I hadn't noticed Mama bird on/near her nest in the past two days, which was highly unusual. When looking out the window closest to the basket, I'd been able to see not only Mama and Papa coming and going, but also the babies who were big enough to be seen above the edge of the nest. I was growing concerned that perhaps the babies had been abandoned, so I finally took the basket down to check on what was happening.
Oh no! Empty nest syndrome!
Hubby and I were concerned that the fledglings had met some grim end, but we googled house finches and learned that babies typically leave the nest between 12 and 19 days. So, it is quite possible that they simply flew away. We also read that the young finches tend to flock together and feed together, and there certainly was a crowd of finches at the feeder on the porch, so I'm going to keep stocking that feeder for the babies or any other finches that may drop by. I'm also leaving the nest in the basket for another week or so, just in case they return to it for a snooze or something. Apparently house finches will lay up to six separate clutches of eggs in brooding season, but they build new nests for each one, so Mama and Papa will not be back for another round in the petunia basket.
(By the by, while doing my best Grissom impression and searching the vicinity for evidence that some criminal end had befallen the baby birds, I did come across the corpse of the baby sparrow in a rather advanced state of decomp. Ew. I do much better with grisly findings when they're contained within the parameters of my TV set!)
So, it seems we're through with Finch Watch 2008. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for any other nesting situations in our yard - I would totally love to discover a hummingbird nest but the hummingbirds that frequent our feeder always seem to arrive from and depart to parts unknown beyond our back yard fence, so I'm not too confident that there are any hummingbird nests to be found. In the meantime, we've identified many species of birds that flock to our feeders (and who are now emptying all of the feeders in 24 hours or less) and have learned that we have brown-headed cowbirds, goldfinches and what I think was a towhee along with the birds I already could identify - robins, mourning doves (one of whom who had foiled my berry patch netting and was moseying around inside the patch the other day, grrr), red-winged blackbirds and one blue jay. The kiddo has been listening to the bird calls that came with the guidebook in her room, which is a bit disconcerting at times when all of a sudden you hear, say, a screech owl cry that sounds like it is inside the house... Better that, though, than to be listening to the CD in our car, which we did the other day. Nothing can make a short trip longer than 587 bird calls chirping away inside the van, let me tell you!