Did you know Swallows mate for life?

By isak, January 11, 2011


In the photo below, a female Barn Swallow (Eurasian subspecies) is injured and the condition is soon fatal. She was hit by a car as she swooped low across the road.

Her mate brings her food and attends to her with love and compassion.

He brings her food again but is shocked to find that she has died..

He  tries to move her… a rarely seen effort for swallows!

Aware that his sweetheart is dead and will never come back to him again,
he cries with adoring love.

He stands beside her, saddened by her death. Finally aware she will never return
to him, he stands beside her body with sadness and sorrow.

Millions of people around the world cried after seeing these photos. The photographer sold these pictures for a nominal fee to the most famous newspaper in France. All copies of that edition were sold out on the day these pictures were published.

And many people think animals don’t have brains or feelings?

You have just witnessed Love and Sorrow felt by God’s creatures.

This is reprinted from an email that I received a few months ago — in November. I do not know who the photographer is that shot these wonderful photos. Like millions, they brought me to tears. I could not bring myself to just throw the email away. I thought I would post it here so maybe many more people would see them. Sadly it seems that many people think other people don’t have brains or feelings, either. This thinking isn’t applied just to animals.


  1. Mp says:

    We have new residents that built a nest under our porch on the hanging light. About the same last year (possibly same ones) tried to build in the same spot. I put plastic wrap up there. I noticed a week or so ago a bird was up in the wrap. So I decided to remove it. In less than probably 5 days a huge mud nest was constructed. If it weren’t for the mess they make I would welcome them. I cleaned a good bit of the mess up off the concrete and placed a cardboard box opened and spread out. Seems they are getting used to us…. I’ve decided to try and limit coming and going to and from the front door. Early on they were dive bombing me. Luckily for them I really like animals including birds. The next month will be interesting. The above images of the mates is sad. Which lets me feel better allowing them residency

  2. Renae Baker says:

    We have had pairs of swallows come back to our nest for well over 20 years. I believe that we may have a predator though. There were 3 eggs booted from the nest 2 with definite yolks. Then I found one of the adults a day later lying dead by my carport door with no signs of injury, so I wonder if something was chasing it and it ran into the brick and died. I hope that they continue to come back.

  3. Bell says:

    Is this still up and going? I’ll ask anyway. I recently got a nest of swallows under my porch right beside my back door. Last year they seemed to leave early and never saw any babies I figured because it got so hot. This year at least they got to lay eggs but they seemed to throw them out of the nest before even developing I think also because it got so hot. In the 100’s. I would go out each night, turn on the porch light and they would both be sitting int he nest. I’d talk to them for a few then turn off the light. Then I noticed only one has been there so I worry the other died. So why the thrown eggs, and will the one get another mate next year?

    • isak says:

      So sorry to hear your news.

      Birds will toss eggs from their nest for several reasons:

      • infertile/unviable eggs
      • they feel threatened
      • lack of privacy
      • predators
      • could be the eggs from a different bird that got tossed (think hostile nest take-over)

      Maybe the heat made the eggs unviable.

      Males without a mate will often visit the nests of other swallows to associate themselves with females that are already paired. However, the majority of the time, the only way a female will accept a new male is if their current mate dies or if the nest fails, thereby ‘divorcing’ the established pair. source

  4. kamaran says:

    hi there
    in our garage the male and female built a nest, but the problem as i think the nest too small , one of the babies tried to come out the nest and he stuck with nest , I felt he will fall down, for that i put a sponge on the ground to not hurt. the high of nest about 4 meters from ground. and finally he fall . I put the baby again on the nest ,and i went to my job. when i came back i saw the other baby one the ground and died ( I am not sure its the same baby form first time). during this death of baby one of the parents ( i am not sure its the male or female) refuse to fly and and she / he is watching the ground all the time . I dont know what to do with it.
    I put the dead baby on trash bin.

