After that fierce wind we had that lasted a day and a night, the one that took my sparrows, I found the verdins’ nest lying on the ground. They had built it in the pine tree next door, in a branch that reaches into my courtyard garden. The nest had collapsed, was only a motley collection of bits. I stood holding it in my hands, looking at the nest, looking at the branch it fell from. I almost cried. I regretted not paying closer attention to it, though I’d studied it a time or two through my binoculars. The verdins had been a bit secretive about coming and going, and I’d never seen or heard any baby birds. The adults may have still only been preparing it. I don’t know. I laid what remained of the nest on the fence below their spot on the pine tree, just in case they could use the pine needles and the twigs and the pieces of fluff to build a new one. I would have borrowed a ladder, tried to tie it back into place for them, but it wasn’t sturdy enough for that. Later, I heard the soft pip of a verdin and saw him land on the fence beside the sad little pile. He hopped about, studying the remains of the nest, looking at it from different angles. He may have been confounded by the way it materialized on the fence. Or he may have been trying to figure out a way to get it back up into the tree. He may have been debating the value of trying to take it apart, of salvaging the pieces for a new nest. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m so sorry.” He came back more than once that afternoon, each time cocking his head to one side and hopping about studying the fallen nest, and then he was gone.
It makes me sad for them, all that work, and then, overnight, they lose it all. I’m grateful there were no eggs, no baby birds inside when the winds came. I miss the verdins, though. I hope they’ve found a good spot for themselves, tucked away, perhaps, in a more protected place. Maybe one day they’ll return, grace our pine tree again with their presence. I hope so. It always made me glad to see their tiny gray bodies with their bright yellow heads, like halos, little bird angels flitting about in the branches of the pine.
[Editor’s note: This is not one of “my” verdins. I got this sweet image from this blog: http://birds242.blogspot.com/. I couldn’t find the photographer’s name on their blog anywhere, but they have posted some wonderful photographs of birds. Whoever they are, they hold the copyright to this one.]