Only one

Every March, house finches build a nest on top of my front door wreath.

The mother usually lays three or four pale blue eggs. The babies fledge and fly away all too soon.

In 2020, when COVID-19 struck the face of the Earth, the finches built their nest but laid no eggs. I don’t know why; it was one more thing to mourn.

Last year, the finches returned and laid five eggs—a record! Making up for the previous year? I wondered.

And so it is March again, and again there’s a finch nest on my front door. These seem to appear overnight, as magically as mushrooms in the lawn.

And on Sunday, there was an egg:

My soul rejoiced.

The birds are a marvel; their songs are a marvel. They lift my spirits immeasurably. Every nest is different; this one has lovely down and fiber running through it. So soft. Last year’s was very green. One nest in years past was trimmed in tiny flowers. Finch dads are mixed media artisans; they collect the materials. This papa seems especially considerate and nurturing.

So, as an annual bird Franna, I check on my grand-eggs daily until my tiny pink grand-finches appear. The eggs hatch one day at a time, for they are laid one day at a time, usually in the mornings between 7:00-9:00.

Here, Friends, is where the plot thickens…

As of today (I am writing this on Monday afternoon), there remains just the one little blue egg.

I am concerned.

I know, go ahead and tell me all the things about birds and Nature knowing how to manage perfectly well, but… it’s so cold and windy here… I think I’ve heard the finches, but I haven’t seen the mother on the nest incubating her egg yet. Or laying any more. Why? Will there even BE a baby bird, or…

I know, sometimes things happen. Sometimes we get to know the what and the why; sometimes we don’t.

Meanwhile… I keep thinking of you, Little Blue Egg, all cold and alone…which drives me to look things up; I have learned that an egg can be viable for maybe two weeks before a mother incubates it.

Blessed reassurance…

probably absurd
this obsession with a bird
—this one egg, really—

wish I could do more than wait
for Nature to rule its fate

—sigh

—Stay tuned, y’all.

*******



with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March

21 thoughts on “Only one

  1. Yay, for your nest and egg! The nest is beautiful. I totally agree with you that birds are a marvel; they lift my spirits, also. Maybe Mama house finch is just filling her belly to prepare for the hours of sitting on the nest. I’m excited about your beautiful little blue egg. I thought about your house finches when I saw activity out my window in a hole off our porch roof that my husband, Craig forgot to fix. Yay, he forgot. I told Craig it’s too late because beautiful daddy house finch has been busy bringing materials for the nest. 🙂 I noticed all the male house finches are a more brilliant raspberry color this spring, or maybe they just look more brilliant against the cold, gray days that have been around 20 degrees.

    Lately, I haven’t seen the usual flock of bluebirds that visit. Today, I saw a pair of bluebirds eating seeds knocked to the ground; one big mama and one slender daddy! I told mama to fly up and bite lots of beef lard because she is going to need protein for her big belly. She finally listened. Enjoy!

    PS Today on Facebook, I saw a photo of a bald eagle nest that was so large that a ranger could sit in it!

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    • I love your bird stories, Gail! I had a book about birds’ nest when I was little – I recall the huge eagle’s nest, looking like a mess, really. Wonder if this is where my love began-? Anyway – there’s new today for our little blue egg! Will share soon.

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  2. Yes, yes I will stay tuned. You may have a children’s book about birds here. I hope she returns and lays more eggs. I’m not surprised at all that you even know the times she lays them. This isn’t a brown-headed cowbird’s egg, but it makes me think of them when I read this, the way they lay their eggs. They might be my least favorite bird ever. I do hope your bird comes back. I worry about the dangerous world out there. I’m staying tuned.

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  3. I feel like this is your “Groundhog Day”, this annual report on the state of nature outside your door. Isn’t it interesting how invested we get in these life cycles? I’ve gotten so used to the bird pairs that visit my feeder that I worry if I haven’t seen them in a day or two. I mourned the monarch caterpillars that died on my milkweed. I’m not fond of squirrels ever since one took a vacation in our house while we were away, yet I wonder about the soon-to-be mama squirrel who eats the seeds that fall from the bird feeder, and if I should put out soft things for her nest. Maybe watching all of this unfold is just the best reminder that we are not in control of it all, and that’s okay.

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  4. I remember your finch stories from previous years. I hope this one has a happy ending. I loved this passage: So, as an annual bird Franna, I check on my grand-eggs daily until my tiny pink grand-finches appear.
    That, and your “probably absurd/ obsession with a bird” line, are my favorites. Looking forward to the next installment.

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  5. I so love a good bird story. As you know we are monitoring a nesting wood duck with a Ring doorbell camera. You must not go in and out of this door during the nesting season. We went canoeing the other day and were cautious to step gingerly around the box.

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    • So excited about your wood ducks & camera, Margaret! As for our door where the finches nest: I have a sign out front to use the side door and one on the inside to remind my family to STOP and not open the front door , in case they forget. Seemed to have worked well in past years to preserve our front porch bird sanctuary. One year the finches had two sets of eggs, one in March and another in late June/July. Still one egg as of now. I don’t know why this makes me so sad, but it does…

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  6. I love this whole piece as a metaphor for life over the past couple of years. The details you capture about each nest are so beautiful. This line feels especially true: “Sometimes we get to know the what and the why; sometimes we don’t.”

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  7. Fran, I read your slice eagerly this morning. I love your annual springtime finches story. I certainly hope that the baby will survive the cold without the constant watch of parents. The nest is a beautiful design this year and makes me realize the magnificence of springtime, the craftsmanship of the father bird May your waiting period be filled with hope of a bursting spring.

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  8. Bird nests are sure signs of spring! When we first went into lockdown, my neighbor and I marveled at a nest that was created.

    I love that you notice the number of eggs and are thinking about what became of them. All of God’s creatures…

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  9. Oh no, I remember the finches and the five eggs from last year and the no eggs of the previous year! One hopes and wonders…it’s so precious that they build their nest in that same precarious spot every year. I agree finches are delightful birds.
    It reminds a little of the difficulty we had trying to get some ducks to hatch some fertilised eggs aeons ago when our kids were small. We finally ended up with one or two of the cutest ducklings, but then a fox ate the lot. I am hoping for a happier outcome for your solitary egg!

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    • Well, today – at last! – there is some news for Little Blue Egg! I will be writing on it in the next couple of days, to share next week on TWT. I know there’s a ‘red in tooth and claw’ aspect to nature but… all in all, it’s so wondrous.

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  10. I remember you writing about the nests! I didn’t remember that no eggs came in 2020- how very interesting. I love how you care and protect the nest instead of being annoyed that your door is not usable during that time! You are such a special person. The best Franna.

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    • 2020 was made even more bleak by the loss of the finches. I saved their unused nest. Stay tuned for NEWS (as of today!) about Little Blue Egg! And, as always, thank you for your sweet and uplifting words.

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