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. 😉