Yesterday the mockingbirds' nest on our front porch was full of life . . . literally! Four tiny, hungry birds had plenty of room at first, but as the baby birds grew, the nest looked awfully crowded. But maybe my definition of crowded was cozy to them. An earlier post shows the newborns waiting - with mouths wide open - to be fed.
The parents were always close by, watching and guarding the nest full of babies. I was often amused as I watched them chase away any bird - from a hummingbird to the crows near the highway - and the squirrels that tried to eat at the feeders hanging nearby on the porch. I was often scolded and threatened as I got near the nest with my camera. They were good parents!
What amazed me most, however, was watching the mama and daddy bird teaching the babies to fly. Over and over, both birds flew from feeder to feeder then to the babies in an attempt to get the little ones to leave the nest. All the while, they "chatted" noisily. When they perched on the feeder hook that you see above, they didn't just rest. Instead, they slowly flapped their wings up and down, and I realized they were showing the babies how to fly. This went on hour after hour. Persistently and consistently they led by example. Teaching by example . . . a pretty wise model for us human parents, don't you think?
Finally, one brave little bird decided to try his wings. It was such fun to watch him try to fly. He mostly ran while flapping his little wings until he made it to the tree, as you can see above. Isn't he a beautiful little creature?
Today, the routine continued, and the parents' persistence paid off. The second sibling (pictured above) left the nest. And then the third, leaving one little fellow alone in the nest.
It seemed he wanted to stay in the comfort of the nest, for at first he looked to be hiding as far down in the nest as possible. But finally, he followed the lead of his insistent parents and his brave siblings, and he, too, spread his wings. I could hear the chatter of parents and young as they flew in nearby trees, and the mama and daddy still got upset with me as I tried to find them among the branches. Still protecting . . . still parenting . . .until the four young birds could make it on their own.
Speaking of hiding in the safe comfort of the nest . . . I know about that! Sometimes God gently encourages me to get out of my comfort zone. I should know by now that He knows best when He asks me to do something new or challenging. I can really identify with the last little one to leave the nest, but I can say for sure that God has never led me anywhere that He was not with me.
I went back to take a look at the empty bird nest . . . where lots of nurturing and growing took place. It had served its God-given purpose well!
Although our nest, John David's and mine, has been empty for about thirteen years now, the scene brings back memories of the days that our sons spread their wings and began a new chapter in their lives. It was not an easy time for me, but that's the way God planned it so very long ago.
We give our children roots . . . then wings to fly!
They leave our care but never our hearts!