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Starting the year with one, then two days of bright sunshine has hit me with a common affliction: writer’s brain.

Everything is wonderful and new again; everything is material for writing.

Writer’s brain thrives on exercise.

It thrives on novelty.

At the end of a five-mile hike along Bear Creek, we emerged from the woods to discover a bird’s nest near our place.

Bird's nest, winter. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Found art: Empty bird’s nest in winter, Southern Oregon. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Rarely see them.

I suspect this is because I’m not paying attention.

But Vitamin D has a way of kickstarting writer’s brain.

This nest was so wondrous, we stopped awhile just to admire it.

The nest was empty, and so finely crafted that the photographer joked someone must have planted it.

It’s in a young, leafless tree at the edge of a strip mall parking lot, so seems too vulnerable to have been built here.

Still, we’ve learned not to underestimate urban nest-builders.

Hummingbirds once built a nest in a big, urban tree in front of our temporary home in another city, and it was as fine as spider webs. We watched a couple build that nest with natural and manmade filament; we watched the tiniest eggs resting there; we were thrilled to watch parents feed their young only yards from our front door.

Our home may have been temporary, but we sensed that the hummingbirds had built their home to last.

This empty home in our new neighborhood is a bit larger than the hummingbird nest I recall. It has far too many twigs to have been built by hummingbirds, but it’s very tiny. I’ve been searching bird guides, trying to identify the builders.

Our daily walks this week have been accompanied by birdsong, as if this sudden sunshine heralds spring.

The neighborhood is bursting with juncos, gray jays, chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches and other birds I can’t name.

Yet.

Walking in sunshine, with writer’s brain fully engaged, has convinced us that moving to Southern Oregon means better birding.

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