Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Finch Nest

One lonely egg! I keep hoping there will be more, but there's been no activity today in the nest. I'm afraid the birds may have abandoned it after my dog scared them by running out the front door last night to greet someone.

I am fascinated by bird nests and eggs. I have a small collection of abandoned nests I've collected over the years. I like to set them in a decorative bowls and display them about the house.

I don't know what it is about me and my homes that seem to attract finches in particular. A finch has built a nest on the top of one of the columns on my porch this year. Maybe they can tell I'm bird friendly. Unfortunately, my dog is not.

Last year, in a completely different house in a completely different state, a finch built two nests in each of my hanging ferns. I read where the males do that, build several nests for the female to choose from. When she picks one she likes, she pads it with fluff to her liking and settles in. She chose the fern furthest from the front door and laid some eggs in it.

Here's where the story gets interesting. A cowbird came along and laid two of her eggs in with the others. The mama finch seemed to accept the donations and continued her attentions.

The problem was the cowbird eggs hatch earlier than the finch eggs. If the baby finches hatch at all, they're so tiny the baby cowbirds, who are much larger, attack and kill them. (I read all this while researching why the eggs in the nest looked different. It puzzled me and I wanted to identify whose eggs they were.)

Turns out, in "my" nest, the finch eggs never hatched because the baby cowbirds pecked them to death. Then one cowbird chick turned on the other and killed him. Cowbirds are apparently nasty fellows with a strong survival instinct. Poor mama finch ended up unknowingly raising someone else's offspring. Oh well, I suppose what she didn't know caused no harm. Maybe she gained experience being a mama and will do an even better job next year with another brood (of her own, hopefully).

So what will become of my new finch nest this year?? Will the mama come back?? Stay tuned!

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