We continue with the series of Emilio d’Alise’s lovely pictures of swallows feeding their young (see first installment here). Emilio’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them. I repeat some of the intro from the last series.
From 2007 to 2013, I lived in Colorado and worked in Woodland Park (8,100 ft. elevation). We had an empty lot next to the office, and we put up a Bluebird house. For the first three years, we had Bluebirds nesting in it, but in 2011, a pair of Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) moved in, and returned each year for the next three years. This post from 2011 documents the final weeks before that year’s brood fledged — they all fledged, but a hawk got one of them —and it includes photos and videos.
But, the year that I got serious about photographing them was 2012, and these are some of the photos from those sessions.
As I mentioned, the birdhouse is sized for Bluebirds which are smaller birds, so the typical Tree Swallows brood of 5-7 makes for a pretty tight fit just before they fledge. Early on, the adults will enter the nest to feed the chicks.
. . . On most feedings, a fair portion of the adult’s head goes inside the beak of the chick (both close their eyelids during contact) to ensure the meal is not lost. Still, occasionally, a few bugs fall out before the chick has a good grasp of it, probably because various parts of the bug may be stuck to the adult’s plumage.
On average, I would say at the peak (when I was shooting), the parents were coming by about every one to two minutes.
As far as I could tell, for a few weeks — from early morning to dusk — both adults did nothing but catch bugs and feed the chicks.
Here’s a swallow feeding its offspring a “pretty large bug”: a grasshopper: