Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Case of Empty Nest Syndrome

It's official, I have the empty nest blues. I'm torn between sad and excited. In order to make it a little more clear, I need to roll the calendar back a few months...

After having been on vacation, we noticed a nest in the corner of our covered porch. We were pretty sure there were eggs in it, but it was too high for us to be certain. My husband and I decided it would be a good learning experience for our 4 and 2 year olds if we just left it be. For a month we watched the mother and father barn swallows roosting in the eaves - one on the nest, the other nearby.

We continued to observe and finally, we witnessed three little beaks peeking out of the nest. A day or so later, we were able to see four. It took a little while, but we finally realized there were five. I would like to say that my girls were the most excited of the family, but I really think it was me. I was in absolute awe as the mama flew out to fetch insects and the babies battled for position to get it. It was even more amazing that she would intentionally work her way to ensure the little one at the back got his fair share. My kids thought it was neat and would watch for a short while. I found myself monitoring their progress daily. Quite often, when I would only find four, I would fear that one was pushed out and taken away by the local cat. I recall great feelings of relief when I would count five beaks again.

For the past week or so, they have been jockeying for position. It was pretty apparent that that small nest was getting way too small for all five of them. Their feathers didn't look mature enough to sustain flight until a few days ago. I was amazed, excited and of course, sad when I went to check on them this morning and only found one. My heart sunk. It was fun to be able to watch the mom still fly up and feed the runt; all the while, he was cleaning his own feathers to prepare for his first flight.

So just a few minutes ago, I went to see how he was doing - only to find him gone. They are all still buzzing the nest as though they are trying to return. But maneuvering into such a small area is too difficult and none have been able to return. Guess I better go restock the bird feeder in the back yard!


  • WhiteTigress

    It's so wonderful to be a part of something like that. My kids and I go to the lake where we live in the spring and feed and watch the nesting geese. We continue going out all summer and fall, watching the babies grow, letting them eat out of our hands, and of course, taking pictures. I love nature and animals to the extent of sickening some people. For example, I don't even like to hit or run over butterflies or caterpillars. We had some swallows in the front eave of our garage this spring, and two babies fell out of the nest. I tried to save them but they were too little. Thanks for sharing your experience.