Keeping the Chicks Alive

Keeping the Chicks Alive

2 chicks are fed by a parent just outside the window of my home office here in Blarney.

The chicks have been there all evening and I just looked out again and they’re still there. Unfortunately the neighbour’s cat, Patches, saw them too and is keeping a vigil close by. We saw the parent bird literally dive bomb the cat several times but Patches won’t be moved.

A moment before this shot was taken the first chick was fed. I have a photo of that too but I thought this was the better one.

Is it common for young birds to huddle together on a wire in the shelter of a house? It troubles me that they might be in danger or injured and can’t fly away. Anyone know?

Aperture ƒ/6.3
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Focal length 200mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/60s




  1. Reply
    David Coveney July 30, 2009

    They look fine to me – just that they’re not going to try and fly until they’re strong. Swallows don’t always get off the ground easily, so they can be a little timid about the first flight – but within a day or two don’t be surprised to see them swooping around. Patches only has a chance if they fail on their first go – perhaps a 50/50 chance.

  2. Reply
    John Keyes July 30, 2009

    I wouldn’t be too worried Donncha, they must have flown onto the wire in the first place. Probably just scared of the cat right now. The second parent should be around too, if not, maybe Patches got lucky already?

  3. Reply
    Gamma Goblin July 30, 2009

    They should be fine, nothing you can do about it anyway. The worst thing that happens to young swallows every year is the nest detaching itself from a houses eave and plummets to the ground. Usually the chicks survive but either are eaten by prey or die of starvation. The only thing that could seriously affect these two are cold nights. Is there no sign of a nest around at all?

  4. Reply
    Donncha July 30, 2009

    Thanks for the reassurance. My wife will be glad to hear it too!

    GG – no sign of a nest, but there are loads of trees right behind our house so it could be anywhere close by.

    John – nah, I spent the hour and a bit before taking this photo out in the back garden assembling a gas BBQ! Patches never had a chance (I hope!)

  5. Reply
    Kirk M July 30, 2009

    It looks like the others made all the salient points already but for what it’s worth:

    It’s common enough for swallows once the chicks outgrow the nest and and like John Keyes said, they most likely flew here. Having had barn swallows nesting in the carriage shed at the old family place for 4 generations now, these chicks will stay on the wire until their strong enough to maintain constant flight. Hopefully they’ll make it on the first try since the cat’s hanging around.

  6. Reply
    Donncha July 31, 2009

    Good news! The birds were there first thing in the morning but when I looked again later they were gone. Must have had enough to eat and moved on.

    Cats are still hanging around but it’s raining and they were in the dog’s (unused) kennel 🙂

  7. Reply
    Farnoosh Brock July 31, 2009

    Mother Nature at its best. How beautiful! I think you should post it to a photo contest!!!

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