An Open Letter to the House Finch
To Whom It May Concern:
Why? Why, I ask, do you continue, year after year, to build nests in all four of my front porch ferns? I earnestly beseech thee.
Truth is, I have trouble with this; thus, I’m writing to you today to address my concerns, having laid awake last night thinking–tossing and turning, I tell you.
Perhaps my recommendations after hearing my complaint will deter you from future fern inhabitation. Perhaps not, but likely, I’ll feel better having expressed my feelings on the matter.
First, I sacrifice the beauty of my ferns each year that your young might not be disturbed–both prior to your clutch of eggs hatching, fearing you, Mama, may abandon them, as well as after they’ve come forth, afraid that my watering can, as narrow a spout as I can produce, might send them falling from their nest, which would certainly lead to their demise. My ferns, thus, are, yet again, forlorn and frail–their fronds brittle, lifeless.
Second, I enjoy sitting on my front porch. I do–especially as the weather warms and everything comes alive on and around Selah Farm. This has, however, been hindered by your choice of habitation. When I step, light-footed as I am, out the door and onto this pleasant outdoor living space, my coffee, too, often goes flying as you, Mama, dive-bomb my head in your attempt to send me flailing back inside. This is rude, I tell you. Rude. Can’t we all just get along?
Third, do you not know, after all this time, that we have a dog–a bird dog to be specific. While Prancer, our almost 3-year old Golden–is 1) mostly indoors and 2) visually impaired, she has an efficient sniffer. Blastomycosis, the lung fungus she somehow contracted a couple years ago, sad as it was, did nothing to damage in any way her keen sense of smell. In fact, it’s been told that, when one sense has been removed, the others kick in to high gear. Therefore, Prancer has a sharper sense of smell, as well as hearing, then likely she’d otherwise have if she could see clearly. Why, oh why, can’t you clearly see this?
Just yesterday, your babies fledged. Only the day before, I’d walked out to have them peer at me–twelve little black eyes just over the nest’s edge, tucked in so snug and tight. Once again, you dive-bombed me, sending me back inside. I stood, thus, at the window to watch as you, Mama, landed on the fern. Six little mouths opened to receive the sustenance only you can provide. How precious, thought I. (See, I really am a forgiving soul, quick to forget the fact that you likely wish me dead each time I step foot onto my porch.)
I continued to watch from my window–marveling at the winsomeness of how you feed your babies. In that moment, all truly felt right with the world.
Then, as mentioned, yesterday you encouraged your young to fly. Why you chose yesterday–a day dreary with heavy rains and an occasional gust of wind–is beyond me, but then, I wouldn’t personally rear young in hanging pots that come close to flinging one’s offspring to Kingdom Come with each wind blast. Surely, after all this time, you realize our valley experiences a lot of them. Oh, for the love…
Still, you, Mama, must have known something special about the day. Though it felt like any typical Tuesday to me, for you and your children it was Fledge Day–and fledge they did. In fact, yesterday morning I was sitting, minding my own business, when one of your offspring–let’s call him Allen–landed on my window and clung to the screen as though his life depended upon it, which it likely did. (Remember: I have a bird dog, for crying out loud!)
At first I thought it was cute, but then I grew concerned. Suddenly Allen disappeared, and so I went to look out my window only to see that he’d landed on the steps just outside our door. He fluttered there, looking quite insecure, if you ask my opinion. You, Mama, and your mate (who, I might add, was quite dapper with his red head) encouraged him best you could, but then you flew away, abandoning him. I stepped out to assess the matter, and that’s when Allen decided to try his wings again, only, this time, he flew onto our back deck, landing awkwardly only three feet from Prancer, who–thanks to my quick action–didn’t have time to devour him. I grabbed her collar and sent her promptly inside. (She still hasn’t forgiven me for the missed opportunity.)
Later in the afternoon, Prancer did get out, however. When she didn’t come to help with dinner clean-up, as is her routine, I realized something was amiss. Therefore, we all called for her until, finally, she came–a wet mess from having been out in the rain, licking her lips and looking quite sheepish. When I asked her what she’d been up to, she led me to where she’d broken down several limbs of one of our front walkway Tuscan Flame Nandinas, right under–yes, you guessed it!–the fern from whence your babies had earlier fledged.
We’re not sure if Prancer managed to eat any of them, and we certainly hope not (We’re NOT animals, after all!), but she’d certainly given them a good scare–and you, Mama, as well. At the very least, she sent them fluttering. Which leads me to my final complaint.
Why, oh why do you choose to raise your babies so close to Stevens Creek? Our front porch is a lovely place, I’ll admit, and I can understand why you might choose it for its aesthetic character and charm. But, don’t you realize that, as your young test their wings–experience for the first time that unfettered feeling of freedom–they might misjudge their ability? It is their first time out of the nest, after all; thus, in their attempt to fly to even the very lowest bough of the hemlock that lines the creek bank, they could wind up in water. Such, no doubt, would certainly carry them to their Maker. And that, my feathered friend, would be so sad indeed.
So sad indeed…
Wait a minute. Sad–to meet one’s Maker?
Perhaps that’s what you already know–why you don’t worry or fret. Maybe it’s why you continue, year after year, to take your chances and build your homes in my front porch ferns.
You, unlike me, do not worry or grow anxious–don’t lose sleep due to fear or frustration. Instead, you go about your life not caring about where your next meal will come or how many eggs you’ll lay or, later, how many babies you’ll rear.
You care not, and you, unlike me, fly with freedom. You trust in the greater plan offered by the One greater than you, oh little House Finch, and therein lies the lesson for me.
Thank you for your time concerning this matter, which, interestingly enough, no longer matters–at least, not as I’d first intended.
My recommendation: Carry on!
P.S. I’ll have new ferns in no time. Feel free to teach me again next Spring. For some sad reason, I’m prone to forget.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? … seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow… (Matthew 6:25-27; 33-34a–NIV).