The Joys of Motherhood, Even for a Bird

It’s an exciting time for a momma bird. Naked, needy hatchlings have emerged from speckled eggs kept warm in a nest of weeds and twigs. Suddenly, bellies need to be filled and bird parents stay busy feeding multiple babies. Only fresh worms and insects will do.

I wonder if momma bird is blessed with sleepers, but at 5 a.m. when I hear the chirp of birds everywhere, I know.

Parenthood is a whirlwind of constant feedings and early mornings for these birds. Before they know it, they’ll need to give those babies a nudge out of the nest to take flight and that nest will be empty.

Several years ago, my kids and I witnessed a brood of birds leaving their nest. My then four-year-old son watched in wonder as six fledglings perched on our neighbor’s tree branch and awkwardly plummeted to the grass below. They looked like fuzzy brown pom-poms scattered on the lawn, hopping about and chirping like children who’d just been let outside for recess. One by one, they tested their wings, flying a little farther each time. We watched as each bird flew around the tree, up to its branches, and within the safety of the yard.

Bird nest

Lives are about to change. (Photo credit: msSeason)

We quietly watched them for an hour until it was time for dinner. But one bird still hadn’t figured out how to work its wings. It still hopped around the yard, not knowing how to fly while its chittering siblings flew around each other and explored the great big world. My daughter was only a year old and would have put the jumping pom-poms in her mouth if she could. But my son began to worry for the bird. I think he would have stayed there all night to make sure that bird learned to fly and made it back to its tree.

We went in to eat dinner. I didn’t know what would happen to the bird and decided my son couldn’t worry about it anymore. But he did. He hardly ate and sat through our meal near tears. Afterward, we checked on the bird and didn’t find it. They were all gone. I told him they all found their wings and they were okay; sometimes it takes some birds longer to learn. Maybe he could relate.

Momma bird’s work, though in far less time than us humans, still required lots of effort: keeping the eggs safe and warm, the many feedings, keeping the babies safe from predators—and making sure her offspring all got out of the nest when they were supposed to.

My son still talks about that little bird. Every spring. I wonder if he still hopes it made it to safety, or maybe he just remembers how cool it was seeing nature in action. Regardless, it made an impact on his young life. In time, he’ll leave my nest and I have to give him a push, show him how to fly, and hope he’s safe.

There are many differences between a momma bird and me. But the biggest of all? When momma bird’s nest is empty, she gets to do it all over again.



Filed under About Mom

27 responses to “The Joys of Motherhood, Even for a Bird

  1. That’s so beautiful… and seems sad. But birds don’t get to be grandparents (which my parents say is even more fun!)

  2. Are you trying to make pregnant women cry?? Lol Such a lovely, sweet post.

    That mama bird is still watching over her you g when they are on the ground struggling… Our dog came across such a little bird on the ground one time, and before she could get to it, not only was I yelling at her, but the mama bird swooped down from the tree, squawking and diving at our dog! It was amazing to me to know we aren’t the only species that still have that instinct to look after, hover, and protect our children, even after they’ve left the nest. 🙂

    • Sorry about the tears, but thanks! What I learned was that while learning to fly, fledglings still stay in the nest for a week or so. I would imagine it gets pretty snug in there. At least they don’t come back begging for money!

  3. JWo

    Really liked this… 🙂

    Don’t normally use the WP Reader feature but since our convo last night I checked but this post wasn’t in it this AM. Booo…

    • Thank you. And thanks for the heads-up. I contacted WP today so I’ll see what they say. Me and technology don’t mix very well. Who knows what I did wrong.

      • JWo

        Definitely let me know what you find out (send me a message on Facebook) because I’ve been thinking bout dropping the but didn’t want to “start over” in getting people to follow me again.

      • I will. Was under the impression that wasn’t the case so I went for it.

  4. Jeanna LC

    When my first son was a baby, we had a robin’s nest in our yard (we have one every spring), and one of the babies had fallen out of the nest and was on a patch of grass next to our driveway. I don’t know what it is about baby birds, but, more than any animal in a strange way, they remind me so much of my own little ones, and I was heartbroken, and so worried that the baby would die out there. I called my father, the bird expert, who started crying too, and he told me not to touch it, that the mother bird might abandon it if she sensed someone had gone near it. I stood at the window, with my own baby in my arms, watching the mother bird come down to the baby, and bring it food, and the next time I checked they were both gone. And I have to think that the baby got somewhere safe with his mother, because even now, a few years later, if I think anything bad might have happened to that little bird I might cry.

    Thanks for the great post! Of course, it came on the day when my son is visiting kindergarten for the first time, so it’s made me a little tearful, thinking of him leaving the nest as well…

    • Ha! Yes, kindergarten, the first time my son left the nest, was a horribly emotional experience for me. If leaving the nest permanently feels much worse, I am in big trouble. I think my heart burst that day.

  5. This seems like something you might enjoy.

    My husband and I felt sad at the end when the papa bird brings back a worm and the nest is empty (is it wrong that I feel happy that my youngest is sleeping on the couch in our empty nest at the moment?).

  6. Lovely story. Our three wren fledglings from last spring have been visiting our back porch every night with a parent or two. That’s nearly a year and they’re still all hanging together! So very cute. We’ve gotten to watch four fledgings. Nature is a great teacher, but I’m so glad to be a human parent, what with our minimal predators and adequate food, water, and shelter; nature is not entirely pleasant for the others.

  7. (tear, sniffle)
    I know were supposed to teach our kids and let them go forth, but I really just want to say “NO – g’head, live in the basement forever pleeez !

  8. Such a beautiful post. It sounds like you have a caring and sensitive son to be so concerned about that little bird.
    Raising babies is hard work (as you know) and I do not think I would want to do it again and again as a bird does.

  9. Red

    Mine will never truly be empty. As it stands now, I have the six and eight year olds at home and my third grandchild due in just over a month. I would not know how to act without a baby or toddler underfoot.

    I read through the comments…when you jump from WP, they keep the followers. I lost over 500 when I did it in March. No, you will not come up in the blog reader. I have tested that as well. Gobs of post on it at my place 😉


    • I only have the two and some days I am overwhelmed, but they change your life in amazing ways. You have the best of both worlds!

      Where can I find the info on your blog? WP has not been any help as of yet. (I haven’t left WP.)

      • Red

        I will round up some posts for you. If you search WP, you should get them. I rarely talk about WP because what they deem theirs versus yours is quite astounding. I have been out for the last month, between daughter’s wedding and the hospital, so brain is still kinda mushy.

        Let me look for you..

      • Red

        Still hunting, but this is what I lost in the move. WP decided the followers were theirs, not mine. I knew this was coming (but was not adequately prepared to lose this many people) because I had seen other blogs I follow fall off my radar, but still post everyday (some 3-5 times per day).

        I am still looking for the early ones from March, but I am fighting a comment war, so a weeeeeee bit distracted. I really need sleep 😉 But I did find one of the beta tests…

        Meet me in my inbox for the details. Not my gravatar email…the one on Ask Momma (under about in the top menu bar).

  10. Very nice post, Karen. Love the sentiment there – from yours to your son’s.

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