Barn Swallows, Feathering Their Nest

One of the Barn Swallow nests in our barn with feathers in it. I think the spotted ones come from woodpeckers.

The baby barn swallows left the nest days ago and I haven’t seen them since.  Most likely the parents will lay more eggs soon.

In one of the nests, there are feathers sticking out of it that obviously don’t belong to the swallows. I’d never seen this before.  When I looked into it I found that after mixing the mud and grass, the barn swallows put a layer of grass then a layer of feathers in the nest.

The feathers help insulate and camouflage the eggs.  I’ve read that the eggs of birds who feather their nests have a greater chance of hatching.

I’m not sure where the baby barn swallows go after they leave the nest. I read that some stick around to help with the second clutch. They’ll all migrate to Central or South America in the fall.

14 thoughts on “Barn Swallows, Feathering Their Nest

  1. I enjoy watching the industrious birds build their nests in our trees and in the barn. Some of them love swooping in for Corinas fur when I brush her. Corina is part Pyrenees and when she sheds her winter coat there’s enough fur to line lots and lots of nests. This year we have one swallows nest high up in the barn along with the sparrows and finches. They are all fun to watch!

    1. Ah lucky birds by you Josie! They get a warm nest with little effort. Maybe one of the reasons they come in the first place. You have a nice variety of birds.

  2. It’s amazing how the swallows know that your barn is the ideal, quiet, safe place to build their “feathered” nests! I guess they’ve been returning for years and will continue to as long as your barn is standing. I didn’t know they added feathers but what a great idea…nature always seems to know how to use what is available out there. Nothing is wasted and I love how you and Jon continue this theme throughout your lives. Love your photo! 🙂

  3. That’s an exciting find.

    We put up 3 birdhouses this year – it was so exciting to have Bluebirds choose one as home, and their 1st set of chicks recently fledged – I spotted a little Wren checking out the box this morning, so it may have a new resident soon.

    Tree swallows have built a nest in one of the others – I didn’t know anything about them, so did some research on the Cornell Ornithology Lab website, which is an amazing resource – (and their cameras of nests, feeders and birdhouses across the world are an amazing way to lose yourself for hours)!

    I found out the Tree Swallows incorporate feathers into their nests – and found some Youtube footage, of them transporting feathers – and even taking feathers from peoples hands, or catching them when they’re thrown in the air
    Bringing feathers to the nest box
    Taking feather from hand

    Love learning new stuff like this, and I’m wondering if any of our chickens stray feathers are inside the nestbox, where the female is now incubating her eggs. Will have to wait until the chicks have fledged and have a look.

    1. I heard about people throwing feathers to tree swallows Hannah. Thanks for the videos! And I bet there are some chicken feathers in those nests. I’ve found nests made with some donkey hair and even the pieces of a blue tarp that was covering the wood.

  4. A swallow built her nest in the floral wreath hanging next to my porch light and had her chicks there. Will she return and use this nest again? I don’t want to remove it, if so.

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