Thursday, August 23, 2012

Flying the coop

I came in from the garden the other day and saw this in the driveway.

It was a little baby swallow that had apparently fallen out of its nest, poor thing.

He was right below this cliff swallow nest, so I put two and two together and concluded this was where he belonged.

So I got a ladder, gently picked him up...

...and slipped him back inside the nest. I went away feeling smug and righteous.

For about five minutes. Then he was back on the ground again.

Kind of reminded me of this old Sergio Aragones cartoon.

Well duh, silly me. Apparently he came from the barn swallow nest in the barn, not than the cliff swallow nest under the house eaves.

See? One fledgling. Should be two.

Trouble is, that nest is 18 feet off the ground. So I str-e-t-c-h-e-d our tallest ladder...

...climbed up, and slipped him back inside the nest.

Meanwhile the parents hovered anxiously.

See? Two fledglings. They even match.

Half an hour later, he was back on the ground.

Meanwhile his sibling looked ready to leap. Okay, catch a clue. They're supposed to be doing this.

"Jump, Junior!"

Pretty soon both babies were on the ground.

So was our barn cat...

...who, to his credit, paid the fledglings no attention.

Well, for the last few days we've had those babies literally underfoot. We have to be careful where we walk lest we step on one.

We never know where we'll find one.

Lydia has been fascinated. Doubtless they'd make a good snack.

The parents are still feeding the babies... wherever they are.

See the butterfly?

Mmmm-mmmm good.

It's been awfully fun watching these babies as they gradually learn to fly the coop.


  1. Love this post. We once saved baby sparrows that had hatched in our garage, by keeping our cat (Loon) away from them for 3 or so days.

  2. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)August 23, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Thank you for posting the pictures as I am so fascinated by birds. For several nesting seasons I've been watching the Decorah Eagle cam. You can't imagine how interesting their lives are from an egg to first flight!
    Maybe the cat thought they were baby chicks and that is why he didn't chase them.

  3. So funny! We had the exact same thing happen. A baby tree swallow "fell" out of its nest. We found it a split second before our dog Nugget began to pounce on it. Put it back into the next after taking pictures and holding it for a little while. Parents didn't seem to care. A few minutes later,the baby swallow jumped out again. So we tried to keep the dog away for a few days. We had a similar experience with some woodpeckers. They're usually so shy, but this mama used the logs we were peeling that were full of beetle larva to teach her babies to find food. The moment we began peeling a log, she and her babies would swoop down for lunch. We had so much fun! Thanks for posting this.

  4. The swallow pictures are beautiful. I'm surprised your cat didn't even jump to go play or eat the birds. We had a nest of baby cardinals, watched them grow, get fed by momma and dad birds, they ended up on the ground and before we knew it another bird or the neighbors cat got the birds.

  5. What a fun story! I kept reading, wondering how it was going to end. How totally cute.

    I hope they get strong enough for the flight out when the time comes. Labor Day is the deadline around here for barn swallows to hit the mean sky.

    Just Me

  6. Haaa-haaa. Similar story here. A few summers back, my dear son decided that the baby Eastern Bluebirds "needed help" in flying. (Picture Mork from Ork and the eggs if you're old enough.) So he took them to the wooded lot next door and gave them a jump start. I crashed through the poison ivy for 20 minutes and couldn't find them. Looking it up afterwards, they were apparently old enough to fly.

  7. TRULY delightful post, Patrice! Thank you!

  8. Just goes to show that sometimes our kids need help even after they've flown the coop!

  9. Just goes to show our kids still need our help even after they've flown the coop. (Heck, that's when they finally start listening to us, right?)