Sometimes God comes at us from unexpected directions and shows up in the smallest of ways–even through baby birds.
House finches are a feature of life here in the midlands. Small, energetic birds with a reddish tint, their distinctive chirping can be heard everywhere this time of year.
They’re also determined nest-builders. Decorative ferns, corners of porch roofs, door wreaths—no part of a house is safe from their drive to build nests and raise babies. A worker once left his trailer doors open while he fixed something in our home. When he came out a couple of hours later, finches had almost finished a nest inside the trailer. He might have been greeted by baby birds if he’d been delayed much longer.
Finches leave messes, of course, and you can always tell where their nests are by the droppings. It’s not pleasant if you’ve just re-finished the decking on your porch, like we have; or if your wife has high standards of cleanliness and order, like mine does.
Pam did everything this spring to keep the finches away but nothing worked. The water bottles intended to frighten them with their own reflections? The birds just laughed and wedged their nests between them and the wall. When Pam tried to shoo them away with a broom, they waited her out. As soon as she went inside, the birds returned to their work as sure as the tide coming in—and almost as impossible to stop.
For house finches, life will find a way. The force of nature that drives them is so relentless that nothing will keep them from nesting, laying and raising up the next generation.
For house finches, life will find a way. The force of nature that drives them is so relentless that nothing will keep them from nesting, laying and raising up the next generation. The Audobon Field Guide says each brood takes 14 days to mature and a pair of finches can have up to three broods per spring. That explains why over 1 billion of them live in North America. I don’t know who’s doing the counting but I can attest that the Turner household is doing our part to keep the population up.
We finally gave up trying to stop them. Let them have their babies, I told Pam, and we’ll clean up afterwards. I’m more sentimental than I used to be and the sight of helpless animals moves me. Their life is more important than whatever mess they leave behind.
A couple of weeks later we figured the new finches were hatched and gone, so we got our hose to wash the nest away. But as the sticks and other debris fell away, Pam saw two little feathered figures clinging to the bare wood. She took them down and carefully placed them into a box and drove them to the Carolina Wildlife Center. The experts there told her she would need to take them back home and provide them new housing. “What do you mean, provide housing?” Pam asked. “Here’s a temporary nest,” they said, giving her a pre-fab nest they had handy. “Where do I put it?” Pam asked. “They like ferns,” was the response, something Pam didn’t want to hear because she’d just bought several decorative ferns to hang on the porch. The two baby finches were safely installed in their new home by the time I got home later that evening.
The next morning Pam went to a meeting and I was charged with keeping an eye on our adopted children. But as I glanced up from the fern where we had placed the temporary nest to the site of the original nest, I saw something moving. A closer look revealed two more little finches. We had missed half the brood.
To make a long story short, we placed them with their siblings in their new home and within a few hours momma and daddy showed up and took to them immediately. All is now well and if nature is true to its course next spring we’ll have an even bigger mess on our porch as our unexpected family continues its growth.
The God who made us also made the birds, and to respect the life in them is to respect the life of their–and our–Creator.
“Look at the birds of the air,” Jesus says in Matthew 6:25. “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” The point is that we don’t need to live in worry because God provides for our necessities just as surely as he provides for all his creation, even birds. Underneath Jesus’ promise, though, is a deeper truth: even though human life is more valuable because we carry God’s image, all life is connected because it all flows from the same source. The God who made us also made the birds, and to respect the life in them is to respect the life of their–and our–Creator.