Swallow tales

Thursday, June 6
A pair of barn swallows start building a nest on the fire sprinkler you can see from my front door. In three days, the parents weave and compact bits of straw and mud and mystery goo into a twee bowl for their babies-to-be.


The sprinkler is about 10 feet above the ground and tucked away in a corner, so the nest is protected from strong winds. These winged structural engineers know their cantilevers. And based on the same principle, here’s a swallow’s nest built by humans!

The Swallow's Nest Castle on the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine

The Swallow’s Nest Castle on the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine.

Lovely, don’t you think? I hope to visit someday. In the meantime, I get to admire this marvel of avian architecture up close:

Perfectly perched for protection

“Our house is a very very very fine house”

But the “two cats in the yard” had better stay away. 🙂

So almost a month goes by after nest building is complete. Mom and dad take turns to incubate the eggs. And then one day, I hear cheeps!

Friday, July 5
Two baby swallows are peeking out the nest. Fuzzy but not fluffy, and all eyes and mouth at this point, especially at feeding time, when they open wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide.

The parent is obvious, but look closely and you’ll see two fuzzy little heads too.

Wednesday, July 10
A third baby appears. It was in the nest all along but hidden from view. When I returned from work today, the babies were so hyper, I thought they were going to fall out.

So thoughtful and sweet.

My neighbor’s note along with layers of bath towels on the floor to give the babies a soft place to land.

Another good thing about the towels is that they catch all the bird poop. Two grown-ups and three babies make lots of it! I saw a baby birdie position itself so its little bottom was hanging off the edge of the nest before it let go of a neat white torpedo that landed on the towel, ten feet down. Not even a week old, it just knew what to do. Either that, or the parents have firm house rules: posters are okay, poop is not.

Wednesday, July 17
The babies are fluffy versions of the adults they’ll soon be. The parents get agitated if I so much as open my front door to step outside. I know they’re guarding the nest and their young, but it’s the only way I know to leave my apartment or I’d climb out the balcony and rappel down the side of the building. When mom and dad are away looking for food, I take all the pictures I want from below of the baby birds. I’m not in their face—hope they feel safe.



The third bird is taking a nap.


All three together! This fluorescent light is most unflattering, they say.

Tres! We’ll pose, but can you do something about this fluorescent lighting, they ask.

All evening they’re very animated and the nest can hardly contain them. They’re more than ready for flying lessons.

Thursday, July 18
Morning comes and the nest is empty! Tear. The fledglings are out, testing their wings. Yay!


The birdies come back to visit now and then. Their loud cheeps are my signal to look out the front door. Dark purple coats. Aviator glasses. Looking sharp!

Monday, July 22
Another cube-bound corporate day. I come home to the perfect antidote. This:

The missing third sibling, the one that lay low as a newborn, is probably out doing sorties.

The missing third sibling, the one that lay low as a newborn, is out doing sorties.


One thought on “Swallow tales

  1. Pingback: Nest western | What a Wonderful World!

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s