Rescuing three young Swallows
Having found a young swallow on the floor of our workshop here at Vine House Farm, I fetched a ladder and took it back up to the nest above - it was cold and not very lively, and I didn’t really think it would survive. When I reached the nest I found that it had largely disintegrated, and there was only one young swallow on the edge where the complete nest had been. The nest had probably fallen apart because it was not originally made of proper sticky mud - we had a dry spring and in spite of me putting some wet mud out for Swallows and House Martins in the garden, the pair that built this nest had clearly not found it.
There had been 3 eggs, and so I looked around for the third young bird and found it alive down the back of the door runner. So now I had three Swallow chicks but no proper nest to return them to. So I went straight to our own farm shop and picked up a Swallow nest cup and took it back up the ladder, then wedged it into nearly the same place as the original nest had been. I then put the 3 young Swallows in it, and was relieved that all had survived their ordeal. The adult birds continued to feed them, and were thankfully undeterred by the fact that they were now in a different nest.
Swallows normally lay five eggs and I would expect them to fledge their first brood of young at the end of June - but these were later well into in July. Swallows feed on flying insects and mainly those that live around farm animals. However, there are very few farm animals in Deeping St Nicholas as its largely all arable farming, and the nearest ones to my farm are around 600 yards away. I don’t think the Swallows here would routinely go that far for flies, so with a relatively limited supply of food in the immediate area of our farm buildings, that might be the reason for them only laying three eggs and delaying their first brood, as by July there'd generally be more prey for them anyway.
Fifty years ago every farm except one in our village had at least some farm animals, and as result we had an abundance of Swallows. But as the livestock has decreased so have the Swallows, and I would estimate that their numbers have declined in the village by 80% over the same time period.
I had heard quite a bit of twittering going on in theworkshop these last few days, and this morning, and much to my delight, there were the three young Swallow sat together away from their new nest and high up in the workshop - so all of them had fledged.