Just when I was beginning to think it was safe to go out on the front porch again — they're back.
Several years ago I wrote about the barn swallows nesting on my front porch and how I put up with the mess for the sake of the birds. After the birds migrated off that fall I removed the mud nest above the door and the following spring when they tried to rebuild it there I took it down until they gave up and moved to the other end of the porch.
Several nests of swallows fledged from that much more desirable location over the years. Then last year not a single swallow was raised on the porch. I think it was the drought and the fact that I wasn't able to water the yard. With no mud nesting was probably pretty tough.
Spring came and went this year with no sign of nesting activity so I had written them off until a few weeks ago when I noticed the nest above the door had been rebuilt and from the activity already had eggs.
The first clue I got that the eggs had hatched was the poop on the porch. Then I began noticing three little bird noggins above the top of the nest. Earlier this week it was obvious the birds were about ready to leave because even when they knew I was there they couldn't completely conceal those new wing feathers and long tails.
Every evening this past week I came home and told the babies, in English, it was time to "get off my porch." Every morning I tried talking swallow talk to them with little answer.
Finally Thursday morning I noticed they were gone. I figured there were either three more swallows in the air over my yard or a neighbor cat with a full belly.
That evening all three of the little rascals were perched on the top of the nest looking down on me as I went inside. I talked to them again in English, but in a kinder voice and they one by one fluttered off the porch over my head and into the evening air.
I once had an employee who said she sold each of her children's beds when they left home for college and told them she was doing that so they wouldn't come back.
I suspect my baby swallows will hang out at that nest a little while longer and then when they leave I'll clean up their mess and remove the nest again. I'm betting like today's 20-something human children they'll be back next spring. That's all right; I'll be there yelling at them to get out.
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org