"Our" 2014 male swallow, keeping watch over the female and babies.
Last year's swallows reared two families in their nest on our porch. The pair seemed like new parents, unsure of the process, and we weren't sure they'd manage. But both clutches fledged.
"Mama feed me!" (7/9/2014)
A trio of fledgling swallows sits on the edge of their corner nest, one day before first flight. (8/26/14)
In 2015, a pair of swallows built a nest next to the 2014 nest site. The pair had a single clutch of two, pictured here (7/17/15) shortly before they fledged.
The nests look different, in part due to location. The 2014 nest was in a corner so it was a quarter round, 2015's nest was flat against the wall so it was a semi-circle.
I think the color was different year to year because weather dictated a change in material. We had rain in 2015 and the banks of the pond where the birds got mud in 2014 were underwater. I wondered how the birds would manage until I passed a new home site where groups of swallows were dipping for mud. The 2015 nest also seems to incorporate more grass, maybe the mud at the construction site needed more reinforcement?
Swallow droppings make a mess on the porch--the young know not to soil the nest, hanging their back ends over the side to do their business. But washing the floor is a small price for the entertainment of watching the birds.
As a bonus, swallows are flying insect-eaters and keep the porch clear of mosquitoes.
This year's parents had only the one clutch but the juveniles hang out with other young swallows, resting in porch shade on hot afternoons, sometimes 10 birds together, twittering.
We're hoping they survive the arduous migration to wintering grounds in Central And South America, and come back to us next year.
Hope you get a chance too to welcome barn swallow beauty to your own yard.
Migration map from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Copyright 2009-2015 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.