Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I could barely write all afternoon.

A pair of mockingbirds live near my house. I’ve seen them for months, probably ever since I moved here. Mostly I see them flying around and playing in the pines on the hill behind me.

This morning I discovered that they have a nest in the tree in my front yard. It is far above my head so I’m not surprised I haven’t noticed it by now. I heard a very loud chirp, chirp, chirp while I was watering the plants and noticed first the nest, then a small bird much higher up on a limb; then a few minutes later, another small bird’s head sticking up out of the nest. At first I thought they where chickadees or wrens, because of their size. Now I realize they were baby mockingbirds.

I know this because while sitting here working, I kept hearing a lot of bird commotion going on outside. The loud chirping. And once I heard a thud at my door. I kind of dismissed it but then, there it was again, very loud chirping at my door. I went to look. A baby mockingbird was on my doorstep, sitting right in the door frame. He hopped along slowly. I am afraid, that after acquiring his wings, he did not do so well and flew into the glass door. I opened the door and he hopped. Off the porch and into the shrubbery. I followed. Down the front of the house he went and then finally, into the birch tree. Not the tree with the nest. He managed to hop limb to limb and kind of fly. I watched him for a while, looked back into the tree, and saw the other bird kind of hanging around up there. I assumed the baby would eventually take flight and get back to the nest, so I went inside.

Suddenly, a cacophony of bird calls came at my door again. The parents! Agitated. Calling. Their little heads frantically jerking about. They landed on the rain gutter at the entry to the house. I could see them clearly and frantically looking and calling for their babies, or perhaps, the one missing baby. I tried to tell the mama to look in the birch. I even went outside and pointed. But they didn’t listen. They flew higher on my roof. I took another look in the birch. The little one was still there, about half way up, still chirping.

Can that mother bird not hear? Not see what is going on? I can hear the baby chirp all the way in the house. Why can she not find him? Or perhaps, was something else going on...

I fear I am not going to be able to write until that little thing is back in the nest. I know I cannot interfere. Human scent and hands and all that. But I so want that little lost bird to find his mommy! I went back into the house. The chirping, eventually, got to me again.

Back outside. No little bird in the birch. The other baby still high in the tree, singing. And the mama squawking, quite hoarse she sounded, into the wind. Where was the daddy? And where is the other baby?

Now, they are all gone. The nest empty. I suppose the early fireworks down the street may have had something to do with it. Maybe not. Perhaps they will be back tomorrow. Of course I shall watch and see.

I suppose there could be a moral to this little story. It doesn't seem all that long ago that my own birds were pushed out of the nest. My adult birds now, are on their own. One bird is soaring high in the tree, chirping away, and doing fine. He's my youngest bird. My oldest bird, my daughter, is still hopping along, tripping from branch to branch, like that little bird in the birch. Both of them practically pushed themselves out of the nest; there was little prodding from this mama bird. But time and time again, I've been there when my oldest bird fell. Picked her up, dusted her off, saved her a time or two or more. I've been thinking. Perhaps that mama bird sitting in my roof knew all along where her baby was. Perhaps she was just there, on the fringes, providing moral support. My daughter has leaned on me a lot. And I've let her. Lately, however, with her troubles, she's leaned the other way. I've worried about it. That she's angry with me. That she thinks that I think she's making another mistake. She hasn't called in days.

But today, it seemed Mama Mockingbird may have taught me a lesson. It's okay to be just on the fringes and let her work out her own problems. And perhaps, baby mockingbird is beginning to realize that, and that she needs to rely on herself. I will worry, of course. But perhaps I should let it go. Just like Mama Mockingbird. And then, with any luck, maybe my mockingbird child will soar, too.

Sometimes we get signs. Messages. Enlightenment. Sometimes they are bold, other times subtle. A baby mockingbird pecking and chirping at my door...perhaps out of the ordinary and maybe, not so subtle a sign. I'll take it, and thank God for leaving it there for me.

I'm long-winded tonight. Forgive me.



Magdalena Scott said...

Well, Maddie, this is beautiful.

As you know, I have a little bird whose wings are developing...not ready yet to leave the nest, but he's peering over the edge a great deal, and not interested on what's available for him in the old nest these days. In a short while it'll be time for him to test out those little wings. I hope I'll remember Mama Mockingbird's lesson. You may need to remind me.

Anonymous said...

Oh Maddie! Hugs to you. My little birds aren't big enough to leave the nest yet, but I already invision the day it will come and it brings tears to my eyes.

Sometimes when looking at the older pictures of them from when they were little bitty and relied solely on me for everything and wonder how in just a few short years they won't need me like that anymore. Or they may think they don't when they really do and some day they may not need me at all.

Right now I look forward to days when both mine are in school, but in a way I regret those thoughts too because I know I'm wishing them to grow up. I can only imagine what that transition will be like.