Friday, July 10, 2015

Are You My Mother?

Baby cliff, or mud, swallow

After Abby and I returned from our walk this morning, I let the chickens out of the coop and threw open the main door, as I always do. Then I looked at the nasturtiums and lavatera growing in the flower boxes in front of the coop, and decided to check on my spider friend who weaves this huge web next to the downspout, anchoring one long strand on the rain barrel, which really is not a good idea.
But whatever. I'm not a spider contractor.
Thank goodness, however, I moved slightly to the right to get a better view of the overnight construction of my arachnid pal because I glanced down and realized one of the gourd-shaped mud nests of the swallows had dropped to the ground.
And when I moved slightly to the right to get my shadow out of the way of my view of the smashed nest, I saw this little fella huddled in the grass.
There was never a happier girl than me when I saw him move so I scooped him up and looked up at the barn swallows swooping and soaring for breakfast above me and said, "Birdies? Birdies!" I held my half-folded hands up to the sky. "What do I do?"
I needed help. Human help.
Racing into the house, holding tighter to the little bird who was trying to flap his wings, I managed to turn the knob for our bedroom door and jolted my husband awake with, "Another nest fell. There was a baby inside. I need the ladder."
Without even offering him a cup of coffee first.
And that's how the rescue went: I put the baby into another nest. It was more like a push, though, since I was reaching my arms up and trying to get him through a hole.
Then we stood back and waited.
"The swallows have disappeared," my mother commented from the back deck. Indeed. The sky above our yard was quiet and still.
So we waited. The air around us remained unmoved and silent.
Finally, a swallow swooped in under the eaves and popped into the nest into which I'd shoved the baby.
Mission successful.
I feel as if I've returned the favour of protection: The swallows keep the insects, and "insects", away from our home and I pick up the babies when one of their homes falls to the ground.
A beautiful working relationship.
I had to hang some laundry so when I was done, I walked over to beneath the swallow nests to make sure this morning's rescue hadn't been tossed from his adopted  nest.
Well, now, if there wasn't a SECOND baby swallow sitting in the grass. This one was a little older; she didn't have the two little white feather tufts of her sibling and she actually flew out of my hands. So she's getting ready to fly, just can't do the actual flight yet.
Since no one else is home, I had to single-handedly -- literally, because my right hand clutched the baby bird -- haul the ladder back over to the coop and put her into a different nest. I think there are other babies in these remaining nests; it's getting crowded and I hope that doesn't bring the other nests crashing down.

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