Barn Swallow Stories and Photos received 2013
|Dec 2013||Barn Swallow News|
|25 Dec||Illinois, USA: It’s winter here in Illinois. The temperature this morn -5°. Lotsa snow; suppose to get 3-4in snow tonight.
I would like to wish you and all your family and friends a wonderful and very blessed Merry Christmas.
I’m already looking forward to the return of the barn swallows this spring.
Thanks again for all you do. Glenn R Kuffer
|25 Dec||Yorkshire, UK: Good to see that you have benefited from the good summer we had, with bumper migrants according to your news. Weather up here mild for time of year but constant gales over the last few weeks which are being fed in on northerly jet stream, so they arrive approx every 2 days with winds 70 mph + and extensive flooding as you may be aware off. Anyway hope all is well with you and your family and I wish you well for 2014. Regards Mac|
|25 Dec||Christmas wishes from Finland:With this unconventional Christmas Greeting I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! All six Kestrel chicks at their nesting box in the picture are also joining the greeting.
|9 Dec||Finland:This year our winter arrived at the normal time, that is the second half of November. Lake Niinivesi got frozen a bit late, two days ago, because strong winds did not allow that earlier. A storm a couple of weeks ago leveled parts of our forest. There is 10 cm of snow. This morning so far the lowest temperature this winter was recorded in Lapland, –40 deg C. At the same time we enjoyed a nice, warm winter weather of –7 deg. At this very moment, though, the temperature is –20,8 deg in our thermometer. But already in a couple of days an arriving snowfall will rise the temperature up to +4-5 deg. As a rule it would be better if the temperature constantly stayed below freezing in winter, otherwise a layer of ice can develop on the surface of the ground and cultivated plants cannot then necessarily get enough oxygen and can die.
The whole world is mourning the death of Nelson Mandela. He was THE man who did the unthinkable: a peaceful transition of power in South Africa. Hopefully his heritage of peaceful development will be carried on further.
|1 Dec||Cape Town – South Africa: In our stables 3 baby swallows fell out of there nest, we found them yesterday and brought them to our house, we take it that the mother had abandon them because we saw them and left them and one died and no swallow was to been seen near by. We took them up to our house and I’ve been feeding them pronutro mixed with water. They seem to be doing great but I was googling what to do with them and I found your website and was wondering if you have any tips for me? They are about 7 days old, they opened their eyes yesterday and this morning, we are keeping them warm and in a dark space, I’m feeding them about 0.5ml every 2 hours. I was hoping maybe you know how often to feed them and how to care for them. I’m 15 and I’ve just finished exams so I have a lot of time to spear and would like to hand rear them.
Thanks a lot Tasmin Lenisa
|26 Nov||Winterskloof ,KwaZulu-Natal: Have just had a noisy pair of Barn Swallows clinging to the face-brick on our open veranda, don’t remember seeing them for quite a few years. They were very vocal, not too sure if the other birds were chasing them or not they seemed to fly out and then back again. They have disappeared now, do hope they come back. Penny|
|20 Nov||Port Elizabeth: In trying to identify a group of swallows that had perched on the telephone line at my house yesterday, I came across your website.Yes they were Barn Swallows
The group of 15 arrived at about 11:30 and spent about a hour and a half just sitting and preening themselves and then off they went.
Been a keen photographer I was able to take some picture which I have attached and might be of interest to your cause. regards Graham McGillewie
|13 Nov||GlenGariff, Eastern Cape – the swallows usually return on my late dads birthday- 14 November. Today – a whole flock returned with Joy and much twittering…..how very special to welcome these little happy souls back! J Kind Regards Ria De Jager|
|10 Nov||The Return of the Swallows annual event, see daily log and more photos on the Mount Moreland Conservancy website of this celebration|
|6 Nov||Eastboune, UK: Many thanks for posting your excellent photos of the huge numbers of Swallows roosting at Mt Moreland. We saw gatherings of 5-600 in October, but nothing like the amounts you have.
However, today at 12.30pm I saw 6-8 swallows flying west here in Eastbourne. This is the latest ever, and is very surprising as we have had strong winds and rain for the last week. I wonder if these birds actually fly as far as SA, only to return in 4-5 months time. Do they possibly stay in North or Central Africa?
I look forward to reading your postings during our Winter!Regards, Tim
|28 Oct||Invitation to’ The Return of the Swallows 2013′
|26 Oct||Daily Log now live 2013-2014 Barn Swallow Season – Angie Wilken|
|25 Oct||Mount Moreland, South Africa: The past 2 evenings we have seen a swell in numbers of Barn Swallow arrivals so I decided to go and view the skies from Lake Victoria Viewing site and I was not disappointed at all, a late arrival (6.05pm) and close up feeding over the sight by thousands of Barn Swallows is always one of my most favorite experiences. A very rewarding sighting, so pleased to see that the Barn Swallows are returning to us and numbers will grow even more over the next few weeks. Not the best images as was overcast, dark, very windy and dusty but a taste of early arrivals. Too dark to capture final displays, numbers were impressive. By Angie Wilken
The annual event ‘The Return of the Swallows’ is to be held on Sun 10 November 2013 at 5pm Lake Victoria viewing site.
|22 Oct||Sussex, UK: it looks as though all the Barn Swallows have left for Africa. I live in Eastbourne, Sussex, UK very near the coast, and have been watching swallows leaving during September and October. However, the last ones were seen on Thursday 17th October, which was a calm sunny day, ideal for flying!I notice from your website that the first ones have arrived with you, but we look forward to their return next April. I will check your website often during our winter.
Regards, Tim Hanks
|19 Oct||Finland: This morning here in Middle Finland we woke up the ground white with first snow and vicious northerly wind almost ripping your jacket off you outdoors. There were power breaks due to trees heavy with snow falling onto power lines and road accidents when some drivers lost the control of their cars if they still used summer tyres instead of winter ones. The snowfall continued the whole day long and the temperature hovered around freezing. It felt so cold that when working outdoors I actually wore more clothes than in deep winter. In fact, once the body gets used to the real winter coldness a weather like this would be considered warm… A first snow very seldom is immediately followed by a lasting winter and so it will be also this time: halfway next week the weather will warm up considerably, up to 10 deg C and the snow we got today will be just a distant memory. A first snow is just a harsh reminder or warning of what awaits us in a few weeks saying now it is high time to finish your autumn work if there is still something left to do. I started feeding winter birds a couple of days ago and already tens of birds, mostly different tit species come to eat lard, peanuts, sunflower seeds and oats. I am happy knowing that Barn Swallows have started arriving in South Africa, hopefully the weather over there will be favorable for them. Regards Risto|
|13 Oct||Mount Moreland, South Africa: As said I have just seen a flock of barn swallows 50-100 or more at the bridge they flew very low and fast over the trees in the direction of Mt Moreland could have been going to lake Victoria or the river mouth could not see from where I was stopped on the bridge. The light was not good but there is no doubt that they were barn swallows, fist because of the large number all flying in the same direction, their characteristic flight pattern and their distinctive call. Michael Hickman|
|12 Oct||Scotland: Images submitted by Gary Jones
|6 Oct||Ireland: We live on the south-eastern corner of Ireland in Rosslare Strand, Co. Bedford and are therefore quite well-placed to note arrivals and departures of Barn Swallows.
They arrived somewhat later this year (first sighting only on 15 April) due, no doubt to the very late spring, but they arrived in numbers and have been noted in relatively large numbers throughout the summer. It appears that only one brood has been hatched this year. A few weeks ago we noted that groups were gathering but not yet leaving due, we think, to very strong easterly winds and inclement weather. Last Friday (4th October), we noted a major departure of swallows, all flying towards Wales/South West England which is not too far from us across the St George’s Channel. Today, Sunday 6th we have only seen very few so it would seem that the majority of the swallows from our area have left. Traditionally we have seen the odd stragglers around until at least the end of October and even sometimes into early November. For some reason, we have kept notes of arrival/departure dates for a good few years and would be happy to let you have them should you be interested.
You may wonder why we know about Mount Moreland? We are former Natalie’s who lived in Durban with strong ties to the Natal North Coast (my husband was born and lived in Stanger until he matriculated) and have always had a very keen interest in birds. We have been living in Ireland for the past 14 years but make regular trips to S Africa to visit family and friends. We will, in fact, be out there again December/January and will definitely make a visit to Mount Moreland. Kind regards, Ethel Dwyer
|Sept 2013||Barn Swallow News 2013|
|29 Sept||Ireland:News from the little Saltee island. 14 pairs bred this year and fledged 61 babies. they left on migration on the 22nd September they have a good flight!
This year due to building work, I had to exclude a few pairs from their normal nesting sites. So i built a few nest boxes.2 pairs used them and a few others showed interest.there’s space for 8 nests so maybe next year i can get up to 20 pairs nesting!!
