This is going to be a long post. If you like reading my bird stories, sit back and enjoy. We’ve had more adventures than usual with the season’s first brood of baby swallows.
Helping raise birds isn’t always easy (as I found out last year, when I played surrogate mommy to the baby who fell out of the nest). This year I’m a little more experienced and knowledgeable about them – which is a good thing because this would have been a challenge otherwise.
We have five baby swallows in this brood and the nest quickly got too crowded. One night we noticed that one of them had found its way out onto the ledge. We kept an eye on him and sure enough, he ended up falling off. We had placed a blanket under the nest just in case, after that experience last year with the one who fell out.
Knowing a bit more about it this year (having learned that it’s a myth that the parents will abandon them if you handle them), I scooped him up and put him back in the nest. Boy, did the mom and dad birds get excited. They started flying ‘round and ‘round and within two minutes, there were at least twenty swallows there, all flying in circles while I was putting him back in. But after I backed off, the mom bird came back to the nest and starting feeding them again, including the wayward one.
The second time he fell out, I got some cardboard and tacked it to the ledge, creating a small "edge" to hold him back. That worked for a while, but after managing to stay up there for two whole days, the baby worked his way past the cardboard across the ledge and was down on the blanket again a couple of mornings later. So I got to put him back up again and crossed my fingers.
Didn’t work. Next time there were two of them on the ground. But the adult birds were getting used to the routine. They weren’t raising nearly such a fuss when I went out to put them back up now.
No falling for a couple of days, but our "wild child" started inching his way across the ledge again. When he got about eight or ten feet from the nest, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was afraid the mom might lose track of him and stop feeding him. So I got the ladder, got up there and grabbed him and put him back at the nest, and this time I bent a piece of very thick corrugated cardboard to wedge it in and create a barrier so he couldn’t go more than about two feet from the nest.
I fully expected him to fall off when he got over there to the barrier, and he did, one last time. This time when I got close to the French door that goes out to the balcony where the nest is, the adult birds started flying from me to the baby on the ground and back, as though they were telling me to please pick him up and put him back. Of course, I obliged. I also extended the cardboard edge almost (but not quite) to the barrier. I left room for the mom bird to land and get in.
That seemed to do the trick, as my little loner rejoined his siblings in the nest, and now we can’t tell them apart. As your reward for reading this far, here’s a photo of all five, mouths open and ready to be fed.
Five open mouths