Last spring I found two cowbird eggs in the nest the purple finches built on our front porch. This year when I checked on the progress of mother finch’s nursery I found three finch eggs and one rouge. You can’t miss the difference. Notice the larger egg is a spotted buff color = cowbird. The finch eggs are turquoise. The cowbird lays her eggs in another bird’s nest, leaving the responsibility of parenthood to someone else. The problem is, birds being what they are, the parents don’t recognize this egg is not their own and the female hatches and feeds the little criminal as if it were native. This hatchling is always larger than the real offspring and aggressively, starves the other babies and is soon able to push them out of the nest where they die on the ground. That’s why I removed the egg.
|Purple Finch nest|
I noticed the fine architecture of the nest - it is so pleasingly and carefully woven with grass, wool, and even flowers are incorporated if they are in bloom. And see how they surrounded the nest with little snippets of cedar? I heard that long ago the remedy for bedbugs was placing cedar boughs under the bed. Bugs and pests don’t like cedar - hence cedar chests that safely store wool blankets and clothing. So I wonder if this helps repel the mites that birds are prone to host. A natural wonder. So interesting to find both wisdom and villainy right on our front porch.
This may be one of the last acts of charity I perform while living at Toad Hall. Our days here are numbered as we pack the house and get ready to move in a week. Saying good-bye to many friends and leaving our home of thirty-three (!) years will be hard. But we look forward to our new place where there may be many more birds who will benefit from my moral compass. We found a house in a quiet neighborhood in Savage, Minnesota, and the back yard abuts a wooded ravine that drops down to a little stream and a forty-six acre park called “Hidden Valley.”
All I can say right now is everyone was right - that we would find something. This is a gift. A mercy. Grace upon grace. Something my wizened heart does not always expect in this life. I’m more accustomed to expecting difficulties and impostors. I am so thankful.