My neighbors just had babies. I know this because the neighbors live VERY close to me . . . like, right next to my back door. No, I don’t live in one of those squashed urban neighborhoods—I have swallows. (At least, I think they’re swallows. Barn swallows, to be precise . . . however, if you have a differing opinion I’d love to hear it. Avian expert, I’m not.)
They moved in a couple of years ago, despite my best efforts to dissuade them. From their point of view, the ledge above my back window is a terrific location. Sheltered from the wind and rain, nice view, mostly quiet, and as a bonus they can irritate the snot out of the cats on the other side of the glass. From my point of view, having birds swoop inches above my head whenever I’m outside, not to mention the extensive nest that now resides over my window and even more extensive bird pooh decorating the patio just outside my back door, does not add up to a picture perfect patio. They’re remarkably pretty birds, just a little messy. However, their determination is greater than mine, so there they are. And there they return, year after year.
They’re not my only feathered friends, by a long shot. Apparently I have a particularly bird-friendly yard; there are blue jays in the tree outside my study (the male clearly thinks the bird bath is his personal pool), cardinals in the wisteria outside the kitchen window, Lord only knows what in the trumpet vine running rampant on my back fence, and—just to liven things up—a variety of hawks and the occasional bald eagle overhead.
This year the sparrows and I reached a bit of a truce. I’ve made it clear I’m not going to bother them and they have (so far) refrained from flying into me or pooping on my head. I just did a little redo of my patio space and intend to spend more time out here than before, so détente is a good thing. And since we’re sharing the space, I’ve taken more of an interest in the family’s progress.
Which is why I know that this afternoon, at least two new members of the family have hatched. Their discarded eggs are impossibly tiny, which no doubt explains why I can’t see the babies from my vantage point some 10 feet below the nest. The parents are busy doing tag-team feeding, and whichever one is standing guard at the next stands on the edge gazing lovingly down on the children. At least, I think it’s lovingly. It’s hard to tell with those beady little bird eyes.
No doubt they will teach their offspring all the important things about life as a swallow such as: how to fly, what to eat and where to find it, songs to sing, and the best place to sit and preen so as to provoke maximum frustration in the cats inside the house.
P.S. Remember those Hot Cocoa Roses I mentioned last week?