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» Articles » Garden Stories » The Empty Nest

The Empty Nest

by Douglas L. Bishop on 12/10/2013 14:12


Here’s a photograph that illustrates another step in the ongoing cycles of Mother Nature.

It’s an abandoned bird nest.

Actually, the word “abandoned” seems a bit too cold and harsh.

In reality, the nest has served its purpose perfectly in the life cycle of its previous occupants--a family of mockingbirds.

The adult birds built the nest, eggs were laid, babies were hatched, babies were fed, babies learned to fly, babies flew off into the world, Mom and Dad Bird continued their own lives.

Building the nest and leaving the nest were necessary steps in order for the flow of life in the mockingbird world to continue--not so cold and harsh after all.

As for us humans, peering out the window and observing the activities that took place, our own lives were enriched by watching the mockingbirds construct the nest in the little red maple tree in the front yard.

We could tell when the eggs had been laid and when the incubating vigil began--by the statue-like profile of the stationary bird’s head and tail protruding from the edges of the nest as if part of the nest itself, while the miraculous process took place.

And we could tell when the little ones had hatched--by the constant comings-and-goings of both adult parents as they procured food for the babies, stood on the edges of the nest, and plopped life-sustaining morsels into the gaping mouths of the hungry baby birdies.

What we missed was seeing the little ones on the day they “came off the nest.” This must have happened pretty quickly. I guess when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. And, go they did!

One day, there was the steady buzz of big bird traffic and baby bird activity around the nest in the little maple tree. The next day, all was quiet.

Then, as summer turned to autumn, and the maple leaves turned from green to shades of red and yellow before floating to the ground, the now-vacant bird nest began to reveal more of itself to us from its previously somewhat-hidden perch in the branched bosom of the tree.

The nest (made from twigs, rather than from grasses, mosses, leaves, or other of Nature’s “soft” materials) now became even more a part of the tree itself--the tiny entwined twigs of the nest blending perfectly into the stark leafless skeleton of the “winterized” maple tree.

The empty nest remains. The birds have flown. Old and new--birth, death, and rebirth--the changing of the seasons--all part of the ongoing cycles of Nature.

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