One of the most heartwarming sights I have ever seen happened in my own backyard. On a rare cool autumn morning, quite a few years ago, I was sitting upstairs on the porch, enjoying a cup of coffee while reading the Sunday newspaper, when something below caught my eye. There, popping out of a rather tall bush, were three little birds. I didn’t pay close attention to the birds as they seemed perfectly content to be perched on top of the bush. It wasn’t until I heard what had to be the mother bird chattering and saw the reaction of the small birds that I realized what was about to happen. These baby birds were about to learn how to fly.
With that, I started to watch them very quietly so as not to frighten them. At first, all they could do was stand on top of the bush flapping their little wings like crazy. The mother bird started swooping down from an oak tree several feet away, landing on the ground, and then flying back up to a low branch on the tree. She did this over and over again, and each time the little birds would start to flap their tiny wings with all their might, and each time they didn’t go anywhere.
I was totally and completely mesmerized by this beautiful act of nature. The mother bird (and I suspect Papa was up in the tree) was very patient with her babies, and they were quite eager to take flight. This lesson went on for at least 30 minutes, until one by one they were airborne long enough to fly off the bush and land on the ground. They seemed stunned by what they had just done. These precious little birds had just completed their first flying lesson. Mom was clearly pleased, and then I heard other birds joining in the chatter. It was as if they were rejoicing in the little ones learning how to use their wings.
I wanted to applaud but didn’t for fear of frightening them. The sight I had just witnessed was amazing, and, if the truth be known, it brought a few tears to my eyes.
The little birds (still on the ground) once again began to flap their tiny wings, but that was all the flying they were going to do for that day. Mom landed on the ground next to them, and one by one they hopped back to the big bush that had protected their nest and kept them hidden from harm. As they settled down, I didn’t realize that would be the last time I would see them.
The next day was a workday so I didn’t get to watch for more activity until I got home. However, I watched the bush each afternoon, looking for signs of the little birds. Other than a few bird chirps and rustles in the bush, there wasn’t any other activity. After a couple of weeks, they were gone. I had missed their final flight and always wondered about their destination. My biggest regret was that I didn’t have a camera to capture the tender moments of their flying lessons.
The bush is still there, only now it’s much bigger, and from time to time I see the leaves rustle and wonder what new family has taken up residency. Nothing, however, will ever compare to watching those three baby birds on that cool autumn morning as they learned how to fly.
© Catherine Evermore. All rights reserved.