Friday, July 4, 2014

The Independent Sort

Last year, a pair of barn swallows took up residence in my barn for the first time and built a nest just under the peak of the roof.  They raised five babies in that nest, which I thought was rather ambitious, but they managed well despite the heat we had last summer.

This year, four of them showed up and had a tremendous battle over who was going to get custody of the barn this year.  They fought so hard, two of them fell down and landed right on top of Ramsey. Lucky for them, Ramsey really does put up with just about anything.  Eventually, they sorted themselves out and the winning pair built a new nest.  I'd been watching to see when a baby might appear and caught the first glimpse last weekend.  That same afternoon, I heard a big barn swallow ruckus going on and made it to the barn just in time to keep this fellow from getting murdered by the darned cat.  

I don't know how he ended up down there, but he was clearly not ready to leave the nest so I set about trying to figure out how to get him back up there, fifteen feet in the air.  I fetched the ladder, got it all set up, and just at that moment, the little brat took off and fumbled his way out the window to crash land in a tree.  I looked for nearly an hour and couldn't find the rotten little devil.  I finally gave up, feeling certain that he wouldn't last the night.  An hour later though, I heard him and so did his parents.  He'd managed to get up in a tree and his parents had found him.  

I've been watching them all week.  Poor mom and dad, beside themselves trying to deal with their precocious child.  Little junior flapping about, falling out of trees and, gradually, learning how to fly even without all his feathers.

This morning, they all stopped by for a visit and all three resumed residence in the barn whenever they need to stop for a rest.   

Something tells me that this little fellow is going to be just fine.  He (or she, how does one tell?) is obviously an independent, tough-minded sort.

Happy Independence Day.

Stay safe and have a good holiday folks. I'm going to take the weekend off, I hope to see you all still flying when I get back to blog-land:)


  1. I'm glad your story had a happy ending. I love watching birds, but have nowhere for those beautiful barn swallows to build a nest here in the middle of suburbia. I've been following the bald eagles of Decorah, IA on the Raptor Resource web site. The eagles raised 3 babies this year, but none of them fledged well. They all had issues, including one with a broken wing and one too weak to fly or to learn how to hunt. With human help they're all now doing well. Sometimes babies just want to grow up too fast. Enjoy your long weekend.

  2. What intrigue you have at your place -- seems rather sedate over here.
    Jealous you get to watch the baby devil and his antics.
    Have fun with both your domestic and wild crew :)

  3. I enjoyed your swallow post too. These little guys always seem so much more committed than others, I have had survivors like yours- my best intention about re-nesting always fails, and these guys do seem to learn to fly on the run! Thanks.

  4. Males tend to have richer color. Females are more dull. Though the juveniles don't display that sexual dimorphism until much later.

  5. A great theme for independence day - the tale of an independent juvi swallow!
    We had one exceptional summer when there were at least 42 baby swallows raised in our yard. One pair of swallows had three broods. The last brood was very late, but they had all gone by mid-October. We were wondering how many would make it back the following year. Sadly, not many. And that summer was very cold and wet, so the population fell still further.
    They are incredible little birds. I love to see them arriving every spring.