... but they've come back. Our tree swallows (I'm no bird expert, but I know how to use google) are busy swooping around the yard trying to decide who gets the swallow house attached to the shed and who gets to make one of the houses around the pond their home this year. I've counted what appear to be 3 couples taking turns checking out the digs. I'm not sure if they pull straws or how they decide, but they alternate poking their little heads inside to see if last year's furnishings are suitable for them or not.
I sat in the backyard watching them for a while and it seemed that about every 15 minutes or so they would return from (presumably) feasting on the already abundant bugs to resume the ritual of checking out the houses. For all I know it's a courtship ritual and they're actually checking each other out! What I do know for sure is that eventually the couples settle down, have a brood, and get down to the almost non-stop activity of feeding the hungry ones. I hope to 'shoot' them when that time arrives.
(70-200mm f11 1/400 sec ISO200)
(70-200mm f5.6 1/800 sec ISO200)