Strange place for two swallows to nest - Video
Strange place for two swallows to nest
The video shows how two swallows (species Hirundo rustica of the family Hirundinidae) have chosen the chandelier of the entrance hall of a building to make their nest! And the building is not uninhabited but four families live there ...
The swallows are slow to arrive, it is estimated a decrease of more than 40% of the population
Graduated in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Padua, from 1961 to 1994 he was a lecturer at the Agricultural Institute of San Michele
The missed or delayed arrival of the swallows on the traditional date of March 21, it leads us to think about the causes that may have determined the phenomenon.
There Italian bird protection league (Lipu) estimates a decline in the swallow population of over 40%. Two experts from Trentino questioned on the subject are less pessimistic.
Sergio Abram which resides in Val di Non, while acknowledging that less poisonous pesticides are used today than a few decades ago, calls into question the atomizers. These lift many tens of meters a cloud of droplets and insects that swallows take in flight.
In a few years, however, the whole Val di Non will be converted to organic fruit growing for inevitable reasons of economic survival.
Paolo Pedrini, zoologist of the Muse of Trento, does not exclude that this year too the swallows will return to nest at least in the stables where they find flies and other insects to feed on.
It does not rule out that the swallows have changed wintering places and landfall due to climate change. Finally he says that the high spring temperatures they wake up the insects in advance, which then disappear in June when the swallows have to feed the brood.
In August-September, they gather in large flocks, preparing to fly for the winter. If during the migration period, swallows have been caught by prolonged inclement weather, they become very helpless, fall into a stupor and die.
During flights, keep the spaces open. They can live in those conditions in which there is an opportunity to get food, water, material to build a nest. Swallow can be found in North America, North Africa, Eurasia, where they spend the winter. In Alaska and Greenland, these birds do not occur. In nature, birds make their nests on rocks, cliffs, in caves, rarely in trees. Swallows are diurnal.
Distribution and habitat of the Swallow
The swallow is a bird with a great spirit of adaptation and it is precisely for this reason that it appears to be widespread throughout Europe with the exception of some areas such as northern Siberia. It is also present in Asia, Northern Africa and North America (excluding Florida, Canada and Alaska).
She arrives in Italy with the arrival of spring after a long journey that leads her to cross a large part of the African continent.
These curious little birds are in fact a long-distance migratory species.
At the beginning of the bad season, towards the end of September or the beginning of October, the European swallow migrates to South Africa flying in large flocks and traveling up to 11,000 km to overwinter and return with the arrival of spring.
The roads they travel to reach South Africa are different.
Most from Northern Europe arrive in western France, fly over the Pyrenees, head for eastern Spain and relentlessly cross the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar and from Morocco continue through the Sahara desert, Algeria, Niger, the Chad up to the Democratic Republic of Congo in November / December where they overwinter.
Drastic decreases in swallows
In recent years, the number of swallows present in Europe has drastically dropped. The causes of the phenomenon are known and are mainly related to the modification of the natural habitat of the species. The use of pesticides and herbicides has meant that the presence of insects, the main food in the diet of these birds, is drastically reduced.
Other flocks instead, including the swallows that come from Italy, cross the Mediterranean and continue passing the Nile valley, avoiding desert areas.
When they arrive in Italy they nest on the peninsula mostly in Sardinia, Sicily and some smaller islands, even if it is possible to see them all over Italy.
They usually build their nests in structures that are fairly sheltered from the elements such as under the eaves of houses, in stables, under bridges, in caves, etc. and it is thanks to the proximity of their nests to the areas frequented by man that swallows are considered a species suitable for coexistence with humans.
The verse of the Swallow
Swallows have a wide variety of calls that they use in different situations.
When threatened, the swallow emits a sort of chirp, the alarm call, which becomes more intense and calls all the adults in the colony to face the threat when the predators get too close to the nest.
Different thing happens during courtship and spawning. In this case both the males and the females of swallows sing the call of courtship. A sort of song, often introduced and concluded by a chirping, composed of a long series of continuous warbling which will then be followed by a dozen rapid buzzes.
THE swallow chicks instead they make a faint chirp when they are hungry and looking for food.
By snapping their jaws, the swallows are also capable of producing a clicking noise.
Reproduction of the Swallow
With the arrival of spring, the male swallow first identifies the place to nest (usually barns, house cornices) and sets off in search of the perfect mate.
The swallow builds its nest with mud and dry grass to create a compact and solid structure that anchors to the protected wall under a ledge or under a bridge.
Identified the companion begins its courtship by chirping and flying not far from it.
The female chooses the male on the basis of various factors such as the perfect symmetry of the tail and the length of the tail feathers (index of greater strength and resistance to disease).
When the female swallow has accepted the courtship, the two will begin to build a new nest or to repair a nest already made by getting mud and dry grass to make the structure solid.
The average time for building a nest will be 8 to 10 days.
Together for life
Swallows are basically monogamous birds. In fact, once mated these birds tend to migrate to the same place and stay together for life, returning to the same nest every year.
The swallow's nest has an unmistakable shape, in fact, it looks like a sort of hard and robust cup on the outside and is covered on the inside with soft feathers ready to accommodate the eggs.
There female lays 4 to 6 eggs inside the comfortable nest which she hatches personally for 14-18 days moving away only to feed.
At the end of the days of hatching the eggs hatch, giving birth to the small chicks.
At birth, the chicks will weigh an average of two grams, they will be blind, defenseless and covered only with down.
It will be the responsibility of both parents to take care of the care, feeding and cleaning of the little ones.
In fact, less than an hour after hatching, the little ones receive their first cue and for the parents it will be the beginning of a continuous coming and going in search of food that will last the entire weaning period.
The chicks are fed with small balls of insects that the parents keep in the crop and into which the chicks sink their beak to pick them up.
After the twelfth day, the feathers will have sprouted and the mother will no longer have to hatch the offspring.
The chicks remain in the nest for about 20 days before taking off for the first flight but the parents will continue to look after them for another week by feeding them and taking them back to the nest to sleep.
Parents will teach them to hunt and as soon as the young learn to fend for themselves they will be literally chased out of the nest.
At this point, most couples will have time to start a second brood before the warm season is over.
Mating takes place between May and August and, usually, there will be two broods per season.
It may happen that the male swallows who have not found a female with which to mate, join a pair of swallows to spend the season together.
Their role will be to help build the nest, defend it and contribute to the hatching of the eggs.
Feeding the Swallow
There swallow is an insectivorous bird.
It feeds by capturing flying insects such as flies, dragonflies, mosquitoes, wasps, grasshoppers, beetles and moths, mostly in flight.
Always in flight, these curious birds have the ability to feed their young in the nest and to drink while flying over the pools of water without ever landing.
Furthermore, the swallow has always had a particular meaning in the culture of many civilizations.
For the ancient Romans, for example, swallows represented a manifestation of the deities who protected the houses of men (the Lares) as they built their nests under our roofs. The Greeks considered it a gift from Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, since it is beautiful and light. Furthermore, the swallow is protection and hope. In fact, in Islam the swallow is the symbol of good company and is defined as the "bird of paradise".
A peasant evening a few centuries ago
The museum and The Hague were the protagonists and the scene of events that enlivened moments of culture in our country, but the most spectacular performance took place on June 18, 2010 with an evening dedicated to peasant life with the Firlinfeu "La Brianzola" folkloristic group. of Olgiate Molgora, a group of about forty people including musicians, actors and dancers, young and old, who wore splendid peasant costumes of a few centuries ago, in the style of "Renzo and Lucia". The show coincided with the 150th year of the Group's foundation, to celebrate which they unveiled their entire repertoire, retracing the historical period and the typical customs of the territory of the century before the construction of the Hague. This folkloric group, in recent years, has been requested and appreciated throughout Europe, for single performances and also for historical festivals with other groups of the same characteristic. Their performance, amidst skilfully set music and scenography, sparked numerous applause on the open stage, in a warm and serene evening, after a week of cold and water that feared the suspension of the show.
Sunday 30 June 2013, thanks to the sponsorship of the Province of Lecco, in the afternoon there was a very large participation of people to visit the museum, while in the evening there was a classical music concert by the Eccetera Saxophone Quartet of the Bellagio Festival and the Lake Como, which aroused great emotion for the sound and the suggestive context. Thanks to the Verderio family, the museum and the Hague remain available for other visits and shows to renew and remember, with great nostalgia, our peasant origins, and at the same time become a promoter of culture. At the end of this new book that contains other pages of Verderio's history and in memory of the farmers who passed through this place, we consider it useful to briefly recall the peasant life of that time and also tell how the farms were born and with what characteristics they were born. built.
Once upon a time there was the farmhouse
The origins of the courtyard farmhouses date back to the 10th century (about 900-1000), but their greatest diffusion took place between the beginning of the 1700s and the end of the 1800s. The farm was an agricultural structure in the flat areas of northern Italy, especially the Lombard one and only partially also the Piedmontese and Emilian ones. In Lombardy, the majority of farms are located in the Pavia area, next to waterways, which are essential for the cultivation of rice, in the green countryside of Bergamo, Como and Varese, suitable for the cultivation of wheat and maize. In particular, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, in the green Brianza, it was a "blossoming" of beautiful farmhouses wanted by noble Milanese families who had chosen this area for their holidays, building superb manor villas in the best and most visible places. . In their possessions, they had no problem investing large sums for the construction of these farmhouses which they then assigned to peasant families.
Stendhal (pseudonym of Henri-Marie Beyle, 1783-1842), a French writer who, arrived in Milan with Napoleonic troops, decided to live there, also talks about our territory, madly in love. In his "Travel diary in Brianza", dated August 1818, he described it as follows:
"... a fertile plain ... of impressive beauty, but reassuring like Greek architecture".
Mostly, the plan of a farmhouse was almost always quadrangular in shape, with a courtyard at its center around which the various buildings were located: stables, barns, granaries, warehouses for agricultural tools, ovens, water wells, common toilets and, finally, the houses. Depending on the needs and the area available, in addition to the one just described, the farmhouse could also have three other types: "open court", that is, with one side open and without surrounding walls, "buildings side by side or separate", sometimes without the court, or with a "single or colonic body", that is, consisting of a single building and of reduced volume. The number of families in it varied according to the size of the farmhouse and the surrounding agricultural land to be worked and ranged from a minimum of four to about a dozen, so as to reach more than a hundred people per farmhouse. The farmhouse was built by a wealthy owner, but it was entrusted to a factor or even to a tenant, that is, competent people who administered it, controlled it and accounted for it to the property: nothing could be done by the farmer without his authorization, under penalty the removal and loss of all rights. In turn, this administrator, engaged on several fronts, made use of a salaried overseer, who in dialect was called "campée". The most traditional contracts were those of sharecropping which earned the owner a half or a third of the entire harvest.
However, it happened that, during the great summer harvests, the farmer temporarily hired other farmers who came from afar, called Bergamini: a striking example was the Bergamina farmhouse on the territory, then, of Verderio Inferiore, built in 1427 by Count Majnone and then passed to the Annoni and then to the Gnecchi Ruscone. Bergamini were called those men who brought the herds downstream and, on occasion, lent their work where needed. They took care of the cattle, milking and cutting hay for the cattle in the stable. They stayed in a room made available to them in the farmhouse and also slept in the barns. Their work began in May and ended at the end of the summer. Around the farmhouse, in addition to the cultivation of cereals, mulberry trees were also widespread, whose leaves nourished the silkworm, the plane trees, the locust trees, which provided the wood for the fireplace and the stove and the willows, which were used for the manufacture panniers and sorghum brooms. From the beginning of the 1900s, all the farms were gradually abandoned, above all because the farmer liked the more comfortable rooms in the inhabited centers and then, after the Second World War, due to the arrival of industry that favored emigration to the city, ensuring a secure salary and less work commitment. After this general explanation on the farmhouses, let's move on to illustrate in more detail some details of their composition on our territory.