Swallow feeds offspring – in mid-air


Blink and you’ve missed it – this is the amazing moment a mother swallow feeds her young in a split-second mid-air manoeuvre – while still on the wing.

The attentive mum was bulking up her two offspring on a telephone line ahead of their migration to Africa in a few weeks time.

She repeatedly disappeared before flitting back time and time again with flies to feed the hungry chicks.

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With split-second timing the greedy chicks would then sense her return and open their beaks at the exact moment she feeds them without slowing her flight.

Photographer Nick Shepherd, 53, caught the image as he walked from his home in Strete, Devon, to the nearby beach.

He said: ”What first brought it to my attention was the babies – when the mother is in the vicinity about to swoop in they make a chirping noise.

”Then I saw them with their mouths gaping open for only an instant as the mother flew in.

”She didn’t stop at all, just hovered for only a fraction of a second and shoved in some flies, and was off again.

”It was all done on the wing and it was literally only a fraction of a second that the beak of the mother was in the mouth of her baby. It was nature at its best, really.”

Swallows herald the arrival of spring when they arrive in Britain to breed in April and May after wintering in southern Africa.

The long-distance migratory birds leave again when the British weather cools off in late September and October.

Swallows have been put on the ‘Amber List’ of conservation concern by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) because their population has significantly declined due to loss of habitat.


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