Best wishes Patrick Nellew
|28 Sept||Wales: thought you might like to see this photo taken last weekend 22nd September 2013, out side my home in Wainfleet, Lincolnshire (edge of the wash)
300 plus swallows gathered, providing the most wonderful flying display.This year the swallows have reared 8 young in my porch.The last clutch of 4 and parents left yesterday to start their epic journey.Love and light,
May your gods go with you. Iris
|27 Sept||Svendborg, Denmark:The barn swallows left Svendborg City the 21stSeptember 2013 a bit earlier than last year. I saw young birds foraging in larger groups above the city roofs both the 19th and 20th. Adult birds have been gone for a week or more. Yesterday morning, September 21, the young birds gathered again and all started a sort of nervous flight around the biggest trees to catch insects and the suddenly all began heading south. I big moment. Happy to seem them healthy and strong at the beginning of their long travel, but also a bit sad that this was the end of a fantastic swallow season with many happy moments. From my study of the population within and around Svendborg City the overall population experienced an increase in breeding couples of 25.7% compared to numbers in 2012. The production of chicks was increased by 17.8% compared to last year. I guess this must be a result of good conditions last year in their winter quarters in Africa and a warm summer here with excellent foraging possibilities. The general increase in the breeding output though covers a decline in breeding couples and number of chicks at cattle farms of 3.2% and 12.8% respectively. The lower reproductive output mainly being a result of the very hot summer, which resulted in overheating of eggs and chicks situated in nests close to asbestos-cements roofs.
I attach a photo of the last chicks in Svendborg City that fledged September 13, and now are on their way towards South Africa. A fantastic breeding and migration cycle these beautiful birds have. Best regards Peter Teglhøj
|27 Sept||Vredenburg on the west coast, South Africa:I managed to extract and compile this soundtrack of the swifts at our home. I have identified our swifts as apus affinis [little swifts/kleinwindswael.|
|26 Sept||Finland: After the long and warm summer autumn has arrived. It happened very fast; still a week ago we had 17 deg C but today only 4 deg and during snowfall only 1 deg! Yes, snowfall which was whipped down with strong northerly wind. The snow was wet so luckily it did not last on the ground but disappeared immediately. A strong low pressure is southeast of Finland and a high pressure west of Finland and between them very cold air from the North Pole is pouring over the country. Luckily, the swallows have left… So far no night-frost. These temperatures are way below normal and they are expected to rise a bit in coming days. We have now “the fifth season” as is referred to this fireworks of nature when trees turn yellow, red and orange before letting their leaves fall in the ground to be ready for winter. The last of our Kestrels left a week ago. I attached a picture taken from our balcony towards the home lake, showing autumn colours. Regards Risto|
|25 Sept||Ireland, Fortstewart, Ramelton, Co. Donegal: an update on our family in the porch (one chick managed to make it’s way into the sitting room)As you can see they are still with us.They occasionally leave the nest and sit in the clematis. They had a couple of flights but they still return to the porch to be fed. Are these guys reluctant to leave? regards…Ray and Jeanette|
|22 Sept||England: Barn Swallow migration is in full flow today in the south of England. Earlier in the day they were passing over my house in Angmering, West Sussex, heading south-east, south and east, at a rate of about 2400 per hour on average. Later in the day this number dropped to about 550 per hour, still significant numbers. The day has been cool, still, and overcast. Still later in the day small flocks appeared, flying away from the channel, heading west. The flow of birds continued throughout the day. Regards Trevor Snyman|
|20 Sept||Ireland, Fortstewart, Ramelton, Co. Donegal:
We are the proud landlords of what appears to be the last swallow family in the county. They built their new nest in our porch in early August and as of today they are still with us with their two chicks. The weather is reasonably mild but damp, so food maybe a problem for them.
Hopefully they will be strong enough to make their journey. We are very concerned for them but are royally entertained.Regards to
all…Jeanette & Ray
|15 Sept||Yorkshire, UK: As predicted the last of our birds left on or about 11/12th Sept . Mrs Mac said they were here on the 11th but had gone by evening of the 12th which is 3 days earlier than usual for our birds. There are odd birds around in the area which you can see, but all of our’ s are on the way to you. Weather up here has changed, and there is a more of an autumnal feel in the air, also we have had to start lighting fires in the evening – not a good sign ! Will up date you of any Swallow related things I come across on my travels. Have a good summer. Regards Mac|
|14 Sept||East Dunmanus in West Cork: Following the sudden disappearance of the barn swallows from the out-shed of a farm in West Cork , Peter from Wales suggested the heat below the slates of the roof could have been a significant factor. Peter made a very good point because the nest in question was located
beneath slate which must have become exceptionally hot during the long
spell of the heat-wave. A similar situation would have arisen in the large barn which is also a barn swallow site. Soon after reporting the sudden disappearance of all swallows , there was a return of a couple to the out-shed followed by all familiar but very welcome signs
of another brood but much smaller than the previous one. Hopefully, the problem this year was due to the exceptional high temperature and thank you Peter for mentioning it. I took the opportunity to ask my immediate neighbor if she had experienced a similar situation. She
was of the opinion the barn swallows who return to roost in our region of East Dunmanus in West Cork always went away for a few days. Would this be part of the natural process of making the babies independent and teaching them to fly along with fending for themselves ?
|13 Sept||Denmark: Found this poster a couple of years ago. Svend
|12 Sept||Scotland: My swallows raised 6 babies for their first clutch this year but abandoned the second clutch of 5 babies on 3rd September all died within 36 hours and I could not help them. Is this unusual for the parents to abandon the nest ? they were only 3/4 days from fledgling I think. Very little insect lief around though I noticed. Thanks Willie Harrison|
|11 Sept||Denmark: Just a few words from Denmark. This year has been the best “Barn Swallow year” ever. I´ve never seen my barn so dirty 🙂 but I don´t care as long as “my” birds are doing great. I´m not sure how many Barn Swallows I have produced this year but compared to last year I would say around +50%. As you can see on the picture, we still have some babies in our barn.
Have a nice day, Svend
|10 Sept||Sweden:There is action again here with what, I am assuming, is the latest group of swallows. In the last week there has been only a few swallows at a time feeding. Yesterday I noticed that a group of them had collected on a telephone line. However, today, 9th September, there was greater action. About 100 swallows filled the sky, feeding. Something new to me was that they also flew low over the meadow here about a metre above the grass for perhaps 5 minutes or so, zig zagging to and fro. After that there was a cloud of swallows and these flew in a southerly direction but … I am not sure that they have gone or are resting in the nearby nature reserve. There are now one or two of them that appear now and then. We still have a marvelous extended summer here. Will keep you informed. Ann Ahlgren|
|10 Sept||Illinois, USA: It’s been a disappointment this year concerning our Barn Swallows. We’ve lived here for 26 yrs and have enjoyed the Swallows every year.
They have nested on our gazebo, in our garage, dog house, and several other areas of our home.
Most enjoyable was the year they nested outside of my daughter’s bedroom. We were able to watch the nest building, the dutiful parents keeping the eggs warm and protected, and the emergence of the babies. Then we were able to observe their maturing and their first flights. Wonderful. Then the increased flying in time and acrobatics. Then flying with others; higher and higher; farther and farther until the last day when they did not return. Time to follow their instincts and return to your area for your enjoyment.
We have a pond/wetlands; about 10 acres and federally protected. A joy. The Barn Swallows have always been their. About 20 or so; and at this time of year usually 40 or more flying every where catching insects and having fun bonding with each other. And one morning I would go out their knowing that I had to say “good by; God’s speed”. Usually I would come home from work that afternoon and look at my pond absent of my Barn Swallows. But always looking forward to their return next Spring.
This year the Barn Swallows returned as I had indicated to you last spring. No nesting around our home. No 20-40 flying around the pond. They fly overhead every evening but only 4-6 at a time.
I hope your looking forward to their return to your area.
They are just about ready to take flight. I’ve attached a pic of our pond/wetland area.
Enjoy, Glenn R Kuffer
|9 Sept||Vredenburg on the west coast, South Africa: annually swallows breed next to our house – their nests were made of feathers [Dr gerhard verdoorn says that they are wind swallows].
we have made some boxes for them to nest in and i am glad to say that at least one is at present occupied by swallows – some of them have been taken over by ‘mozzies’, according to verdoorn a rather useless non-indigenous species. Kind Regards Gabriël g Smit
Swaeltjienessies aan huis van Dr hester van der Walt, vredenburg, weskus
|8 Sept||Sligo, Ireland: Looked back at last year, our own gang left the same day last year even though they were late arriving. Saw a large flock of Swallows over our lake shore this morning, gone 20 minutes later. We’ll see if we get the same as last year, flocks of various sizes passing through for the next couple of weeks. Images of Barn Swallows still feeding their young. Cheers Craig|
|7 Sept||Sligo, Ireland: Sad day here, the summer is over because our resident Swallows hit the road around midday.
There was frantic flying around for the last few days, lots of activity and maybe a dozen or more birds at a time swirling around but this morning was different ….. at least 50 birds perched on the roof, every few minutes they took off in mass and did a circuit of the place. They were still at this at 11:30am but an hour later they were all gone.
No where near as many as in previous years but at least it seems that the few (15 or so) pairs that made it back had a good summer.
