For the second time this summer a pair of purple house finches have built a nest in the corner of our front porch. They are hidden up there on the ledge where we have placed a shallow clay pot liner. We love the little parents who scold us when we walk out to get the mail. They fly to the crab apple tree and say, cheee, cheee, cheee. Their first nesting hatched three babies, so we were shocked when this time around there were seven eggs! An ominously large brood for a little mother to raise. But wait! When I looked more closely (we lifted the liner down for a few seconds to peek in because we’re curious, and then quickly replace it before the parents die from anxiety.) Suddenly, I realized that two of the eggs were not like the others. (I could hear that Sesame Street song in my head urging me to decide which one was different.) I looked again. Two were noticeably larger and different in color. More brown speckles. I know that Cow birds are like the English cuckoo bird playing a nasty bully-trick on honest little birds, sneaking in and dropping a giant egg or two that when hatched will put to death the natural children, and with their voracious appetites, will stress the parents who can’t seem to tell the difference between the interlopers and their own poor, starving babies. So the cuckoo is the source of the word “cuckold.” The story of the sailor who has been away at sea for over a year, who returns home to find his wife has a baby. Thus the saying emerged: “I’ve been cuckholded!”
I didn’t expect to find the cowbird in an urban setting. At our house? I have no problem interfering with their ugly agenda. I remove the two eggs, take them to the driveway and smash them on the cement, heartlessly killing the little alien invaders. I’m not looking too deep for meaning here. Or am I? Why should I turn every story into a Me Story? Unless God means me to reflect on this passion I have for rescuing. Maybe removing cuckoo eggs is not what I’m supposed to be doing. Maybe I’ve misunderstood the difference between selfishness and stewardship? Perhaps my zeal for finding and saving has more to do with my own needs than it does for helping others? This might make more sense if you knew I was struggling with boundaries. More wisdom to learn, even at my age.
|Finch nest on Toad Hall porch.|
|Cowbird eggs in hand.|