Abandoned Nests

On my last day in central Missouri, my wife and I took a walk around Perry Phillips Lake, just south of Columbia.  In late spring and early summer, we always stop at the covered fishing deck to watch the nesting activity of barn and cliff swallows; the former place their nests on the cross beams of the structure while the latter adhere their cavities of mud to angular joints of the roof.

Now, in early August, those nests are abandoned.  While barn swallows still strafe the lake and adjacent fields, feasting on insects, the cliff swallows have moved off to the southwest, beginning their long journey to southern South America; by January, during the peak of the Southern Summer, they will head for North America once again, sometimes arriving in the Desert Southwest by late February.  The barn swallows will migrate southward by September, wintering in more northern regions of South America.

The abandoned nests at Phillips Lake are just another sign that summer is winding down, though many days of oppressive heat still lie ahead.  Some of us, while fond of our four-season climate, envy these long-distance travelers, choosing to ignore the many natural and human-induced threats that they face along their journey.