My dining room window looks out on to my wide, deep front porch. As such, it’s sheltered from the elements, and I haven’t closed it once since the warm weather arrived. As Sean and I ate dinner last week, I noticed something on the top of the window – a dark lump, like a large piece of dirt. I walked over to take a closer look and noticed that there was a bird inside the lump, and that the lump was actually a nest.
Apparently, the upper edge of our window seemed the perfect place for a pair of barn swallows to make a mud nest. Swallow nests are feats of engineering, created piece by piece from small balls of mud, each of which has to be carried individually from the closest water source to the nest building site. In our case, the nest site is about 120 feet from our pond and the nearby creek, so while it’s not an impossible distance, it’s still a bit of a hike.
Sean’s initial reaction was that we had to remove the nest. After all, the edge of a window isn’t the most convenient place for a nest – not convenient for us, that is. It means we can’t close our window until we’re sure the hatchlings have flown. Since swallows apparently hatch two sets of chicks, this means we’re looking at late summer before we can close our window once again.
I’ve convinced him that the nest is fine where it is. The window is well overhung by the porch, so there’s no danger of rain blowing in, and the weather doesn’t seem to have any plans to drop to the level where the window will cause us to be seriously chilled. Besides, I sort of like seeing them out there, the mother with her head just barely visible over the top of the nest. Of course, I realize that come fall we’ll have to move it. I’ll try to find a spot on the barn, or I might even try to build a swallow perch for them, and move the nest to it.
Here are some photos of the nest and where it’s placed on the window.
View of the nest looking out from the dining room. The nest is made of tiny little balls of mud, bits of straw, twigs, and even bits of dried flowers. The long feathery bits that you can see on the top of the nest are actually animal hairs – horse hairs, from what I can tell.
They made quite a mess underneath the nest on the porch while they were building it, leaving bits of mud and straw everywhere. We’ll put newspaper down there when the chicks hatch.
This picture shows where the window is placed – on the upper edge of the middle window pane.
If this window was exposed to rain or other elements, we’d have no choice but to move it.
Of course, that would also have made it a less appealing spot for the birds to make their nest.
In this shot, you can actually see the mother bird in the nest. There can’t be much more than an inch of clearance between the nest, and the underside of the porch roof. The mother spends most of her time in the nest, and the father perches right at the end of the window closest to the house. He seems to gather most of the nest materials.
Lately she hasn’t left the nest much at all – I think she’s laid eggs.