I GREW UP on a vineyard. Each spring, my brothers and I would grab our little notepads and, in my organized manner even back then, traverse the rows, searching for birds' nests. We very carefully peeked into each vine, documenting each find, and then following the progress of each nest until, at last, all the baby birds flew away.
SOME EGGS didn't hatch, while others were eaten by small mammals or other birds. And it always broke my heart to scribble, "Dead hatchling– not strong enough." Occasionally we got to see the parents feed worms or bugs to the babies. It was so exciting I couldn't sleep some nights.
SOON the nests were empty, and we moved on to new adventures. We ditched our notepads and found other ways to amuse ourselves, not giving nests another thought – until the next year, when it would seem like just the best idea all over again.