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The birds out back are providing hours of interest from our six cats. In this photo, our cat “Chip” is intently watching the barn swallow on the nest outside the window. It’s a good thing that these cats of ours are indoor-only cats, good for the birds and little critters, that is.
 
 
 

I noticed a third barn swallow around the back patio a few days ago. So, knowing that swallows live in colonies, I put up four additional shelves 3 days ago. Ever since, the swallow pair has been roosting over-night on the new shelf seen on the left of the left photo below. But, I haven’t seen the third swallow again during the last 3 days.

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Today marks one month that the barn swallows have been working on their nest. So far, I have not seen them spend the night here at the nest. I have no idea where they are spending their nights.  They have spent more than one rain storm huddled up around or in the nest but have not yet spent the night.  I have seen the female sitting in the nest for a while the last two days, so I was thinking maybe there was an egg there.  But, they are gone again this evening, so I guess there’s no egg in the nest.

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My research led me to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web site. Here I found, “They usually raise two broods of chicks each summer. Both birds of a pair make the nest. They build the shell of mud, and line it with grass and feathers. The female lays 3 to 7 eggs (average 5). Both parents incubate the eggs, which hatch in 13 to 15 days… The nestlings remain in the nest for about 20 days before fledging… The parents continue to care for the chicks for up to a week after fledging, feeding them and leading them back to the nest to sleep. By two weeks after fledging, the barn swallow chicks have dispersed and often travel widely to other barn swallow colonies. Young barn swallows are able to breed in the first breeding season after they have hatched.”

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Male Barn Swallow 1
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Male Barn Swallow 2

 

Two Days ago (May 4th) and again today I saw both birds in the nest, one on top of the other one, mating. So hopefully, there will be some eggs in the nest before long. I’ll have to do some research to see how long it takes for their eggs to hatch.

The barn swallows are still working on building their nest; well one of them is. While the one is busy building the nest the other seems to be on lookout for danger, so he can signal the other to get out of there if trouble arrives. Their nest building schedule is: 2-5 min. working on the nest, then about 25 min. away. I find it interesting that they don’t spend the night here. They leave just before sundown and come back in the morning.

Since they are not using the original nesting perch I built, I took it down and replaced it with a shelf consisting of two pieces of 1×4 which you can see below.

I thought I would provide them some food. While I was at Walmart the other day I saw this small bag of canary and finch seed fortified with vitamins and minerals. I purchase it and sprinkled it on the shelf. I saw one of the swallows pecking at the seed, so I guess, the seed is OK for them.

The round item next to the bird seed in the photo is a bottle cap containing crushed chicken egg shells. I read that the crushed shells would be good to provide to the swallows. But, when I placed the cap with shells on the shelf, the swallows seemed to be afraid of it, so I took it down.

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Another day in the swallows nest building. They seem to be getting use to me being around. Today I was able to get closer to them without them flying away. Because they let me get closer, I was able to get the best photos of them so far.

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Female on Nest
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Female and Male

 

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Well the swallow couple who was here yesterday, is back today busy building their nest in the cup type nest that I put up. In doing more research, I found that all the swallows need is ledge to build their nest on. It may be too late for this season, but I plan on putting up a series of ledges for other swallows to use in the future.

 

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Another pair of barn swallows is checking out the nests I built. This pair has spent more time here looking things over than other birds. This is the first time I’ve seen any birds checking out the cup nest I made out of hardware cloth and sheetrock compound.

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I’m seeing a few swallows every day swoop in under my overhang over the back patio. Still none have fancied my perch/nests enough to take up residence. I’m thinking now that I may need just some plain shelves up near the ceiling of the overhang for the swallows to build nests on. That will be my next project.

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