Attached picture is a small sample of what was going on (it’s a redundant TV aerial with my various ham radio aerials hanging out of it).
Hope they all make it to your part of the world. Cheers Craig
|6 Sept||Newcastle, Ireland: I’ll soon be sending my beloved Swallows over to you. When you see them say hello from me, we’ve had a great summer together and I’ll miss their chatter that kept me company during my early morning walks. Enjoy them and when it is time, send them back to me. Kind regards, John|
|6 Sept||Yorkshire, UK: Have been away so have only just got around to posting these photos of this seasons travelers sat on the wires waiting to leave. These were taken August 27/8 just as I was leaving on a trip and upon my return 3/9 there are only 10 left, these being the late fledgling birds and parents. Seems very quiet around here with the brood diminished. I suspect that the last will go in the next week, on or before 16/9 their normal date. I am away again until that weekend so will have to rely on Mrs Mac to say when they do leave and will up date upon my return as I suspect they will not be here when I get back. We had a reasonable count on the 27/8 with over 60 birds from our assorted barns both ours and next door so that’s quite a number given the late spring we had. Please look after, and return to sender in the Spring. Regards Mac
|5 Sept||Svendborg, Denmark: From mid to late August 2013 most 2nd brood barn swallow chicks in the Svendborg area fledged and are now leaving the breeding areas to begin their South bound migration. But still quite a large proportion of the swallows that I study are leaving their nests in September. The proportion of “late broods” has increased from 13.9% last year to approximately 17.4% this year. The weather in Denmark has been nice for a longer period, and the weather forecast for the coming week looks pretty good from a swallow perspective with nice temperatures and no or just a little rain. So survival chances looks OK for these late birds.
I attach a couple of photos of late breeding Barn Swallow from Svendborg City.
Best regards Peter Teglhøj
|3 Sept||Copenhagen: Our boathouse for rowing boats at Lake Bagsværd, Copenhagen has for years served as a summer home for a big colony of barn swallows. In 2013 they arrived April 24 and in 2012 they all left the same day in September. I shall report the departure date 2013 to you later. They are about to leave now. I would really like to know where the barn swallows stay in winter. In South Africa? (In addition we have rowing guests from South Africa in two weeks). We do have to clean the boats daily, but get much benefit from less mosquitoes bites.
Friend of swallows – Bjørn Borgen Hasløv
|3 Sept||Finland: Our swallow season this year came to an end yesterday as the last Barn Swallow left our farm. Since then there have been no swallows in the barn. The swallows abandoned the last nest with eggs and also left. That was a wise decision because although it is still warm we are sliding into autumn and who knows what the weather will be like then. It is amazing that less than a week after having started flying the last chicks were already gone. There are still migrating swallows to be seen but the flocks are getting smaller and smaller. Today I saw two separate flocks of about five birds, they flew southwards fast and determined high up in the sky and I would not have noticed them had they not constantly called each other. The male Kestrel is still here, it comes almost daily to hunt voles in the yard. Regards Risto|
|3 Sept||France: rustic swallows soon the great journey towards to south Africa, 4 out of 5 will die
thousands of miles to their paradise. Photo: Ali Var
|2 Sept||Sweden. Despite the departure of the second large group of swallows, I have seen that we have a small group of about 6 swallows remaining. Our long, dry spell is over and we have mixed rain and warm but very stormy winds.
I have wondered if these few birds are waiting for yet another group to come. Do not know how they organize themselves. Today this small group are playing on the wind gusts. I will continue to keep you informed once a week until I do not see any more swallows around.
Greetings Ann Robinson Ahlgren
|30 Aug||Finland: I´m a Finnish journalist, author and nature photographer working on a narrative book telling a story of four Finnish migratory bird. According to an old and still popular Finnish proverb skylark, chaffinch, white wagtail and barn swallow (in this order) bring the summer to the North.
This time the same birds will be setting out in opposite order – barn swallows first. In few months time many of the Finnish swallows will most probably appear to Mount Moreland.
I have traveled after the migrating and wintering Finnish birds so far in Egypt, Malta, Italy, Estonia and Lithuania for my book. In coming September I´ll visit Poland in order to shoot great flocks of migrating chaffinches.
And, as you may guess, I´m intending to do a journey to South Africa in November/December this year to see, feel and shoot the awesome spectacle in Mt. Moreland. But in addition to that I would like to follow the swallows from sunrise through a day wherever they fly to feed. And naturally I´m seeking a possibility to shoot an “exotic” photo of an African mammal with swallows in the same scene. Might this be possible for example in some game reserve, nature reserve, national park or some other location?
You have done important and respectable work for protection of the barn swallows there. The importance of international protection of migratory birds will be underlined in the book. This concerns for example Malta where barn swallows and many other migrating birds are shot dead just for fun.
With best regards Lasse Kylänpää
|29 Aug||Massachusetts USA: Just to let you know my Barn swallows
have left for season.The third week of August, a little late but they arrived Late this year.I don’t think there were as many as we usually have, maybe 20 or so.I do miss their chatter when they leave.happy birding, Karen Brzezinski
|28 Aug||Walkerbury, Scotland: We live in an old farm house on the opposite side of the Tweed to Walkerburn. The old steading is full of swallows but we didn’t note when they arrived. I suspect they will be leaving soon and we’ll let you know when.
My wife and I grew up in the town of Stellenbosch, Cape, South Africa. There were plenty swallows there (1960’s). We arrived in Walkerburn on 31 January 2013. Prior to that we lived in Dunoon, Argyllshire. There were plenty swallows there too, and I gained the impression (probably from the local newspaper), that some of them were from South Africa.
Best, Sandy Paterson
|25 Aug||Kållered (close to Gothenburg), Sweden: I am writing again to report that we again have a large flock of swallows here. I reported that the swallows had left 18th August. Since
then I have just seen a small group of not more than 20-25. I live in houses built on what was originally wetland though there is still a bit of marshy land around me. This seems to attract insects. Today which is 25th August we have another largeish flock of perhaps 120 birds. They are alternatively eating from an insect cloud and then sitting in the woodland or on some telephone lines twittering like mad. I would say they are gathered for take off. I say that this is another flock as there have been so few swallows around this last week that I
cannot think these are the same flock as before making a comeback. By Ann Ahlgren
think I can say that they second lot of swallows have gone away. They must have gone on 26th August. I have looked all morning on and off but there are no swallows around at all.
In case it is of interest we have had a very much better than average summer this year and it is staying warm even now apart from the nights which are creeping down to plus 7 degrees. Daytime temperatures average about 22 degrees which is warm for this part of Sweden. Best wishes Ann Ahlgren
|22 Aug||Normanton on Soar Leicestershire UK: I thought that you might like to see the attached images of our sunbathing swallows taken this morning!
With digital photography and a long lens I have been able to witness behaviour that I have not seen before.
|21 Aug||Normanton on Soar Leicestershire UK: Back at the end of April only three pairs of our barn swallows arrived back at the farm. This was the lowest figure we had ever seen and I guess it reflected the torrid time these little birds have had over the last few years. The wet summer of 2012 must have really taken its toll.
But summer 2013 has been much, much better and the swallow numbers have responded accordingly. From the three pairs we now have approximately thirty birds flying around comprising of the parents, first and second broods.
The youngsters all appear to be in good condition as well which again reflects the good weather we have had and the abundance of food that it has brought.
This week the extended ’ family’ has completely changed its behaviour and has now gone into pre migration mode. All have been out on the roof tops sunbathing and preparing their feathers for the long journey south.This week is also play time for the youngest birds which are still being fed by their parents but are spending their days chasing each around the farm developing the skills they will need over the coming months.There is growing evidence that the migration has already started and over the last couple of weeks we have been visited by other small groups of up to twenty birds which have passed through on the way south.It won’t be long now until our birds join in and head for Africa.
This summer has shown me how resilient these little birds are – six arrived on the farm from Africa and thirty will fly south any day now !
Regards Andrew Roberts
|20 Aug||Kållered (close to Gothenburg), Sweden: I am living in Sweden although I am British English. We have a large community of swallows here in the summer and they give me a great deal of pleasure.I found your site because I needed the answer to a question about unusual behaviour re- the swallows here. Just before migration 2 years in a row something odd has happened. Our swallows build nests under the eves of rather new houses here. There are many nests but there is also an old barn very near us. Last year I was rather shocked when I turned round in my kitchen one day to find a row of swallows all hovering outside the kitchen window
and all along the house slightly under the eaves . This row stayed hovering for several minutes all together. i did not want to frighten them off and was very cautious in my movements. It was as if they were saying goodbye or marking a place to come back to. Then they flew away. I think that they migrated shortly afterwards.
This year about 2 or 3 days before the swallows migrated I was looking out of the same window when I saw a rather large flock heading for the eaves of the building opposite me. They formed a flying triangle and, one or 2 at a time, they closed in on a special place under the eaves, stayed a very short time and left, each swallow doing the same one after
the other. They kept returning as far as I could see. Then they stopped. 2 days later they were no longer here. They had migrated.
Do not know if you recognize this behaviour and I am very curious.