    • isak says:

      I am so sorry to hear about the baby. It sounds like the parent was grieving. Or maybe the parent was not sure if the baby was dead and was protecting it. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. martha says:

    We have had swallows nest on our porch each year for the past few years. We always become attached to the mama and papa and all of their daily activities. We were pretty sure that the female had laid her eggs a few days ago and was incubating them. Then we had a horrific storm three days ago. One hundred mile an hours winds, tornadoes, hail, etc. The mother is gone. We ascertained that there are four eggs in the nest. It appears that papa came back today and is looking all over the place for his mate. He has not taken her place in caring for the eggs. We have been advised by a rehabilitation center not to touch the eggs and to let them become food for some hungry soul. It is not easy to watch this drama unfold!

    • isak says:

      Nature can certainly seem cruel sometimes by our human standards. And to watch it up close like you have. How sad and difficult.

  6. Rosalinda Dryden says:

    I have had a nest now for about 5 years and tbey keep returning. This season both were back and suddenly i have only seen one returning to the nest early evening and stays the night. I am going to assume that the partner may have demised. I don’t know if it’s mom or dad, but will he/she find a new mate. I really hope so becuz so far in 5 yrs I have 11 babies. There is a new nest about 3 ft ftom the old one. It was built and it had occupants for about 2 weeks and it is now abandoned. At times I wonder if I should take it down?! I feel sad for the lone bird, I hope it finds a new mate.

    • isak says:

      I don’t know if the single bird will find a mate. Maybe it’s a young one who hasn’t found a mate yet. Is there a chance the new nest is a new bird? Or maybe a baby from a previous year? I have heard that different families will take over the nests, too. I would leave the nest where it is.

  7. Kimberly Plumb says:

    so i have a pair of swallows who have come back 3 years in a row. their nest is in our garage. their babies have always been such a delight to watch. its almost as if they r ok with us going in and out of the garage. i didnt use to let my cats out due to a dog we had that would chase them. this year they ar out and about and they crawl up in the garage and watch the mommy and daddy sparrow fly around the garage getting the nest ready the babies. well now only the male is there. he looks sad, but sleeps in the garage next to the nest every night. i think the cats got momma sparrow. will the male find a new mate for the nest. i feel terrible. he looks so sad

    • isak says:

      How sad. It sounds like he is in mourning and maybe still waiting for his mate to return. They are said to mate for life, so he may never find another mate. Can you protect the nest from the cats with some wire in case maybe someone new finds it?

  8. Kadye says:

    This year I got the privilege of having 3 different nests, all occupied with babies.
    However I live in Texas and the heat got so bad, so quickly that they’re dying. Despite my rescue efforts.
    I’m so heartbroken cos much like Mr. Stevie up there I was excited to see babies flying all over my carport.

  9. Donna says:

    I have 2 beautiful swallows right now who have came to an old nest in my close walk through to backyard.The nest has been there for a few years now built by another pair of swallows. However they have done a bit of their on D.I.Y to the nest by themselves though. I watch them sit together on the telephone line just outside the close. Beautiful little birds. I have read they can live for up to 12 yrs.

  10. Stevie says:

    Found one dead in my garage cut a round hole in wall so they could nest been there for a couple of weeks hope it finds another partner its quite sad thought i would see babies flying about garage

  11. Peggy Coleman says:

    I just Google search to see if swollow’so mated for life, because I have a nest of eggs on my porch, either mom or dad sits in the nest but they both stay together and work together to build the nest. It’s special.

  12. Vanessa says:

    What a beautiful story… I did cry as it relates to one I found dead in her nest. It was if she flew home to tell him that she wasn’t well or had an injury. I gently removed the body and the older nest and left the smaller nest there.

    I felt so sad for this bird… These are my favourite. I love them.

    No wonder Aristotle and Shakedpeare wrote about them as they are such beautiful creatures.

    RIP my friend the swallow ?

  13. pauline smith says:

    will the bereaved swallow find a new partner and new love or will he remain alone for the rest of his life

    • isak says:

      Pairs often stay together for life, but because the swallow has an average lifespan of only 19 months, many adults have to seek a new mate the following breeding season.

  14. mrs khan says:

    the Almighty god has created animals without fault , so who dares to think that they are lesser beings will have Him to deal with in the hereafter

  15. Paul says:

    A Heaven without animals is no Heaven.

  16. CanHaz says:

    Who the f**k ever said that animals don’t have brains and/or feelings??? The hell is wrong with you???

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