The Droppings Under The Barn Swallow Nest

Baby barn swallows in their nest

Even if I can’t see them, I always know which barn swallow nest has babies in it from the pile of dropping under it.

I usually sweep up the dropping, but I let them go longer than usual with the latest brood.  So when I went into the barn this morning and saw that the pile of dropping was a very deep black color instead of the whitish-gray it usually is, I got the shovel.

As I scooped up the dropping, I saw the maggots.

I’m interested in insects, but, like many people, I have a visceral reaction to seeing maggots.  I tend to think it’s because subconsciously they remind me of death.  My own included.  Slithering snakes or earthworms don’t bother me, but I’m squeamish when it comes to squirming maggots.

Yet I thought differently about the maggots when I threw the pile of dropping on the lawn.  Suddenly I could see the good work they were doing.  How they had helped decompose the bird dropping into rich compost.  And I wondered if that small patch of lawn wouldn’t grow better than the rest.

I’ll probably always cringe a little when I see maggots.  But if I think of them as interesting and useful creatures maybe I can cringe a little less and appreciate them a little more.

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