The Barn Swallows Are Back

Kim and Lulu, Asher and Fanny

I didn’t see or hear them the way I did the Red-Winged Blackbird perched on the topmost branch of the apple tree, making that distinctive trill, then spreading out his tail feathers, the red patch striking on his shiny black wings.

They weren’t as solid as the Robin, fearlessly hopping around on the ground looking for food.

I first saw them as light.

A thin streak of gold along one wing, then another.  But only for a moment. It was gone as quickly as they turned their bodies.   Then there was the flash of orange belly.  Nothing like the red of the blackbird, just a slight slash of color.  Then it too was quickly gone.

I knew it was them more by the way they fly.  Four of five (they were too quick for me to count) rushing in, circling around then breaking the pattern and scattering.

If it were dusk, I’d think them bats.

They are in constant motion. Unlike the sparrows, they didn’t land, not in a tree on the fence or the ground.  They came close to the barn, but didn’t go inside.

Maybe because I was there, watching.

I sat on the edge of the hay feeder thinking I might fool them with my stillness.  But after a while I lost them. They seem to have vanished into the clear blue sky.

Now that I’m in the house I wonder if they’re back.  Sitting on the hand-hewn pegs sticking out of the walls in the barn where they first learned to roost as chicks.  Assessing last year’s nests, considering repairs to the dried mud.

Soon they’ll get used to having me around again.  Mucking out the barn, going about my business as they go about theirs.

I wonder if, like crows, they recognize me or if it’s only this place that matters. The same way I wait for them to come back every year.  I don’t recognize them as individuals, but as “the barn swallows”.  That’s what I say, “The barn swallows are back.”

But they are as much a part of this place as any of us.

2 thoughts on “The Barn Swallows Are Back

  1. I love it when the birds return in the Spring. I have seen the red headed finch nesting in our spruce trees and the Wilson’s plover is checking out the patch of ribbon grass to make its nest. Soon the Western orioles will stop in for a splash in the bird bath on their way to the mountains. Spring is a rejuvenating season!

    1. Oh so colorful Josie! I can feel your enthusiasm for the birds that come to or through your home. Thanks for that. I’ll have to look up a Wilson’s plover. I’ve never even heard of them.

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