Sincerely Ann Ahlgren
|18 Aug||Lawrenceburg, Ky. USA: Our “porch nesters” raised 2 bunches this year. 4 in the first brood, and 3 in the second. Both of these hatching’s were incredible. Having them nest on our porch, enables us to stand in the kitchen and watch the process from 9 feet away is wonderful. These babies grew so fast, we figure this years bugs were super bugs!!! I put down “baby bumpers” this year, as soon as the first brood started standing on the edge of the nest, jousting for position and flapping wings, so that if one tumbled out, onto the concrete floor it wouldn’t hurt their wings. Cardboard with two overlaps of bubble wrap, and plastic on top, so it could be changed each day and kept clean….In other years they left around the first of August, a huge flock appears a week or so before, and one morning by the 5th they are all gone. That happened this year but we still have 5 here. I’m a bit concerned about it, but trust they know what they are doing.
We love our swallows, and love reading the reports from everyone. – Ann Schulmerich
|15 Aug||Belguim: Here the same swallows made a nest for the second brood behind our farm.
One of the last occupation was in early July. They often move nest after the first breeding in our farm because of parasites that can kill them. They can be found even on the frozen ground covered with parasites, swallows and I found the same case with the rustic.
The biggest killers are travel, weather, parasites … and because of man, especially the destruction of nests, ignorance of life, the lack of mud …etc
Now the second brood began 15 days ago. Small gatherings begin in the evening, I have a great opportunity to observe every night more than 150 in front of our farm is surrounded by two rivers.
For me, new discoveries about this extraordinary bird to us. And say that there is no explanation of certain phenomena, for me with future years and experience, the answers will come.
Artificial nests are a solution to help but it is not the best, because at one point they abandon nests if they are not clean they will not return.
For me, the only solution so they do not disappear is to protect existing colonies they rebuild real nests, the solution is there. How?
I do a lot of testing with nests and one solution is to remove the previous year occupied artificial nests from the roof of 15 cm to the bottom of the ledge.
I have an incredible opportunity to study every day in a natural place for me and a third brood of martins is impossible in our country. Do the math, it’s simple.
Thank you all, Ali
|9 Aug||Mount Moreland, KZN, South Africa: Huge thunder storm last night with heavy rain continuing today, first spring rains – Angie Wilken|
|8 Aug||Finland: Swallow migration has been going on for some time now. It started unusually early, although the Finnish summer has continued warm. It seems that once swallows have nested they do not stay for a very long time at their nesting site but start preparing for migration even if the weather could allow a longer stay. Many neighbours are surprised because they have no more swallows left although they nested normally. Maybe this warm summer has allowed the chicks to develop quickly. We have at our farm still three Barn Swallow nests with chicks and one with eggs and one House Martin nest with chicks left. Today afternoon I saw so far the biggest flock of migrating swallows. They were mostly young Barn Swallows with fewer adults and House Martins and even a couple of Sand Martins. That noisy and nervous flock stayed for about one hour at our yard, circling over the buildings and resting on the telephone wires and then disappearing. Regards Risto|
|2 Aug||Mount Moreland, KZN, South Africa: First migrants are arriving, yellow billed kites and lesser striped swallows – Angie Wilken|
|1 Aug||Belguim: Soon be free, a rare moment for me – Ali Aghroum.
|29 July||Wales: reading the situation in Ireland with swallow disappearance. I have seen same troubles here on farms, and if it was the first brood sometimes the swallows return after a few weeks to try a second brood. Problem definitely CATS. Kill babies or one adult. Roam the beams in outbuildings and kill babies. Swallows it’s their home and will preserver again. Cats are necessary on farms etc, to keep rats away. Bad luck, nothing to do with the weather unless nests are roasting up against slate roofs or tin ones. Babies suffocated, to hot for them. Sprinklers on my tin roof with cold water keeping roof cool. My first brood of six venture back to barn frequently, with second brood of six again a week or so ready to fly. Thunder storms today, with adults dogging the heavy showers feeding young. Peter|
|23 July||West Cork Ireland: All the barn swallows which were very much in evidence a week ago inDunmanus East, West Cork. Ireland have suddenly disappeared from our farm house where they have been returning year after year to roost in the rafters of an open stone shed and large barn. After three dismal summers of rain and sub normal temperatures, this month has been marked by a prolonged heat wave. Is it possible a water shortage has caused not only the barn swallows but also the other small birds to suddenly disappear in search of water or have they emigrated earlier than usual this year after the abundance of insects?
Sadly, cats have been responsible for a couple of causality’s but this has happened during previous years. The sudden disappearance of all small birds more or less overnight is a source of great distress. Can you throw any light on the situation or advise us on how to lure
them back. We live within a mile of the sea and also a river.
Magpies are also frequent callers but do not dominate and have never frightened away the swallows before. Your insight on the situation would be more than welcome and greatly appreciated. Thank you, Nona Pettersen
|22 July||Yorkshire, UK: Photo early morning today on the way to airport of our 2nd batch of Swallows that have just fledged. They looked quite well as we have had a record warm spell with 3 weeks plus of no rain but the cattle in the fields have given them plenty of food. Their problem has been
more lack of water to drink. We are lucky in that we built our garage into the side of a hill and in doing so created a natural watercourse which picks up water leaching from the hill side. All the bird life have learned of its presence over the last 7 years since we did the work and
use it to bath in and drink. Due to it coming from below ground it also does not completely freeze in winter where it comes out of the hillside. The Swallows have also learned that the Mud makes good nest building material.
Anyway as you can see from the photo the weather has changed and there are large Thunderstorms due over UK for the next few days – I must be carrying something that attracts storms as every time I fly at the moment I seem to bump into big storms, be it mid west USA, Indian monsoon, or as today summer storms over western Europe on the way to Dubai. Anyway fasten seat belts I think for PAX for first few hours today! Hope all is well with you and winter not too bad. Regards Mac
|14 July||Finland: I recently promised you more exact information about our swallow numbers. Unfortunately, it is no use doing that because the old squirrel problem returned. Although with all my efforts combined, I managed to solve the problem, the squirrels robbed most of the first brood nests. Since there are still lots of swallows present I am now hoping that those pairs that lost their eggs or chicks to the squirrels will re-nest. There ought to be enough time for that. But there was a major surprise looming in one Barn Swallow nest when we were ringing swallows yesterday. One of those four chicks was a cross-breed between the Barn Swallow and House Martin! They are very rare and the first such chick found at our farm. Since the chick was in a Barn Swallow nest a House Martin was the father. The situation can also be the other way round. As the picture I enclosed shows, the most visible characteristic is the House Martin’s white lower back which is black with steely blue shine on the Barn Swallow. Another characteristic is the dark chest belt which the House Martin lacks.
All six Kestrel chicks have successfully fledged and the parents still feed them. Part of the chicks still return to the nesting box for the nights. Regards Risto.
|13 July||Northumberland UK : Hello, I’ve just come across your site and so thought i’ d contact you. We had a pair of swallows nesting underneath the beams of our wooden structure studio in the garden. We watched them choose their site and put up an artificial nest in the hope that they would use that. However they made their own and we saw four chicks …parents fed and all was going well and nest was stable. This morning we saw that the nest had been disturbed and there was blood on the decking – all chicks had gone. The parents have been back and this evening did their usual returning to the nest in turns and together. We have never heard of this before? the nest was high up and their is no way a cat could obtain access. I do not know if the parents return as part of a process and will now soon leave or whether they will start to try and rebuild the nest and lay more eggs. If this is the case would we be better to remove the nest and position the man made one in it’s place which will (i presume maybe wrongly) be more predator resistant.
Any info would be greatly appreciated as this is so sad and we do want to encourage the swallow population. Best wishes Rachael
|12 July||Svendborg,Denmark: Right now most of the first broods have fledged in the Svendborg area (Denmark) and some Barn swallow couples have started egg laying again. I am happy to tell that compared to last year the number of breeding pairs have raised by 21,9% in this area. So the swallows must have had “good time” during their stay in South Africa. Whether this increase in Barn swallow numbers is a local trend or a common increase for Denmark needs to be further investigated. The breeding season started very well with fine weather and a lot of insects, but 3 days of constant rain by the end of June had a heavy impact on the nestlings especially within Svendborg City. Broods of 5-6 nestlings were reduced by 50% or more, some broods did not survive at all. In the city perifery and at cattle and pig farms survival was better. Best regards Peter Teglhøj
|11 July||Yorkshire, UK: Well finally the winter let us go !! Have been travelling so missed early spring nest building, but have returned, and found that we have 6 new Swallows and one new nest in our barn, and 8 new Swallows from our neighbours. Also no Brandy required for Wimbledon as we are having UK heat wave with temps even at our height of 28c + – yippee. Back home for a while, and will try to get pix of family on wires when they have settled down a bit, as currently young gaining their wings so to speak, and are just enjoying the feeling of flight. In deed watching the young attempts at landing on wires can be quite comical – too much flap and too little speed and under / over shoot. Hope all is well in SA. Incidentally noted that tagged UK Cuckoos have started back south already, first migrants to head back to Africa ?
|9 July||Sligo Ireland: Has been awhile since my last update. As I recall it was around the 17th April when I emailed to say our Swallows have finally arrived back (7 days later than usual), I’d jumped the gun a bit, our resident birds were another 4 or 5 days away – nearly 2 weeks late.
