If this were a story I was analysing in English class, I would have underlined several parts and written "foreshadowing" in huge letters at the margin.
This morning, The Limey and I finally decided to start tending the completely neglected garden. The first thing we wanted to do is cut down the overgrown shrubs and small trees in the planting beds next to the house.
We went out into the lovely day and I remarked, "Just look at this: warmth and sunshine and birdsong, for the love of kittens. Crazy."
We cut down a skeletal, half-dead shrub. The Limey wise-cracked, "I'm uncomfortable with this wholesale habitat destruction." The birds continued chirping.
Next, we cut down a couple of evergreen topiary-type trees. The Limey put out a hand to move a branch away from a third, and saw this.
I feel absolutely awful. We hadn't actually touched the tree the nest is in, but we have cut down the bushes around it. It's not totally exposed because the nest is on the side of the tree facing a fence. But still. We propped up one of the cut-down trees near it, to provide some cover and hiding place, but obviously didn't want to prop it up directly against the nest tree.
We hustled the cat, and ourselves, inside and have been watching to see if the parents come back to the nest. Oh, I feel terrible. We've agreed next spring we'll put up some birdboxes to make up for this. If the babies aren't there (or worse, are there, but dead!) when we check on them later, I don't know what I will do.
Update: We have seen both parents flying to and from the nest with food. Whew!