Feathered friends move onto porch

By Karl Terry

The Terry household officially began taking in boarders this week as a pair of barn swallows have taken a shine to our front porch and are now building a nest.

I first noticed them going out the door one evening. I first thought the winged creatures were bats. They circled the yard in swooping patterns and I could see they were swallows of some sort.

When I came home from the paper later that night they were both roosted on the door sill and once again fluttered away when I entered. It was obvious they had taken a liking to our overhanging porch.

I usually come home for supper most evenings and then I’m back home after 11 p.m. They’re on the porch when I leave from supper and they’re perched on the door sill every night despite the porch light being on. I figured my coming and going after they go to bed would interrupt their sleep pattern enough they would move on. The little critters are apparently insomniacs. One night one of them even perched atop the porch light for awhile.

I knew the two love birds had apparently selected a honeymoon cottage and sure enough a couple of days later they started building the nest. I told my wife we needed to quickly decide if we were going to evict the new residents or let them raise a family on our front porch and take advantage of the educational opportunity. We’ve decided to share our front porch.

The nest is progressing slowly and according to the information I’ve read online, it could take one to two weeks for them to complete. They build it out of mud one little mud pellet at a time, slowly building it up like little feathered masons. I’m not too sure where they’re getting the mud around here; maybe the lawn sprinklers are giving them enough material to work with.

They don’t seem to be too bothered by our coming and going and several times they’ve let me pass through the door without flying off. They aren’t too shy when someone walks up to watch them through the glass storm door and one even posed for flash photography aboard the porch light bulb.

A few years ago my wife and I started keeping bird feeders in the back yard and getting to know the feathered visitors has been lots of fun over the morning coffee. In Colorado we had finches, nut hatches, jays, woodpeckers, magpies, juncoes, sparrows, pine siskins and of course humming birds as well as other less frequent visitors in our back yard.

Since moving back to eastern New Mexico it’s been interesting reacquainting myself with the avian world here. I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to birds growing up, unless I was hunting them. So to me it seems like some of them are new and maybe they are new residents or re-established residents like me.

I remember the noisy grackles and blackbirds but I don’t remember so many. We always had mourning doves, but these white doves are new to me and there are lots of them. The mockingbirds are just as entertaining as ever and the smaller sparrows and finches have always been here.
With the feeders on the patio out back and the swallows nesting on the front porch, this summer looks like it will be filled with bird-watching opportunity at our household.

Karl Terry is managing editor at the Portales News-Tribune. He can be contacted at 356-4481, ext. 33, or by e-mail: