We have always had swallows nesting in the barns and outbuilding near us. For the last 14 summers we have delighted in their wheeling grace over our field. I watch for the first sign of them each spring, and am sad to see them congregate on our phone line before departing each September. But this year has been even better; a pair decided that our garage would be just the place to set up home! Our garage does not have any doors or windows other than the main door; I had been leaving it open most days during the spring, and they needed no further encouragement to build a perfect mud bowl attached to one of the cross beams. Each night, when I went out to close up the hens, Mr Swallow would be perched on the side of the cardboard box on the topmost shelf, opposite the nest snug on its beam. He didn’t seem to mind our presence in the garage at all, viewing us from his lofty perch as we built a new nestbox for the hens.
Once Mrs Swallow started to sit on the eggs, I left the garage door open until dark, to make sure they were both roosting. Each morning I got up early to open the door so that they could come and go as they wished. When I went out shopping, I left the door open again; and once the eggs had hatched it was even more important to ensure they had access, and the garage door stood open from dawn till dusk.
On 9 July, they finally fledged and we saw that we had four beautiful chicks! They used the cardboard box as their first perch after leaving the nest, then one by one flew out of the garage with their parents. They have been using the garage as a feeding station on rainy days, but when it has been fine they zoom out of the garage and perch on the wire of the chickens compound waiting to be fed.
It has been a joy and privilege to have them share our home, and we hope that next year they will return to us and make their nest in our garage again.