Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guess Who's Killing My Fern?

The Finches, that's who! Yes, Mr. & Mrs. House Finch, of the Long Island Finches, have set up housekeeping in one of our hanging ferns and are starting a family. Last season, they summered in a different location on our property and had a sad encounter with a King snake. The resulting death of their little ones has made them a bit wary, and consequently, we don't have the heart to interfere with their little home this season . . . and as the mother-to-be gets very upset if we touch the fern that houses her nest we've been neglecting it as evidenced by its lackluster appearance!

It looks like all will end well this year, however, as the happy couple now have five eggs and are eagerly awaiting the arrivals.

And by the way, if you live in the eastern half of the US and have house finches in your neighborhood, they are also part of the Long Island clan. Did you know that seventy years ago there were no house finches in the eastern part of the country? In 1940, some from California were released on Long Island and within fifty years they had spread across the eastern US and southern Canada - with their numbers in the millions. If you'd like to read more about the House Finch and how its spread affected other birds, check out this article.

So, stay tuned for progress updates over the next few weeks. And since we'll be watching these little birds, you might like this poem about bird watching from Robert Service:

The Bird Watcher

In Wall Street once a potent power,
And now a multi-millionaire
Alone within a shady bower
In clothes his valet would not wear,
He watches bird wings bright the air.

The man who mighty mergers planned,
And oil and coal kinglike controlled,
With field-glasses in failing hand
Spies downy nestlings five days old,
With joy he could not buy for gold.

Aye, even childlike is his glee;
But how he crisps with hate and dread
And shakes a clawlike fist to see
A kestrel hover overhead:
Though he would never shoot it dead.

Although his cook afar doth forage
For food to woo his appetite,
The old man lives on milk and porridge
And now it is his last delight
At eve if one lone linnet lingers.
To pick crushed almonds from his fingers.

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