At the time we’d had weeks of northerly winds and temperatures closer to our February norms.Anyway sadly I have to report that most didn’t make it back, last year I gave up counting nests in our big shed when I got over 40, this year I have searched around and have only found 15 nests in use in the same shed. We knocked down 2 small sheds last week, checked first for nests …. not one, most years a few pairs would use them.You might recall the saga of Swallows trying to gain access to an old “function” room here, used recently as a laundry room. 2 years ago we had to move out, last year Swallows tried again to gain access, this year we no longer use the room and the door is open, no attempt made to gain access so sadly it seems that none of the many broods raised there have survived.By this time of year the constant chatter of dozens of Swallows is almost an irritation but not this year, most years dozens of Swallows spend the evening hours swooping across our front lawn and out over the lake, this year it’s ones or two’s.It’s all pretty depressing, maybe at most we have 20% of the normal Swallow population, is it the same in other places? Cheers for now. Craig
|7 July||Belguim: House Martins by Ali Aghroum. This morning 07/07/2013, 10:40, the miracle of life.
|2 July||Mississippi, USA:
We have had 4 nest (one new)
|29 June||East Yorkshire: I’ve just googled “lack of swallows” and found your website.
Here in our part of East Yorkshire. England, I’ve really noticed how few swallows we have here this year. In fact there are barely any. Normally the evening sky is full of them but this year the only birds making a meal of the various insects above our head are swifts. Ian
|28 June||Finland: The summer in Finland has been warm, for instance today we had over 32°C with high air humidity, more than enough for a Northern resident like me, not being used to such almost tropical conditions. We are now having the famous White Nights, when, although the sun does sink here for a few hours, one could not tell the difference between a night and a cloudy day. Not wanting to disturb the Kestrels nesting only now am I able to say something about our swallow numbers on the basis of what we found out a couple of days ago as we were ringing our swallows for the first time this year. We did not go through all nests so I do not say anything precise yet. But it is already clear that this summer we have got less Barn Swallow pairs nesting than last year but the numbers still are within the range of normal yearly fluctuation. Especially when thinking that in the beginning of the swallow season three swallows died in the claws of predators (cat, sparrow hawk?) in the barn and at least two of them were female so in principle there could have been at least two more pairs nesting had the females been allowed to stay alive. By the way, one of those females was “The Whitetail” with half of her tail features completely white, an easy target for a predator… As a rule, the numbers at our farm are never the same in two consecutive years. All the neighbours I have been talking with about their swallows say the numbers are normal. So, it seems we have not yet seen the kind of dramatic drop in swallow numbers like for instance many swallow friends have in Britain.I attached a photo of one of altogether six Kestrel chicks, a two-week old healthy little predator in the making, waiting to be ringed. Voles and mice, beware!
|25 June||Ireland: hope you’re enjoying watching our two little swallow chicks. I understand they are about to fledge anytime now so you might like to keep a closer eye on them! Hopefully then here might be another brood to keep us entertained. Regards Ann
|24 June||Belguim: Confirmation that this is a bad year for House Martins and swallows by Ali Aghroum
|16 June||Wales: I’ve had swallows and house martins returning to the eaves of my cottage on the Welsh border since I’ve been there but there’s no sign of them yet this year either. I was amazed visiting South Africa a few years ago, to see the hosts of barn swallows darting over the swaying grasslands south of Johannesburg and marveled at the thought that they fly so far every year, and that ‘my’ swallows were probably among them. I often wonder what my swallows are doing and where they are. It brings me to tears. What a feat to make that journey each year, and it is so sad to think of them not making it. Truly the earth belongs to them. My cottage was a late 18th century barn conversion, the original barn dating to the medieval period. And to think that the swallows have called it home for all those centuries, returning each year, is truly amazing and if that has come to an end now, it is a tragedy beyond belief. Once a swallow flew in through an open window by mistake and perched on the back of a chair. With its beautiful electric blue wings and russet breast, and our eyes met, held the gaze for an amazing moment, which I will never forget, before I opened the back door and made way for its escape.
I hate to say this, but in Spain they enjoy shooting passing birds, and I wonder how many migrating birds are lost this way. It’s barbaric.
All the best Diana
|11 June||Wales: This year is so different from the last twenty years of our swallows in the little barn. Still only the one pair and babies a week away from flying. Empty the place seems, deserted from the usual activity. When they do fly and parents take them on mystery tours might have a chance without overlapping birds to do a few necessary jobs in the barn, knowing I will have free time until late evening when they return. Fortnight break before starting second brood. More promising has been the success of the blue tits and great tits plus sparrows, actually now on the red danger list, with all babies successful. Strange a nuthatch drilled a large hole in the blue tits box hard wood, so helped it out by enlarging the hole. Perisher it then disappeared with sparrows taking over, and their babies all ok. Made a new box for blue tits and surprise adopted it within two days. All babies flew out few days ago. Last year they all died as the weather fooled them with early spring. This year back to normal. Blue tits and great tits disappear for a few days before venturing back to their territory. Parents take them where it’s safe and plenty of food. I spend a small fortune on wild bird seed and peanuts but no good for young chicks. Peter|
|9 June||Denton, Texas USA: My baby barn swallows keep coming back to the nest. This is the third night. They all pile in and last night mom and dad perched on top! I am in town, but have lots of trees and open area around. They turned the old mud dauber nest into a bird’s nest this last spring. They are quite used to us walking out on the porch and the grand kids love them. of course so do I.
I will miss them when they go.
By Chery Brainerd
|4 June||Svendborg, Denmark : The first barn swallow chicks have now hatched and fortunately the weather is nice and warm so there should be plenty of insects to feed on. However, most of the barn swallows are still sitting on their eggs the breeding cycle being about 2 weeks later this year. Hopefully, they will manage to raise 2 broods before they leave again in September.
Best regards Peter Teglhøj
|3 June||Mississippi, USA: All current pairs are working on the next batch … Plus we must have a new couple – Built this nest this week. By Bonnie Young.|
|29 May||County Laois in Ireland: We have a pair nesting in our porch in a nest that was built last year. The couple were repairing the nest and using it to sleep in at end of April. Yesterday (28 May 2013) I saw a different type of droppings and today I can hear tiny chirping coming from the nest so nestlings have obviously hatched!
We have another couple just finishing off a new nest at the front of our house They started on the 17th May 2013 and have done it in stages very slowly but built a significant proportion yesterday in one day 28th May).
|26 May||Belguim: House Martins by Ali Aghroum
|26 May||Ontario, Canada: We live in the southern area of Ontario, Canada. We have many pairs of barn swallows living in our barn. They have been very active lately with nest building, including a pair that have built their nest on our front porch. The pair had a very successful nest in the same spot last year. But all of a sudden they have all disappeared, not one swallow is to be seen. Where have they all gone? It has been a bit colder these past few days, but not freezing. There is no chance that every bird has been killed, with only one cat roaming around. Could you please tell me where they have all gone? Thanks Faith
Update: The thing is I think it was the weather because they were gone all day yesterday and half the day before that and all of a sudden they are back this morning.
But thank you so much, I really love these birds and I would be very sad to see them go.
|24 May||Svendborg Denmark : Barn swallows are a bit later this year in their breeding cycle. Approximately half of the couples in the Svendborg City Center and city borders are now incubating their eggs, the rest are finishing their nests and laying their eggs. It has been pretty cold lately, with heavy rain some days and not many insects to feed on. So we can only hope for warmer conditions in June where the 1st clutches have to be raised. I attach a couple of Photos of Barn Swallows in their nests and eggs in a nest. Best regards Peter Teglhøj
|23 May||Yorkshire, UK: Chelsea flower show on, and New Zealand playing in Cricket Test Match in Headingly (Leeds) and greeted by loan Swift and Snow !!!! Outside temp this morning was 2c at 05.30 with cold NW breeze. We have a loan Swift which has just arrived (20/5), others stopped in France we think (I don’t blame them !). No young for Swallows yet . However we have got cattle back into our fields( just in time to meet snow showers) so should be, given better weather, a bit more insect life for young, and adults. It seems to many in the UK that we have had an 18 month winter. Last summer was poor, as has been spring , as I and others have posted in UK, indeed even worse in Scotland with blizzards on high ground today. May need snow shoes for Wimbledon and a stiff Brandy, never mind Pimms ! Regards Mac|
|23 May||Mississippi, USA: One of the babies of six started flying today. Make that two. A parent teaching flight on back porch from the other group. Looks like all 3 broods have flight school today. By Bonnie Young.
|23 May||Ireland: You will be glad to hear that Nest watch is streaming again on http://www.rte.ie/radio1/mooney/generic/2013/0515/450422-nestwatch-2013-aras/.
