After staying completely away from the Salmon Creek grid for several days I took peeks from the hedgerow on both 7/4 and 7/5, which were days 18 and 19 for the nestlings in the last active Tree Swallow nest in Box 2. On the 4th I could see from the distance there were nestlings poking their bodies out of the box entrance. On the 5th there was still at least one nestling in the box but three or more newly fledged swallows, presumably from Box 2, were giving begging calls as they zipped over the field with a flock of other juveniles. Finally, today, 7/6, seeing no nestlings at the entrance, I ventured out and found Box 2 was empty at last. The last of the six nestlings had fledged, the 13th completely successful brood.
The final numbers for the 2012 season are 76 nestlings fledged out of 86 eggs laid and 81 nestlings hatched. The percent of eggs laid that produced fledged young, 88%, was far above the nine-year average of 67%, and the percent of nestlings that fledged, 94%, was slightly above the 92% average. If it weren’t for the nest failure in Box 14 I’d be extremely happy with the season’s results.
So, the 2012 nesting season at Salmon Creek has ended, and since this is the concluding post for this blog, I want to offer two sets of thanks. The first is to Tree Swallows, for they have taught me so many, many things over the years, and in doing so have challenged me to think and introduced me new ways of learning. How impoverished would my life have been had I not become involved in theirs.
The swallows taught me how to step outside myself and see the world through another species’ eyes, to analyse it, to see the struggles and how they are coped with. They let me glimpse the interconnectedness of all things, the living and the non-living.
They taught me that careful preparation is the foundation for success, but sometimes bad things happen even then.
The swallows have taught me that life is a precious gift, tenuous and to be valued while we have it. That while some are born and live, others die and are left behind, and the difference between the two outcomes can be unpredictable and out of our control.
Through the swallows I have learned that one species can teach about many, and that in the final analysis my life issues aren’t so very different from theirs. In trying to understand their lives I better understand my own, though of course I’ll never comprehend it all, theirs or mine.
The swallows have taught me that while sometimes I can help there are other times when I must step away.
They have made me more aware of the world, the movement of air, the warmth of the sun, the bite of the wind, the constant interplay and changing of natural forces. They have made me more open to seeing the insect in flight, the flea in the nest, the wave of a nestling’s wing, the world in detail and as a whole.
Tree Swallows have helped me experience the joy of reunion and the bittersweet of parting. Return if you can. I’ll be waiting for you.
My second thanks is to you, the inquisitive, concerned, good-hearted readers of this blog.
Thank you for your interest in Tree Swallows – I hope this blog has answered some of your questions and made you want to learn more about these wonderful birds, for trust me, the blog only scraped the surface.
Thanks to those of you who have contacted me directly, who have shared your experiences and photos. When you’ve had problems I’ve enjoyed trying to solve them with you, and sometimes we succeeded, didn’t we.
Thank you for continuing to be interested in and concerned for birds and other wildlife, and the world as a whole, for it is truly a whole. Perhaps together through our actions we can make a difference and advocate for change where it is needed.
And now I close this blog. If you’ve enjoyed it half as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together, it’s been a success.
So long from Salmon Creek,