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Monday, July 18, 2011

Leaving the nest...

Every year we have a pair of barn swallows come to our back porch to raise their family. They've been using the same nest for four years now and it is in the perfect spot for me to watch them from the kitchen sink. It's a sight that makes washing dishes a more pleasant chore.

This has been a tough year though. Towards the end of May we had a very chilly night and the two parents slept on the nest to keep their fledglings warm. A few days later I commented to Don that the three babies had left the nest. We both thought it seemed early for them to leave so Don went to take a peek in the nest. Sadly, he found all three dead. We figure they must have smothered the night their parents tried to keep them safe from the chill. Don removed them from the nest and I told him the nest would have to come down as the birds would no longer use it.

To our delight the barn swallow parents immediately started building a new nest. It isn't in as good a spot for me to watch from the kitchen sink, but I don't mind. I'm just glad they stayed. Shortly after the nest was finished the mother barn swallow began sitting again and it wasn't long before she hatched two little birds with gaping mouths. Once again I got to watch the parents diligently feeding their hungry offspring and held my breath every time one of the fledglings got to close to the edge.

Last week they left the nest. I knew it was time. They had most of their adult feathers and looked like miniature versions of their parents. Fortunately, they have continued to return to the nest at night and rest on the porch during the heat of the day. The fledglings were easy to spot at first. They still had fuzzy heads and looked more long-legged than their parents due to their smaller body size.

Today there are no barn swallows on the porch. I believe the parents have taken their children out into the world now, away from the safe haven of my back porch. I wish them safe travels and I hope they eat all the mosquitoes they can find!

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