55 BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST • JULY/AUGUST ’ 17 • birdwatchersdigest.com
particular nest has hosted not
only a spring brood of chicks,
but a summer batch as well.
Within a week or two of abandonment by the first family, the
nest attracts another couple—or
perhaps it’s the same ones—and
the cycle begins anew.
Several years ago, two young
lovers showed up on July 17 and
began preparing their nursery.
Twelve days later, the nest lost
its moorings and came crashing
down onto the stairs! Examining
the bird nursery up close, I could
see how exquisitely soft and well
lined with feathers the pouch was
in preparation for the delicate
eggs, as softly padded and tenderly decorated as a baby’s crib.
Throughout the day, I
watched from the window as a
number of swallows visited the
fallen nest, sometimes sitting
together—sadly, it seemed—on
the porch railing for several min-
utes, like people who come to
comfort a neighbor whose house
has burned down. Naturally,
I assumed this was the end of
the story, at least for the year.
However, on August 2, just four
days after the tragedy, a pair of
barn swallows began building a
new nest in the exact same spot
as the old one, returning over and
over again with mud, sticks, and
straw. In fact, the birds came and
went so often I am convinced
that the young couple had help J O H
Left: A tree swallow feeds its offspring. Top right: Bank swallows nest in the ground. Bottom right: A tree swallow pair.