No empty nest syndrome here

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Our children are nearly ready to leave the nest. It seems just like yesterday they were little eggs.

OK, I don’t mean children literally. I’m referring our adopted family of swallows. If you’re a regular reader you may remember me telling about the swallows that began building a nest on our front porch earlier in the summer. We left it alone and now we can see two baby swallows peering over the top of the nest with beady little black eyes.

The parent swallows built a neat little mud nest, one little beak-sized pellet at a time in the corner above our front door. Once it was built, Momma — we call her Sally Swallow — laid three creamy white eggs. To document that fact, I had to stand on a chair with my wife’s makeup compact, because the nest is so close to the porch ceiling.

Once we knew the eggs were in the nest we started coming and going through the garage so we wouldn’t disturb the nest-setting. Both swallows, Sally as well as her mate Sammy, took their turn on the nest. If they weren’t hunting, the swallow that wasn’t on the nest was sitting on the porch light bulb about two feet away.

The first time my wife saw one of the birds on the light bulb she remarked that the bird probably thinks it’s a really big egg and was trying to hatch it. I do know that if you want to see a really puzzled look on a swallow’s face, try turning on the light bulb he’s perched on.

I noticed one day there was an egg shell on the porch under the nest, so when Sally and Sammy were both gone, I slipped out onto the porch with my mirror for a look. As I stuck my mirror up to the edge of the nest, a baby bird hunkered down in the nest above the one remaining egg. I guess one didn’t hatch or didn’t live because I’m pretty sure there are now only two beaks resting on the edge of the nest.

The birds have grown quickly, and now the two of them seem to fill the nest to overflowing. I don’t see how another bird would fit in there.

Sally and Sammy made very little poop on the porch as they were nesting; the babies are a different story, however. We’re getting by though. Just remember to make the first step out the door a long stride.

From what I can see of the babies, they have most, if not all their feathers and are starting to look like birds instead of little naked aliens. They don’t duck down in the nest when they see me anymore so I would surmise they must be in their rebellious teen times. They look bored and ready to explore more of the world, but their parents’ feedings continue and teen stomachs take priority over anything else.

My dream for my little feathered friends is that they quickly become strong flyers, able to swoop and dart around my yard with their parents, feasting on mosquitoes and bugs of all sorts. Bugs that I won’t have to deal with myself.

Karl Terry is managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481, ext. 33 or by e-mail: