Spring arrived early this year. Then we got “lousy Smarch weather” again. Then Spring came back. Then winter. And now it’s been holding steady for a few days, but we’re supposed to have frost tomorrow between 1 and 8 AM. Is it Spring? I think so.
The surest sign of Spring’s arrival, however, is the arrival of the barn swallows and bats (and the first dandelion blooms). The latter beat the former on arrival time by a couple of weeks, as I spotted what I am guessing to be a bachelor bat taking advantage of the warm temps, and fat moths that followed, when I headed out to do chores the other week. Late last week, again, as I headed out to the barn for the evening chores, is when I spotted the first swooping barn swallow gliding around and above the barn and yard. Earlier in the day I’d spotted the first dandelion blossom.
These cheerful birds are the true harbinger’s of Spring. I have an agreement with them that upon their arrival, I keep the big overhead door on the barn open for their ease of egress. Every year they seem to pick a new spot to build a nest, rarely have they chosen one that was built in a prior year. Most of the time they have chosen to build their mud-and-wattle constructions atop a light fixture, the added heat from the light (when it’s on) and the wiring, not to mention the height a good ten feet above the floor, makes them feel these are nice, cozy sites.
This year, now that we’re approaching a week of them being back, I’ve been observing them in the barn and scanning to see where they are calling home. Since surviving parents often return with the previous year’s surviving children, I don’t know how many will ultimately take up residence in the barn. So, I watch, and I wait.
As I went about feeding animals this morning and lowering perches, I thought it was a bit strange I’d not seen any mud dropped onto the floor as I usually due during construction time. Then, as I headed to the stack of hay, upon the tarp I have protecting the fodder from “chicken dust” and condensation from the roof, I spotted the tell-tale dried globs of mud. They’d been busy overnight as none of this mud was on the tarp last night.
This year they’d elected to abandon a light fixture as the base and decided to build in a completely new section – right above the hay. Fair enough. That’s why it’s good the tarp is there.
Within a few weeks, I should be hearing the eager crying of babies. Their gaping maws will be popping up and lining the top of the nest at the sound of activity in the barn. With luck, they’ll all become fat and sassy and fledge properly. Last year we had one little cutie who jumped too soon and needed to be “rescued” from the middle of the barn aisle, set in a safe place and left for mom and dad barn swallow to care for sans nest. We’re pretty sure that it survived fledging though we’re never sure who survives migrations to return.
So, welcome back my agile little friends. We’re happy to see you.
PS – Today’s post title is just for a wonderful human who is upset that I don’t alliterate this weekly post title. 😉
You know, a couple years ago, the swallows built a nest on my deck and crapped all over everything. I couldn’t even go outside without them dive-bombing me. I hung a bike in that spot that fall so they didn’t come back because I couldn’t get my deck clean. I feel bad for whoever moved in there. Happy Spring, though!
LOL The dive-bombers around our place are the bluebirds; but that could always change. The swallows haven’t dive-bombed me (yet), though they talk a lot when I’m in the barn and flutter about in dismay. We’ve a pair of Eastern Phoebes and a pair of Purple House Finches who are building nests in inconvenient locations over a window and a door, respectively, but even they are apt to just flit a few feet away as we pass by.
Soon enough the hummingbirds and orioles will return and will find us in the house, hovering or tapping on the windows to tell me to get my ass up and get their nectar feeders outside. Initially I had a male oriole tap on the windows for about 4 years, then a female started doing it last year – we figured that it was either one of his babies, or a mate, who’d learned that “if you tap on the window, the nectar is filled/refilled”. I don’t mind the reminders.
I have a robin issue. I swear they can build a next in a couple of hours when I have my garage door open. Usually on top of the rakes and shovels that hang on the wall. They like that there are pegs sticking out in which to start their construction.
Last year one robin built a nest in an old 3′ artificial Christmas tree that was up on a shelf. Cute!
But, I have a resident weasel who manages to scale to where ever the robins build and make off with the little ones before they are big enough to fly. Such is life, and death.
Sneaky weasel. Surprisingly, the robins are content to build their nests in the gate arbors under the grape vines. We’re okay with this.
Last year we had a house finch consider the wreath on our front door as THE place to be – but they abandoned that after a couple days – traffic was far too heavy for them in that spot.
No swallows up here yet but the purple finches are enjoying the feeders. Out near the barn, Lane noticed a killdeer trying to lure him away from the horse trailer and sure enough, she had made her nest in the gravel right in front of the tire, already had 3 spotted eggs to show for it. Two days later, there were a total of 4 eggs. Unfortunately we’ll have to move them so we can use the trailer and I don’t know if she’ll come back to them. If she had chosen the backside of the tire, we could just drive forward, no problem. We’ll see how this works.
That’s definitely an inconvenient place to lay eggs!
I have an old shed that is in a horrible state of repair. I want to tear it down, but I’ve avoided doing so because bats have moved in. And much like you, we had an early run of nice weather, and then an evil cold snap, and just now it feels like we’re moving back into spring. Yesterday morning, walking Benji, I noticed the unmistakable flight path of bats returning to that shed 🙂
lol Bats are awesome. I think slightly less awesome thoughts about them when they get under the siding and window trim around our bedroom and I wake up to their squeaking and scrambling about at 4 AM, but they are just bats doing batty things, so I can’t fault them, too much.