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