verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dear Mother Finch

Dear Mother Purple Finch,

We need to have a heart to heart talk.  Mother to Mother.  At first I wasn't too sure why you selected my porch and the inside of the plastic globe feeder as your top choice for raising your family. I mean, I can see that it keeps you dry when it rains, and that you're high off the ground away from snakes and predators, and yes, the view is quite nice.  But a plastic bubble?  I'm pretty sure that in your parenting manuals, you didn't read anything about finding yourself a large plastic bubble.  I'm pretty sure they were talking trees and fences and barns and bushes as suitable settings for your family's home. But in any case here you are, and we have some things to talk about if we are going to share this porch.

Let me start by saying I was impressed by how well you endured some very strong winds and rains in order to stay perched on the five little eggs in the nest in the bubble.  There were nights I wanted to bring you in and hang your rig from an inside hook so that you wouldn't be blowing around so much out there.  And then came a few unseasonably warm days.  I feared it would get so dangerously hot in that bubble-nest that your brood would melt. Or worse. And because I didn't want you to get arrested for neglect and endangerment, I tried to hang the Little Mermaid towel from the eaves, despite your protests.  Not only would it have provided shade, but if your chicks are anything like mine, they would have loved the Ariel motif.

And then, and then!  The magic day came when your five little eggs hatched into five little (and forgive me--very odd looking) babies.  They always tend to look a little squished up at first.  It's ok to admit it--yours did, mine did.  But you love them anyway. We all do. And I understand those first few days can be overwhelming to any young mother.  Seems like all they want to do is eat or sleep and fuss or cry, right?  What's a mother to do?

Well, NOT what you did last night, sister mama!  I don't know where you were for the whole entire night and half of today, but NOW I see why you moved to the porch!  You figured I'd be your babysitter, didn't ya?  You figured that since I know something about babies leaving the nest and how to get dogs to Sit-Wait-Stay,  I'd keep your brood all safe and sound, right?


I spent the entire day going up and down the street looking for you, asking if anyone had seen you or knew where purple finch mothers go.  I even started talking to the jays and squirrels, who, if you can imagine, wanted to know what it was worth to me (the indignation).  In the mean time, your five little babies were hollering for food and some fanning, and making me very anxious.  I paced, I sang, I did magic tricks, I told them bird jokes, and I even pretended I was the Blue Bird of Paradise. But they only grew more and more anxious--we all did, in fact. And I was on the verge of calling the missing mother bird hotline (1-800-Bir-Dmom) when you casually reappeared in the bubble, looking a little bit finchy and feathered out, as if you had not a care in the world.  Of course we were immediately relieved that you returned safe and unharmed, but now that things have settled down, it's time to get something straight.

Do not go missing like that again.  Between the dogs, the jobs, and the kids, my own nest is a-hoppin'.  And besides, I don't know the first thing about teaching your babies to fly or finding worms.  My own kids won't eat my cooking and I'm pretty sure yours won't eat it either.  But Mother Finch, listen to me.  It seems like they'll be there f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  You think that no matter what, they'll be right there, mouths always open about something.

But they won't be.  That day's coming soon, Mama.  Suddenly, very suddenly, they will be ready to go.  You don't want to miss a single day. You'll be very glad you stuck around.

Trust me on that.  And trust me on this:  I don't bird sit.


  1. This is WONDERFUL. I hope Lolla Lee Lou (remember Horton Hatches An Egg?) does not go AWOL again. I hope those babies fledge and you can clean their poopy nest out of the feeder and part of me hopes she comes back next year so I can read a post like this again.

    (quietly) I think they're house finches, not purple finches. I wouldn't be holding up my Science Chimp credentials if I didn't insert that. But I mean it in the most helpful way. A purple finch would hesitate to build a nest in a plastic feeder, but that's something a house finch would think was a wonderful idea. I had an injured house finch in my studio for nine years, and Glenn would have thought that.

    thanks to my friend Ivy for pointing me to your blog!

  2. Thank you, Julie! I appreciate your taking time to visit this page. And thank you for identifying these little finches for me. Papa Finch looked very rosy and so I assumed this to be a "purple" family.

    I am happy to report that Mother Finch stayed home last night and was serving what looked to be a very delicious breakfast early this morning.

    Thanks again for reading, and thank you to Ivy for 'introducing' us.

  3. Very nice! How appropriate for Mother's Day. Don't you hate that feeling of impending responsibility when you don't have the knowledge or time to do anything helpful?

    Thanks to JZ for sending us this way and for the species ID assistance.

  4. I know, I know! I feel entirely responsible and utterly useless. But she's back and even papa is hanging around so I can relax and tend to my own sticks and twigs. Thank you, MojoMan.

  5. Alice, I enjoyed this - smiling all the way. I've been very annoyed with Mama House Finch before...always out and about, leaving her brood sit on my front porch for too long. The babes are so quiet and I even feared they died while Mama was out on the town.

    And, Science Chimp has eeeek'ed me often. I've tried to call a House Finch "Purple" at least a dozen times!


  6. Mary,

    Your mother finch and my mother finch must be sisters! She wasn't there this morning, but Pap was right there overseeing operations. The babies are getting more plump and awkward looking by the day. But so sweet to watch!

    Your photography is stunning--I checked out your blog. Magnificent!

    Many thanks,