Week of April 24, 2022 – April 30, 2022
by Bridget Jones, Environmental Educator
At this time of year, mud seems to be everywhere you turn. In the woods, ground that has been reliably stable and frozen for months squelches and shifts underfoot, sometimes claiming boots in the process. Although it can be inconvenient, mud season comes with many joys as well, like the flowers that emerge from the softer ground and the earthy smell that fills the forest. The kids in our homeschool and spring camp programs have also been experiencing the joy of splashing through mud puddles!
Just as we can appreciate the joys of mud season, many animals rely on the mud that emerges in spring to make their homes. Barn Swallows, colorful and acrobatic songbirds, use mud to construct cup-shaped nests. When building a nest, Barn Swallow pairs carry mouthfuls of mud from a nearby source to their chosen nest site. Building from the bottom up, the swallows construct a cup about the size of half a grapefruit. They line the inside with grasses and feathers in preparation for the nesting season.
Barn Swallows begin their nesting season in early May. Since Barn Swallows tend to build their nests on human structures like barns, houses, and even bridges, you may get the chance to see these beautiful birds up close this spring. Keep an eye out for cup-shaped mud nests under the eaves of buildings, and remember to give the nesting birds space! As you splash through mud puddles this spring, imagine seeing mud through the eyes of a Barn Swallow: as a nest in waiting.