Pacific Swallow feeding chicks I

on 25th July 2009

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…

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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