Feeding the Kids

The Tree Swallows in the new PVC nest box on the East side of the pond are busy feeding their chicks. Here are a couple of videos. Turn up the sound if you would like to hear the background sounds of other bird songs. In the first video the male arrives a bit early with his haul. It’s hard to say whether her behavior as she encounters him is a nice, little beak-peck (kiss of affection) or a little push paired with the sentiment, “get out of my way!” as she sallies off to nab more insects to bring back to the kids.

In the second video, the speed of the feedings makes me think that the chicks are getting competent enough to be ready to receive their next meal. It’s truly amazing how quickly these little beings go from a egg laid and waiting to be incubated to a fully developed bird ready to take wing and fly off.

My research tells me that Tree Swallow chicks leave the nest 18 – 22 days after hatching. The actual duration is described as being affected by the the feeding conditions, which can be affected by the weather since the primary diet is insects. However, I did read that the parents may add fruit (like available berries) to their chicks’ diet.

As the actual time for the chicks to leave the nest arrives, the parents reduce their feeding frequency (I suppose in order to make the chicks hungry enough to take the plunge from the nest box.) The chicks needs to be able to fly immediately when they leave the nest. I have seen that, as the time to fledge is approaching, the chicks will spend a lot of time poking their heads out of the hole. When the parents are hunting in the airspace that is visible from the nest box, the chicks will follow their movements. As the adults fly towards the nest the chicks open their mouths wide in anticipation of the next meal.

I think that time is nearing for these chicks. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to film them at that time. Observing the dedication and work that these parents put towards raising their chicks makes me feel that we are more connected to the natural world than we often realize.

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