Friday, May 22, 2009

Empty Nest

pile of robin babies
The babies are gone. Those incredible blue eggs which hatched into a vulnerable pile of blind, featherless beaks, barely strong enough to lift their heads up when mom or pop arrived with a mouthful of worms… whose collective dog-pile barely made lump in the bottom of the nest, who grew bigger daily before our eyes, popping out feathers, changing colors and growing until they outsized their nest, decided yesterday, on exactly their 14th day after hatching, that it was time to go.
mamma and 2 beaks At 7:00am yesterday morning, all 4 were still piled into the nest. By my 9:00am coffee pot trip, 3 remained. I searched the ground under the nest – no sign of the 4th. All day I checked back on them from time to time, and all 3 were still piled in there. Two of them took turns standing and stretching their wings, preening and sitting on the edge of the nest, but neither dared make the jump. The third seemed content to sit still beneath the other two, contemplating what lay ahead perhaps. At 6:30pm when my beloved got home all 3 little birds still stared at us every time we passed by the kitchen sink window. When I returned at 7:00, only 1 baby remained. He/she looked a bit lost now, all the siblings suddenly gone, the nest which was overcrowded moments before, nearly empty. But this baby didn’t seem to be in any big hurry to leave. I had to wonder if it was perhaps the 4th baby, the one that hatched the day after the rest, the one we had dubbed “slowpoke.” It was impossible to tell which was which, they all looked alike to our non-robin eyes. Would it take yet one more day to mature, as it did to hatch? We wondered, and the robin wondered back at us through the glass. We started to prepare our dinner on the counters near the window, glancing over every few minutes to see what it was up to. Then suddenly, I looked and the nest was empty. We had missed it, we had missed all of them take that fateful leap. We scrambled up onto the countertops in order for a better view, and searched the ground below our windows and the bushes and nearby trees. My beloved's keener eyes saw it first, in the nearest tree, its spotted breast differentiating it from one of its parents. It was hopping from branch to branch, mamma robin not too far away, calling to it. We watched it for awhile, until it had hopped up too high and out of sight.

3 amigos Slowly we climbed back down off of the counters. We took our plates to the table and enjoyed our meal. But each time I walked back over to the sink, I couldn’t help glance into the empty nest, half expecting some curious baby to have returned to the safe and comfortable place it had known for the last 14 days. And every time the empty nest stared back at me, I felt a little sad. I had come to enjoy checking on them throughout the day. Any time I was at the sink, all I had to do was look up, and four pairs of eyes looked back at me. Or one pair, with three pair shut sound asleep. Or no pairs, just four beaks agape in what I imagined were robin snores.

lone ranger Today, after checking the empty nest at least a half a dozen times, I headed down to the basement to see if my teenager was ready to go to work. She had been working on tidying up all stuff in the boxes and bins she recently moved back home with, when things fell through with her roommate in town. It is, in a word, a big mess. I sigh but acknowledge she has made some progress over the last two days. Our nest was empty for 6 months. No longer. Our baby has fledged and flapped her wings about in the wide world beyond, only to return again when the world was a bit too much to handle.

empty nest Where will the robins go when the winds blow and the rains torrent this summer? Will they have a safe place to take shelter from the storms of life? It won’t be back in their little nest, that is for sure. But I send a prayer out to the universe that wherever they are right now, they will find shelter from the storms, and that perhaps next spring, they may grace our window again with new life and new hope in the spring sunshine. And I send another prayer out, that our own little fledgling will also find her wings and the strength and courage to leap from the nest again, ready to explore the world once more on her own. Blessings - Victoria


inadvertent farmer said...

Ha! I've had a few return to the nest too! They go, come back, and go again...makes life a bit like a yo yo. Kim

Victoria Strauser said...

Yes, and she's about ready to come home for another spell again... uff da!

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