Sunday, April 22, 2007

Barn Swallow Drama

The baby house finches left the nest three days ago, just as Julie predicted. I didn’t think they looked mature enough with their little scrubby punk rock hairstyles, but they did flee.

Springtime has finally arrived to stay. This weekend has been glorious! I filled the hummingbird feeders in hopes to see their return but I haven’t planted the flowers they crave yet. The recent freeze still haunts me, so I’ll wait another week or two.

Now the drama begins.

We spent lots of time outside yesterday and I asked Michael to bring the step ladder around to the front porch so I could examine and clean the nest the finches recently fled. This is a nest that a pair of barn swallows built last summer. It needed a good scraping and cleaning, but the only way to get to it was to remove the nest from where it was planted, on a rock, high and close to the porch ceiling. Michael pulled the rock and nest away from the aluminum and handed it to me. He continued to scrub the area clean while I examined it closely.


One pale blue finch egg was left…

While we worked, the hot western sun was beginning to set on us at 6pm and caused us to squint. While I held the nest in my hands, I saw something magical and surreal beyond the porch rail. There was no mistake about it. The swoop, the sleek, long deep blue wings illuminated in the sun, the pale belly…oh, so familiar. A sight I haven’t seen since last summer. She dove and spiraled around close to the porch for about a minute and I muttered to Michael, “She’s back!” I could hardly say the words through happiness and grief. My heart was instantly broken. Why did I feel this way? She returned to see a step ladder in her corner. I held her nest in my hands. My chest was heaving and I could barely see her through tears. Frankly, I lost it, and turned into a weeping ninny. What are the chances of the return of the Barn Swallows at the precise time we removed their nest? Wanting to regain my composure, I told myself, “Oh, come on, Mary. Get a grip. It’s just a bird…What's wrong with me?”

Was this the same lovely bird I knew so well last summer? If so, was she so outraged that she might never return?

Our porch sits high above the ground and being on that step ladder near the rails frightened me. I tried feverishly to get that nest back into place after I removed loads of debris and scraped it clean. During my last attempt to place it firmly, the nest broke away from the rock. I was desperate in my attempt but I failed.


I left a firm, wide base for a new nest.

This bird business is getting to me enough that I am ready to quit. Can you quit caring, though? I never imagined I’d be so emotional over such a beautiful pair of swallows that trusted me. Now I may never see them again.


The weekend wasn’t a complete loss, I guess.

No flowers or pond plants yet, but I’ll be busy soon. The pond is in good shape and the pump and filters are doing their job. More work is needed.


Some cleaning in the skimmer basket produced all sorts of things.


Feeding Frenzy at the Ferracci house. How’s this for a vibrant splash of color and life! The frogs were crooning again last night!


Chloe wants me to put some cheese in it. A bit of cheese in the crevice of a rawhide goes a long way!


Big dog? Little dog? No difference. Mr. Biggins and Bella rock the house..


If I can’t have Barn Swallows, I’ll settle for the Mocker, “Old Faithful”. Sigh…


If you are longing for house finches, you are welcome to the Ferracci Finch House of Fun!

Meanwhile, I’ll be looking for the dashing swoop and spiral. Sigh...


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I'll bet they rebuild. Especially if they raised a family successfully last year and know that it's a safe spot. You wouldn't be the Mary I know and love if you didn't care so much!

KGMom said...

Take heart--having found a perfect nesting spot once, the swallow may yet return. Your description of the niche above the porch post sounds like an ideal place to build a nest.
But, you're right, what are the chances of that timing. You with bird nest in hand, and the swallow swooping in to reclaim.
I love the fish photo--and of course the puppies. That face asking for cheese--how can you possibly say no?

Dorothy said...

Oh Mary, I think the swallows will return to build a new nest. Take heart...they'll return. They return to Capistrano every year.
They'll return to your house too.
Your pictures are fantastic! The fish, your dog, the birds... wonderful.
Thanks for the eye candy!

Unknown said...

Have faith, Mary. They'll be back! Heck, I'd build MY nest there! :)

Mary said...

Lynne, oh, gosh. I care too much, I guess. Kind of foolish.

Donna, I still can't believe the timing!!! I hadn't seen a barn swallow until that moment!

Dorothy, eye candy? That's so nice.

Liza, my fingers are crossed!

sonia a. mascaro said...

Mary,I hope the swallows return to build a new nest. I can feel your sadness about the bird...

The pond is so beautiful with those fish! And Chloe looks adorable with this big bone in her mounth! Lol!

Thanks for your visit and nice words about the pictures of my city. Living at Enseada Azul (in country) I miss so much the big city!

Susan Gets Native said...

Don't worry, Mary. They will build a new one.
You can help them out by having lots of fresh, wet mud around. When you see them gathering nest materials (grass, hair and feathers) you can fill a nice mud puddle for them.
And empty out your hairbrushes.

Anonymous said...

I agree and would also bet they will rebuild there! Can't wait to see the pictures! Love your photo with your puppy with its bone in its mouth! Soo cute!

Jayne said...

Oh, I'll bet she will rebuild too Mary. I often see the swallows, but have never been fortunate enough to enjoy watching a nest like that. Certainly, if you'd left it up there, the house finch might nest there again anyhow, so maybe this was a better idea to clean it out. I love that you care so much and was smiling through your entire post.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Here's a twist for you, Mary. Barn swallows have been "in" in So. Ohio for a week, so they've been around your place for maybe three weeks. She had already arrived, and the swooping was because she saw you up there messing around with her precious spot. The swallows are strongly tied to the spot and were doubtless waiting for the finches to vacate. I think they'll rebuild, too. If a nest falls down in a barn, they don't abandon the site; they just rebuild. Have hope!

Mary said...

Sonia, that Chloe is determined to get what she wants - see that face?

Susan, thanks for the encouragement. I have hanging baskets on the porch where I put wads of hair from my brush. They is plenty of red clay around, too!

Mon@rch, almost 11 years old and still acts like a puppy!

Jayne, I had an emotional weekend and was wondering if my hormones went crazy on me... LOL!

Julie, so she's been lurking already? Thanks for your insight. I'll stay hopeful :o)

Beth said...

Great post and wonderful pictures, Mary. I take heart in Julie's comments and hope for the best!

Give that dog some cheese!

Q said...

Dear Mary,
You have a Barn Swallow friend, how lovely. They are beautiful birds and a sign of summer! The pair already knows of a safe nesting spot, they will try and return. I would think a new nest would be best too. Their spot is ready and they have a caring friend. You will provide the water for bathing and drinking and they will be ever so happy to eat bugs!
It is grand you care so deeply. No worries. Being close in our hearts to the beauties of Mother Nature is part of being her daughter!
I loved reading about how much you care.

Susie said...

I'm so enjoying reading of all the delightful creatures in your garden. We also have a pond! I'll post pictures soon. We have to get out and get rid of some of the water lillys as they have lived all winter and are about to take over!!
(when I think what I paid for that first one, I can't believe that I'm just going to have to chop some of it away!!)

dguzman said...

They'll definitely rebuild. From everything I've read, that's their habit. They'll come home! Don't fret! I bet Zick is right--she saw you messing around her spot and came to let you know to cut it out!

Oh my goodness, I'm sure someone's gotten lots of cheese in the crevice with that face!

Anonymous said...

Mary, my sister in law in San Antonio has swallows nesting over her doorway. Her husband removes the nest, they build it back. This has been going on for several years. Someone suggested to them to try to move the nest a couple of feet away, but nope, they want it there. For most of the summer, the door doesn't get used by people at all.

My mockingbird came today!

Cathy said...

Oh you sweet thing - you're making me cry now! Lordy! Why do you think I wrote that danged poem 'Pruning'? Dang! Try as hard as we may we sometimes s**** things up.

Now don't you despair. I'm betting that swallow comes back. And look at all the beauty and love that you've created around you.

Those wonderful happy images of your birds, dogs and fishies - I share them with my hubby every time you post and we both smile.

Thank you, Mary :0)

dmmgmfm said...

I vote for them rebuilding as well. You are such a love, Mary. How could they not choose your place for their home.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,

I just stumbled upon your site and I love it! I had boston terriers all my life. Finally when our last one died my husband and son said it was time for a big dog, so now we have a yellow lab - but bostons will always have a special place in my heart!

Love your nature pics!

All the best,