Swallows are fantastic birds, they seem to fill the sky at Giddy Gate Farm with chattering and movement as they dart about catching flies, collecting water and mud to make their nests.
We are lucky enough to have swallows nesting in our outbuildings every year. They particularly favour the horse stables where there are all sorts of ledges and light fittings to build on and I presume lots of flies to eat.
Swallows will often rear broods of up to 5 chicks and these babies grow really fast. Every year at Giddy Gate Farm we either have baby birds falling out of the nest as they get bigger or on occasion a nest may break off and fall to the floor.
What to do if a baby has fallen from the nest.
If you find a baby swallow has fallen from the nest and is obviously not ready to be out yet (lack of flight feathers and generally fluffy in appearance) try to place the bird very gently back into the nest. Don’t worry the parents will feed it just as before. Wear some gloves to protect the little bird and you from any bacteria (baby birds are not the most hygienic little creatures) and wash your hands after.
This little guy is ready to leave the nest, with fully formed flight feathers and not much fluff left! Leave these well developed fledglings to explore their surroundings whilst their parents keep watch.
What to do if the nest has broken or fallen.
If the nest has broken or fallen an old ice cream tub or something similar will make a fine replacement nest.
This is a picture of our replacement nest at Giddy Gate Farm 2 years ago. The parents continued to rear the babies successfully in this old ice cream tub. We put a few flat stones in the bottom of the tub to provide some weight and topped them with hay for a comfortable nest and placed them near to the old nest site, high up out of reach of cats.
Just be careful where you put the new nest, don’t place it on a light fitting that may heat up or become a fire risk.
One year we made a small ledge and fixed it up high in the roof. We used some ply wood, attached a rim to hold the nest inside and placed the fallen nest back onto the new ledge. The swallows went on to rear that brood successfully too.
What to do if nestlings have been deserted.
It would be rare for parents to desert a nest but occasionally it may happen. Rearing swallows should be considered an absolute last resort and these baby birds should be passed on to an expert in rehabilitating them.
Who to contact if you need help;
- Local vets may put you in touch with a local wildlife sanctuary.
- The RSPCA have dedicated wildlife centres around the country.
- British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council have a directory of rehabilitators around the country who you can contact.
- UK Animal Rescuers have a list of wildlife centres around the UK.