It is great to hear so many people love their swallows but sad that in some areas there are less birds. This is one of the reasons I like monitoring them for the BTO in my three parishes, on the west side of Worcestershire.
At present I am gathering nest records on 40 pairs and I know we have other pairs in nests too hard to get too, so we are having a pretty good season.
One sad fact is some pairs have not learnt it can be disastrous to place their nests right under felt and tin roofs especially in a hot spell as we are now having. It becomes so hot the nestlings are forced to jump out of the nest and then possible die hitting a hard floor. If any of you have this happen it is possible to put up a container slightly lower down with an old swallow nest or hay in it, and move the young down. I did this recently when I found two dead and one just alive. It was the best thing to do as the last one would have died anyhow, so was worth a try. The parents recognise the chicks “peeps” for food when they fly in and feed them.
I still have swallow sites where none have returned but at others the number of pairs has increased. As I explained before it is the adults coming back for a second or third season, that regularly return to the same site, and there could be up to a two third loss in adult birds making the migration successfully.
In many years of catching swallows returning I have had hardly any moving to another site in my parishes. It makes sense to go back to a place they remember, where nesting places are known and there are places to feed. It is the first year birds coming back that have to find a place to set up home either in a new site they have disovered or manage to find a vacant nesting site with others.
Thank you Garth for this interesting an indepth description of what goes on with swallow monitoring and other swallow information.
We are worried as there are hardly any swallows here this year. If only two or three set off when it is time for them to migrate it is bad news for next Spring.