A Moral Dilemma

OK so I have a bunch of cats—how many? I don’t know, I prefer to stay in denial about such things. Cats are easy to accumulate when you’re involved in animal rescue, especially the ones that aren’t very charming or adoptable. But this is their home, and naturally I prefer them to hang around the yard than head out to the desert to be a hawk or coyote’s dinner.

Every year the swallows build their nest on our front porch light. We’ve tried taking their nest down (not while there are eggs or babies in it though!) but they just come back. They think they have a permanent building permit here! What puzzles me is that the swallows know that cats live here. They start screeching and swooping every time one of the cats sets a paw on the front porch. I then feel compelled to get a squirt bottle and chase the cat away to protect the swallows. Some of the cats do feel obliged to eat a bird now and then, so they can’t be trusted.

Obviously we can’t be there every minute to guard the swallows. The parents make two broods per summer. The first set fledged a few days ago—but I know we started with four babies and ended up with three. The parents are now making repairs to the nest for batch number two.

What would you do?

newborn swallow babies

swallow babies a couple days old

swallow babies about 4 days old

swallow babies about one week old

about two weeks old, ready to fledge

ever-watchful swallow parents

6 responses to “A Moral Dilemma

  1. Wow. Ugly babies, although they mature into quite amazing little birds. All i can say is wait til their are no babies in the nests then try to get rid of any nooks they could build a nest on.

  2. Hey Debra,

    I like your swallows, the newborn and the adult ones :), and I think it’s cool that you participate in animal rescue. You are a kind of idealist, aren’t you?

    I’m male and my name is Robert. Did you expect a male or a female? 🙂

    L&L, Gedankenfalter

  3. Hi Robert,
    I’m not sure, there are so many interpretations of idealism, aren’t there? In the broadest sense of being optimistic? I don’t think of myself that way…but I guess it’s healthy to have some idealism so you have hope for the future. Otherwise what would we live for, right?

    Liebe Grüße

  4. Here on Flying Hat Ranch, the ranch house, that is, we have one nest of barn swallows. Also, resident barn cats come up from the barn to cool themselves on the back porch. The fledglings when they are ready do not fly to the ground and hop around, but rather they fly, yes, FLY out of the nest. Our barn cats cannot catch them and all is well. Except when a terrific rainstorm tears the nest and spills its progeny. I’ve not torn down nests, because the swallows come back and rebuild, year after year. I leave them alone. The swallows fly through our back porch and call musically and I hear. Please do check out my blog. I presume you will really, really like it, an attendant of nature that you are. (Jack Matthews, Sage to Meadow) BTW, I’ve put you on my blogroll. I am very, very particular about whom I follow. Best wishes, Jack.

    • Dear Jack,
      It is often a dilemma whether to intervene in nature’s agenda. I think you are right in leaving them alone. Our front porch light is not that high up though, about 8 ft., and the swallows can dive alarmingly close to the ground as they swoop in and out.

      You’re right, I really, really like it! Thank you for your encouraging comments. I’m new to this but so far it has been very enjoyable.

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