Are We There Yet?

Northern Rough-winged Swallow adult taking a short breather on Main Pond.

The Northern Rough-winged Swallows are on a road trip to Mexico, on their way south for the winter, and yesterday, they stopped off at Montlake Fill to take a break.

Northern Rough-winged Swallows are plain brown- and-white birds who come up to Washington every spring to nest in burrows they dig into sand banks. They’re called rough-winged because they have a tiny, rough fringe of feather-barbs on the leading edges of their wings. No one knows why.

The kids were, I think, driving their parents crazy. Although they are perfectly able to catch their own insects, the youngsters sat on the willow snag at the north end of Main Pond and squawked loudly to be fed. The parents swooped low over the water, caught bunches of bugs, and hurried back to their brood, whose open mouths seemed to be mere gateways to bottomless pits of hunger.

Long-time educator  and founder of Northwest Montessor Schools Marietta Rawson once told me that the thing kids want most in all the world is to be grown up.

Maybe so. But when it comes to flying your own way and catching your own bugs, even the swallows seem glad to cling to mom and dad just a little while longer.