House Keeping

House Keeping


It’s March. I don’t know where they’ve been or how

they always find their way back “home” but here 

they are again the third year in a row. The swallows 

have returned to our pequeña casa to reconstruct 

their nest and lay their eggs in the protected vestibule, 

a perfect place to start another family. The first year 

we were entertained and marveled how they somehow 

carried mud and grass and water from the lake and 

built an avian adobe that clung securely to the stone. 

They bred and fed their chicks then disappeared in fall 

to where it is they go. Next March they came again, 

found the very nest and did the same, but this time 

they began a housing project—two more nests on nearby 

walls and we were not amused and knocked them down. 

This year we went to battle. Every time they started to 

rebuild we knocked them down, those messy nests. We 

put some potted palms below the overhang to complicate 

the ease of flying in and out, but they were undeterred. 

Every time a nest came down they started once again. 

They wore us out and made us feel like landlords ousting 

tenants from their home. And then we saw the light. A 

native from the village said, “You’ll never win against 

the birds, they’ve got to build the same place they were 

born. They have no choice.” We put aside our brooms. 

Once we knew we couldn’t win, then life became more 

pleasant for both sides. But what’s the limit? 

Bumper crops of baby birds are born here every year.

—Margaret Van Every 


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