I first noticed the barn swallows circling the yard about 10 days ago – they came and went a bit. Today as I was outside working on the vege garden I noticed 3 Barn Swallows circling the yard looking more serious…
Each year since we bought our house we’ve been delighted by the antics of the Barn Swallows who thought they had as much right to use our porch as we did, having built a number of nests on the very thin ledges above the windows and back door.Each year they’ve usually manage to raise 2 broods of chicks, and usually it’s 5 successful chicks in each brood. The parents are very dedicated to the task of raising their young, and so spend hours circling the lawn and environs looking for bugs for their young. When I’m mowing the lawn they like to swoop down just in front of the tractor to grab the moths that the tractor disturbs up out of the grass – they are AMAZING flyers as they swoop in for the moth, and make sudden changes of direction to catch the moths. A newer camera yields a bit better pictures – this is the June 2006 brood hanging out, very close to being ready to leave the nest. For the first day or two after they leave the nest they return to sleep and rest, but after that they are seen circling the yard, and sitting on the power wires.
After the first couple of years I diligently washed the nests down, but I felt kind of mean about it as next year they’d spend some days making little mud dobs and rebuilding, so for the last few years I’ve left the nests in place, and they come back each year, and choose which of the 3 that are currently up on the side of the house they’re going to use, make a few repairs to it if needed, and then get about their business.
Alas last year wasn’t such a good year – they turned up as usual and were busy inspecting the existing nests and making repairs. We left for a week or so away, and I noticed one bird sitting on the nest, so thought we had another brood going. But a day or two or three later I noticed one of the birds swooping close by the nest, and chattering a lot, with no apparent response from the bird in the nest. So I got the steps and climbed up to have a look – the adult on the nest was dead – no wonder the other one seemed distressed. I removed the corpse, but there was no moore breeding last year.
But they’re back – 3 birds circling the yard today and swooping around the 3 nests still up above windows and the door on our porch – perhaps we’ll have Barn Swallows babies again this year.