The swallows are in Aras an Uachtarain (Presidents residence) and blue tits in Derek’s garden. You may also be interested or intrigued to see, on same page, a film of a cat with her kittens with young ducklings suckling! The eggs were hatched by a hen but the cat came across them and took over as mother!
Hope you enjoy nest watching over the coming weeks/months.
Best wishes. Ann
|22 May||Mississippi, USA: After the swallows have arrived (29 March) they didn’t start nesting until after a cold snap the 2nd week of April. It was really chilly April (they just hung out on the under eve of the porches). We only have 3 nests this year. Seems like they all didn’t make it back. The babies were born around May 10th – one nest had 6 babies…the most i have seen and all make it. – Bonnie Young|
|14 May||Round Lake Beach, Illinois,USA: Barn swallows return on April 25. They discovered 2 nests that were either destroyed by neighbors, or by the weather?They hung around that entire week, but have all disappeared. This is the first time in 10 years they have displayed such behavior. One bird tried to rebuild the destroyed nest but abruptly stopped. It appears that possibly another bird took over a 3rd nest. In any event, approximately 6 adults are gone. By Joe Gannon.|
|13 May||Yorkshire, UK: As promised please find attached picture of our male matriarch sunning himself in the early morning light on a warm spring morning (we have only had two days like this so far up here, so it is easy to remember !!). We still have odd extra birds drifting in, so count is up to 7 in our barn, and 8 next door. However I think this will be the final figure, as day time temp over Sahara are climbing into mid 30c and will rise further and will not drop until late Sept, so unless across soon the door will be shut for any stragglers still south of there. However there are some thunderstorms in southern Algeria and Chad currently, which may help with some badly needed fresh water for late migrants, and especially our Swifts which have yet to show up !
Weather has been very mixed up here with very late spring, resulting in farm animals not being put out of winter barns until recently, as the grass had not grown enough to support them without causing too much damage. As a result our Swallows have not had as much food available upon their return this year, which may cut back on how many young are raised. However I did say this last spring, and they produced their normal quota, so we will have to see.
Have been on Far East routes so have not seen or heard anything from West Africa re migration, so do not know if any Swallows still in West Africa. Have seen them in Singapore and Shanghai though, but these I class, as not “ our Swallows” the same with US ones, however I still appreciate watching them, as I am sure people who live there do, as is evident from various posts on your site. Will post pictures of our young Swallows when born, and photograph-able. Anyway flying myself tonight over the” Dark continent”, but a bit higher than northbound Swifts I hope, so will see what these storms are like they are forecasting !!
| 12 May
|Massachusetts USA: They were late this year. I was becoming worried they have been in our Barn for 20 + years. They normally show up April 27 and they leave August 1.
The amounts have declined in the past few years but am hoping for good things this year.
They are such a happy bird. I do truly enjoy them. Karen Brzezinski
|10 May||Mount Moreland, South Africa: Flocks of swifts sighted close to the Mdloti river by the Mount Moreland entrance – Angie Wilken.|
|6 May||West Wales: just giving you progress of swallows this year. None to speak of, pair in the barn making no progress to renovate nests. Been here a month now. Never known such lack of swallows. Farmers tell me none in the barns. Where are they all disappeared to. Things are serious if this keeps up. Peter.|
|3 May||Edinburgh, Scotland: Think they are later this year? Not surprising, it’s still freezing up here and blowing a gale as well. First sighting was by my son, Andrew Wall on 1st May in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Only a couple though. I saw a lone one yesterday at Portobello (Edinburgh’s beach).
Hopefully they’ve survived this pretty awful weather. John Wall
|30 April||Thanks from Illinois: Thanks for all you do on the website. I love the Barn swallows; watch them Spring-Fall. Again; thanks for your dedication & time that you spend so the rest of us can follow the migration. Glenn R. Kuffer|
|29 April||Finland: The picture I enclosed (I regret the poor picture quality) shows that nesting boxes made according to the instructions I recently gave are accepted by Kestrels. A few days after arriving our Kestrels started nesting in the box I made a couple of weeks ago. At first glance the box may seem unnecessary large, but since Kestrels may have up to 7 (on rare occasions even more) chicks, plentiful floor space is needed. In the picture the female is in the box, male on the roof. It is pure enjoyment to observe the falcons from the house, not disturbing them.Regards Risto|
|28 April||Derbyshire, UK:
Fantastic to see this familiar little silhouette once again – here against the grey spring skies.Many birds are now back and it was fantastic to see groups feeding over the Derbyshire spring pastures at Chatsworth in Derbyshire today.Regards Andrew
|26 April||Belgium: Swallow coin and man made swallow nests – Ali
|24 April||Finland: Our spring has been until recently almost two weeks late, especially due to night-frost practically every night. Then something happened that often happens after an unusually cold start of spring: once the real spring arrives, it happens very fast. This warm period started a week and a half ago and the 60 cm of snow we had then almost all has disappeared. The temperature has reached at us at the highest already 11 deg C. Migratory birds were also late but now they have started arriving. This morning when having breakfast at the kitchen window facing the cow house I saw a familiar bird silhouette speeding in the sky over our yard. My first thought was – Oh no, not a swallow, not this early in April, not with this cold weather… The temperature was only 3.7 deg C and it was foggy after the night rain. Then the bird came nearer and I saw the white lower back and was sure: it was a House Martin that had returned earlier than a swallow ever before at our farm. The bird kept flying under the cow house eaves studying the artificial nests for House Martins. Later today the temperature was luckily already over 8 deg so hopefully the swallow will find enough food for surviving.I enclosed a picture of a nesting box for the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) I recently made for our Kestrels. The squirrel nest the falcons used last summer had suffered from nesting and I was not sure if it was strong enough to enable one more possible nesting (Kestrels often use the same nests several times in a row) and that is why I made the box. Such nesting boxes are commonly used in Finland and Kestrels find them so attractive that in many areas almost all nests are in those boxes. The box measures are: width 40 cm/16 in, height 30 cm/12 in, distance between front and back walls 35 cm/14 in, front wall height 15 cm/6 in (it is also half open as you can see from the picture). It is essential to cover the box bottom with some soft material, for instance wood chips or moldered wood. The most common natural nesting place of Kestrels in Finland is an old Crow nest, but since they are open they are not well protected against predators nor rain and small chicks can die of hypothermia in cold, rainy summers. The chicks can also fall down to the ground from open nests. Finns have always liked Kestrels and they have practically never been killed because by eating rodents they are useful from the viewpoint of humans. Kestrels have noticed that and often tend to nest near humans because of better safety and food opportunities people unintentionally offer them when creating surroundings voles and mice like to live in. Since the amount of voles, the major food source of Kestrels, is now very low in our area, I was sure we will have no Kestrels nesting in our yard this year. But surprise – yesterday and today a Kestrel was seen flying near our yard and today afternoon already two falcons were present. Then the male falcon flew into the nesting box on the cow house wall to study it. So, with good luck we will be able to enjoy the Kestrels nesting also the coming summer. With swallow fever rising,
|23 April||Colorado USA on organic farm: Barn swallows returned last night around pm very late winter snow storm hit today. It is cold. Barn swallows are roosting in barn and are visibly shaking from cold and what I assume to be exhaustion from long flight. What can I do to help? Some kind of food? Ideas? Not sure they will make it thru night if don’t get some food.
One is shaking, the other isn’t as cold. No insects due to snow!
Thanks Mary, White Dove Farm
|22 April||Kentucky: Our first 2 barn swallows are here!!! One came in late yesterday afternoon, the second came early this morning, and now two more have arrived. And yep, they headed right inside the back porch, to check out everything!!!!! I’m so grateful they are here, even tho it can get “tedious” at times. Take care – Ann|
|22 April||News from little saltee island,wexford,Ireland: swallows arrived on sat 20th april ,5 birds so far!!! will let u no when the rest arrive. best wishes, Patrick grattan-bellew|
|21 April||Hong Kong: When we first moved into our small apartment there was a swallow nest above our front door and the previous owners said that they had nested there for over six years. We did a renovation and unfortunately the nest was destroyed in the process but we put a little ledge in place in the same position as the old nest. The following year the swallows arrived and perched on the ledge. It was a particularly dry summer so I made a tray of mud and was delighted to watch them rebuilding the nest. Two clutches of 3 eggs and it was fantastic watching them grow up and fledge.
This year, they came back a little earlier in February. All went well, eggs laid and then we saw a large baby lying on the mat below the nest. Next day another one and third day a baby hanging over the side of the nest. There were still 3 babies left in the nest. There was a lot of activity yesterday and I saw 2 birds chasing each other. One of the birds raced up to the nest while the other seemed to chase it and I watched a midair attack. This went on for most of the day. Today, there was little activity in the nest so I climbed up to have a look and NO babies. It is rather stupid but I feel devastated. They have brought such joy to us and am saddened that we may not have any babies this year. The inside of the nest has been thrown out and is hanging on the side of the nest.
Reading your blog, obviously there is another interested male that is causing havoc. Do you by any chance know where the swallows migrate to from Hong Kong? It is hard to believe that they would go all the way to South Africa from here. Interestingly, we sailed to the Philippines last April and during the night an exhausted barn swallow landed on our boat and then flew under the dodger and sat on a winch. Poor thing was so exhausted that it just tucked its head under its wing and went to sleep.
