2014.

An adult barn swallow at the nest with the young barn swallows, July 29, 2014.

An adult barn swallow at the nest with the young barn swallows, July 29, 2014.

The young barn swallows in their nest, July 29, 2014.

The young barn swallows in their nest, July 29, 2014.

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The Barn Swallow Mom and Dad having a conversation while the young Barn Swallows watch from their nest, July 29, 2014.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The barn swallow Mom on the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

The barn swallow Mom on the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

The barn swallow Dad on a light near the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

The barn swallow Dad on a light near the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

Three young barn swallows on a railing near the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

Three young barn swallows on a railing near the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

Two young barn swallows on a railing near the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

Two young barn swallows on a railing near the empty nest, July 30, 2014.

A young barn swallow on a railing near the empty nest, July 27, 2014.

A young barn swallow on a railing near the empty nest, July 27, 2014.

Three young barn swallows on a railing near the empty nest, July 30, 2014

Three young barn swallows on a railing near the empty nest, July 30, 2014

Young barn swallows in their nest in the evening, July 30, 2014.

Young barn swallows in their nest in the evening, July 30, 2014.

The young Barn Swallows learning to fly, July 30, 2014. This was their first day out of the nest.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Four young barn swallows resting on a pipe near the nest early in the morning, August 1, 2014.

Four young barn swallows resting on a pipe near the nest early in the morning, August 1, 2014.

I still see barn swallows flying overhead or through the building hallways. I miss the young ones. I am happy that I was able to watch them grow up for a little while. They will start their long flight south soon.

Take care and thanks for reading.

Sarah

About Sarah

nature, outdoor, and health enthusiast, book reader, and story teller
This entry was posted in Nature, Video Clips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to An Empty Nest

  1. Shady_Grady says:

    How do you tell the male and female adult barn swallows apart?

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Shady πŸ™‚

      In theory, the male adult barn swallow has brighter colored feathers than the female. The male stands guard over the nest. I didn’t see much of a difference in the color patterns of the feathers of the two adult birds. I did noticed that the larger one was the one that I saw standing guard either on top of one of the hallway lights or on the pipe that was opposite the nest. If you look at the pictures of the two adults together, you can see that the one on the top of the light is slightly larger. Sometimes, the female would perch on the top of one of the lights. Generally, she wouldn’t stay there very long and it would be as part of her trip in and out to feed the young ones. Now, they are out flying around. In flight, it is hard to tell one from another. The young ones have a different shape. They are more rounded and their tails aren’t divided as much as the adults. It is hard to see in the pictures and the video from the Saturday morning in the park, but at least a few of the ones sitting on the branches of the plant were young ones. Near the end of the video, an adult flies in and feeds the young one at the top of the plant. The photos and videos from the park were at the edge of my camera’s range. I was standing on the opposite side of a small creek joining the pond with the marshy area.

  2. I’ve not seen so many swallows this summer so hope all goes well for your swallow family and how lucky to see them grow.It’s a wonderful record of their life with you and I wonder what happens on their travels.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi πŸ™‚ It was a lot of fun watching them grow and hearing their cheerful chirping outside of my door. πŸ™‚ The male barn swallow liked to perch on the hallway lamp to watch the comings and goings near the nest. I felt like I had a sentry outside my door. I was impressed by how fast the little ones grew. I was sad to see them go, but I know they have more important things to do than keep me company, πŸ™‚ I am not sure when they leave for the winter. The barn swallows spend the winter in Central and South America and have a few thousand miles to fly to get there.

      • Ours fly to Africa. What a wonderful experience. We have had house martins at our flat in Portugal. But not really seen all of the growing going on!

        • Sarah says:

          It is impressive how far they fly for the winter. For a few weeks, they are in a safe nest tucked away in a relatively quiet corner. Then, a few months (or less) later, each day brings a new place to rest for the night. The good thing is that they stick together in family groups and larger flocks. Thankfully, they don’t have to travel the long distance alone. On the first day they flew and the next day, they spent quite a bit of time flying around the entrance hallway. I noticed that some of the birds flying and resting were a size in between the young ones and their parents. I don’t know if they were older siblings or birds from other families. It seemed very quiet the week after they left. I am glad I took the pictures and the videos so I can watch them again. πŸ™‚

  3. Pingback: An Early Winter | A Wildflower's Melody

  4. Pingback: Barn Swallows | A Wildflower's Melody

  5. Pingback: Building A Nest | A Wildflower's Melody

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