A bird made a nest in the tree outside out front door. It is the most picture perfect round, twigged nest. The type to be found in children's story books. I peeked inside. She had even lined it with some soft, fluffy material that looked exactly like felt roving. A few days later I peeked again and found four little blue eggs in there.
It's about now you should have a warm fuzzy, ahhh Spring, type of feeling in your tummy. Emphasis on should. I chose to go straight to fretting. The nest didn't look so sturdy on closer examination. The tree is right next to our deck rail - a perfect launching point for cats or raccoons. What should I do?
"Nothing," exclaimed the husband in a perfectly pragmatic way "let nature do it's thing."
Easy for him to say. He's not a mother. If I had let mother nature do it's thing - my own offspring would be missing limbs and teeth by now. They would also be hungry, thirsty and considerably sun burned.
I tried, I really did. I stopped climbing up on a stool to peek in (in case I startled the momma bird) and instead shoved my camera lens in to investigate for me. One day I was rewarded by a nest full of fuzz. One little yellow beak sticking up. I should have been delighted but instead I developed full mania. Were they warm enough? Should I rig up a cat deterrent? Not that I had seen any cats but you never know.....
I took to leaving my house through the garage as opening the front door made momma bird fly away in fright.
After several days I settled down. No predators came and both momma and poppa bird took turns minding the nest and feeding their young. Then, the wind picked up. My thin little pine tree swayed about. The nest began to crumble. I came home one day to find one of the little birds hanging out. I rushed for my stool and popped him back in. There were two chicks in there (I tried not to think about the four eggs and the math.) The chick I helped back in was considerably smaller than it's sibling and looked much frailer.
Mother Nature tested me for the next few nights. The temperature dipped to unseasonal lows and the winds lashed my tree around. I got up during the night to check on the birds. Told anyone I met about my concerns and goolgled the heck out of every possible scenario. I learned that touching baby birds does not make their mothers reject them. I learned that you can provide material support. I learned you should not try to feed them, no matter how much my heart strings twanged every time I peeked in on little Wilbur Bird. I made them some bedding with tissues and tucked them up against the cold.
The next day after school pick up the nine year old screamed on arrival at the door step. There was Wilbur Bird lying splayed on the wood. I scooped him up before the four year old could see. He rewarded me by sticking his little yellow beak in the air to demand food. He was alive! Team Bird went into full operation. On inspection we found the nest had torn apart in the last nights wind. I dispatched the girls off in search of a basket. They were so intent on their task it was tear inducing. Several baskets were produced and we discussed the merits of each before selecting Nest2. We lined it with roving and tissues. I then plucked the remains of the nest from the tree and popped it into the basket. Big Bird was still happily inside. We added Wilbur Bird and set about securing the basket back in the tree. Momma and poppa bird took to the new nest apparently without issue and resumed feeding duties.
Big and Wilbur are now open eyed, tweeting little guys, who are beginning to flap their wings. I am beginning to prepare myself for their departure. I could explain, at length, my obsession towards two of thousands of garden finches. I know there are many reasons but I will just settle on this. The mothering instinct is strong and all encompassing and a beautiful, distressing and rewarding thing.