We had watched the swallows in the hotel car-park, marvelling at their mastery of the air and swift, graceful flight and delighting in the first, tentative flutters as the baby swallows left the nest for the first time. We have had some beautiful encounters with swallows, but this was special. You could feel the excitement as the babies tumbled gracelessly from their perch, expecting to emulate their parents and finding they had no idea what to do with their wings. They came to land in the most inappropriate places and I had been down and ushered one of the stranded babies out of the path of the cars.
One crash-landed on the little balcony outside the window and we watched, with some concern, its refusal to move at all. Still, it was a rare and beautiful thing to watch through a crack in the curtains as the parent birds flew in, hovering and flapping their wings, encouraging and demonstrating to the tiny creature just what it needed to do.
Night drew in and the baby was still there, away from its nest in the chill rain. I fretted, knowing that the parent birds were still caring for their chick, so there was nothing I could do but let Nature handle it. She has more experience than I where baby swallows are concerned. Even so, sleep was a long time coming.
Next morning, the first thing I did was peep through the curtains. It hadn’t moved. But it was no longer alone… one of its nest-mates had joined it and the pair of them huddled close in the pale light. Checking, every few minutes, I saw the parent bird return and try again to get them to flap their wings. Still nothing from the chicks, though now they were both perched on the edge of the balcony.
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