Another day, another endless meeting. While the talking went on, I watched the very welcome Welcome Swallows (Hirundo neoxena) doing their death-defying aerial stunts in the narrow space between the walkway and the window.
A friend thinks that these birds look a bit menacing. It's the black mask, you see. Not so much Zorro as Ronnie Biggs. I think they're wonderful and their antics entertained me as the meeting went on. And on.
Like Barn Swallows, they often construct their mud nests on buildings and bridges. Caves and cliffs—the natural sites—aren't quite so popular. The species seems to have benefited from European settlement. One pair of Welcome Swallows built their home on the deck of a paddle steamer that cruised the Murray River in South Australia from Murray Bridge to Morgan. Even if they're not nesting, swallows make use of the vessels on the Murray. I've seen birds perched on ferry railings, taking the easy route across the river. Once the boat docks, the birds take off. Lucky things.
Marchant, S & Fullagar, PJ. (1983). Nest records of the Welcome Swallow. Emu 83: 66–74.