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Swallowed Up!

It looked like a scene from Alfred Hitchcockís movie ìThe Birds.î Ivan and Penny Hustonís home has become a summer nesting ground for more than 190 barn swallows.The Hustons, who live in Peyton, bought their house new three years ago. They didnít have any birds the first year, and the following two years, the birds built a couple of nests only. But this summer the birds flew in full force.”I guess they went and told all their friends and neighbors and relatives down in South America itís a good place to live,” Huston said.Huston, after being invaded by the birds, did a bit of research and found that swallows are migratory birds. “Swallows come back to where they were at before,” he said.Huston described two “scout birds” that came around April 15. It wasnít long after that that more birds followed, he said. “By the second of May, they started coming in earnest,” he said. “And by the first of June, all the nests were completed.”From research and personal observation, Huston said the swallows make their nests one mouthful of mud at a time. “The messiest part was the building of the nests, because they are carrying mud,” he said. “They make many, many trips.” He said he watched the birds work together to build the houses and then once the nests were complete, they started laying eggs. Huston said heís learned it can take from 14 to 17 days for the eggs to hatch and then another two to three weeks before the baby birds are ready to leave the nests. He predicts the birds will start to leave by the middle of July, unless they decide to double nest, meaning the birds would lay a second batch of eggs.Because swallows are migratory birds, Huston has found out from “officials” that he is not allowed to harm or disturb the birds because they are protected under the Migratory Bird Act. So, he waits patiently for them to leave.After they take off, Huston said he plans to do a bit of clean up. “As soon as they leave, Iím going to get somebody to take them (nests) all down and pressure wash the mud off,” he said. A job that will cost him, from two estimates, around $500.What if the birds decide to come again? Huston said moving out of his house is not an option. “What are you going to do? Thereís not really much we can do,” he said. One option, Huston said, is hanging shiny objects, which he said the birds donít like, along the peaks of his house to discourage the swallows from building there again.And, if that doesnít work?”I donít mind the birds,” Huston said. “Itís just the mess.”

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