My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Swallow fledglings

Mom Mom Mom

Barn Swallows saying “me mom, me, me me”

We have many species of Swallows that nest here in Allegany State Park. I have talked about the Tree Swallows in some of my previous post and even posted some pictures of Rough-winged Swallows. I always think of Mary when visiting the Barn Swallow nest and greatly enjoy watching the Cliff Swallows each morning while heading to work. But, soon these birds will be gone and the fledglings will be on their own.

Barn Swallows

Barn Swallow nest

I have already starting seeing some of the earlier nestlings flying around and you can tell they have not mastered flying yet. While out doing my daily walk this week . . . . I  come across a large group of swallows. These birds were all sitting out in the middle of the road doing something very suspicious.

Swallows in the road

Many Swallows out on the road.

With every step closer they would get nervous (a few would fly away) but if I stopped walking they would come back and go back to doing “whatever”. I didn’t have my binoculars with me but I knew they just had to be up to something (like when kids are up to something?). I finally got close enough that all the birds flew away except this one individual.

juv Cliff Swallow

Fledgling Cliff Swallow

Here was this poor little fledgling Cliff Swallow that didn’t fly quickly enough and was clipped by a car. I have to go back to my banding records when asked how old do birds live!! The smaller bird’s life expectancy is anywhere around 2 to 5 years of age. Well . . . . that’s if they survive their first year of life and a more realistic answer would be less than a half of year for most every fledgling. There are so many obstacles these fledglings need to avoid like . . . predators, finding food, windmills, glass buildings, radio towers, weather and just the challenge of migrating south. Here I have this poor little Cliff Swallow who just didn’t take off quick enough before some car moved through the area.

juv Cliff Swallow

Wonderful detail in its Feathers

Nature isn’t always politically correct and I have been questioning myself if I should post this bird or not. I finally decided today that it is important to also discuss death in birds but do note that “I still hate finding birds who made bad decisions”!! This bird is a very beautiful and I greatly love seeing the detail in each feather. Blogging is about sharing and if anything “this birds” legacy will be remembered through this blog posting.

23 responses

  1. Oh, Tom–I was rejoicing in the wonderful little swallows with their open mouths, and then read on to the end of your post. So sad. Yes, life is a cycle: birth, death all part of the same fabric.
    But it is sad to see needless death. Why can’t people slow down, anyway? True–birds should fly off, but how are they to know that people are foolish and speedy?

    5 July 2007 at 10:37 pm

  2. Marg

    Aw poor little cliff swallow baby! So cute too
    sniff, sniff!

    5 July 2007 at 10:38 pm

  3. jimbeau34

    Life is a miracle…

    Thank you for posting and telling this story of the Cliff Swallow….it will live in my heart forever !

    5 July 2007 at 10:39 pm

  4. Life and death…Well, I love the first photo with those bright open mouths! I have hit and killed a robin with my car as it swooped across the roadway. I was not travelling quickly. We put many obstacles in the way of flying creatures.

    5 July 2007 at 11:01 pm

  5. You shouldn’t hesitate posting this at all, it’s nice to see all of nature good and bad, the detail in the feathers is incredible. Thanks for sharing.

    5 July 2007 at 11:08 pm

  6. That first picture should be a Hallmark Card! It can’t get any cuter than that! That’s a shame about the swallow. But it is the survival of the fittest (and fastest.) At least it was probably a quick death.

    6 July 2007 at 1:07 am

  7. Pity about the Cliff Swallow – they’re my favorite swallow. Tough way to learn you need to move faster. I often wonder how many die for other reasons such as on migration. I bet there’s thousands that don’t make it over some of the water stretches and yet we never see them (plenty don’t make it over land!). Only difference with this little guy is we know how he died.

    6 July 2007 at 8:35 am

  8. Love the first two pictures- swallows singing and swallows pouting! I hit a bluejay with my car once and cried. This is a great post yet again.

    6 July 2007 at 8:42 am

  9. That’s about the best shot of gaping mouths ever! Hard to miss THOSE targets!
    Looks like the mom built a really flat nest, though–or am I looking at it wrong? Babies are going to pop right out the top! Oooops!

    6 July 2007 at 10:17 am

  10. I especially love that first shot – baby swallows are so cute!

    Nothing at all wrong with including both ends of the lifecycle, and it’s often instructive looking at deceased animals. Of course getting hit by a car may not be what Nature had in mind to keep Swallows from taking over the world (or maybe it is!).

    Great post!

