For my finch followers: hatching

When death
is all around
be still, listen
to the sound
of birds

to hopes lost
and found

here in the song
life and grace

Backstory: House finches return year after year to build nests on my front door wreath. Every spring and summer, my porch becomes a bird sanctuary and nursery; I, a present but uninvolved custodian, watch it all unfolding from the periphery. This winter the little finch pair actually roosted in the wreath at night. That is a first. I imagined them nestled together in the grapevine, keeping each other warm, dreaming dreams of life to come. They started awfully early this season, building their nest in the wreath and laying at least four eggs before the last week of February. It was still cold. March arrived with gusting winds and sustained freezing temperatures; I worried about the tiny life on my door. During winter’s only snow this year, well before before spring officially arrived, the baby finches hatched. Because of the cold, I stayed away; I didn’t want to startle Mama Finch, who needed to be on the nest keeping her babies warm. I saw the hatchlings when they were a day or two old and didn’t check again for about three weeks…expecting they had fledged and possibly gone, as the happy singing and trilling bird-talk at my door had ceased. When I came around to check the nest, I found one fledgling dead, its little head drooped over the front of the nest, and another beautiful fledgling, so tiny, with such perfect little wings, enmeshed with the nest at the back—almost becoming part of the nest. This is another first: in all these generations of finches I’ve not known any babies to die. In fact, they usually stay in the nest after they can fly, seemingly unwilling to leave. I marvel at how they can still stuff themselves into it. Home sweet home…until now. Not wanting to leave the dead baby finches and fearing there were parasites or some disease in the nest, I removed the babies, placed them deep in a bed of leaves by the woods out back, and destroyed the old nest.

It broke my heart.

The parents must have been watching me…I read that birds mourn for their little lost ones.

They began rebuilding immediately. With urgency, Soon there was a perfect green nest artistically adorned with a long gray feather from some other bird, lined with layers of the softest, whitest fluff —wherever do they find this? And a week before Easter there were five—five!—new eggs.

They began hatching yesterday. I’ve been keeping close watch…and this is the first time I’ve caught a glimpse (just the very quickest glimpse) of a finch actually hatching.

The poem at the opening was inspired by one shared for VerseLove on Ethical ELA yesterday, coinciding with the hatching of these finch eggs: Why Do You Write Poems When Death is All Around Us?

The answer, for me, is a matter of awe: Life is all around, somehow overcoming, even singing at the door.


with thanks to Andy Schoenborn for sharing Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre’s poem yesterday
and Two Writing Teachers for the weekly Slice of Life story sharing-place

and to the finches
for infusing my days

with so much awe
and notes
of joy

14 thoughts on “For my finch followers: hatching

  1. Fran, the promise of life, the hope of living, the wing and the prayer, all warmed in downy feathers and nestled in the circle of the wreath, so symbolic of the circle of life right on your front door. They know where they belong. They know this gives them the best start. I’m cheering and cheeping for these finches this morning. How amazing that you got the hatching in progress. I’ve been trying to do that with the bluebird eggs ~I’m checking today again at lunchtime to see if they are ready to face the world yet. Such an inspiring post today. Do these birds have names? If not, what would they be? Hope? Faith? It seems they just exude these virtues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kim, I will never tire of watching this miracle of tiny new life coming into the world, right on my door. It flood me with awe. It makes me especially happy that these are songbirds; in some small way I feel like I am helping to put song in the world. We so need it. So far three eggs have hatched; maybe four by the time of this writing. Let’s see…names. How about Amor (Love), Gratia (Grace), Misericordia (Mercy), Fidem (Faith), and Spero (“I hope”)? And oh – the parents -! How about Victoria for the mother being so victorious in persevering and overcoming…and Papa… well, how can he NOT be Atticus Finch? ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Fran,
    Even though death is all around us we must honor life. We must protect the living here. Now. I love seeing the little finch nest and the new baby bird. I believe the finch return because you are a friend and a protector. The mother and father trusted you to honor their list hatchlings. They built a new nest because you have a loving relationship w/ the birds. This is more than a story about birds and nests on your door each spring. It’s a lesson in how we should be in nature and w/ nature’s creations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glenda, I take these words to my heart. I hope the finches know that I am a friend and protector. The seem to. And you are right – it is ultimately a love story for nature and the life brought forth. Ceaselessly amazing.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Fran, what a wonderful video capture of this moment. “to hopes lost and found” — what a beautiful message from the finches this spring.

    There is another poem in your prose right here:

    “Why Do You Write Poems When Death is All around Us?
    The answer, for me, is a matter of awe: Life is all around, somehow overcoming, even singing at the door.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Fran, your poem was lovely, but when I read the unique backstory, it resonated even more fully. Thanks for sharing such a beautifully crafted explanation of the finches. It’s quit a story. I’m so glad that couple didn’t give up and now have two living offspring. Life and Death…always great fodder for writing, especially because everyone deals with these two characters all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Rita. All five finch eggs have hatched now – the tiny nest is full to the brim with life! I only risk a visit when it’s warm and the parents are fetching food – otherwise Papa Finch will scold me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember the previous post about how you discovered the sad fate of the first hatching. I also remember looking forward to the Easter sequel. This is such an optimistic post from you and from those persistent finches. Thank you and thank them for me!

    Liked by 1 person

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