Pacific Swallow feeding chicks I

posted in: Feeding chicks, Nesting | 1

Lena Chow was monitoring a pair of Pacific Swallows (Hirundo tahitica) that was nesting at her office. The female was incubating the eggs since the end of June 2009 and they finally hatched around 11-12th July.

The nest was made from mud mixed with grass or straw and plastered to a wall but supported by a metal structure attached to a water sprinkler… (above left).

Three chicks hatched with eyes closed, opening only in about 3-5 days. There was a scant cover of down, the pin feathers appearing soon. The chicks were always gaping wide (above centre), especially when the adults were nearby. Their wide yellow gape and prominent pale yellow bill flanges, together with their loud begging calls sent a strong message to the adults to feed them. In the abesnce of the adults their bills were clamped shut, the thick flanges distinctly prominent (above right).

The adults fed them with whole insects, especially grasshoppers, that were thrust into the gaping mouths (above left, centre). Apparently one grasshopper escaped and landed on the floor below (above right). Another may well have got away and crawled around the nest. Obviously at this young age the chicks have yet to learn how to feed themselves, even with the grasshopper moving nearby (below).

On 15th July only two chicks were left in the nest…

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