Even after the young swallows have left the nest they are sometimes fed by the old birds. I have seen four young swallows sitting on the top of the open door of the wood-shed in my garden. Now and again, when one of the parent birds happened to fly past them, the four young ones would go in pursuit, dodging and darting about with surprising agility considering their tender age.
These pursuits usually ended in the same way. One of the young birds would succeed in getting close to its parent high in the air, and their bills would come together in a sort of playful kiss, as they paused for the briefest instant in flight, and some food would be transferred from the mouth of the old bird to that of the young one.
On a sunny day I saw a family of swal-lows, seven in number, engaged in a game of follow my leader, dipping themselves one by one in a small stream as they flew round and round the garden. Finally they were completely drenched, and with their feathers clinging to their slender bodies they all alighted close to each other on the bare tops of a row of pea sticks.
For a long time they stretched their wings and their legs, combed out their plumage, and lazily basked in the hot sunshine.