SAGA OF THE LESSER STRIPED SWALLOWS

Regular readers will be familiar with the successes and tragedies that have befallen a pair of Lesser Striped Swallows that have chosen our house for their summer breeding abode. Mud marks under the eaves bear witness to the many nests that have been built over the years – as well as the variations in where the openings have been placed. For years a pair of swallows would faithfully build – and rebuild – in the same place. While they have always managed to raise a brood it has not been easy. My blog has chronicled many nests falling down, sometimes with eggs or hatchlings, and the patient rebuilding of them. These birds are resilient and are willing to start over – again and again and again!

Two summers ago, after yet another structural failure, the swallows built their best nest ever. This strong nest outside our front door still stands firmly – without any maintenance required.

It is sheltered from the elements and is perfect except … they had hardly settled there when White-rumped Swifts booted them out, eggs and all, and have taken it over as their home for the past two summers. Back to the drawing board it was and, after some serious contemplation, the swallows opted to build another nest round the side of the house. Here they raised a family after having to rebuild their nest more than once as earlier ones came loose and fell to the ground.

The good news this summer is that not only one pair came to claim their real estate, but two!

One or other of the pairs tried the sturdy nest but were chased away by the swifts. Each pair then decided to build a nest on the site of the two previous ones respectively. One pair perched on the bathroom window for days before starting the construction in earnest – where they sourced the mud in this drought is a mystery.

They laboured for days on end.

Finally the nest was complete and the laying of eggs could begin.

The other pair had almost completed their nest.

Then … disaster struck … both nests collapsed on Saturday.

The eggs lay shattered on the ground below this one. The other nest had not quite reached completion.

These dear birds are starting from scratch to build their homes.

 

18 thoughts on “SAGA OF THE LESSER STRIPED SWALLOWS

  1. How heartbreaking to watch their struggles! Too bad there aren’t platforms or nets that could assist them. I wonder if it is something in the soil that is causing them to break?

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    • My late mother used to pin a net under the nests built on the wooden planks her veranda ceiling and in doing so rescued a number of nests. These ones are inaccessible – I do not have a ladder long enough to reach them. Judging from the colour of the mud, it comes from different sources and may have different properties. Saturday was exceptionally hot and windy: I wonder if some balls of mud dried out more quickly than others – or contracted – so weakening the structures as a whole.

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  2. Life on our Earth is incredibly persistent – having survived for thousands of millions of years in spite of five major extinctions and many lesser catastrophes.

    Those swallows form an unbroken line from the very start of life on Earth.

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    • That is so. I am interested to have discovered that these swallows return to their same nesting sites every breeding season and so I wonder if at least one of the second pair was born here.

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      • “… I wonder if at least one of the second pair was born here”

        Quite possible. We tend to underestimate the intelligence of other living creatures.

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    • Ah! Thank you for this – I have responded on your blog. The interesting aspect of these birds is that while the Lesser-striped swallow has bolder or broader stripes than its Greater-striped cousin, it is actually smaller in stature 🙂

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