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Dr. Gwen
Dr. Gwen, Avian Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 514
Experience:  Ten years experience with pet, wildlife, and zoological avian collections.
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Hi We have a swallow nest in our courtyard, which is populated

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We have a swallow nest in our courtyard, which is populated by 1 couple every year that also do a second sitting.

The couple this year have been a lot more quiet than previous and i thought perhaps the male had been killed as when glancing at the nest i saw her tail feathers that were sticking out moving very slowly up and down and presumed she was almost hibernating to conserve energy whilst she sat on her eggs.

2 days ago we heard the joyous sounds of swallow chirps for food and assumed that the chicks had hatched.

When they are in nest i close the courtyard door so that my cat cannot come in to get to his catflap in the dining room (his only access).

He is a night cat and has no issue with it he has various outbuildings /games room and food and total access to the house from 6am in the morning.

There was terrible weather last night and for the first time i opened the courtyard door and this morning @6am i found a half eaten swallow on the floor. I am so sorry, i absolutely love all birds and especially swallows ( never will that door be open in season again.) My husband went to the nest and a small swallow believed to be the female flew out. I think the same one that was on the eggs before. I never saw the male and think he might have been away previously?

If she has returned to the nest i think she will not move again. WE know she had company/maybe have been fed by the mate on the last two mornings as we heard it.

With broody hens we take them off the nest to force exercise and eat, do you think we should be opening the door to gently 'scare her off', every 2 or 3 days to ensure she gets some food in flight, or do you think it would be too stressful, given her hard life so far and best to leave her totally & hope that the chicks hatch soon, so that she can leave the nest to feed them and hopefully herself a bit as well?
I know it will be hard for her she is so tiny, i just would appreciate some expert advice to give her the best possible chance.

Thank you so much.. Jade

Dr. Gwen :

Hello, welcome to Just Answer. I will do my best to answer your questions. First off, my condolences on the finding of your swallow had perished. I'm not entirely clear on the second bird - it is sitting on the nest currently, correct? Do you know if the eggs have hatched?


i dont believe they have hatchede need a ladder to see in and she has already been scared twice today, once with the male defending the nest and being caught, the second when we went out to look at the nest


sorry, pressed return

Dr. Gwen :

Whether the eggs have hatched or not, I would strongly recommend that you minimize any disturbance to the area and nest. Do not encourage her to fly off the nest. This will actually cause her to utilize more energy and reserves. Wild birds have natural instincts of survival and she will sort out how to best care for herself and the nest. I will caution you that if it is overwhelming, she may abandon the nest and leave the chicks/eggs to perish. There is nothing you can do to help with this aspect, except to give her as much privacy and minimize the disturbance around her nest.


..sorry pressed return i don't believe they have hatched - we need a ladder to see in and she has already been scared twice today, once with the male defending the nest and being caught, the second when we went out to look at the nest. we can go and check maybe tomorrow, but my thought is they have not and she is sitting on the eggs. my real concern is whether, if we scare her off the nest every 2-3 days, would she be feeding in her flight (during her short time away from the nest) or given that she is broody and has her eggs in mind, would she bypass the feeding and it provide more harm than good, given that it will be stressful for her. Also might she not return to her eggs if this is done so frequently? i know that other than that and keeping the door locked, that i am powerless to help. My other query is how likely a single swallow is to survive or bring up a family on her own? (and she is tiny as mentioned in 1st email) There are other swallow familes in the grounds and i have seen one since flying above the courtyard feeding as part of its extended loop - i know many were born in the courtyard, but whether they would know she was there, or even if she got to chick feeding & fly stage, would they join in to help her? thank you so much..

Dr. Gwen :

These are all great questions, and I really love how much you care for the wildlife and swallow population. Wild birds have a natural instinct to survive. This may result in abandoning the nest in order to live, as in nature, it will always make more sense for the parent to survive in order to reproduce later. Although the bond with the offspring is enormous, when faced with survival, the vast majority of animals will abandon the young in order to survive. If they were to sacrifice themselves for the offspring, then all would perish, whereas if parent survives they can reproduce again.

Dr. Gwen :

As for your other question - how likely will a single swallow bring up the family. I do, unfortunately, think it will be exceptionally hard, likely too hard, for a single sparrow to raise the brood. It is quite likely that at some point she will abandon the nest and leave. But, the advantage there is she is more likely to pair up with another mate and start anew.

Dr. Gwen :

I hope everything works out for your sparrow population - best of luck with them. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reply.

Dr. Gwen and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you we have just heard chirping again, so fingers crossed somehow someway they will all make it through, we certainly have lots of flies - and we have had a baby swallow that went off and was finally left by its family last year for migration, have a bunch of others come to its courtyard and he flew off with them, lets hope the swallows (and everything else have a guardian angel!) Thank you so much & goodbye
That is exciting news! If there are things that you are able to do to attract more bugs to the area - some people have place fruits/veggies outside to allow them to rot and attract bugs - this may help. This may be something you can do near the courtyard and will increase the fly population. Best of luck with all of them!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I will let you go, promise, no need to reply - i have given you feedback already, but thought you might like to know that i have just seen two swallows flying into the nest, i think she has recruited help! thanks a million for all your advice & take care..
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