Underneath the eaves of the Alme Center--the building in which the brand-new-fancy-schmancy IMC library is housed--live a number of swallow families in their characteristically built mud nests. About a week ago, Kaytee (one of the other librarians) found that three of the babies had fallen to the sidewalk. She called me over with a distressed look on her face and pointed out their crumpled little bodies all huddled together in a pitiful lump of flesh and pinfeathers. Though all were alive, they were young enough that none of their eyes had opened and one seemed severely injured. It had been a long way for them to fall. My heart broke. I didn't think they had much hope of surviving, but to make sure they'd at least be able to avoid being carelessly trampled by choir-week campers, I carefully picked them up and moved them over to an inconspicuous spot away from the sidewalk. If I could have figured out what and how to feed them I might have found a box or something at least moderately protected in which to house them, but I have neither the knowledge or the skill to care for baby swallows, so I just had to hope that their parents were still around somewhere and that they'd eventually find and care for their misplaced young.
The first night I left the babies alone I figured it was likely they'd be dead by morning--either from the effects of their traumatic displacement, or from the jaws of some nighttime carnivore. The next morning brought mixed news. The one who'd seemed more injured hadn't made it...but the other two were hanging on! An even more encouraging sign was that their parents were furious with me! As I picked up the babies and moved them to a more sheltered spot out of the sun, mom and dad swallow swooped around my head chirping furiously. What a relief to know that they had not been abandoned and would at least be fed and moderately protected. Another bit of good fortune was that the weather has been warm and dry all week--nearly perfect conditions for giving the little ones as good a chance as any.
Unfortunately, a few days after the initial fall, 2 more young swallows tumbled out of the unlucky nest. Neither survived. I moved their bodies off the sidewalk and rested all my hopes on their two siblings. With their eyes now open and mature feathers quickly coming in they were becoming more and more adorable every day.
Here's their progress as of yesterday morning...
The larger of the two has even started to flap his wings a bit. It's only a matter of time before they're both strong enough to begin venturing out into the wide world beyond the library. I am amazed by their will to survive and by the tenacity of their parents...though I do look forward to not being dive-bombed every time I leave the building!