“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Monday, June 14, 2010

Learning to Fly

I feel blessed because I’ve had the opportunity to witness something quite miraculous over the last few weeks. I’ve been able to watch the growth and development of baby Robins from two different nests. In all my years, I've never had the opportunity to witness anything like this. It began a few weeks ago. I was sitting with my uncle in the living room and we noticed a Robin flying to and from a particular branch on an apple tree in the front yard. When I went out to investigate, I discovered a nest. Although it was too high to see inside, I reached my arm up with my camera and snapped a few pictures of the inside of the nest.

Sure enough, there were several beautiful turquoise blue Robin eggs! I got so excited when I saw the eggs because I knew that life was happening in that nest (and because the eggs were so pretty!).

What surprised me the most, was that only a few days later, I snapped a few more pictures inside the nest and the eggs had already hatched! There they were, fluffy, newborn birds, sleeping peacefully. A couple of days later, I was also able to see them, once again sleeping. Then, the next time I checked, they were gone! I remember thinking, “How can that be? So quickly?" I was praying that they had indeed flown away on their own and hadn’t been eaten by another animal.

Then, several days later, I discovered a new nest at home, but this time in a bush just outside the bedroom window and only about five feet off the ground. Three Robins that had recently hatched were resting peacefully. However, the moment I moved a branch to get a better look, they sensed that mom or dad were nearby and stretched up with their mouths open for food. And this is what went on for several days. I watched mom (or dad) dig tirelessly for worms everyday and guard over the young by perching on the roof of the house just above the nest.

At first when I would get close, one or both of them would squawk and ruffle their feathers to demonstrate their fear or anger, but as the days went on, they came to see that I was not there to do harm.

At one point, they were perching their heads over the side of the nest and watching me as I talked, sometimes dozing off. On day five, I could see that they had grown to the point that they were packed into the nest pretty snugly and had developed lots of feathers. One was even trying to flap its wings. What was also interesting was that from the beginning, all three babies were often situated equidistant from one another facing out, which meant that one of the babies was frequently facing the house. So while two of the birds always had a view of the wide open space, trees, flying birds, other animals, people, and cars, this one was often looking at a blank wall. I wondered early on if that would make a difference in its development.

Then I left for two days and figured that the nest would be empty when I got back. I was wrong. Late on the second night, I checked and they were still there packed into the nest with no sound or sight of mom and dad. But early the next morning, as I got close, the squawking began as if to say “danger, danger” and before I knew it, the three little ones flapped their wings and were free from the nest.

Two of them flew away so quickly that I never saw where they went. But one landed on the grass and sat still. I don’t know if it was scared or confused, but it didn’t fly; it began to hop around. Was this the one that had been facing the house? I don’t know. I got a little nervous because I didn’t want a cat to come along and have it for breakfast, and it was because of me that they had left the nest. So I walked up to it hoping that it would fly off, but it didn’t. As much as I wanted it to, I could tell that it just wasn’t ready to fly, so I let it be. And thankfully, about 30 minutes later, I stepped outside again to see it finally get off the ground. At first, it hovered low over the lawn and then suddenly it soared high above the houses and into the treetops.

That was on Friday. On Saturday, I saw what looked like one of the parents with a little one in the back yard in the rain diving for worms in the grass. And the nest has been empty ever since…

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