The Lesser-striped Swallows work so hard at building their mud nest(s) every year. Each beakful of mud probably represents more than a brick used in the construction of our houses for many carefully-borne loads of mud either miss their mark or do not stick to the surface. My heart always goes out to these birds when they return each summer and finally get to rebuild the nest they left broken at the end of the previous season. I watch, almost with bated breath, as the nest takes on its familiar shape, when the bowl is formed, and rejoice once the tunnel entrance has been completed. Every summer the nest breaks at least once and this season I was heartbroken when this happened only shortly after I had seen the swallows bringing in various materials with which to line their nest.

broken nest of lesser-striped swallow

I have reported on the pair of Lesser-striped Swallows perching on the bathroom window for days afterwards and have anxiously kept an eye on the broken abode for any sign of construction, being only too aware that the summer is moving on. There has been nothing. Dry, hot weather has reduced the available sources of mud too. How sad, I thought, as we left for our brief sojourn in the Western Cape before Christmas.

There is good news though: during our absence, this pair of swallows obviously had a serious discussion about the suitable location of their abode and … they had a re-think. All those days of sitting on the bathroom window must have given them a new idea, for they have relocated to the bathroom side of the house and built a brand new home from scratch.

new lesser-striped swallow nest

This one is tucked under the eaves and is relatively well hidden by the tall trees so will, hopefully, be safe from any takeover bids by the White-rumped Swifts. Hold thumbs that this new address will prove to be the right one, that the swallows will get to raise a family and be saved from doing any more construction work this summer.



    • They collect mud from the edge of puddles or dams. I imagine this has something to do with the consistency or texture. I have never, for example, seen them collect mud pellets from my vegetable garden (the only section I water during the drought).

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    • The same nesting sites are used over and over again – usually the old ones are simply patched up. It is fascinating to think of how these migrating birds find their way back to ‘their’ spot each year.


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