Save the Babies!

Grandma come quick, the nest fell!” yelled the youngest grandlittles. We have a barn swallow nest in one of our goat stalls. The same swallow pair nest each year and since there are only the two unusually mild mannered birds, we let them stay. The kids enjoy watching their babies, their heads peering over the nests edge, their gaping red mouths begging for food from dad and mom. The parents don’t seem to mind our kids as they admire theirs.

Usually barn swallows are aggressive birds that swooped down and pulled hair off of our cats back and dive bombed us in an attempt to protect their young but these simply go about their business quietly getting the job done, letting us do ours, which has created a fondness for each other. The panicked granddaughters insisted we had to do something or rather, I had to do something.

An assessment had to take place quickly before the cats  discovered the mishap. They leave domestic chicks alone but wild birds are another matter. Indeed the nest had fallen and two babies were at the back of the stall and two more toward the front pressed up against each other in their fright. I guess the mud that attaches the nest became too dry and broke off.

To keep the cats at bay, I closed the bottom half of the stall door and leaned over my arms crossed and draped on top. As I was thinking, a black Australorp black hen flew up next to me and prepared to drop down. I don’t know what she would have done but I picked her up and tossed her gently back into the corral. She flew up again, and again, until in frustration I closed the door and imagined the scene instead.

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‘Hmm… I can’t glue the nest back up so what can I use? I love those Eureka moments,  ‘How about a large plastic cottage cheese container.’ We use them for all kinds of things. It might just work. With cats in mind and pesky hens, I set the kids on guard duty while I scooped up the nest into the cheese container and nailed it high up on the wall. My ladder being an upturned bucket.

Compared to the nest, the plastic tub was huge but  jumbo sized one is all we had. The nestlings definitely weren’t falling out accidentally. Flight would be their only option. The kids were happy with that idea. With another empty container, I went to the two oldest looking baby birds and tried to scoop them up so as to not get my human scent on them. One ran off and then flew to the top of the cow panel wire fence. It obviously was ready to leave home.

The next nestling I barely managed to snag in the container. It would soon leave the nest also. I figured probably a day more and it turned out I was right. The next two seemed a bit less mature and were easy to catch. They took four more days of mom and dad’s attentive care before they too were gliding off across the field on their own adventure.

So the next time you are in need of something to put a nest into, think plastic cottage cheese container. It just might work as well as it did for us, after all “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

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