Tuesday, May 24, 2011


In the Spring of 2005 (see post "Garden Breeders 2005" - September 11th 2005) a swallow's nest began being constructed in the passageway between the house and the garage/workshop. Both Barn Swallows and Red-rumped Swallows had been observed investigating this site but when we realised that it was the latter which were building we were 'over the moon'. Twenty years ago the only reliable breeding site for Red-rumped Swallows in this area was beneath the lip of the dam at "Barragem da Bravura" north of Odiáxere, but with the building of the A22 "Via do Infante" motorway and all its viaducts in this undulating terrain this species seems to have increased in numbers due to suitable nest sites.

The "Rumpies" have nested every year since then, in some years producing three broods and an estimated seventeen chicks in a single year  -  the "crooning" sound of these birds (two metres from one of our bedroom windows) has been magic to the ear.

Last year the ubiquitous House Sparrows (I have several dozen nesting around the house) took over the nest and broke off the "entrance tube" (this has happened to several neighbours who also had Red-rumped Swallows nesting at their properties); I "evicted" several broods (eggs as well as young) but these tenacious blighters are irrepressible.

Eventually the nest crumbled (helped, I think, by Azure-winged Magpies attacking the sparrows) and fell to the ground.

This year the nest site was again investigated by both Red-rumped and Barn Swallows but it was the latter that began to reconstruct the nest. Four adults (presumably non-breeding siblings of the breeding pair) built the half-cup nest in a few days (actually adding mud while the female was laying and sitting) and although we had one mortality (just fell out of the nest) the pair have produced three healthy offspring which have just fledged and flown.

So, they are only Barn Swallows instead of "Posh Swallows", but it has been nice to observe and I hope they produce another brood.

As a post-script, the Blackbirds which have nested in the Brugmansia just by my front door seem to have produced two healthy, fast-growing chicks; I fear that some of them might have fallen prey to the Azure-winged Magpies when they were much younger.


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