Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spring treasures

A week ago last Sunday I took out the old garden tractor I purchased a year ago to help me mow the grass closest to the house and the pathways in the pasture so it's easier to walk the dogs. An hour later, I'd finished and returned to the drive shed. I noticed some white things on the ground where the tractor had been parked.

On close inspection, the white things turned out to be barn swallow eggs. I'd decided not to park in the same spot because the nest above had given the adult swallows the perfect thing to decorate with white splotches - not easy to clean off either... and so I was doubly glad I hadn't parked underneath the nest. There were eight halves - four babies had hatched in the hour I'd been gone and mother had tossed the shells out of the nest. Great housekeeper!

Blue birds take their hatchlings' shells and deposit them far from the nest...other birds sometimes also hide them and I don't recall seeing any pale blue tree swallow eggshells, except for once or twice... usually they are dropped in the long grasses.

So Monday morning, I was getting something from the drive shed and looked up to see two little heads - with their yellow beaks wide open, leaning over the edge of the nest... I suppose the sound of me coming in had alerted them. But I was so surprised at the size. The tiny eggshells weren't much bigger than the end of my baby finger, (and I have small hands) but these open beaks would have been twice the size of the egg already. Miracles from mother nature.

For two days when I entered the shed, one of the parents flew around and around quite concerned. Now they seem more relaxed and little heads are peering over more frequently. At first the beaks are wide open, but then when they realize it isn't food coming their way, they close them up or drop back.

Today I'm going to try to get a clearer photograph of the babies...but here's what they looked like  - you can just make out three little heads and one wide open beak in the nest on the rafter. (sorry the image isn't as clear as it might be) One day old - imagine! What a treat this was. Each day, possibly each minute, something amazing happens in nature if we only pay attention.

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