TENANTS & TEMPESTS

More About Our Swallows

Yesterday something really special arrived in the mail: the Summer issue of Gardener for the Prairies magazine– containing a condensed version of my article “When the Swallows Come Back to Our Exhaust Fan.”  Oh, joy!  I’m now officially “published” –that’s big in writers’ circles– with a promised cheque on its way.  (That goes over well with hubby.)

Now I must amend my article slightly.  I said that “Swallows have one golden chance: to find humans who are blind enough, or kind enough, to let them live close to buildings where sparrows and other predators won’t venture.”  Later I googled swallow nesting sites and read that swallow nests shouldn’t be placed near buildings where English sparrows are apt to take them over.

Hmm…  “Led down the garden path” by my own birds!  Guess I neglected to take into account that swallows in these parts are very tame.  They don’t know they shouldn’t be nesting near our house and they appear not to mind us humans puttering around nearby.  Both here and at the Villa, where another pair is nesting, I can get within 6 feet (2 m) of the birds and talk at them without frightening them.  I can’t get within 12ft of a sparrow.

And when they have problems, they come and complain to me.  When sparrows took over their bird house at the Villa, one swallow sat on a post by the back door several times and chattered away, like I better come and do something about this outrage.  When our cat was wandering in our back yard one swallow came swooping around me; its tweets sounding like “Help! Help!”  (Or do I just have a good imagination?)  It would fly back to its nest, hang there a minute, then circle back to me twittering frantically until I took the cat and went inside.

The birds in our wall are still busy parents.  I expect they’ll raise two batches again this year, seeing they had their lodgings reserved and were able to get started right away.  The ones in the nest attached to our garden shed took longer to find it, but they’re feeding their brood, too.

Heretofore we saw no sign of activity at the third nest box we attached to the garage; we thought perhaps it was a little too close for comfort, being on the side of the garage facing our bedroom window.  But Tuesday –the afternoon the sun shone :)– I saw one poke its head into that nest several times and now it’s definitely occupied.

Did they get rained out of their last digs or driven out by other birds?  I doubt they are from this year’s hatch and nesting already, so I can’t guess where they’ve been until now, but a pair seems to be settled in.  (Which is fine with us; mosquitoes are bad already.)  So far no English sparrows have been brave enough to locate there.  These swallows enjoy perching our new yard light pole beside the garage; maybe that’s what attracted them?

The wren pair are busy in their nest as well; we see –and hear– a fair bit of them in the evenings.

Meanwhile, down at the swamp:

The sun shone most of Tuesday; Wednesday it rained from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, let up for a few hours , then POURED for at least two hours–and rained most of the night.  Bob says we got 1.4″ in that storm.  It rained Thursday morning for awhile, too, then cleared off.  By now every low spot in every field has water lying –and just about every puddle has at least one duck.

We went to the city that day and noted that the south slough (beside the road just west of us) is onto the road now – about 6″ for quite a way along.  One coot’s nest on the north side slough was located on the highest spot, but it’s almost floating.  A young boy climbed on top of his dad’s quad (or four-wheeler) yesterday and counted six eggs in that nest.

Weathering the Weather

Today we have a hot sun, high south wind, high humidity –and tornado warnings for large areas both north & south of us.  Tornadoes tend not to amount to much here in Sask where buildings and cities are few and far between, but all it takes is one touching down on your house to change your perspective on that.

Weatherman says there’s a 60% chance of thunderstorm tonight, sunny tomorrow, then strong possibility of rain Sunday to Wednesday.  Tomorrow is the “year-end picnic” for our parochial school, so we’re hoping the weatherman is right on the “sunny tomorrow” part.