Of all the amh, birds that were neither predator nor prey to the sparrows, the iparral, or cardinals, were the most likely to treat with sparrows and not to fight with them. So long as there was ample food, the cardinals and their brides would suffer the sparrows to be near them and to converse.

So Lwyr sought their counsel, specifically that of Rreko, a cardinal who had lived in the area for many years and had raised three broods a year, like clockwork, with his bride.

“Tell me, please, if you have a moment, what I should do about the nest-intruders, the cowbirds,” Lwyr said. “They have laid their egg in my beloved’s nest, and she is beside herself with worry.”

Rreko cracked an oily seed open with his great orange beak and chewed on the contents, meditatively. “They have bedeviled us more and more,” he said. “But we accept it as a fact of life.”

“What happens with the chicks you raise?” Lwyr pressed. “What happens as they grow?”

“We do our best with them, and they care for us in their fashion, but they always speak in a foreign tongue from the nest, it seems, and when our fledglings scatter they never return, seeking instead their own kind. I suppose all sons and daughters are the same, in that way.”

“What if they could be made to stay, for us that flock?”

“Well, they do flock sometimes, usually in the spring, but they are such rude, garrulous creatures that they would not fit in with a flock so…delicate…as yours.”

“What if they could?”

“I would say that is a fool’s dream,” Rrenko said, cracking another nut. “It is as if asking what if the sun were edible.”

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