Thanks for your blog – it makes interesting reading. Regards, Sue
|20 April||Swallows in San Antonio: Just wanted to say that I think the full group has arrived by now here…first sightings April 1. And a pair are now nesting in the nest I bought for them and placed on my porch..I live in an apartment complex that has really ideal covered porches. Two years ago a couple built a beautiful nest on my porch and even though it’s illegal here the maintenance person destroyed it after the birds migrated. Last year they tried to build another one in the same place but they couldn’t do it for some reason. So I bought the prefab nest and placed it in a good spot I think on my port; but last year it was too late, I think, for them to use it.
Am so happy to see this pair are making use of it. I have a beautiful hyacinth plant that blooms frequently on the ledge, under the nest, and I keep a big bowl of water on the ledge for them. Looking forward to the babies. Hope all is well with you! Thanks! Terry
|17 April||Sligo in Ireland: At least a week later than expected we saw our first Barn Swallows today.
At 08:30 this morning we had a flock of 20+ birds circling overhead with another 6 or 8 perched on our phone line. Not sure if this is a group passing through or some of our “non-paying” guests arriving home but happy as a xxxx in xxxx to see them back. Was beginning to get very worried, after all they are at least a week late. Cheers Craig
|17 April||Yorkshire, UK: Managed to capture this picture of our first two returnees this morning along with show stealing Sparrow !. We have a further 4 turned up in another Barn next door, one of which has very long tail feathers in comparison with the others. Sorry for quality of photo as it was taken in low light on the way to work, and with a small travel camera. Will try to get better picture on my return. No Swifts back yet but they normally turn up in May, but with the strong southerly winds blowing currently they also maybe early. On route again to Africa tonight – Lagos so will let you know what I see – if anything. Regards Mac|
|17 April||Lots of Barn Swallows in the company of a few Long Tail Swallows massing over Simbithi Eco Estate, northern KwaZulu Natal. I didn’t expect to see so many this late in the year, maybe they sense the incremental summer in Europe? Cheers, Adrian|
|15 April||I hope you are well. I just wanted to let you know that our first 2 swallows arrived here in Kilmovee, County Mayo, Ireland today! So lovely to see them, not an easy time for them to arrive as the weather is still very miserable here – but as ever they are soaring high and swooping with delight on making it home!
My eBook has now been published – it is children’s fiction suitable for ages 5-10. I am attaching a link but do not know if anyone in South Africa will be able to download it, perhaps directly from the publishers site, but not on amazon.co.uk or amazon.com. I wish I had some copies to send you for free but unfortunately I have not published it in paperback.
|15 April||Scotland: Our first barn swallow returned today, one day later than last year, and still a couple of days earlier than the average over the past 10 years or so. Which is surprising, as we still have some snow on the ground, after a very prolonged winter, and the strong easterly winds associated with that mean that the woodcock – native to Russia and Scandinavia, although there are a few that overwinter here – are here at the same time as the swallows; that may be a first.Now the winds have shifted to southerly, and what is left of the snow is going fast, and the swallows are back; great! With every good wish, James|
|15 April||Mount Moreland, South Africa: Still seeing Barn swallows when out and about, so a very staggered migration and no roosting by us at all. – Angie Wilken|
|14 April||Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK: Weeks and weeks of cold, stable, wintry conditions delayed the onset of Spring in the UK until late last week. The weather forecasts weren’t wrong though and towards the end of the week warm winds from the south west at last dislodged the block of High pressure which had kept daytime temperatures hovering around 4°C for ages.
The predicted strong south west winds and rise in temperatures (18.5° today) also led to an anticipated ‘invasion’ of barn swallows over the weekend. The predictions were 100% accurate on all counts with reports recorded of barn swallow arrivals from many locations particularly in the more southerly counties in England with a few speedy individuals recorded farther north. I recorded my first five individuals of the year at Swithland Reservoir in Leicestershire landscape is still very wintry but today I and many others in the UK have seen our first arrivals of the Spring ! Regards Andy Roberts
|14 April||Wales: Pleased to say after a terrible night of rain and strong winds cleared now at 1 00pm. Brought with it milder air plus two more swallows, a mating pair at wall nest in the little barn. Lucky today milking cows are in the rear field by cottage, so maybe some needed food flying about. Three swallows now in the barn and can expect few more soon. Peter|
|14 April||Ixopo KwaZulu Natal: I was looking up info on the Mock Swallowtail butterfly and came across your website and wanted to congratulate you on such an interesting and informative website. So much good info and a variety of topics that will be most useful even though our climate is slightly different.
We live on a wetland and enjoy a small show – thousands of swallows coming into roost on the reeds but nothing like we saw at Mount Moreland. Hope the plane’s activity hasn’t adversely affected them. Keep up the good work! Kind regards Cheryl Biggs
|13 April||Wales: Angie first swallow this year stayed in barn last night. Flew in around 7 30pm. Weather still lifeless and cold. Not one insects be found anywhere. All the birds have had a bad time of it. Feeding blackbirds with wild bird seed they don’t normally take to, but ground too hard for worm digging. Peter John|
|13 April||Yorkshire, UK: Flew back from Ghana last night, bumpy flight with strong southerly tailwind – good for Northbound migrants and quite big thunderstorms over France. Got home to Northern UK early this morning and was having a well deserved coffee in the early morning sun with my wife outside, when our first Swallow flew low level over the fields and into the barn. My wife spotted it first, and she said it was not there on Friday night. Guess I was not the only one who had a long trip home last night. He looks like a young bird with short tail feathers and his arrival is very early for us by about 3 days. Will send photo when I can get picture. This is the first one home for my extended family of Swallow observers as well, and to be honest quite surprised me, as usually people further south see their birds first. Wind has to remain from South for some time so more migrants expected, however more rain forecast for next few days in the north, and we still have large snow drifts in some fields, so I hope this young bird has not arrived too early in his eagerness to find a mate. Anyway it is now 18.20 and a good bottle of White Burgundy has to be opened outside to welcome back the summer, with the arrival of our first Swallow. Our first Spring Lamb was born on Friday night as well, which also always puts a smile on my face. Regards Mac|
|13 April||Devon, UK: As I said I saw swallows. Now I can tell you that our nesting pair arrived back in our letter box garage on Friday 12th April and gone straight to there old nest. Been watching them for hours today in admiration of the journey they have just made. Looking forward to the first young and there childish flight around our garden. Regards Chris|
|10 April||Barn Swallows Arrive: I was pleased to see 12 Barn Swallows flying North over Arlington Reservoir, which is close to where I live in Eastbourne, Sussex, this afternoon. It’s interesting to read that your swallows flew North along the West coast of SA, as I assumed that ‘ours’ kept to the East, and crossed from Morocco via Spain and France. They are about 3 weeks late this year, due to the cold Spring, but it’s good to see them! Best regards, Tim
See Barn Swallow Records
|8 April||Help needed: I am researching how to reduce the impacts of wind farms on birds for a proposed wind farm in the Northern Philippines. As the barn swallow is one of the migratory birds of this area, I am interested on the impacts wind farms would have on this species. If you have any information regarding this subject or anything that could be helpful it wouldgreatly be appreciated. Thank you, Hayley Langmas|
|7 April||Barn Swallow season now closed: Reports of mass numbers of Barn Swallows sighted in the Umhlanga river and Ballito is evident of the migration North and the swallows hugging the coast line for warmer conditions, the past 2 evenings in Mount Moreland have been incredibly cold. Also swallows spotted inland moving through Camperdown. It was decided to close the season today and will re-open in November when the swallows return – Signing off – Angie Wilken. see more at Daily Log|
|5 April||Local swallow watcher Ian, went in search of the Barn Swallows and confirmed the roosting at the Umhlanga river, it is off a very busy road and is a danger to stop there. He witnessed mass numbers in the evening and returned the next a.m to see them rise, he says the numbers were huge.
Not sure how long they will remain as cold weather is upon us, maybe that was the last big show.
|3 April||I contacted the farm in Kokstad where the swallows relocated to in December to inquire if they had left them, the reply was that the Barn Swallows only stayed with them a month and left early January after a bad storm hit them. – Angie Wilken|
|1 April||San Antonio, Texas, USA: I wanted to share with someone that I saw them this evening here in San Antonio — it’s April — first time this season. So good to see them back. We are having a drought here and I don’t know how that will affect them.All the best to you! Terry Hiller|
|March 2013||Barn Swallow News 2013|
|29 March||UK: We saw a huge flock of swallows a rough estimate of several hundred near Great Smeaton north yorks on 27th March and the following day a smaller flock of around 200-300 just a few fields further north. Today we saw a smaller flock around Brompton near Northallerton. All
sightings are within a few miles and probably off shoots of the main flock – they are all circling around the fields. We will try to get them on camera next time!
Hope this information helps, we would be very interested if anyone else has spotted them.
Your sincerely, Mr and Mrs Walsh
|28 March||Belgium: Nature suffers with the cold in the valley – Ali Aghroum
|27 March||Yorkshire,UK: We are having a very rough spring. When I posted last photos that was the start of a weekend of snow. Could not even get out of house, and had to hire JCB to dig us out on Monday, but could not get to work so out of sinque on trips. Please see photos after storm, no snow in fields but every road , wall, or dip filled with snow to several meters. 4X4 no good as you can see as snow just too deep (should have bought Toyota or Unimog / G Wagon maybe !!) . Would not expect to see any Swallows until late April as weather pattern set for at least next 2 weeks. Not in European Barn Swallow country now for next trips so cannot update on their flight north in person, but if I hear anything will post up date.
Regards Nanook of the North (A Very Cold Mac)
|24 March||UK: we are experiencing the coldest March for 50 years! I don’t expect to see anyBarn Swallows for a few weeks yet. Regards, Tim|
|22 March||Yorkshire, UK: Just thought I would post these to you to show you that winter is not yet letting go up here just yet. In theory if, on time, we are due to have some Swallows back in 3 weeks – hope they brought snow shoes as met forecast is for no improvement for next 2 weeks with freezing temp at night, even if this snow does melt during the days. Last year it was 21c on this same day, this year the high pressure system is between Norway and Greenland, last year it was over the Med, last year winds from Sahara and this year Siberia !! Hope you are enjoying the last of your summer Barbecue / Braais. Have noticed on your log that you have not seen large flocks of migrating Barn Swallows yet. I am told that there are many in Nigeria currently feeding (awaiting to cross Sahara I guess) so yours must be on the move soon. Have had some rough storms down your way recently, do not know if that has something to do with it. In fact we nearly came to Durban recently as possible divert, but got in OK in the end. Regards Mac|
|8 March||Finland: Although March is officially regarded as the first spring month in Finland, it is often still more like winter than real spring. That is how it is like also this year. At night the temperature varies between –15 and –20 deg and in the daytime between –5 and –10 deg C. There is now 50 cm of snow. But what is most important is that the sun is no more “cold” but it already warms up considerably. Not only does it shine longer and longer day by day but also climbs up higher and higher in the sky. Now it shines already for 11 hours a day instead of 4 hours on the winter solstice. But it is still a long way to go to midsummer with 20 hours of sunshine a day we enjoy here in Niinivesi. The first migratory birds are expected to start arriving soon. I am very excited thinking if the Kestrels that last summer arranged the major surprise by nesting on our cow house wall will do the same also next summer. Hopefully. The first Barn Swallows should be arriving at our farm in two months.
Attached is a photo on a beautiful January sunset seen from our yard.
|7 March||This is another one for information. You might have seen the February article below from the Daily Telegraph in London but if not it is very interesting.
Spring recordings of early returning swallows are starting to appear via the British Trust for Ornithology Bird Track website
http://blx1.bto.org/birdtrack/main/data-home.jsp and as mentioned earlier on various ‘Twitter’ sites.
Kind Regards Andrew Roberts
|1 March||Yorkshire, UK: Quick note to you re migration this spring. Judging by your posts you believe autumn to be closing in down there so wondered when you expect your birds to start north ? A fit older Swallow apparently can do the Northward trip in 5 weeks averaging 190 miles a day, so using airline terms they should have done pre flight checks, and be getting ready to
push back from the gate now !
Weather up here is still cool but daylight lengthening so spring coming soon. Have been in Nigeria (Lagos) but no Swallows there yet, but was told that in Eastern Nigeria they actually catch them for food with approx 100,000 pa taken by locals to supplement their diet. Did see some Swifts though. Will be back south tonight to Cape Town.
for a number of trips to RSA over the next 2 months to Cape Town and Joburg and 2nr to Accra so will keep you posted if I see any Swallow on my travels.
|19 February||Mount Moreland, South Africa: This was the sky at sunset time looking out from Lake Victoria viewing site. I have seen this before over the years and it just struck me that perhaps this is an indicator that autumn is here or that the season is now autumn.
Lets see if the migration begins now
|14 February||We live in Haenertsburg in Limpopo, South Africa: and had a pair of swallows nesting in a very secure spot around a light fitting. They were very social and sat chatting ( to us? ) on a veranda balustrade. After they had been with us for a good few weeks I saw one of them fly straight into a glass pain, flew off but I later found what I assume was the same bird dead below the nest.
Two days later we found a dead baby bird and another that didn’t seem to be able to fly. I have no ideas how old these little ones were, they were fully feathered. I made a cosy nest in a box for it and tried getting it to eat, I had no idea what to feed it so “Googled” it and found I should soak dog biscuits with a bit of apple sauce, well I don’t think it managed to eat any of it and subsequently died a day later. I assumed that the remaining parent didn’t manage to feed the little ones? I did see it around for ages there after.
I hadn’t been able to find much info on these little darlings, then today found your site.
|10 February||Denmark: I am going to write a little about “our” Barn Swallows by you. Here we have beginning spring, but still snow. But the first birds are singing. How about The Barn Swallows by you? Has it been a splendid summer? Enough of food? Are they ready to the long journey soon? When do you think they start migrating?I send you one of my drawings. It is a Blue Tit.
|4 February||Yorkshire. UK: Just watched on TV a BBC program done with David Attenborough titled Africa. It is part of series on the continent looking at the wildlife, and this one was to do with the Sahara in North Africa, and part of it was devoted to the Barn Swallow migration over this area, and the distance they have to fly to find water. It was quoted that the Swallows traveling North from Nigeria face a 1500 mile crossing of the Ubari Sand Sea before they can find any source of water at the Umm El Mar “Oasis”. This “water” however is heavily salt laden, and the way they pick up water is by eating the many flies that live there which filter the salt through there bodies allowing the birds to pick up valuable liquids. However not all Swallows are aware of the high salt content and there were pictures of birds who had died there due to consumption of what, no doubt, appeared to them to be water. An excellent series on your continent, and well worth searching out. Hope your summer improving, although from your log the Barn Swallow count appears low, and the weather mixed. Up here 6 Nations Rugby has started which I always think heralds the start of Spring, although we will no doubt have further snow yet, but at least it is getting lighter as the days lengthen slightly.
|1 February||Local Ballito residents: Rouxda and Jacques contacted me with the news that they had 3 baby lesser striped swallows, I agreed to take over the rearing of these very tiny baby chicks, named Tweet, Tweet and Tweet. Well done to the rescuers, these babies don’t even have a feather. I have being feeding them every 2 hours during the day and all seems to be going well.
Day 3 and I lost the smallest Tweet, Day 7 and both remaining chicks died. so upset. Angie
|January 2013||Barn Swallow News 2013|
|23 January||Local Mount Moreland Resident: Attached is a photo of the lesser striped swallows and their damaged house from the rain where they fell from under the eaves of our house. They are small and only a feather here and there. I made them a nest in a flowerpot – took the ground out and put some fake fur material inside with the broken nest with feathers on top.
Lucky for me the Parents came back and found them to take over the feeding. A week later they flew out of their man-made nest and were gone. They were loud like you would not believe it – but I felt really sad because it ended so quickly.
It’s the second year that the Lesser Striped parents came back to the nest – they just ad-on to the old nest to fix it .
I’m please to report that the mom and one of the babies comes to visit every evening
Baby Lesser Striped Swallows and there broken nest
|22 January||Italy: Yesterday I received the summer census from the University of Milan and I’m sorry to inform you that according to the estimates over summer in some areas we had seen a drop of 50% attendance of swallows. At this point only in areas of northern Italy is lost on average about 4% each year. The population of “Italian” swallows is suffering and the next February 20th we will meet with the agricultural colleges to try to make both the students and farmers to encourage the installation of artificial nests and maintenance of permanent grassland or forage. The knowledge that the population of swallows in Northern Europe enjoys good health is very encouraging. I follow your news every day and you are doing a great job.
thank you very much
Mark Lamberti from Piumazzo
|16 January||Appears that you are having the same sort of summer we had, with poor weather and few Swallows. Have been on Far East routes for winter, and have not seen many Swallows, but many Swifts in urban areas. Will be returning to African routes for late spring, so maybe will catch up to some then. Do not get chance to get to Durban due to time constraints, but will hope to see / hear of the Northward trek by myself or through colleagues who know of my interest. Have heard of some big storms over Joburg so should make for interesting flying for us and the Swallows ! . Weather in UK currently in Yorkshire -7c with light snow, so Swallows should make the most of SA weather, as even if wet, it is at least liquid sun shine as Kenyans say !. Regards Mac|
|13 January||life artwork goes on facility today, glacial, Eben 13/01/2013 thank you to all the village to protect the birds legend next to the church. 2009 12 occupied nests – 2012 more 50 nests occupied hundreds of swallows soon. By Ali Aghroum
|6 January||It’s amazing how we as humans perceive things. I was looking at the swallows nest the other day. (Still fully Intact and in good condition) The swallows are 6000 miles away, and nest will be waiting for there return? Is not amazing how they know exactly were to find it. I think it’s incredible that nest is waiting for them.
Gary Jones, Edinburgh, Scotland.