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The Word on the Week

Swallows

Swallows                          Word on the Week                    22nd June 2024.

The warmer weather this week encouraged the Swallows to go hunting!   They turned up in numbers and began to catch up on their food supply.   The insects they depend on do not fly in the rain!   Indeed, it was the cold wet weather which caused an absence of swallow activity, that is until now.

It was a joy to visit the farmyard and hear the melodious ‘tswit’ coming from all quarters as the birds execute their manoeuvers.   The display is not for show but is part of the feeding process.   They have been blessed with a large mouth, hinged at the widest part of their head so that the gape can scoop up multiple insects on the wing.

Their wings are slim and pointed making them highly acrobatic.   With a slender body and long trailing tail feathers the bird has a very efficient wing load ratio enabling it to travel vast distances with no rest.   With its short legs and feet, it is seldom seen to land, preferring to perch on wires, rooftops or tree branches.

The long tail feathers are attractive to the female although the glamour is not all that necessary as the birds mate for life.   The young who make it through their first year return with their parents and create a mud nest near their original home.    

The nest, which is cupped in shape, is typically built on the timbers of a stable tucked under the slates and accessed through tiny gaps in the wooden door.   It differs from its relative the House Martin who prefer external locations such as under the eaves of the roof.   In order to adhere to the wall, it requires more mud and produces an elliptical shape with only one small hole for an entrance.

These birds spend the Winter half of the year 10,000 kilometres away in sub-Saharan Africa.   In some cases, ringed Irish birds have turned up in South Africa.   Like other migratory species they rely on their God given instinct to guide them to fresh food supplies for their journey.

It could be likened to the Christian who having trusted God for his/her salvation should not worry about everyday things.   Jesus thought they could teach us a lesson.   “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (St Matthew Chapter 6 verses 25/7) We each choose our master – either faith or worry.  Which is it to be?