When checking nest boxes during the breeding season, caution is essential. We don’t want to stress the adults while they are laying eggs or feeding their young. As the chicks grow, we can count them, determine their approximate age, and address any issues quickly.

Sometimes we are unable to count the chicks. The box may be too dark to see deep into the nest, even with a flashlight. Many times, the chicks crowd the nest, and we only see the one on top. Other times, the young are old enough to fledge, and we don’t want to risk opening the box for the count.

I recently came upon the last issue. One of our nest boxes had five young Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). We were thrilled to see the eggs in the feather-lined nest. Once they hatched, they grew fast, and after eighteen days, the chicks were ready to fledge—so prepared that they were popping their heads out of the nestbox hole.

Check out the video below. I took a moment to capture the scene and left the birds alone.