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One of the visitors overlooking the hills from the window framework

Last year I had some special guests that made me feel really privileged: a couple of swallows made a nest against one of the wooden beams that form the ceiling of my dining room. We were fully preoccupied in the process of rebuilding the house, and one façade made up of wood and windows was removed as the wood was not really up to its task any more, and the glass was old, scratched and cracked in places and consisted of only one single layer.

So while rebuilding a couple of swallows built their nest here inside, unnoticed by me or anyone else. Due to the mess, dust and ongoing works I lived in my trailer here in the yard, and I just happened to see the muddy nest when thinking about ways to remove the many layers of paint that had accumulated during the past decades on the ceiling, in order to restore the wood to its former glory.

Once new woodwork went into the façade I waited to install all the windows, for I had seen in the ingenious nest a few eggs the parents were brooding in turn while the other flew around searching for food. Week after week passed and every time I checked I saw eggs in the nest. But suddenly I discerned three eggs instead of the usual two, and I found that strange enough to open up my laptop and inform myself on the propagation behavior of swallows.

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Perched on a window frame

To my astonishment I learned that swallows are not breeding once in a season, they just keep at it nest after nest until september. When the first eggs hatch, the young help the parents out with the next generation of hatched swallows, getting food and whatever it takes to make these remarkable creatures grow until they too can fly on their own. So I had to conclude that the next few months I would not be able to put in the windows this side of my house.

That was not really a problem. The weather was warm enough, and no rain could get in. At most it was a minor nuisance. As for the dung and residues falling out of the nest, I placed a cardboard plate on the floor under it, so things were kept clean. And I must admit that even those residues were minimal. I slept on in my trailer so not to disturb them too much, but when my partner came over with her kids for the summer holidays we needed to occupy the house. The swallows seemed not to be disturbed by us walking trough the house, and I could approach them at less than half a meter distance. The chirping and singing of the swallows kept the house alive, even at night. Fortunately I had yet no cat who could have taken interest in these birds.

Now, one year later, I saw the first swallows when travelling with my motorcycle to Greece, as they resumed their migration North with the rising of the temperatures in the Northern hemisphere. I knew that soon they would come back to my house, searching for their former nest I had destroyed once they left for the South.

buba sleeping

Tsar Buba, the nicest cat I know, but his gentleness will not apply to birds I guess.

Yesterday I was in my kitchen, when a swallow flew right trough the open door with much noise. He/she made a tour of the dining room, flapping his/her wings in stationary flight right under the place where used to be the nest, and then proceeded again outside to join his/her partner that was communicating with him/her trough the whole process. I thought I understood they were telling each other that inside the house was no option any more. But I clearly misunderstood.

In my kitchen hangs a fly-catcher, a sticky strip gluing flies to it until death. My astonishment was big this morning when I noticed two swallow feathers sticking to the fly-catcher. Last night I left my windows open when I went to bed, so these feathers told me the swallows made a nightly reconnaissance of the premises while I was snoring away.

Now I want to avoid at all cost the swallows to build a new nest inside the house. Firstly I have a young predator named Tsar Buba hanging around in the house who will not refuse a little tasty and feathery snack, secondly I will leave the house during several weeks in the months to come while travelling, so it will be unfeasible to leave the windows wide open for the birds to come and go as they please. That would mean sure death, even if they manage to avoid the sharpened claws of the house cat.

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The façade during the rebuilding, while a storm is brewing overhead

In the end I hope they will choose a spot under the beams of my roof that are extending from the house by a meter. There they would be safe from Tsar Buba, sheltered from wind and rain, and it would allow them free passage to forage at leisure. Still I hope they will hang around, for their music is lovely, and goes on day and night.

Love ❤️, yann.

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