Was it something I said?

May 17, 2024 | 4 comments

Last year’s double-decker nest in our Kitchen Garden.

For the first time in all my memories of this house and of all those who know that mi casa es su casa, this is the very first year that we’ve arrived in mid-May without a single barn swallow making its nest here — not out in the “kitchen garden” where there is usually a neighborhood of three to five nests each year.  And not out on the south porch where, against all odds, there is almost always a nest atop the living room window frame.

So far, evidence of effort expended but no nest progress.

But — so far, anyway — there is not a nest in sight.  A few swallow-tailed scouts have checked out the double-decker nest still intact from last summer’s innovative construction spree.   But they didn’t hang around.  And a devoted pair of “newbies” have put forth fleeting efforts to start a nest up on that window frame on the porch.  Those two have left a considerable amount of evidence of their presence on the window sill but not much sign of progress in the construction department.

Meanwhile, I have been watching their cousins, the cliff swallows build their round mud nests under the eaves of the church across the street.  They are especially industrious in the evening and provide me with quite a show while I am preparing and eating my dinner.  I love watching them through my kitchen window — all full of swoop and glide just as I’m winding down my day.

But I’m distressed about the barn swallows.  I’ve always tried to make them feel welcome here.  In fact, it was the one subject upon which  Nyel and I sometimes disagreed.  However, I must say that once he became a chicken farmer, his attitude toward the barn swallows improved.  Go figure!

I still have a glimmer of hope that our usual herd (Yes! Herd!) of swallows will come to their senses and begin their building projects before the month is out.  And FYI — I looked up the collective noun for swallows and found this bit of trivia for your enjoyment:  In general, a group of swallows can be called a flight, a gulp, a swoop, a kettle, a herd, and a richness. Tree swallows are collectively called a stand, while bank swallows are interestingly called a foreclosure.

And another thing!  My “records” (a sorry reference or two) about past years shows that the barn swallows were back on April 13, 2010; on April 17, 2011; and on April 28, 2023.  Not only back, but in the home building biz.  Go figure!


  1. David Williams

    Nothing at the red house either. Strange. And no barn swallows at the church. Hopefully late but it doesn’t look promising.

    • Sydney Stevens

      The cliff swallows are back at the church. I don’t think there have been many barn swallows there for a couple of years — maybe on the porch… But it is very weird! I still have hope that they are just late — like the warm Spring breezes. Few and far betwween so far this yrar.

  2. Caroline Miller

    I hope the absence of swallows isn’t ominous–a reverse of Hitchock’s “The Birds.” What might Mother Nature be telling us?

    • Sydney Stevens

      YIKES! Now that’s a scary thought!


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