Since my husband so cruelly left me to join our dogs in tropical Costa Rica … not really, but the fact remains that all three of them are in Atenas, Alajuela, CR, enjoying a lap pool and views over the mountains across the Central Valley, while I, all by my lonesome, remain in Texas, gnashing my teeth over the view of mountains of bird doo-doo accumulating across my porch, as well as mud and liberal guano splatter on walls and windows.
What works best to overcome self-pity? Work! A ladder, a scraper, a broom, brushes, and buckets with hot, soapy vinegar-water plus a squeegee later, I enjoyed sparkling windows, moderately clean walls and a guano-free porch floor. Since the swallow gang had disappeared shortly after sunrise, it even stayed clean till evening, when they finally returned from their swallow adventures.
There seemed to be quite a bit of jostling and wrangling going on in that nest, so I interrupted my solitary dinner of radicchio with hard-boiled egg and capers (while, appropriately, watching Alton Brown’s ‘Good Eats’ and learning how to prepare the perfect Caesar Salad; without anchovies, bummer) to observe the porch-side fracas. There was a lot of coming and going, pecking and tussling among siblings. Or is that clutchlings? But when mom came by, the fighting stopped at once, and this is what I thought I saw.
Five gullets, right?
I’m not miscounting, am I?
Just watching, I wasn’t at all sure. These guys move around so rapidly, it’s hard to be certain without solid photographic evidence – no matter how wobbly.
Once I had all 187 pictures of this surprising evening session uploaded, I discovered shots showing one of the bigger clutch mates appearing to feed a weaker nestling.
After examining several shots with ‘Fatso’ (in front on the left, the one to the right is ‘Sumo’, he’s massive) caring for his little brother, I’ve come to the conclusion that the smallest one of the hatchlings either never left the nest at all, or returned immediately, while I was busy with their dad. As shallow as their mud-cup is, one bird can easily be hidden for days. And since I’ve only ever observed four of them roaming, he might not yet have been capable of flight.
At nightfall on El Rancho Leon, everyone is settling in peacefully