Brenda’s Barn Buddy
A few days ago I came across a little ball of feathers in the dirt on the floor of our barn. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was a baby swallow that had fallen out of the nest that's tucked high up under one of the barn eaves. I scooped the little guy up and his eyes were squinted shut and he was barely breathing. I held him for a few minutes while I debated about what to do with him. When I came to the conclusion that there wasn't anyway to return him to his nest, I decided to just let nature take it's course and knelt down to put him back on the ground.
I set the little fluff ball down three times and each time he flapped his little wings and climbed right back into my hands. My protective motherly instincts kicked in and I decided that if he still had a little fight left in him then I would try to help him survive. Since I didn't want him to get stomped, trampled or eaten I had to find a safe spot for him high off the ground and make sure it was a place where his mom and dad could still get to him and feed him. It turns out that the large open area above our tack room is a perfect fledgling nursery!
Last night I spotted Junior perched on the edge of the tack room roof watching me clean horse stalls last night. Both of his parents have obviously been feeding him as he's plumper now and singing and the rest of his feathers are starting to grow in. His brothers and sisters are all out of the nest so I'm not sure if he just hatched late or was the runt but he seems to be thriving now. Keeping my fingers crossed that he'll soon be starting flying lessons with his parents, but for now I don't mind having a little barn buddy.
Interesting facts I've discovered since swallows have taken up residence in our barn:
*They used to live in caves but actually prefer to build their mud and grass nests in barns and other man made structures.
*Whole families care for newly hatched chicks. Mom and dad and the older batches of chicks all help feed the youngsters.
*Swallows in Idaho migrate here in the summer from South America. We like to think our swallows winter in Cabo San Lucas.
*Life spans can be anywhere from 8 -11 years.
*Great hunters! Swallows can catch and eat mosquitoes in mid air. They also don't mind eating barn flies. They are such skilled fliers that sometimes they only have about an inch or so between their bodies and the ground when they are darting about.