MAYDAY MAYDAY! All FIVE of my Barn Swallow babies are GONE!

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Guest

I'm just stunned! Very sad! Angry! What happened to all FIVE of my Barn Swallow babies?

I got an e-mail from a friend who watches the live camera quite often and she told me she could not see any heads popping up any more. So I went out with flashlight and looked - empty! No sign of any foul play, no babies on the ground. They were only about 1 week old, much to young to have jumped out of the nest!

So what could possibly have happened?

Please, if any of you watched the live video cameras today or yesterday, and you saw anything unusual, let me know. I haven't been watching it much lately I just assumed all was fine and I was planning to watch more as they got older. The URL for the cameras in in my signature.

Man, I just feel sick!

Gus
Guest

I'm really sorry to hear that, Gus. I've been hosting Barn Swallows for a long time, and they are a joy.
I sincerely hope you learn what happened (and that there's time for a second brood).

- Steve
MM
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:40 am
Location: GA / Canon, (Hart Co)

How sad!! I am so sorry!! :cry:
Martha
2016 - first pair 2/18
2015 - 18 pair
2014 - 15 pr
2013 - 11 pr. & 1 single SY male
2012 - 6 pr.
2011 - 1 pr.
2010 - Hoping for a lot more!
2009 - 1 successful nesting pair!
zoefluf
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:51 pm
Location: Bush, Louisiana

Gus,
That is just awful!! I know how bad you must feel. I have five babies on my porch that are almost a week old, too. I wonder if some bird carried them away? I noticed today that there were two other Barnswallows sitting on the windowsill on my front porch, watching the mother and father feeding the nestlings. The female flew at them and fussed but then she just carried on with her feeding duties. Could other Barnswallows be like the SY males who carry off the nestlings because they want the nest?

I suppose the only other thing could be a snake. I did see a picture of one - on the forum - on the ceiling of a porch near a Barnswallow nest. I would think snake. Just last week I saw a snake come out of the vinyl siding in the eaves above the door at my daughter-in-laws house. If that is the case, how in the world can you defend against that kind of attack?

This is VERY disturbing. I know how much you cared for those birds and I feel bad for you. I am also worried because I saw a large rat snake right outside my back door last week and in the past I have seen a rat snake crawl up under my vinyl siding.

I have two finch nests under my carport and the barnswallow nest on the porch all with nestlings that cry out for food most of the day. I guess those cries could certainly attract a snake.
"Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap, yet your heavenly Father feeds them."
Al Denton
Posts: 1465
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:31 pm
Location: Carolina Shores NC
Martin Colony History: New site and housing for 2018...Trendsetter 12. 1 pair of subs. Fledged 5...2019...11 pairs

Sorry to hear Gus. A few days ago my neighbor witnessed a crow fly up under the eaves us my house and snatch one of my house finch chicks from a nesting cup. The others jumped and and were picked off my driveway by the same or another crow. It could have been a crow that got your babies..maybe hawk :roll: I quess we should put guards over our open nesting cups to present this nest robbing :roll:
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Gus,
I'm so sad to hear this. :cry:

Have you looked around your yard for a snake with a full belly? I hear they don't / can't go very far after eating. I saw that picture too and don't think there's anyway to protect from that.
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
abernathys
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 8:40 am
Location: maxwell/texas

Gus--I'm sorry to hear about your babies! :-(

I was just thinking that if you have a Shrike (some call a butcher bird)around your area, I know that they will take baby birds out of a nest and feed to their young or eat them themselves. I have one that took some lark sparrow babies out of the nest for food. Hopefully the parents will renest.

Keep us updated.

Thanks
Sandy
PM lover
zoefluf
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:51 pm
Location: Bush, Louisiana

Gus,
Have the parents returned?
Jeanne
"Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap, yet your heavenly Father feeds them."
Guest

zoefluf wrote:Gus,
Have the parents returned?
Jeanne
Yes, the parents are here, they never left. They don't seem to be too disturbed. They were both checking out one of my other nest shelves, so they may build a whole new nest. I'll keep everyone informed.

Gus
iluvbirds
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu May 20, 2004 6:38 pm
Location: Kentucky/Murray

Gus, I'm so sorry..... :-(
....... Pat
Guest

I'm sorry to hear this - what a sad story! We had birds (flycatchers maybe) that built in our pole barn. They had 4 healty hatchlings one day and nothing the next. A week or so later I found a snakeskin :cry:. I suspect this was the culprit. I hope they renest successfully! They are so fun to watch.
Julio
Posts: 876
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 8:37 am
Location: Pembroke Pines, FL

I doubt a snake got up through the wall, at least a large one. I know smaller snakes can scale rough walls. Sounds to me like crows raided the nest, Gus you don,t record any videos? I was considering setting up a cam as well with one of these (Currently used at home for surveillance) with built in webserver.

http://www.buy.com/prod/avermedia-averd ... 14203.html

Hooked up to a standard high resolution or regular resolution CCTV camera you can record for 14 days on a 250 Gig drive with very clear sharp recordings. I'm planning on installing a megapixel webcam as well as a backup cam in case something happens and i miss it. Again Gus im sorry to hear about the barnies, but perhaps the next shelf will be used, keep us updated.
"We can judge the heart of man by his treatment of animals." - Immanual Kant.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JulioPrado954/posts
KathyF
Posts: 3518
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Julio,
Check it out......Mother Nature loves to surprise. :shock:

http://www.purplemartin.org/forum/download.php?id=5943
Last edited by KathyF on Thu May 08, 2008 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair
http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com
Guest

I am so sorry to hear that! But, I would go with the snake theory. Several years ago, I was watching our nest on the front porch, showed the kids the 5 babies, sticking their heads over the side of the nest. The next morning, I look up and there sits a snake, all curled up on the nest!!! He crawled up the side of the rock on our house, to 15 feet up and sat in there and ate everyone of them. He was probably 3-4 ft long, blew me away that he could scale that wall!

