Wonderful weekend. Beautiful skies. Fragrant breezes. A fulfilling project (built a swing.) Planted climbing roses and several trees. Enjoyed the company of a good friend. Cooked a Thai dinner that turned out exactly as hoped. And then, the battle of the turkey feather.

The barn swallows have all found their homes. Little heads poke out from birdhouse after birdhouse. Much nest-making and insect hunting. And today, one of those things you’re lucky to see once in a lifetime.

I’d noticed it in past winters, cleaning out the birdhouses to get them ready for habitation: The swallow nests were lined in big feathers. Bigger than the little birds that sat on the nests. And today I saw how they got there.

A little female flew toward the box with a huge white turkey feather in her tiny beak. And swallow after swallow tried to steal it from her. She soared and circled and swooped to get away. Rivals flew shoulder to shoulder with her, tumbling and diving.

At last, after several minutes, she made it to the nest box, though it took her several attempts to land with the feather, and several more to get the prize inside. A few minutes earlier or later and we would have missed the episode. Another reason I’m so often tempted to spend entire days doing nothing but looking.