The Lost Babies

A pair of finches made a home in one of our hanging ferns. Andy thought that was what they were up to, and once it was confirmed we had to be very careful with the way we watered. We had a happy compromise – the mother would fly away to the dogwood or the pine tree while we insured the plant got its water, then return when we were done. I captured a few photos as well, careful not to disturb or get any human scent near the nest. Birds have been known to abandon nests where they detect foreign smells.

For a week or two we watched the mother guard her nest, and a couple of days ago the eggs finally hatched.

They were so tiny, so helpless, so utterly at the risk of the world. The heartbreaking fragility of life. There were so many things that could hurt them, they had but a precious scant chance to reach their full potential – yet here they were, standing in the face of all reason that such small creatures couldn’t survive. They gave me hope.

When we returned home yesterday, Andy said the finches hadn’t been around all day, which he found strange. As he approached the nest, there was no sound – no screeching mouths of fuzzy babies – and no warning cries of vigilant parents. The birds were gone. They just disappeared.

An empty nest is surely one of the saddest sights to behold. Andy suspected the catbirds he had seen in the area, or possibly one of the neighborhood cats. I didn’t want to entertain those ideas. I took one last photo of the forlorn nest, holding back and forcing myself not to dwell on the Mother’s work, the Father’s guard, and the cries of those tiny birds.

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