The Phoebe
evidently decided
that the tiny balls of dried mud
fashioned into a nest by Barn Swallows
but abandoned before completion
make for a solid foundation to build on.
I read that this is common; that Barn Swallows
and Phoebes often use the same nests,
alternately raising their families. Both species
(Phoebes are in the Flycatcher family)
like to build on human-made structures,
though the Phoebe’s natural nesting site
is a stone outcropping—not many of those
around here.
They have adapted, well.

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Seems the female makes the decision.
Male Phoebes don’t build the nests, but
he has been flying in now and then to take a look
and sitting on a Hackberry branch nearby
and calling—”Fee-bee”—from somewhere.
To build up the front of the nest
she made many trips
carrying mud in her beak.
Then, for days, she brought softer materials—
straw, grass, feathers—
to make the nest suitable. She poked
in the soft nest stuff,
then tamped with her tiny feet,
her whole body shaking. Now and then
she seemed to snuggle into the nest,
as if trying out the fit.

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The nest appears to be finished.
The trips with building materials have stopped.
I am concerned that our constant activity—
Maizey, the chickens,
the raucous Guinea fowl, the cat, me—
will be threatening
and she will abandon her beautiful construction,
as, perhaps, the Barn Swallows did.
I have removed the small wind chime
that hung below the nest.
I sit at the far end of the porch these days.
But Maizey sits very near
and the rest of the community
come and go, loudly,
as they please.

Last night, as I came in very near dark,
I could see her shape, dimly,
sitting on the nest.
This morning,
not so.
We wait in hope.

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