The first tree swallows returned today! In our house it’s akin to the anticipation before Christmas day…. minus the stress. While you can count on Christmas always returning on December 25th, the tree swallows don’t give us an exact date. It just makes our anticipation all the more exciting.
In early March we start watching the sky for the first scouts to return. Usually within the first two weeks just a few appear & then within a couple of days the sky above our property is filled with them. They are so incredibly graceful as they swoop & dive through the air. I have to admit that years ago when we started putting up nest boxes, we had bluebirds in mind, but instead the swallows came. Each year we’ve put up a few more nest boxes & our swallow population has increased. We haven’t been disappointed one bit! It’s great fun to watch them pair up & choose their summer home. Some figure it out pretty quickly, while others seem to have a harder time making a decision.
After they set up housekeeping & get down to raising their families the real fun begins. Every morning we’re blessed to wake up to their chatter as they fly through the sky looking for insects to feed their young. We have one nest box on the side of our house that we really get to watch up close. When the eggs first hatch you can hear just a faint peep and if you get too close to the box they all get quiet at the same time. As they grow they become bolder & louder as they poke their little heads out the hole demanding to be fed. At this point they’ll let us get pretty close, but we’ve been hit by protective parents warning that we’ve come too close and to back off!
I’ve heard that the young return to where they were born which would explain why the number of birds seem to increase each year. Not sure if it’s true but it’s a nice thought. I feel much the same way about our young. Our boys were born and raised on this piece of land. We’ve loved watching them bring home their sweethearts and giving them the tour of of our property, sharing fond memories and stories of their growing up here. Now, after starting their own families it makes our hearts almost burst with joy to see our grandkids climbing in the same trees their daddy’s did!
Somewhere around mid-summer, I can see the tell tale signs of the swallows teaching their young to fly and not letting them return to their nests. It always feels way too soon for me and I’m never ready to say goodbye.
One morning we wake up and the minute we step outside we get that feeling. You know the one, where you’re not really paying attention and just doing your day and you suddenly realize something has changed? With the swallows it’s the quiet sky. They really are here one day and then, just like that, gone the next.
I already know this year will be particularly harder for me to say goodbye to them. This is the year that our youngest son, Boaz, graduates from high school, spreads his wings and flies off to college. I get choked up just thinking about it, but alas this day has to come. Doesn’t mean I like it. I have dreaded it from the day they all were born.
I never really thought about it before but I wonder if those sweet swallows feel the same way?