In January, papery magenta blossoms had already sprung ahead of new leaves on the Bougainvillea’s thorny branches. A pair of finches trilled and flit to and fro outside my front window. I suspected there might be a nest soon.
But the beginning of February brought a heavy storm that countered the early California spring. The storm had blown in unrelenting, ferocious and cold. My house sits on a small rise and left no defense against the battering wind and rain. The Bougainvillea’s branches whipped wildly outside the window. I wondered at the little birds. Where would they have gone for shelter?
Late in the afternoon small panicked wings whizzing like bumble bees and frantic chirps alerted me to their return, as the little birds crisscrossed in an aerial doublet outside the window…and then they were gone. I searched through the window in the gathering dusk and my attention was drawn up into the metal awning that overhangs the window…in each corner was crammed a tiny bird, each tucked into a folded seam and out of reach of the raging wind.
The storm passed. Days later when a calm evening fell, I peeked to see if the birds were still sheltering under the awning. I was delighted to see them still tucked into their corners.
* * *
I checked each night to see if the tiny birds had abandoned their safe quarters; each night they warily observed me back. They were still there.
I bought a seed ball at the suggestion of a friend, and hung it from the branches of the Bougainvillea.
The seed ball was quickly discovered by a number of birds, not just the finches, and the communal feeding spot was busy with much jostling. It was not long after that I noticed the finches were no longer housing themselves in the awning and had found new resting quarters.
I discovered their nest in a crook of the Bougainvillea’s branches, now plush with leaves. To my dismay, the nest had been abandoned. I had unwittingly hung the seed ball to close to the nest, and they had been put in danger of the larger birds.
The finches still ate at the Cafe Bougainvillea; but they obviously built a new nest in a safer location, elsewhere.