Friday, June 29, 2012

Baby Swallows

We are lucky enough to have a family of swallows that come and visit us every year. This year has been no exception. The swallows next above our back door. This year they have had 4 baby chicks, sometimes they have 2 lots of chicks during the summer months but this year they are quite late. 
The baby chicks have been on their first flying lessons today. It was lovely to see these baby birds taking to the skies. All the babies have done really well flying with ease. 
Mummy and daddy swallows have been extra aggressive this year, leaving the house via the back or in the field they are dive bombing us, missing our heads by inches. Still we do not mind we love having these pretty little birds sharing our home. 

Swallow Input :-

Swallows are small birds with dark, glossy-blue backs, red throats, pale underparts and long tail streamers. They are extremely agile in flight and spend most of their time on the wing. The sexes are very similar, having metallic royal blue upperparts and breast band, cream-buff underparts and russet (red-brown) forehead, chin and throat. The tail has white markings along the inside edges of the fork. The bill and legs are black.

The female's tail streamers are shorter than those of the male.
Juveniles are duller, lack both the russet forehead, chin and throat and the tail streamers are much shorter
The eggs of the Swallow are about 20 mm by 14 mm in size, and are smooth, glossy, and white with reddish speckles. The duties of incubating the eggs are performed by the female. The newly-hatched young are fed by both adults, who catch insects on-the-wing and collect them in their throats before returning to the nest. Once fledged, the youngsters receive in-flight food from their parents.

They are widespread breeding birds in the Northern Hemisphere, migrating south in winter. Swallows herald the arrival of spring as they arrive back in Britain after wintering in southern Africa. As the time to return to Africa approaches they become restless and can often be seen perching in large flocks.
Swallows are found in areas where there is a ready and accessible supply of small insects. They are particularly fond of open pasture with access to water and quiet farm buildings. Large reedbeds in late summer and early autumn can be good places to look for pre-migration roosts.
These beautiful little birds cam be seen between March and October. Swallows are summer visitors, arriving from late March to mid-May and returning to their southern African wintering grounds in September and October.
A few individual birds winter in southern England and Ireland.

The weather has a significant effect on the Swallow's life and so the population varies greatly from one year to the next. Among these fluctuations, there has been a decline in the European population and so they are on the Amber List  of Species of Conservation Concern. The main possible causes of this decline are:
  • Climate change in their wintering grounds, along their migration routes and in their breeding areas.
  • The ever-expanding Sahara is becoming an increasingly hazardous region for the birds to cross.
  • Reduced numbers of nest sites and insects owing to changes in farming practices.

Their song is a rambling warble of trills and twitters sometimes sounding almost like a sparrow.

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