Richard and Diane Van Vleck Personal Pages
The Home Habitat

2012 Barn Swallow Nesting Update

barn swallow nestling portrait

Nest Cup Placement
and Monitoring

In preparation for this year's nesting, all wooden nest cups were removed and rehung, none within 4 feet of last year's nest.  All nest cups were photographed from the top and the front before mounting.  This provided a reference image to determine when mud was smeared on the rim or grass or mud was added to the cup.  Nests were checked daily with a mirror and taken down for closer examination as required.  Top down photos were taken whenever the nests were removed for inspection.

Approximately half of the nests were emptied the day the young fledged and the nest contents saved in a zip lock bag.  Other nests were left untouched, to determine if emptying the nests between broods had an effect on reuse for the second brood.

Nest cups were identified by numbers located on the front and top of the backboard. The nest number was placed in triplicate on the top of the board so at least one was likely to not be covered with mudNests to be photographed were removed and placed on a base with the current date displayed.

Barn swallow nest with 6 eggs Barn swallow hatching Barn swallow nest with 6 eggs

Barn swallow nest with 7 nestlings Seven Barn swallow nestlings Barn swallow nest with 7 young

Barn swallow nestling exercising wings Note the seven nestlings in the above photos. While nests seem crowded, there have been no more fall outs with six and seven nestlings than with four or five.  This year there was only one fall out in a nest of 5. It was much too young to fly and was replaced in the nest. The next day it was under the nest again, this time dead. The other 4 nestlings fledged normally. The nestling in the photo at right is exercising it's wings while clinging to the rim of the nest. They seem quite capable of maintaining their grip, but I never approach the nests at this stage. Premature fledges are usually caused by fright, not clumsiness. 



2012 Barn swallow colony nesting chart

Nest #20 was out of sync with the other nests, and accounts for the long tail at the end of the second nesting.  Five eggs were incubated in #20 for 18 days and then pitched.  A new clutch was begun 5 days later and two broods of 5 and 4 fledged successfully. 

2012 Barn swallow nesting in artificial nest cups 

As in previous years, the wood nest cups were readily accepted even though all cups were relocated at least 4 feet away from any location used in 2011.  18 of the 36 wood cups were used for the first brood and 6 new mud nests were built.  None of several old mud nests were used for the first brood.  And, none of the 6 new mud nests were built where a 2011 nest had been. (A reminder to myself - we don't always find what we expect).

2012 Barn swallow median date first egg laid

Swallows using the wood cups had a 10 day headstart on those pairs building a mud nest.  This year, this may not have been much of an advantage because August was cooler and wetter than usual and late nestings did fine. Often August is much hotter and bone dry, taking a toll on late nests.

Barn swallow nest cups
A new barn swallow shelter
2019-2020 barn swallow nesting
2012 barn swallow nesting
2012 barn swallow prey cam
Using artificial nest cups
2015-2016 barn swallow nesting
Attracting barn swallows
The Barn Swallow
barn swallow basics
Transplanting a barn swallow nest
2001 testing nest cups
barn swallow shelters

2022 update - Return of the barn owls
2021 Chimney Swift tower success!!!
2020 Barn Swallow nesting
Barn swallow nest cups
2019 Barn Swallows and Black Rat Snakes

2018 - The Barnyard Balance of Nature Goes Awry
Black rat snakes vs barn swallows, Northern flickers, kestrels and others

2018 Purple Martin preference for clam shells
2017 - Return of the Monarchs!
2017 Purple Martin prey photos
2010 - 2016 Northern flicker nestings
2014 house wren gourd use
2014 - A dramatic loss of many types of insects
2019-2020 Purple Martin nesting
2014 barn owl nesting - prey study
A new barn swallow shelter for 2013
2010 barn owl nesting
2010 Update
2016-2017 Kestrel nestings
Starling traps
Using blinds in the home habitat
Providing perches for birds
Providing snags for wildlife
The ugly young maple
2001 - 2013 nest cams
Use of tomato cages as hunting perches by insectivorous song birds
Vultures, beetles and the resurrection of life

Species of interest in our yard - photos and articles
barn owl American kestrel purple martin barn swallow Eastern bluebird
tufted titmouse Eastern phoebe yellow shafted flicker tree swallow chimney swift
house wren big brown bat Carolina wren brown thrasher catbird
cedar waxwing Northern mockingbird
Yellow warbler Acadian flycatcher

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© 2012 American Artifacts and Richard Van Vleck, Taneytown, Maryland.