Okay, it's taken me awhile to finish this, but here is the photo documentary of our birds' nest in April and May.
At the beginning of April, we noticed a couple of swallows flying around on our kitchen terrace and having loud discussions. They'd perch on one part of the wall and chatter back and forth like mad, then on another and continue their conversation. This went on for about a week, and we figured they were probably discussing a location for a nest, so we weren't terribly surprised to see them start building one, although we were surprised with the location. They'd done most of the arguing on one particular wall, near branches from outside that hang into the covered terrace, but they ended up choosing the most sheltered corner as far as the elements are concerned, but directly above our back door and where the humans of the house are most active. Here's the nest on April 6th, I think a day or two after they'd started building:
April 14th, they moved in:
Jacob stood on top of the dishwasher (which is outside, on the terrace) for ages taking photos, and got this one of a bird flying back into the nest. He also took some videos, but I haven't yet figured out how to get them onto the blog.
Sometime after this I rigged up a mirror on a broomstick and we looked in the nest and saw three tiny and very ugly babies, and one egg. The parents were furious with us, so we didn't look for long. The next day I attached the camera to the broomstick, and took a video of all four babies! (So I figure we must have seen those three babies the very day they hatched.) I was going to take a photo, as well, but I'd covered the timer button when I'd taped the camera to the broomstick. By the time I'd taken it all apart and practiced taking photos with a timer, the parents were on the nest and scolding us, so I left it. Unfortunately, I can't find the video either on my computer or on the camera, so must have somehow erased it, and I don't know what date that was.
For some reason we didn't take any photos of the little babies with their huge beaks sticking out, begging for food, but it was pretty cool seeing them. We sang "Ein Vogelbaby wird niemals satt" pretty often...thanks a lot, Rolf Zuckowski! ("A baby bird is never full", from a children's musical by a well-known German children's musician. The preschool class in which I worked the year before Marie was born performed it for the summer festival, so I know all the songs backwards and forwards, forever and ever, whether I want to or not. And then I even taught them to my children...)
The next photo we took was on May 27th, when the babies were already quite big and cute, reminding me of Helen as a baby.
May 29th--We saw the babies flying, here are three of them resting on the branches that reach into our covered terrace from the outside.
May 31st--The nest was very crowded, but as far as we could tell, all six birds were still sleeping there at night, with their tails sticking out.
All is quiet on the terrace now, but I've heard that swallows are likely to return to the same nest next year. If they do, I'll opt to put some cardboard on the floor under the nest once they move in, rather than trying to pay children to clean up the bird droppings after they move out...