14 October 2020

84. The Swallow Sagas - Part 1

Welcome Swallows are the most prolific and resilient birds I know. A flock of them breed permanently at my farm house, getting through to the eaves. 

In my rural NSW climate, they don’t fly away for winter but continue breeding as they have done for twenty-four years.

Instead, as the seasons change, they change the position of their mud nests, which become so heavy they often fall out. 

Above the insulation in cooler months to get the warmth from the corrugated iron roof, and below insulation during summer when the swallows need it much cooler.  

Everyday, Welcome Swallows  sunbake on the roof. Sometimes you can see the blue/black feathers on their backs when they do. At Christmas time, they perch and swing on the fairy lights around our house, near the nests they hatched in.

There are billions of swallows in the world, all looking much the same. This spring they sky-dance two by two. 

 A favorite nesting place is in the garage, and that’s where we found a fledgling this morning.

The swallows long, streamlined wings are hard to manage, they have to grow into them. 

A new Welcome Swallow leaves the nest before they are able to fly.

Tumbling out, their short tails don’t offer much steering. 

They flutter inches above the ground, but don’t achieve lift off. 

My clothes line has been a launch pad for hundreds of fledglings, who sit on it whether washing is on there or not. 

Some new chicks stay to ground for as much as a day before getting the mechanics of flying.

There is a great deal of flapping trying to coordinate wings longer than the rest of their bodies. 

This tiny bird’s parents were close by, buzzing me to go away.  

I snapped some photos, took a brief video and intended to buzz off. 

The mother and father swallow would do all they could to protect their baby.  

I also knew they wouldnt go back to it while I hung around the entrance to the garage.

Because it pooped, I figured Id scared the crap out of it, so left the downy baby to recover.

It’s incredible that two days after leaving the nest, the little ones fly beautifully. I can tell new fledglings because theyre smaller, only flap-flying short distances and needing to rest often. 

Within two weeks, they stop waving their wings madly to relax and glide. Within another two they are hawking insects on the wing and speed flying like an adult. Such rapid changes.

I never get tired of watching their fly-pasts every morning and just before dark each evening. The adults are sleek sky dancers sweeping across the sky like arrows.

And the downy ball of fluff with the beautiful eyes sitting on the garage floor? 

It got to safety where its parents will look after it until it gains enough strength to soar.

Then, like generations of Swallows in the world, it will zoom off with speed and grace.

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