Weekend Birding: Barn Swallow Nestwatch
I have been monitoring a Barn Swallow nest for Project Nestwatch, a citizen science program.
NestWatch is a nationwide monitoring program designed to track status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive.
Barn Swallows are migratory and spend their winters in South America. In the summer months they can be found across most of North America. I discovered this nesting location last year and was excited to find that a pair of birds returned to the same place this year.
When I arrived at the nest on Monday, instead of mom sitting on the eggs, I saw three little faces looking down at me. They appear to be a little over one week old. They usually open their eyes about the fifth day.
Both of the parents bring food to the nest, mainly insects, which are caught in flight. The female spends the night with the young while the male roosts elsewhere.
- Barn Swallows once nested in caves throughout North America, but now build their nests almost exclusively on human-made structures.
- Females prefer to mate with males that have the longest and most symmetrical tails and a dark red chest color.
- Nests are constructed of mud by both the male and female, making up to 1,000 trips to collect it.
- The killing of Barn Swallows for their feathers was one of the problems that led to the founding of the Audubon Society and the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
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