Les Hirondelles


Aristotle said ‘One swallow does not a summer make’,  but when these harbingers of spring and summer promise arrive in the P-O we know for sure that winter is over.

Swallows mate for life and return to the same nesting sites every year.  Former fledglings will try to select a  site within half a mile of where they were born and raised Many people are torn between the cute factor, their love and our feathered friends and the need to protect  them – and the mess and havoc they can cause!

Weighing little more than 20 grams with brains no bigger than a pea, these cute little chaps accomplish the most amazing feats of navigation, flying thousands of miles using the sun, stars and familiar landscapes.

Searching for their dream nest-from-nest in the sun for the birth of their  babies, they are very cute, and particularly appealing to animal-loving Anglo Saxons, but do make sure you’re a happy host and willing to wade through bird poo, dried mud and bits of stick if they’ve chosen your porch for their holiday home!

Excerpts from Kate's online diary


And it’s May isn’t it? The swallows will soon be beating a poo tattoo on our front door. The problem is that I am too soft to stop them or destroy the nest which they build chez nous every year, because I worry that I am making a birdie family homeless. Imagine arriving home after your winter break to find a short middle aged woman waving a broom at you, and refusing to let you get your unborn children to safety. If that was me, I think I’d save all my missiles for one big splat! If only they could just follow a few basic hygiene rules and only aim the unwelcome contents of their bottoms at the deserving few, such as the postman bearing bills, or Lulu’s friends.

The are amazing little chaps though, using  sun, stars and familiar landscapes to find their way. Incredible. I wish I has an iota of their sense of direction. I still get lost going to the airport!

Early May

A bird plopped in my eye this morning. It really wasn’t the slightest bit funny, yet Olivier and Lulu are still laughing now, eight hours later and my sense of humour is sorely stretched!! It’s the last time that I look up wonderingly at the sky to remark on the beauty of the still-slightly-snow-covered Canigou!

A few weeks later…..

The ’Bird Poo Affair’ is gone but not forgotten. However, we now have our own birds, swallows in fact, which I hope to train to poo on unwanted visitors in the future.

The happy couple have built their nest just above the light fitting over our front door, and sit solemnly on the light everyday, jealously guarding their eggs. It is quite fascinating. They don’t move or flinch if we walk in and out.

Apparently, swallows defend only the nest itself and if predators or human visitors approach while the birds are around, the birds may “swoop down toward the intruder, turning at the last minute and just narrowly missing him.” Not surprisingly, the nest is built primarily by the female, although the male does some gathering of materials. So, similar to real life chez the human species then, hey?

A few more weeks later…..
Living in our house is very similar to starring in a Hitchcock thriller or Jaws. “Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the front door…..” Step out of the front and you nearly get your eyes pecked out. Step out the back and there are spikes sticking up out of the garden and builders running round, Benny-Hill-style, carrying planks and and waving dangerous looking implements in the air. Au secours!

The Birds have started to build another nest in the front porch but unlike the cute, neat little affair that I had already planned for them in my mind, it appears to be a messy job in which they are sticking bits of mud and branch up against the wall, and leaving a helluva mess underneath, where bits keep falling off!! That is not to mention the poop plopping on unsuspecting heads! Lucky for them that we are animal lovers or bird’s nest soup would be on the menu!!

I did think that they were already nesting but apparently that was the mating ritual – loads of flapping around, squawking and preening and wham, bang, thank you Man, its all over and they are tied down with a wife and eight eggs. That’s life hey?


Wow! Isn’t nature amazing? For all my fussing and moaning about the swallow family who have moved all their goods and chattels into our porch, it really is fascinating to watch them be born, grow and prepare to leave the nest.

Slightly less fascinating is the birdie toilet which they fill up daily – I wonder if it can be recycled into anything!! If you look very carefully at the second birdie photo, there is one little chap who keeps getting stuck in the nest with his bottom facing the wrong way – very useful I suppose if you need the loo but a bit of a conversation stopper with the rest of the family!


I dont beleeeeve it (Victor Medrew voice required) The swallows who have been decorating our front door and porch in every shade of poo for the past couple of months have packed up their beaks and moved on to find another victim – and there are already another four eggs in the nest from the next feathery fiends! It looks like the projectile plopping is to continue!

There are absolutely no advantages to accommodating these uninvited guests – they have no manners, are prickly and unapproachable and have no intention of paying any rental, offering us choccies or taking us out for a nice meal at the end of their stay!


  1. My Papou, Grandad in Greek, fixed a wide shelf under the nests. Swallow poo on the white marble entrance steps ended. After the birds had gone he cleaned the shelf.
    I’ll have to check if it’s still there!

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