A Baby Barn Swallows Tale

Squeak. Squeak. Squeak is how these photographs are remembered…

In 2007 I was working in earnest to save to a historic ranch headquarters known as the Mallet Ranch in Texas. Part of my documentation process was to take extensive archival photographs of the buildings’ architecture.

The oldest structure was the main house and I needed to get a photograph of the beadboard to document for a Texas Historical Commission grant. The house was in arrested decay so I had to be careful with every step I made in order to not fall through the wooden floor or get dive bombed by the barn owls residing in the rafters.

The best-preserved beadboard was in a southwest room of the structure where the entrance was through a swelled wooden door. I knew the flooring in this section of the structure was solid so I did not pay attention to any part of the flooring or where I placed my feet avoiding the rusty box springs on the floor.

I started photographing the beadboard in various locations that had the best natural light. My friend, Ginny was outside walking around and the wind was the only sound until I started clicking my camera shutter. Then I heard:

Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.

My heart stopped and went into my throat. I had no clue what was making that noise.

Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.

My breathing ceased. Ever afraid of coming into contact with a rattlesnake on this ranch or as old as the house was, dating back to the late 1800s, it could have been a ghost making the noise. I barely raised my voice to Ginny and said something was inside in the room with me. She walked to the window, looked in and said look down.

Standing completely frozen, I looked down at the location of the squeaking by my feet. What I saw left me silent…

Rocking back and forth on the old rusted antique box springs were two baby barn swallows. They rocked back and forth in a swing like manner squeaking the springs with every move. From my height, I started photographing them and then cautiously I lowered myself down to rest on my ankles trying my best to not frighten them.

Baby Barn Swallows_Sig

Both birds sat there ever so patiently as I photographed them. Neither was panicky as they paused, eventually continually rocking back and forth on the box spring. Often they would turn their heads and glance at me. Never were they afraid and patiently waited for me to capture them in that moment in time.

Baby Barn Swallow_Sig

After my photographs, I gently turned and maneuvered through the door and left them to their rocking.


Photographs – © Christena Stephens Photography