Birds' Nest Signals Spring 

The birds are house finches. Edwards isn't sure what initially attracted them to choose her wreath and store, but she guesses it's the prime real estate. Word of the birds' annual return has spread among her customers, she says, and those who frequent other shops at Gayton Crossing. And the finches seem perfectly content to let people get close and take a peek. Last spring one of Edwards' customers, a bird lover, kept a journal on the finches' development, documenting their activities for the state Audubon Society, Edwards says.

The yearly nesting has not been without tumult. Amazingly, Edwards says, nests weathered both Hurricane Isabel and Tropical Storm Gaston.

But there are those looking out for the finches. Worried that the wreath may be too precarious a place for fragile eggs, Edwards has moved the nest to a secure window ledge just a bit higher than where it was. Even her two dogs have "taken an interest in the nest" and watch out for it.

For now, Edwards is keeping her eye on the finches' comings and goings. "The dad is the red one, the mom is brown," she says. Time will tell which offspring will favor whom. "Currently they're in egg status, and hopefully, when I come in next week, they'll be baby birds," Edwards says happily. "They're definitely due to hatch very soon." —Brandon Walters

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