When I climbed the brick patio steps of a potential client last week I startled a little brown bird. She hopped along my path, then the low wall and finally flew away toward the garden.
I started a project at the same home this week, and again spotted the bird. This time she flew from the low branches of a potted Pittosporum. The jangling of keys in the door must have startled her. She flew out like a shot, surprising us both. When it happened a third time, I knew their had to be a nest.
With my camera in hand, and mama bird elsewhere, I peered into the dense leaves. Nothing.
Assuming I’d imagined the whole thing, I took one last look and there it was: a tiny, hair-lined nest and five speckled eggs. Goosebumps!
Much like Sarah The Gardener, and her ‘stolen’ chic, I’ve found myself feeling responsible for the tiny eggs. Will mama bird continue to visit the nest with these frequent interruptions? Is this the first time she made her home there, or does she come back every year? I want to be sure to notify the movers so they don’t accidentally jostle the nest. It’s a mere arm’s length from the front door, protected from the elements but not from the sudden jolt of a box of dishes or the end of a couch.
I’ve searched the web for ways to identify the eggs, and possible gestation, but it’s been tricky. I think I’ve narrowed it down, but hope to get one more look at mama bird tomorrow to help me decide.
Update: My friend Sheila forwarded the photos to Larry Jordan of The Birders Report to see if he could help. Larry quickly identified the probable bird as a Dark-eyed Junco.
House Finch (native to the Bay Area)
Los Gatos Birdwatcher Partners
If you’re as fascinated with nests as I am, this site is for you. Larry has an extensive photo library of bird eggs and nests with guidelines for identifying (without ever disturbing) the mama-bird and her clutch.
Bird’s Nest Webcams:
Phoebe Allans Nest Cam