The Empty Nest

Some years ago, a pair of robins set up housekeeping in a shrub conveniently located just outside our bedroom window. By dint of climbing atop a rather shaky chest-of-drawers we were able to watch as, over the ensuing days, they flew industriously back and forth with bits of nesting material, busily constructing what our local realtor would have described as a highly desirable residence. (Some of today’s houses should be built so well!)

But try as I might I could never seem to get a good enough shot of the proceedings; the branches always got in the way and, because this was in pre-digital camera days, it wasn’t until after it was too late to retake the pictures that I discovered, upon getting my prints back from the pharmacy, that my efforts had met with little or no success.

Meanwhile, the babies emerged from their delicate, blue eggs, ugly and featherless, immediately demanding to be fed while both parents tirelessly kept up a supply chain of worms and other delicacies for those hungry, gaping beaks that was nothing short of amazing.

Thanks to their heroic efforts, three skinny, defenseless young robins quickly developed into cocky, self-opinionated adolescents and it wasn’t long before we witnessed their first attempts at flight. Eventually the day dawned when, looking from our vantage point on top the chest, we experienced, literally, that empty-nest feeling, when we realized that the ‘kids’ had grown up and left home.

I wonder how those parents felt? Were they relieved; another brood brought safely to adulthood?  Or were they a little sad to see their fledglings moving on?  I doubt it on both counts.  In nature, life goes on.  In our case, however, we experienced all those feelings but, unlike the robins, our ‘babies’ return every once in a while, sometimes with ruffled feathers, still demanding to be fed.

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5 thoughts on “The Empty Nest

  1. Reblogged this on The Nature of Things and commented:

    Off to hopefully shoot some birds. Not literally, of course, but photographically. So I thought I’d leave you with this my second effort at writing something for The Nature of Things that evidently nobody saw the first time around.

    • We, too, had a nest in a tree outside our house the year we moved here. Had a great time watching mother robin (although, sadly, something got to the nest before the babies fledged and all were killed). I often envy animals and their ability to live in the moment without regrets of the past, without worries for the future. We always had something of an “empty nest” because my step-kids lived with us so infrequently. But when our sponsor Coast Guard cadets flew the coop upon graduation, THEN I felt the full brunt of empty nest syndrome. Four full years with at least one (and usually more) at our house on the weekends and overnights, many meals, much laughter, a few tears. Good times. Maybe that’s something we have over animals – we recall those good times and relive them again and again.

  2. Marvelous ruminations. I, too, have witness the hatching, growth, and finally leaving of baby birds (house finches in our case). It’s a remarkable thing how quickly they mature.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Sid, and for your comment. Yes, it is interesting to see how soon these fledglings are ready to go it alone. It’s a good thing we humans don’t have to grow up quite so quickly.

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