Five tree swallow chicks. I kept counting them...were there 6 before? I couldn't remember how many eggs there had been. As I was emptying the old nest far away from the pole, I found number 6... it had been dead maybe a day or so. It was at the same level of development as the others, but smaller. No picture...it was too sad.
I put the new nesting material in the gourd as the girls kept watch over the bucket. Here you can see the little black mites on the outside of the gourd.
The girls and I take one last look at our babies before placing them back in the nest.
In a wilder setting, maybe these chicks would have made it without intervention. And maybe not. As long as we put up nest boxes, we also are putting ourselves to the responsibility of intervening when needed. Obviously the smallest chick would succumb to mites first, but I'm not willing (or able) to sit back and see if the rest could survive.
After getting the nest raised, I hustled to the house, threw my clothes into the washer and took the hottest shower I could stand.
It's been about 2 hours and I'm still itchy.