    6 July 2007 at 11:32 am

  11. @ KGMom – I am sorry and probably wouldn’t have had any readers if I didn’t show the cute ones first! Thanks for commenting!
    @ Marg – I was equally sad.
    @ Jimbeau – thanks and life is a miracle!
    @ Ruth – we call that the luck shot for sure! I never expected that picture to turn out like that! I must admit that I have clipped a few myself!
    @ Bernie – thanks and guess when you write an online journal you need to look at the good and bad sometimes!
    @ Linda – thanks and still not sure how I ended up taking the picture before the female was about to land! Was my first shot and then all others didn’t turn out that good!
    @ Matt – I also wonder about the many young birds that are out their! I place bands on many of them and hope one day to get a return to learn more about them.
    @ Lynne – thanks and sorry about the Blue Jay! I know the feeling!
    @ Nina – thanks and lightings could have been better! I think my ISO setting was 1600 and I lost too much quality for anything but being blogged!
    @ Adam – thanks and they are cute!

    6 July 2007 at 11:43 am

  12. Hey – this is a great article, and the pictures illustrate the dangers that these birds have to endure. People driving too fast often prove deadly for animals of all types, and this sort of picture helps illustrate it.

    BTW, spectacular shots throughout.

    6 July 2007 at 1:07 pm

  13. Mon@rch, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed watching the “me Mom, me, me!” They are so active and messy but I would have them back in a heartbeat. The parents’ devotion was more than some humans give…

    I’m happy you talked about and posted photos of the poor swallow. It reminds us of how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away.

    6 July 2007 at 9:15 pm

  14. Tom, that first picture is amazing…all 3 babies with their mouths open and the mom flying in. (I had to look at it a couple times to realize that was the mom flying in)
    Do you think the other Cliff Swallows were hanging around there in the road trying to get their unfortunate little buddy to take off and fly with them? So sad…and I’m sure it happens much more often than we realize.

    6 July 2007 at 9:28 pm

  15. I HATE it when birds die because of dumb humans!
    Love your first photo, though. It could be a Mother’s Day card.
    Swallows are the acrobats of the bird world. I love ’em. Just love ’em. I wish that Mary could get hers back, don’t you?

    7 July 2007 at 1:05 am

  16. Great pictures of the swallows. Ours are way too high for photos – I don’t do ladders. It amazes me that people can drive and be oblivious to wildlife in their path. Most of them just don’t care..I’ve watched cars that never slow at all when there’s a turtle or squirrel or whatever in the way. Bet they’d slow down if it was a child. They just don’t care about animals.

    7 July 2007 at 8:14 am

  17. Oh Monarch… how sad, yet it is a fact of life, and life goes on in the faces of the little mouths in the first photo waiting to be fed.

    7 July 2007 at 12:24 pm

  18. Tom, that was very tender. You treatment of this situation and the gentle lovely pictures were very appropriate.

    The first ‘Feed Me’ picture is a show-stopper! Thanks for sharing the entire gamut of your birding experience.

    7 July 2007 at 1:08 pm

  19. @ Marty – thanks and birds do have many dangers! Speed limit in this spot is 25mph and that really isn’t that fast! Thanks
    @ Mary – so glad you enjoyed them and you can be sure that I was thinking about you the whole time I was taking that photo!
    @ Ruthie – thanks and without a doubt that was a luck shot! I don’t know but they were their before the one died (being there is the reason it got hit).
    @ Susan – No reason they couldn’t slow down right?? People are dumb sometimes! Ditto, what up mary, you made that nest!!
    @ Laura – I had used the 400mm to capture these shots (and I was standing on a picnic table)! Was dark and never expected any of them to turn out!
    @ Jayne – hate to show death without showing life!
    @ Cathy – Thanks and glad the posting worked out! Wasn’t sure if I should do it or not!

    7 July 2007 at 6:43 pm

  20. -Wow! What a photo of the Swallows-They look like three birds singing Christmas Carols.

    7 July 2007 at 10:39 pm

  21. OMG Tom that first photo is the best, I love it! Sorry *you* had to discover the dead bird. That always makes me soo sad.

    8 July 2007 at 6:47 am

  22. Sandra

    I just came across your website and it is wonderful. I have a nest of fledglings nesting in my porch under the eaves. It has been wonderful watching them grow and the parents are amazing! We have been careful opening the door when we leave because they are learning to fly. This evening I opened the door carefully and one of the babies flew away!! I looked all over for it and could not find it. This happened right when it was getting dark and they were going down for the night. I am so worried and I feel HORRIBLE!!!! I hope that the parents can find him. Any advice?

    10 July 2007 at 12:24 am

  23. hello,
    i found you doing a ‘baby swallow’ google search. i’m hoping to find some answers…we have a family of swallows that next under our porch eave every year. this year. this year there were 3 babies in the nest. all three have left the nest but one of them can’t seem to fly. it flutter/hops but doesn’t go up in the air. the mother continues to come and feed it – we’ve been keeping track of it through it’s cheeping. we were worried about predators so carefully caught it and put it back in the next but out it came and now it’s in a bush near the porch, just off the ground. is there a chance for this little one? do you think it’s just a slow learner? it has lots of feathers and seems healthy, we don’t notice anything wrong. i would appreciate any suggestions if there is anything i could be doing to help. thanks!

    4 August 2007 at 8:37 pm

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