Every spring the barn swallows arrive, often it is two pair, and this year it was three. Two had nests in the barn, and this nest was in the outside overhang. Once the chicks hatch the parents are constantly flying in and out from dawn until dusk feeding their chicks with insects they seem to catch in mid-air.
When Homey the cat ventures out, especially when the chicks approach their first flight, the parents often dive-bomb the cat, dropping out of the sky straight for him, only to pull up inches above his head. This high-stakes game goes on through the summer months.
This year, the chicks took their first flights July 6, gathering at one point on the fence, out of the cat's reach, appearing exhausted. By the following day they have taken their practice to the nearby trees, returning only at night to the nest. By week's end the abandoned the nest, and seemed to be taking excursions further afield, to return as acrobats flying circles around and through the barn.
Some years, this year included a pair will have a second nest of chicks, but most often, they leave by mid-July and we eagerly await they return again the following spring, and wonder if these are the parents returning, or their offspring who return for generations to the same barn at Alewive Pond Farm?