"Rescued" Barn Swallow. Any tips until I can get em to rehab?


8 Years
Mar 14, 2011
New England
My boyfriend is a horse trainer. He works in a barn during the day. One of the barn swallows fell from a high point in the barn (where he couldn't get to to put it back in the nest) and onto the concrete. He saved the bird from a salivating dog who waits around for these tender little nuggets to fall from the sky so she can enjoy her afternoon snack time. Surprisingly, the bird doesn't seem to be injured, but I couldn't really know for sure.

I've done a bit of Googling and have been feeding it either mushy dog food or waxworms every 1/2 hour. It's eating with vigor. I'm not forcing anything in, nor am I feeding it liquids because I don't want it to inhale them. I have it under a heat lamp. The bird has some wing feathers and is covered in pins/fluff all over the rest of it's body. It seems hydrated (moist inside mouth, nice and yellow, bright - not red or pale.) It makes cute little bird noises when it's feeding time. I simply tap on it's makeshift nest and it opens it's little mouth and chirps for me. It's in a toy sand castle bucket with hay to be comfy.

I keep washing my hands, too.

I've called two of my "local" rehab centers and am pending a call back tomorrow. I don't want the bird to die and I don't want to imprint it so that it may be released back to where it came from with success. Unfortunately - the closest rehab center is an hour away and they're only open until 4:00pm. I work from 9:30-6:30pm until my day off on Sunday!

Anyone have any suggestions or recommendations? I think we're doing pretty well so far. I don't want to have the bird until the weekend, but I might not have a choice.

p.s. Why do these little birds fall out so easily? He says that the babies fall out of nests all the time and this little gordo dog eats them up. I know that fledglings are often mistaken for injured/misplaced birds - but these that fall out are not fledglings, but younger birds that aren't ready to leave yet. I think that the barn swallows need some Coop Design 101 courses!
There are now two. Same nest - smaller bird. :: sigh :: Apparently this duo of birds has built their nest in a really bad location.

Rehab people aren't calling me back. I really don't want these birds to be imprinted by me! I'm not talking to them or cooing at them. I just feed them and get outta there. I'm not handling them, either.

Any other tips? I'm going to go leave the rehab people another message. I guess I could call another rehabber - but this one is already an hour away. GRRRR.
Where in NJ are you? I can try some of my contacts if you don't have any luck getting hold of rehabbers. PM me if you don't want to post where you live.

As far as immediate concerns, watch the heat lamp at this age especially with two of them they might get over heated...newly naked chicks would need the lamp but if they have fuzz/pin feathers and wing feathers they should be ok. Are they pooping and if so how does that look? With birds you feed sun up to sun set but don't need to get up overnight.
When I worked as a wildlife rehabber, we used blended food that was 1/2 wet dog food and 1/2 horse meat that we got from the zoo's stock. (Please, no one hijack the thread and turn this into a discussion about slaughter...we are talking about what it takes to feed wild animals here, and you have to remember that back in the day we worked with what we had without all these fancy new commercial diets people have now). So if you have fresh ground meat available that might be an option, seeing as this is a bug eating species of bird (we were feeding our blend to nighthawks) but it sounds like you are doing fine. I would add a bit of water to help it be moist like someone suggested. I can't recall if we gave those nighthawks extra water or what, but moistening the food should help.

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