Barn swallows have nested in our warehouse forever. I cut a hole with a chainsaw in the warehouse door so they can forage before we open and after we close for the night after noticing how pissed they were when they got locked out or kept in against their will. These birds eat millions of insects per year each, and this feeding begins at early dawn and goes on all day long until dark- don’t get me wrong- they play also. I see them "wrestling" with each other (bird wrestling=sixty mile an hour acrobatics that would make the blue angels look like beginner/novice/inexperienced pilots).
A decade or so ago I would be opening the doors of the warehouse around six am in the summer, and would step outside to attach the doors securely and the barn swallows that were stuck outside all night were PISSED!!! They circled around like angry hornets, buzzed past my head directly to their nests where their hungry and cold babies were either unattended all night long or attended by just one parent. A dull light bulb slowly brightened above my head and turned into the idea that these birds needed to be able to come and go as they pleased, and out came the chain saw. Admittedly strange thing to do. Who cuts holes in doors for birds to come and go as they please??? Me, I guess- I just felt sorry for them, and after that I watched them more carefully.
Barn swallows are the high tech fighter jets of the bird world, twisting and turning through the air so fast you really struggle to see them for long. The short video clip I posted captures a millisecond of the first noticed returnee this year, an illegal immigrant without papers or documentation, having flown all the way from Brazil (I think). This particular bird turns on a dime in my video so fast that it must have been pulling a ten G turn, a force of nature that would kill a human.
Take a minute to observe nature, there are great rewards and great frustration also, with the bird populations collapsing as the insect populations are eradicated by humans each year (75% less insects today than in 1970). Chickadee populations are 50% less today than in 1960. Hey- do you think it has something to do with the SUVs we drive, or the chemicals we put on our lawns??? Maybe the coal burning power plants, and global warming... who knows. Correction- I heard one more chickadee Saturday. That makes three this spring.
The hole that I cut into the door is about 7" by 7" and is about 7' off the ground. When they want to fly inside with meals for their babies, they circle around outside a few times then dart through the hole without slowing down. The microprocessor in my brain/eye notices their micro-adjustments as they go through the hole at approximately forty miles an hour (?). In and out, in and out, all day long, bugs in beak.
They are really interesting birds to have around. I root for them, hoping for lots of children produced yearly from our lives here. Last year was sad, with no more than five or seven sitting on the wires before their long flight back to South America first week of August. I don’t know why they died. How do they know when to go back to Brazil? How THE HELL do they get back here on the same day each year? How do birds less than a year old build a nest for the first time? People tell me it's "instinct" but I call that explanation inadequate! What is instinct? Some protein-molecule? I don't get it. Never have, never will.
This year is another year, though, and I've decided to have the guys sweep the floor of the warehouse instead of using a blower so any airborne particles are minimized. gotta keep the baby birds healthy. We species gotta look out for each other!
LINK TO ARTICLE:
I also heard something on NPR this am that I was disgusted about, and it caused me to look this up...
The single biggest killer of birds in the WORLD is glass windows. Homes/buildings/cars. We are killing everything on the planet (un) or intentionally, and each of us has gotta see if we can do our part to fix this slaughter. About a billion birds per year killed just in the US of A because of our windows!
Its unfair to present a problem without a solution. This was my first result:
some of this stuff sounds too strange.
Lupine plant flowering again this month with water droplets beading up on the leaves. Mankind could toil at the task of designing this plant for a thousand years and never succeed. How does mother nature design plants? It's a mystery. But this plant can return yearly to make your life more interesting! Something to look forward to in the spring.
Red buckeye foliage emerging from the overwintering bud at hourly rates- incredibly fast growth measured by the half-hour. Pull up a chair and a glass of wine and watch this plant flower, incredible.
Best nursery dog ever (Peetee), solid muscle no fat, all love and comfort. She keeps our lives here at the nursery feeling like we are home toiling around our house instead of being at a large nursery. Wanna get up on the tables for a hug? No prob.
Redbud tree flowering yesterday. Insane blossoms delighting people who walk past this display. Appalachian red redbud.
Cherokee brave cultivar of pink dogwood in yesterday's morning sun. We have ZEE BEST dogwoods one can buy. Straight trunks, full heads, covered in flowers even when young. Birds eat the berries in the fall, The best flowering tree you can buy for multi-season happiness.