Baby Barn Swallows--Answers
Swallow nests are thick, made of mud pellets and grass stems, and lined with lots
of feathers. So the underside of the babies is well-insulated from cold. When the
mother broods them, her hot, bare tummy can keep them warm, but when she leaves to
find food for her growing family, their upperside needs at least a little insulation
before they are old enough to maintain their body temperature.
2. Why do you think that swallows remain in the nest so much longer when they don't have to grow as much? Think about the different places their nests are in and the different foods they eat.
When baby robins fledge, they are good at hopping, but can't fly yet. Their nests are usually in trees where lower branches can catch fledglings, and if a baby falls from a porch light or other high structure on a house, it can flutter its wings hard so it won't crash too hard. Baby robins mainly eat worms, which they find on the ground, so as long as they can run or flutter to a nearby shrub when danger appears, they are safe.
Swallows nest high up, without any branches below to catch little babies if they
make a mistake their first flight. They eat flying insects, which are very hard to
catch unless the swallows can fly well, too, so there is no good reason for the babies
to fledge before they can fly well. That is why swallows remain in the nest longer--so
their bodies will be more developed, and stronger, when they leave.
Copyright 2001 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form