I love birds. But I’ve always been extra fond of the house finch. Maybe in part it’s because this was the first bird I identified on my own, sitting on our wide stone porch in Hopland watching them busy at the feeders. I combed my little book of California birds page by page more than once until it clicked for me, until I recognized my own birds in the photograph. I remember the childlike glee, the thrill of figuring it out on my own, that dumb grin I get on my face when I’m falling in love. But more than being my first birding victory, there is something so present about them, an awareness I don’t sense in some of the other small birds, a feeling of taking stock of things, of taking their time. I see a kindness in them, too. I think that, more than anything, makes me want their company. I love it when they sit in our palo verde or nibble during a quiet moment in the tray feeder. We have one male house finch who shows a golden orange instead of red, an aberration of some sort. (Did I read once it’s caused by nutrition?) I love the vibrant color, this oddness of his. It makes him familiar, the one I can recognize each time he arrives, and it lifts my heart to see him. I dream of the day when I’ll look up into our palo verde and see a score of house finch sitting there in their calm, considering way, when the bougainvillea will have grown lush and bushy and three score more will be chattering from deep inside their shade. And in the meantime, I’ll be glad each time one comes to visit our courtyard garden, odd or otherwise.