Dead Swallow babies - possibly attacked?

Very tragic this afternoon to find 3 swallow chicks dead in one of my stables. I'm just wondering if anyone knows what might have happened, as it seemed like they suffered quite traumatic deaths.

Apologies for my lack of knowledge re the correct terminology, but they seemed to be newly hatched - only just starting to grow hair & one of them still had what appeared to be shell around its limbs. One of them was found underneath the nest, which is located near the eaves of the back wall, but the other two were on the other side of the stable near the door. They all had very obvious injuries to their heads/necks (broken necks & blood spots where the eyes would be were just two injuries I clocked before it all got a bit much.)

The swallows have been nesting here for years with no issues, so this is quite alarming & the parents seemed very distressed as well. 

Any help on what's gone on/if there's anything I can do to prevent it happening again would be greatly appreciated please.

Thank you very much in advance!

  • Sorry to read this. Do you have house sparrows there?
  • That must have been very distressing for you. It's hard to know what might have happened but I seem to recall on BBC Springwatch a few years ago there was a case where a lone male Swallow evicted and killed the chicks from a nest. As I'm sure you know this is not uncommon in the animal kingdom where an unattached male wants to pass his own genes and will kill those offspring which are not his. Just a guess really. Hopefully the parents will try again

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    Regards,Tony

    My Flickr Photostream 

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    TeeJay said:
    I seem to recall on BBC Springwatch a few years ago there was a case where a lone male Swallow evicted and killed the chicks from a nest.

    Here's the LINK Tony. 

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Someone posted about swallows last year, and male swallow was suggested then too. Could well be. My doubt is whether male swallows batter the chicks. The recording showed it removing the chicks so there were none left in the nest.
  • Yes, I remember that posting and as you say Rob the video did not show actual battering although the male did drop the chicks and seemed that was perhaps this was more to do with an intruder male clearing out the nest in order to pair up with the female and produce his own offspring with her (as later debate from experts suggested as a possible reason) So many animal behaviours that we don't always have the full answers to but still very interesting nonetheless.

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • I hear what you're saying, Hazy, re dropping delicate chicks. Would cause some damage, e.g. potentially breaking necks. But missing eyes must have been an attack. Had that with sparrows wiping out young martins. Would male swallows need to take away chicks and then attack them after dropping them? Not convinced but I suppose it's possible. I'd have thought killing or assaulting of young would be at the nest before being dumped elsewhere.