Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Las Golondrinas of Mineral de Pozos

It's been a topic of concern around our little pueblo: Where are the swallows? Each year that I've been here, the barn swallows, known by the far prettier name of las golondrinas in Mexico, have shown up in early March. According to the previous owner of the house, they had been coming back to the nest in my entryway for five years. I've heard various stories about swallows mating for life, or the last year's babies coming back to where they were born. I'm not a birder so I don't know. But I do know that last year whoever it was that showed up made a new nest right next to the old one, daubing up a little cone in the corner of the roof and a beam in record time.

Finishing up work on the new nest last year
I already had babies in the nest this time last year. I know because I have loads of photos I took of them that have date stamps. But here it was nearly Easter and no sign of them.

With all the dire stories in the news about how the monarch butterfly population is severely down because of the drought conditions, I had to wonder if the golondrinas were suffering some similar fate. Since we're in the tropics but at a high altitude and get cold winters, I'm guessing they go to South America for the winter. That's a long way: anything could have happened to them! I'd go up on to my roof terrace and scout the air for them.  How could I continue to call my house Casa de las Golondrinas if I had none?

I even had golondrinas on my birthday cake 

So this morning, I was luxuriating in bed for a few minutes, gazing through my french door that opens to my courtyard (one of the things I love about my house) at the glorious sunny start to the day. I saw a flash of iridescent blue heading towards my entryway, closely followed by another. Then almost immediately they came back the other way. They were home!

I dashed out of bed and gazed up at the sky, and there they were; wheeling and diving against the already cobalt sky. I've been seeing and hearing their twitter all day but they haven't settled into one of the nests. Perhaps they're enjoying a short time of freedom before they become parents and take on all that egg sitting and baby feeding.

Anyway, I'm happy to see you, little birds. This being Mexico, you of course have your very own heartbreaking song to welcome you home.