I have heard your requests for photos of an egg hatching, and because I respect all of you and want you to be happy because when you’re happy with my blog, you visit it, you follow me, you comment, and that makes me happy. It’s kind of a pay-it-forward thing, and in the end we are all happy. In an attempt to fulfill your wishes, I sacrificed the dusting, the scrubbing, the cleaning of the floors with a toothbrush to park myself in front of the bird TV for the entire day, intently watching, taking photos with my iPad – because that seems to do somewhat better than the camera if I get to the exact right distance from the screen – and diligently studying the swallow behavior.
I learned this:
While swallows appear to do little not in public view, apparently the laying and hatching of eggs occurs only undercover – under the cover of mom’s belly. This became apparent when mom left and I saw that now we have three baby birds, with one egg remaining. But my surveillance continued.
I did learn a few things about bird behavior in the nest. The babies are very restless, flopping themselves about, burrowing under, crawling over. They have little control over their body parts and their heads seem large for the size of the body, so they flop about in a manner that makes me worry about broken necks. Apparently they are very flexible. When mom is on the nest, there is little rest for her, possibly because the babies do not lie still for very long. She’ll settle for a moment, then get up, do some rearranging or cleanup in a not-so-gentle fashion, settle again, get up, repeat.
Feeding fills most of the day. Mom sits on the nest for awhile, and when she leaves, pop comes in, but pop does not sit on the nest. He will feed, he will watch over, then he will position himself in the opening to await mom’s return. When either parent arrives with food, they twitter as they enter the nest box and the baby birds’ mouths open – whether this is an instinctive or a learned reaction, I do not know but I’m guessing it’s instinctive.
There is a noticeable difference in size between the two birds that hatched first and the Tuesday arrival. Already there are signs of darker feathers on their heads.
When I checked this morning there remained one unhatched egg. Alas, I cannot stay home and keep watch today as I have an appointment in town, although I’m certain the last arrival will be undercover, as the others were.