Thursday, June 01, 2006

poor babies

the swallows came back a few months ago and built their nest on the porch. one of the parents (they look exactly alike, so i'm assuming it's the mom, but you saw march of the penguins, right?) has been diligently sitting on the eggs for weeks now. two days ago i noticed that the eggs had hatched. today i counted three birds. they only really stick their heads out when the parents come with food, and they only do that when no one's around, so you have to watch from the kitchen window.

this evening i was in the kitchen and i saw that the parents were freaking out. the nest and the entire ledge and wall and ceiling around it were crawling with red ants.

i called like five "24 hour" animal rescue hotlines and got answering machines for all of them. i don't know what to do! even when the parents aren't there, the little birds are sticking their heads out of the nest and opening their beaks and it looked like they're trying to climb out. when the parents are there, they pick at the babies and then spit stuff out, like they are picking off the ants.

i got a little broom and swept the ants off the wall and the ledge as best i could without getting too close to the nest, going really slowly so i won't scare the birds. i've done that about five times now. the first time the parents went into what i suppose is their "wounded bird" routine. they flew low around the front yard making lots of noise. the next few times they flew to the roof and watched me. the next time, one of them stayed in the nest and kept picking for a while before flying away. this last time, one of them stayed in the nest the whole time, and just hopped to the ledge and watched me towards the end.

it seems to be working... there aren't as many ants, and the babies are calming down (or dying, but i hope they're calming down) and the parents are definitely calming down.

i hope they're okay. :( two summers ago all four of the babies died one by one and then the parents tore down the nest and left. it sucked.

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