Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Bittersweet Story

Once upon a time, a bittersweet story.
(There are multiple pictures in this post. Click to see larger views)
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"That little bird has chosen his shelter. Above it are the stars and the deep heaven of worlds. Yet he is rocking himself to sleep without caring for tomorrow's lodging, calmly clinging to his little twig, and leaving God to think for him." ~ Martin Luther
Once upon a time there was a young robin who was building a nest. He gathered twigs, string, straw and dead leaves to weave together into a bowl. He lined this bowl with the finest black mud and bits of lint that the thoughtful homeowners left under his bush. This was, however, his first attempt at home building and he had a few problems. (Click "read more" below to continue)

"A bird in the hand is a certainty, but a bird in the bush may sing." ~ Bret Harte
He picked the holly bush; sticky and spindly, hard to get in and out of. Perhaps he built here because another robin in the past had built a nest in this bush; he saw the abandoned nest. Instead of plucking the old nest apart, he took a short cut and built his nest on top of it. This made it much less stable but it must have seemed inviting and perfect at first; he managed to snag a mate and a few days later.....

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
and never stops at all."
~ Emily Dickenson
Four turquoise blue eggs in his nest, the symbol of hope for the next generation. Momma and Papa took turns sitting on the nest, protecting and warming the little eggs. Storms came and winds blew but Momma Robin stayed with her eggs through it all.

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." ~ Chinese Proverb
The nest, however, did not weather the storms as well. It started to tilt in the bush, so that it became almost vertical, but she hung on. The caring and concerned homeowners tried their best to put larger sticks under the nest and prop it up for stability. It was a disaster waiting to happen. And then one day, there were only three eggs left in the nest. One had fallen out and cracked and nature had taken its course.

"The shell must break before the bird can fly." ~ Lord Alfred Tennyson
The next day another partial shell was found on the ground, causing great fear in the human hearts. But here in this tiny crooked nest were signs of life, first there were two....

And then there were three. Three scrawny, little birds all skin and very little fuzz and no feathers at all. So the parents set about their work feeding and warming their little ones as the nest listed more and more.

The little birds grew, but this presented new problems for the parents; how to keep the babies safe... safe from falling. They wiggle, they squirm, they reach little beaks for food and in doing so one fell to the ground. Too young and with no feathers to protect it from the wind and cold, it quickly died. And sadly, a second chick as well, perhaps pressed by the third or just reaching a little too far for the worm; fell, its leg caught in the prickly holly bush. Oh, how Momma Robin must have squawked to see her baby this way and how helpless she was. Now she had only one. The kind humans removed those that perished so predators would not be drawn to the last remaining chick. With the full attention and care of the parents the last chick grew strong and healthy. He grew .....

And he grew and he grew, until he filled the nest. He learned from the tragedy of his siblings and only carefully moved in the nest. He was still when the wind blew and moved only when food was offered. His fuzz turned to feathers; small ones first and then larger. Flying feathers seemed to appear over night until he was finally ready.

Ready to fly away. I've seen him a couple of times, still a bit unsteady and not completely sure how these wings work, but always near are Momma and Papa. The nest is empty and to keep the same problems from happening with the next group, BOTH nests were completely removed from the holly bush. Who knows? Perhaps this young robin will return next year and craft a beautiful, safe home for his first mate.

"You are the miracle bird,
Risen From the memory Of the Sun's Womb
In the heart of the Earth.
Flutter, flutter on, my heart.
~ Mahmud Kianush (from "Of Birds and Men")
(end of post)

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