Earlier this summer we had the opportunity to watch the activity taking place inside a nest that was constructed on our neighbor’s utility box on the side of his house. My husband had pointed out to me that there was a nest and to look outside one of our dining room side windows. We looked and at first didn’t see any activity there but knew a mother bird was coming back to the nest repeatedly. Then one day we saw her land on the edge of the nest and all these tiny beaked mouths opened wide for the mother to feed them. It was amazing to me. These little featherless birds with their mouths opened wide and their eyes tightly shut, knew when mom was there to feed them.
Most of the time we didn’t see the baby birds but that mother guarded that nest fiercely. When she would sit on the nest for long periods of times a male bird would come over and feed her. Those two birds took turns patrolling the area and aggressively made sure other birds stayed away. If any bird landed on the edge of the house while the mother bird was sitting at the nest, the daddy bird would come over and shew that bird away. We watched intrigued at mealtimes wondering when the baby birds’ eyes would open, when the downy fuzz on their bodies would turn in to feathers. We watched the birds get bigger and bigger until it seemed like there was no room in the nest for anyone. Then one day I counted just three heads, not four. I thought maybe one is napping, but I looked down into the rocks in case one fell out, that bird was nowhere to be found.
The next day we saw two of the baby birds had learned to perch on the edge of the nest just like the mama bird. I thought oh no, its gonna fall! While I had looked away a second bird had flown the nest. I started to get sad and wondered if the mother bird also felt sad that two of her babies were gone out there in the world for the first time trying to figure things out. I was determined to be there when the other two flew the nest. I watched all the time in amazement wondering things like, “how do they know how to fly?” “What if they get in trouble with the neighbor’s dog?” While JJ had the chance to watch the third one fly away, I was able to see the last bird within a 15-minute window of the third bird leaving, fly the nest. It flew low and I thought it hit the fence. The flying we less flying and more like spastically fluttering, much like my kids in the swimming pool.
Later we found one of the baby birds in a little four-foot pine tree in our backyard. It looked scared to death hiding in the tree. It actually scared me because there it sat staring at me not budging. We left it alone hoping it would get the courage to fly away much like it’s brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, we think that one became the victim of a cat that wanders our neighborhood at night because we saw bird feathers all over our back yard. That was hard to explain to JJ and Braidy. JJ didn’t want me to see him cry about the baby bird and of course, I teared up a bit about it and explained the harsh nature of the world to the kids. It’s dangers and how wild animals live. That they have already learned about some of this in school with animals. The difference between prey and predator and that it’s part of the cycle of life in the animal world, that as sad as it is it’s the way it’s designed so that animal populations remain regulated, that it’s the earth’s cycle. Even this explanation seemed a little yard for them. Just like the thought running through my head, “but it was just a baby”, JJ said the same thing. “But it was just a baby mom!” All I could really say was I know. It is sad and we can be sad for the baby bird that didn’t get more than a day outside the nest before fate ran its course.
It’s hard to explain the harsh reality of the world to our kids. We always want to protect them, keep them innocent and feeling secure about their surroundings. I can think of many things I want to protect my two little baby birds from. I think of all the things they will be exposed to in their teen years. All the influences I can’t control in their lives. I pray that the influences they have now will remain into their teen years. That they’ll get even more involved in the church youth group so that they have influence from peers who go to church and learn the written word. That their church mentors and youth group leaders will be a huge influence in their lives so that when they do fly the nest they aren’t immediately brought down by the weight of the world.
I pray that they will soar like eagles!
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