April 29, 2014

Our Friends the Swallows Nest on our Door Wreath

We had an interesting experience over the last month this Spring.  Near the end of March I put a wreath on my door-- an ordinary grapevine wreath, in which I had jabbed some flowers and greenery.  A long muslin ribbon made it moderately fancy.  After just a few days, I noticed extra twigs resting in the center.  Soon it was evident that a bird was making a nest in the wreath.
Having a nest on the door presented some problems-- how to continue to use the front door and not disturb the little bird and her nest.  Reading up on this occurrence, we learned of a law protecting nesting wild birds, requiring us to allow this without interference or we'd be subject to serious fines and penalties.  We had no intent to interfere, but worried about the safety of any eggs in a door that the kids slammed to close completely. 

This photo shows the 5 eggs, although blurry April 3rd.
Clear photo of three of the 5 eggs April 3rd.
On April 3rd we saw the eggs that had been laid in the nest.  Five small aqua spotted eggs had been laid and looked intact, in spite of the wild door swings and slams.  The kids were urged to use extra caution in using the door.  The older kids changed their routine, using the back door out instead of the front, to get to the car each morning. 

Looking up the egg online, we saw that these were probably Swallow eggs.  Apparently House Swallows often make nests in man-made structures, as these had. 

Blurry zoom of Mama Swallow atop the nest April 3rd.

On April 3rd, we took these photos showing the mother bird attending to the nest.  It's blurry because I had to take the photo from some distance or the bird would fly away.  She is facing left as she stands on top of the right rim of the nest.  Most of the time we saw Mama Swallow in the nest with her little head just peeking above the nest, looking around.

Fluff shows the baby birds April 10th

On April 10th, we saw three little fluffy baby birds in the nest.  We could hear Mama Swallow come and go, feeding the little birds.

Two birds rest on each other in this photo of the nest April 23rd.
In abandoning the use of the door, time elapsed before we noticed progress in the nest.  By April 23rd, the birds were much larger now, crowding the nest.  Nasty bird droppings were accumulating around the rim of the nest.  Although one bird startled at the opening of the door, the other remained.

One bird has flown away leaving the bird underneath.  April 23rd.
The empty nest, April 27th.  All the birds are gone, leaving just the nest and the guano mess. 

One small unhatched egg remains in the nest.  Maybe this photo is too nasty to post...
It was amazing to see three birds move from egg to independent in just a few weeks time.  I am reminded of how quickly our children grow up and move out.  People often told me it would go fast, but in the chaos of raising 7 children, I often didn't believe them.  Now I only have 3 left, and one leaves in just a few months for college.  And ironically, the kids have generally left a good-sized mess when they left!  Ha!

I believe those people now.  Raising my kids has been the most wonderful, challenging and tiring experience of my life.  Attending one of my children's college graduation last weekend filled me with a rare pride.  I'm happy to see the lovely people my grown children have become. Parenthood seems to be a fleeting time after all.  I have a few years left before my youngest is old enough to leave.  I will enjoy those years.

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