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There are two birds that built a nest on our lattice in the garden. Tucked up under the awning and covered by a veil of jasmine vines, they’ve picked the perfect tucked-away corner of Florence to lay their eggs this spring. The male and female flew in above our roof weeks ago, I’d see them every morning, hopping around our garden, and when I started to till up the soil, they’d watch from the balcony or the pine tree, and swoop down to pick up the worms that I’d uncovered.

The female is brave – a little brown thing. She stops moving and suddenly she’s almost invisible against the brown rocky soil – only the writhing worm in her beak giving her away if you look close enough. The male is black with a bright beak, flitting and out of the garden. His voice is loud and his song carries over the rooftops. If he’s angry, it’s almost piercing.

I only discovered the nest a few days ago, as I watched her grab a mouthful of straw from our newly-seeded lawn and skittered back up under the cascade of green vines by the wall. They’re trusting – the nest just at my eye level.

For years, I’ve been calling these birds Merles because it’s a direct translation of their name in Italian and what I was taught they were. Technically, they translate to Merlins (though when I look that up, it’s a falcon – this is definitely not a falcon), but apparently also to Blackbirds, and I like that name better – so that’s what I’m using from now on. I also have now had the Beatles on repeat, which makes it even more awesome.

The two blackbirds chase away the pigeons as they prepare their nest. I’ve come to like their quiet presence. Their daring spirit as they grow more used to us moving around the garden. Soon there’ll be little chirps from the corner in the morning, and I just hope this summer is a good bird summer, or I’ll be raising little baby blackbirds in my kitchen.

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