Chow Line

The Barn Swallow Quintet

The Barn Swallow Quintet lives in the old hog barn in our centennial farm. My daughters greet them every morning and every night as they care for their 4-H animals. A barn cat got hold of the mother swallow, but my empathetic 11-year-old was able to rescue her. It was a good thing, because the eggs hatched the next day. Three days later, these babies popped up to chirp for their supper.

Cliff Swallow Chick, July 7, 2014

On June 13, 2014, adult Cliff Swallows were first observed guarding this nest from the inside and adding mud to it. Unbeknownst to us, there must have already been at least one egg or tiny hatchling inside the nest on that date because we observed this chick in the nest on June 30. After July 8 we observed no chicks in the nest nor adults guarding it. We therefore assume that this chick fledged on July 9. A detailed chronology is available at

Cliff Swallow Nest on my Porch with Chick Inside, July 7, 2014

Barn Swallows built the bottom part of this nest on my porch in 2011 and used it to successfully raise a brood of five. The nest is right outside the only door to my apartment and that of my neighbors. In 2012, two separate pairs of Barn Swallows used this nest to raise broods of five and four, respectively.

In July 2013, a pair of Cliff Swallows arrived and modified the nest, adding a dome with an entrance hole. However, the Cliff Swallows abandoned the nest about two weeks later after my landlord had sent a roofer who put up a ladder next to the nest to inspect the roof for a leak.

In May 2014, a pair of Barn Swallows began perching near the nest. However, later that month, Cliff Swallows arrived at the nest and seemed to take it over. The Barn Swallow pair ceased perching near the nest. On June 13, 2014, we first observed a pair of Cliff Swallows inside the nest, guarding it and adding mud to it. A chick first appeared in the nest on June 30, 2014. The adult Cliff Swallows continued adding mud to the nest even while they were feeding the chick. Because the nest is enclosed, we had not been able to observe the number of eggs or hatchlings inside the nest.

July 8, 2014 was the last date on which we observed this chick in the nest. Therefore we are assuming that the chick fledged on July 9. I have done my best to enter this nesting attempt under NestWatch, but had difficulty adding all of my observations. A chronology of this successful nesting attempt is available at

Pick me! Pick me!

It was hard to believe there were actually EIGHT swallows in this nest. The only way to tell was to count beaks. Their hard-working parents sure had their beaks full trying to get enough food to their large brood!

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology