Just as the call of the cuckoo is the most welcome and widely recognised sound of spring, same with the sight of the first swallow, its visual counterpart, for this is the first migrant apt to be seen by people who do not deliberately attempted to meet each returning species since it’s time becomes due.
Its house-haunting habits, and particularly its faithfulness to old sites, coupled with distinctive plumage along with a musical twitter, make its arrival hard to miss.
The returning birds have the symptoms of a remarkable a feeling of exact location; thus when a classic shed was replaced, during wintertime, by a modern structure, the former swallow tenant, on the day’s its arrival, repeatedly swooped and hovered at the blank new wall, at the precise spot where formerly the ever-open half-door have been.
The swallow, before the times of settled human communities, should have been limited to areas by which caves or hollow trees afforded nesting-sites. Even if the widespread substitution of chimney pots for wide open chimneys stop one traditional nesting-site, the ex-‘chimney-swallow’ had still many alternatives both in town and country-stables, coach-houses, cowsheds, pig-sties and outhouses-in which to nest.
Modern ways of housing both the current type of ‘horse-power’ and farm livestock leave fewer points of access for the home-seeking swallow today, and there’s a general impression that the species isn’t now so plentiful since it once was. But, however true this can be of an observer’s immediate surroundings, the large southward passages throughout September and early October, and the vast roosting-assemblies in reed-beds in the same period, supply reassuring evidence that somewhere the swallow still breeds by the bucket load.