Bandit at twelve noon.
There it was flying directly out of the sun, wings angled back like an F-15. It was screaming, flying straight at my face. Its cries rattled like staccato machine gun …
Bandit at twelve noon.
There it was flying directly out of the sun, wings angled back like an F-15. It was screaming, flying straight at my face. Its cries rattled like staccato machine gun fire.
I wasn’t scared. This had happened many times in the last three weeks. It knew what to expect. Mini-seconds before impact the bandit would change course veering away, climb altitude and set up to make another run. There were four of them circling, but there was only one Maverick, only one Top Gun. He was fearless and relentless.
I’ve come to expect this kind of treatment when I step on the porch. Oddly, I like it. It’s a welcome, albeit it threatening behavior. And the display is remarkable. As Maverick made repeated runs, companions circle close by at high speeds, swooping up, diving down with a high pitched yells.
The source of a protective display is in the peak of the roof on top of an electrical box that once held a lamp. The nest built of mud is perched there. It’s a solid edifice cleverly concealed. They approach the nest with the same speed, folding their wings to slide between the crevasse between the next and the roof.
And what are four swallows doing when there’s only one nest?
Are they taking turns tending the nest? I can’t tell they move so quickly and all look alike. For that matter they all could be taking turns as Maverick. I took a seat below – well, not directly below – to watch. I appeared to be accepted. They stopped their screaming. One is perched on the nest another stands on a floodlight. The other two circle the yard flying erratic patterns, presumably snatching mosquitoes and other flying bugs. They come in. One displaced the light watch with a lot of fluttering. The other returned to the yard patrol.
They have a system.
I stand to go inside and they scramble. The nesting bird joins the squadron, circling in and out of the porch. But this is not the threatening behavior displayed when I first entered “their” space. They’re keeping watch and are on the alert.
Over the next couple of weeks, the pattern was repeated whenever I stepped on the porch – the urgent alarm followed by strafing flights directly at my face from Maverick. I tried getting photos, but it was all too fast. Never did I fear a hit. Like the movie Top Gun Maverick, I knew this was going to end well even though this was for real, not a movie set.
Then last week they were suddenly gone. The newspaper I had anchored below the nest was yellowed from the sunlight and without a single deposit. I removed it and rearranged the porch furniture. Like the movie, the show was over. But unlike the movie I had the feeling of being a part of a true to life experience – if only I could fly like Maverick.
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