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Live and let live?

A family of sparrows built a nest inside the window frame that supports our bedroom air conditioner.

When I first noticed what they were up to, I felt honored that representatives of suburban wildlife had chosen our window in which to set up housekeeping.

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Later, as the cheeping grew louder and the flurry of activity more insistent, I became worried: Was it a mistake to let them start a family if the chicks proved too noisy later on? Would the vibration from the AC unit annoy them? Would they make a mess? Was there a chance the birds could get inside the house? (Only plastic sheeting separates the nest from the interior, and our bed is only feet from the air conditioner.)

Reluctant to play the heavy, I approached my husband about clearing out the nest. He was as conflicted as I was about whether the birds should stay or go.

Another week passed, and nature was taking its course. We now had sparrows for roommates. Except for waking us up at daybreak with their chirping, they weren't too much of a nuisance.

I wondered if they felt the same about us. Despite noises of the radio, conversation, and my son's excited screeching, I never heard a flutter of protest or a rustling of wings. Only when it was quiet did the birds move around.

One night, a thunderstorm jolted me awake. Despite the rain and wind, my feathered friends did not stir, leading me to wonder about the stoicism of birds.

I'm a card-carrying member of the Audubon Society, and I put out birdseed year-round. But having them virtually in my bedroom is a bit too close for comfort.

Thankfully, the sparrows will be gone soon - at least until next spring.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor