Well, by my calculations, the Barn Swallow eggs should have hatched by June 1st. I watched and waited for feeding behaviors to be demonstrated, but never saw either mom or dad coming and going. Mom simply seemed to stop incubating.
Then, I saw this egg shell on the porch underneath the nest. Since both parents seemed to be away from the nest a good bit, I got brave and fashioned myself a compact mirror taped to the end of a yardstick so I could take a peek into the nest cup. I saw one remaining egg in the nest which was unhatched. (That is a feather to the left of it.) I explored further, and found more pieces of shell on the porch and in the mulched bed below the porch. Pretty confusing! I sent the photos to my good friend and bird guru, Julie Zickefoose, who wrote back to say that all these eggs were definitely pipped. So, we DID have hatched babies, but where were they?
That is the big mystery! I truly did not think it was predation, as I've seen NO other birds or things even remotely near this porch since they started nesting, and the nest seemed to be very orderly and neat. Julie suggested that it very well could be these are first time parents and once these babies hatched, they simply did not know exactly what to do with them. "Hey, what happened to our pretty white eggs?" And, they may have carried them right out of the nest. Who knows? But, only days after this, they immediately cleaned out all the softer materials inside the nest and started rebuilding. Dad brought in more horse hair and mom was tidying up things to create a new nest. Days later, she started laying again, and when I looked for the last time before she started incubating on the 9th, there were a total of four eggs, one being from the original nest.
I gathered up all the shells I could find, and though it was sad that these three babies did not survive, I'm hoping beyond hope that the current eggs in the nest will also hatch out and this time, will be raised by two very determined parents. If my calculations are correct, we should have babies in the next day or so. Stay tuned...