Needless to say, we pulled down the nest, amid all my crying, and killed it. That poor mother was so upset, she was screaming too! Bad thing was that next day, there was ANOTHER snake in there! So, after killing that one, we tore down the nest, we didn't want to put any other babies in jeopardy.

Babies or eggs, if you see no waste, or dead down below the nest, it's probably a snake. They can climb anything!

Kathy
Guest

I caught a rat snake in the act of finishing the last of 5 barn swallow babies in the nest on my front porch last year. I caught another snake in my driveway about a week later. A couple weeks later, apparently another snake got 4 baby barn swallows from a nest on my rear porch.

These rascals can climb straight up brick veneer walls.
Guest

Oh man, that made me sick to my stomach to see that snake! Those poor things didn't have a chance.

My house has White Austin Stone, so I figured they had small ledges to climb on, how on earth did HE get up siding????????

Oh, man, that makes me sick! It's creepy!

Kathy
Guest

Actually, a snake was my first thought as well. There is a USB cable that runs up the wall to the small webcam. I think a snake could easily use this cable as a means to climb up. That takes the snake right to the camera. Then the camera is only 8 inches away for the nest, so that would be an easy reach for the snake.

But I have some other forensic evidance that indicates that is was not a snake. For one thing, not all the nestlings were taken at once. There was a period of about 2-3 hours where people (including me) saw only two nestlings. I didn't think anything about it, I just assumed that the other three were sleeping below the rim of the nest.

One of my cousins, way up in North Dakota was watching the video and she said that all of a sudden there was a terrific confrontation and she saw a bird fly away from the nest at high speed. The camera shows such a narrow field of view that she could not ID the bird - it might have been one of the swallow parents, or it could have been the predator.

But here is the clinching argument. Late yesterday afternoon, while sitting right were I am now, in front of my computer, I noticed some movement out on the patio and it was a Blue Jay that flew in and landed on the top of my patio table. At the time, I was NOT thinking predator at all, but I was very surprised and curious as to why a Blue Jay would be coming in to my patio like that. I have NOT had ANY feeders in the backyard since last winter, and besides that, when I DID have feeders, I NEVER had any Blue Jays visit the feeders.

As soon as the Jay landed on the table, both adult Barn Swallows were diving-bombing it over and over again. The Jay just ducked a little bit, but never moved. I thought it was an interesting scene so I got up to get my camera, When I stood up, the Jay flew off. Then I never thought any more about it. My Barn Swallow pair dive at ANY thing that comes anywhere close to the patio, including cats, grackles, mockingbirds, sparrows, starlings, etc. In all the incidents I have witnessed, they were successful in driving these animals away.

But the Blue Jay was not just in my yard pecking around the ground for some food, it was on a mission. Since I couldn't sleep at all last night, I checked the Internet and found out that this is a rather common thing for Blue Jays to do - that is, grab and eat nestlings right from the nest. In thinking about it, I've seen Blue Jays grab not one, but two or three peanuts in their beak at the same time. This tiny week-old nestlings were about the size of a peanut, so an easy catch.

I checked the nest carefully for any signs of breakage, and I didn't see anything. But the Jay could easily just fly up there and land on the rim of the nest and grab the young ones.

So that's my theory, and I feel quite confident it was Blue Jay that killed my Barn Swallow babies. Until now, I did NOT realize that Jays were meat eaters. But I learned that they belong to the Crow family, then it makes sense, Crows are definitely meat eaters, as in road kill.

Also, to add to my theory, there IS a pair of Blue Jays nesting in a LARGE Live Oak tree RIGHT across the alley from my house. They probably have nestlings to feed now as well.

As to the status of the adult Barn Swallows, they are still around, in fact I am looking at the female perched out there as I type this. They have been in and out, often even singing, and just behaving the same way they did before they started building their nest. I have three (3) additional nest shelves in the other corners of my patio ceiling and I noticed the female checking two of them out several times today. So they may actually want to build a new nest before they start another clutch. They typically do two clutchs of nestlings each year, and usually use the same nest, but last year they DID build a new nest for their 2nd clutch.

I may be turning the cameras off for a while, since there is not much point in looking at video of an empty nest. But turning them off, I'll get that much more bandwidth for the Martin Cam. That should give viewers of that a faster frame rate.

Still very sad, but we have to move on.

Gus
~Patrick~
Posts: 537
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:42 pm

Gus,

When I still lived in my hometown of Houston, I was in our back yard and saw a blue jay land on my martin house. I still used the round holes then. The jay stuck it's head inside and casually tossed out a martin chick that unfortunately landed on the driveway and quickly died of the fall. It didn't seem interested in eating it, just seemed curious and meddlesome. But you are so right. A jay probably did take your barn swallow chicks. They are notorious nest robbers. An interesting twist was that we later had a blue jay nesting way in the top of a tall pine tree in the back yard. We heard a great commotion and watched a crow, cousin to the jay, fly off with a blue jay nestling. Guess what goes around comes around. Sorry to hear you lost them. Maybe they'll renest.

Patrick
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