I love watching the swallows vie for nests. When the first gourd went up, all eight newcomers circled and eyed it and soon were trying to land on it and push others off. (Thanks to Johnny for the photos!)
The swallows never come to blows, but they certainly work at intimidating... along with constant excited chatter.
The best way to claim ownership is to squeeze inside and then look out.
When the females arrive, the house searching will reach new levels of frenzy. It seems as though every gourd has to be tested for suitability by every pair of swallows. Later will come nest building and then my favorite part of nest building: lining the nest. I have a huge bag of white feathers that my friend Velta saved from her geese specifically for my swallows. I throw them up in the air and the swallows catch them mid-flight. The feather-carrying swallow tries to stuff the prize into his nest gourd before another swallow steals it.
I love when the summer birds start coming back. I know, then, that spring is on its way.