Friday, May 18, 2007

barn swallow mourning

Those poor swallows! Every year it's something, it's like they have a dark cloud over their heads. There is a pair of swallows (probably not the SAME pair every year, but related maybe?) that has nested outside the front door for ten years. The very first year they started nesting as soon as they migrated in (mid March) and raised three broods of 4 babies. Every year they seem to get a later start, including one year of not raising anything, not even nesting, just hanging around (marital strife?). Last year the brood got mites and died. Thankfully they did renest and raise three or four (I forget).

I was at the computer this morning when I heard a bunch of wing flapping and squabbling out front. I dashed to the door to catch a glimpse of another bird (sounded like a starling but I can't positively ID it) leaving the nest. I've seen the house sparrows in there stealing nesting material, but this looked more ominous. I pulled a chair out front, grabbed a little mirror, climbed up and looked... Three babies, no more than maybe two days old... no movement. NOOOOOOO.

I grabbed some rubber gloves and stuck my hand in there and pulled them out of the nest. All dead, each with a bloody peck mark to the head. WAAAAHHHHH. I hate that!!! I love the swallows, they are one of my favorite birds.

I just heard more squabbling and looked out to see a male house sparrow on the nest. Would a sparrow kill the babies??? I was thinking it would be something killing them with the intention of eating them.

This is bad, very bad. This means war, I must defend the swallows. :-(


Anonymous said...

I've never heard of such a thing except about Jays, but they would have packed the babies off and eaten them. Starlings always seem too busy flying for miles, catching grasshoppers and things for their babies. Sparrows are opportunistic, but I've never heard of one being aggressive. Makes me want to take this story to Wildlife Care and see what the old pros have to say. I watched the SPBRG live camera today and thought I was watching 3 peregrines duke it out in the skies over SF. It turned out to be flies in front of the camera. So I'm no bird expert. JJ

Anonymous said...

Common house sparrows drove away our nesting swallows several years ago. Kicked the eggs out of the mud nest and brought in straw and such. I would not be surprised if they killed young too. Destructive little buggers.