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Swallow Family on the Roof

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This is a UK based post but I just wanted to share my glee with you all.  For the last 2 days we have had a family of swallows - 5 babies and 2 adults roosting on our TV aerial just outside my office at home in Hampshire.  It is an amazing spectacle to watch the adults feeding the little ones whilst on the wing and then suddenly, all at once, all the babies fly off and do a bit of insect catching themselves, supplemented by an occasional in-flight fuelling from a parent.  I watched the group roosting for a full 15 minutes and one of the babies was never fed at all whereas others managed to get 3 or 4 feeds in that time.  How does the parent know which one to feed?  I noticed that the ones that made the most noise were more likely to get fed.  Maybe the fifth one was being more successful in its own insect finding forays and wasn't so hungry - I wonder?

Another interesting thing about swallows, which I have just found out is that the juveniles don't have the long swallow tails of the adult - which meant that I mistakenly identified them as house martins for the first hour or so and thought the swallows were attacking rather than feeding them (shocking I know for a zoologist like me - actually there is so much I don't know about animals it amazes me!).

I also can't see the red on the swallows - they just look black and white to me - is this normal?

Anyone else have interesting thoughts to add about the swallows?


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Swallow fact 1 - it's the males that have the long streamer tails - the female tails are much smaller.

Swallow fact 2 - the throat and a wee bit of the forehead are russety red.  Maybe juveniles don't have this but the adults do.

Swallow fact 3 - they love dipping into water in flight.  We watch them from the terrace in the evening.  I believe they are having the equivalent of a swift half, but someone suggested they may be dipping in to wash themselves as they get a load of muck in the bottom of their swimming pool which they put down to swallows dipping in.  Anyone confirm this?

Swallow fact 4 - our neighbour gets a barnful of nesting swallows every year.  About 30 pairs.  I can confirm their poop making capabilities.


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[quote user="Pixietoadstool"]

...I just wanted to share my glee with you all. [/quote]


I think - from what I heard on Springwatch last night - that the parent birds and the juveniles themselves - do know who needs / is next in line for a feed. On Springwatch - and I can't remember if it was the swallows or the blue t i t s - the chicks were taking it in turns to be fed with the most recently fed actually removing itself to the back of the "queue".


Note to mods / Admin: can we puhlease have t i t s taken off the proscribed words list. It is the daftest exclusion... apart from when COCO used to be asterisked out except if it started a sentence in which case it was allowed. [kiss]

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You should be able to see the red on swallows, but it's not always easy when they are in flight dashing around, on the young birds it's usually more of a pale brown colour but it is there.

Three reasons for them flying close to water, catching insects, having a dip and drinking.


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Swallow muck? HAH! I spit on your swallow muck![:P]

You should SEE the amount of droppings, pellets etc that a barn owl can make over a year!

THEN you can come and help me get it off my caravan! NOTHING gets it off! I've taken to using an old plastic scraper I got to clean out an old fridge, after soaking the poop for about two hours in special caravan cleaner.

Now THAT's mess[:D]

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