Our friend Finchley, as my wife calls our friendly finch, is back! At least, I think it’s him. I’m not much of a birder, but I heard a familiar chirping around the house that made me say to Joy just this morning, “I wonder when the finches will come back.” And there one was a few hours later, perching on the phone line just outside our kitchen window and flitting between there and a point below, closer to the house, and out of view that I assume is the tangle of morning glory vines that grow up the front wall.

We had a pair nesting there all last spring and summer, and the year before. While they are building the nest, which male and female do together, they fly between that wire and their hidden nest, and off to farther spots to get building materials, all day long. I identified the male despite my lack of birding savvy because of the distinctive reddish-violet breast feathers. The bird I just saw was mostly brown, with faintly yellow breast feathers. I think that probably signals “male,” as the female birds are always just brown as far as I can find out, while the males can vary in color quite a lot depending on their diet.

So if this is our friend from the last two years–and house finches do return to the same spot over and over, building a new nest each year in a place they have found amenable–then he has been eating something different than he was last year. In 2022, I didn’t notice his visits until later in the year, not having yet learned to watch for him, so maybe it is more about the time of year and he will get more red-breasted and -headed as the seasons change. I’m so glad he is back so we can see.

Also, I’m gratified because I was all set to get the house painted at the end of the summer, which would have required cutting the morning glories all the way down to the ground. The painter I hoped to hire didn’t get back to me, and it became clear that if we did it in 2022, we wouldn’t be done until late fall, and so the morning glories wouldn’t get to begin regrowing until then. I got more and more nervous about the timing, until I realized that there was no rush to paint, and that I could just give up on 2022 and line up a painter for late August 2023 instead, to begin work as soon as we’re pretty sure they have left that year’s nest. The only down side of this plan is that it means another year of having our garage door a different color scheme than the rest of the house: bright blue with yellow trim. That’s what the rest of the house will be when it’s painted, and we got the paint because the garage door couldn’t wait. As a result, our house looks like a very prominent statement of support for Ukraine. Oh well, we can be glad we actually agree with our garage.