Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lessons from Birds

**Disclaimer** At the time of this story, I was about 1 week post-partum with my second child. This does NOT mean that I am depressed. What it does mean is that my emotional reaction to the events described may seem like an overreaction to many, however in my heightened emotional state of re-adjusting hormones, it definitely felt like the natural response.

Anyone who knows me, knows of my dislike of birds. I'm not sure if it began with a bird pooping on my fourth grade teacher at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and her yelling at our class to stop laughing at her, or it was a friend of mine who decided it was a good idea for me to watch the movie "The Birds" by Alfred Hitchcock (which of course threw me right over the edge), or my biology classes in college which pointed to birds as one of the most disease-carrying animals in our midst. I also dislike things swooping by my head which obviously is a bird trait...so add all of that up and you have a lady who doesn't care for birds much. 

Our recent move to the suburbs, to an area rich with nature, has been an adjustment to city living, but watching our daughter enjoy the animals of nature that are so abundant in this area has been so worth it!

Ok to the story!

A robin family set up a lovely nest in a lilac tree that is immediately outside our front window. Perfect learning experience for my almost 2 year old and a perfect bird viewing for the rest of us. The weekend before delivering my sweet baby, the eggs hatched and out came 4 cutie baby birds. By the time we came home from the hospital, the birds were popping up out of the nest every time mama & dada came by with food, which we all loved to watch and were fascinated with.

About a week into our watching the baby birds grow, I was alone in the living room and saw a crow fly up to the nest. My immediate instinct was to run to the window and make a lot of noise, which just the motion of me coming towards the window made the crow fly away. Why would a crow come to the nest, I asked my husband? He assured me crows do not eat other birds and it was probably going after the food the mama and dada was bringing to the babies. I accepted this but kept an eye on our little baby birds.

Well, later that day, we were in a completely different room in the house and heard what one can only describe as constant bird shrieking. Matt and I looked at each other and basically at the same time knew exactly what was going on. We both ran to the front door to do whatever we could but we were too late. There were landscapers across the street that were saying out loud that the crow got a baby bird. (I will keep on going with the story but you can imagine my reaction at this point - I was absolutely sobbing, with my newborn in hand, and trying to see how many babies that crow got...just one thank God, but one too many for my liking! Not to mention the naivety of my husband for thinking the crows wouldn't eat the babies. Turns out he was just saying that so I wouldn't worry).

What we witnessed after this was incredible. One, there must have been at least 15 robins that flew after that crow in defense of the robin family it attacked. We couldn't believe our eyes watching them band together in defense of their fellow robins and young. Two, was the aftermath of this attack on the robin family.The mama and dada bird were perched about 4 feet away from the nest and were screeching at their remaining babies. We couldn't figure out why until about two minutes later, one of the baby birds jumped out of the nest.  Apparently they had told their babies their nest was no longer safe and to get out! I always thought that the mom/dad birds pushed their babies out of the nest, but that is not the case at all. After a few minutes the second bird jumped out. I sat there for a good hour rooting on the third bird, hoping it would get the point and jump but no dice. It took a few days before the last bird was good and ready to jump, but the whole time, the mama & dada bird remained a watchful eye and kept feeding their baby.

Since the last bird jumped, we have suffered a bit of "empty nest" syndrome, but the nest is still there and our sweet little toddler points it out to as many people who will listen to her as possible! I sat and thought about what happened a lot and took two life lessons from these birds:

1) Patience - if I was that mama bird, I would've given that third bird about 20 seconds to jump before knocking him/her out of that nest to find a safe place to hide until it was ready to fly. But nope - that mama and dada knew what needed to happen, and patiently waited for their third baby to jump. Literally almost two days, through dark nights and everything. So, patience my friends, everything happens in good time and when it needs to happen.

That third birdie - so close to jumping!

2) We need each other! Why don't human beings stick up for each other with such immediacy and vigor? I realize there are many people in the world who do currently do this, but I think this is something that is lacking for most. I am reminded of a story my friend in college told me about how she was waiting to get on a bus to go to another campus, and when she was in line to get on, one of the passengers ahead of her started having a seizure and fell over in front of the door to the bus. She said the people ahead of her just WALKED OVER the girl and got on the bus without even seeing if she needed help, while my friend ran to the girls' aid. What???? Someone goes into medical distress and you just walk over them like nothing happened????  Why don't we look out for each other more? While larger events like this are more significant, I'm sure there are plenty of things in our daily lives that we could improve on, and opportunities for us to look out for our fellow human beings. It doesn't matter if it is in your own home, your local community or around the world...we need to look out for each other. Either in deed or word - think about what you say too!

The lost baby bird reminded me of some hearty life lessons and I hope passing it on will remind others too.

Things I am grateful for this day:
1) My two precious babies whom I love so very much and will NEVER push out of our nest!!! (I'm sure I will read this in 20 years or so and either laugh or cry)

2) Being able to spend these early weeks with my newborn and toddler, seeing them grow together and help them to learn something new every day.

3) All the people in my life that would "fight a crow" for me. You know who you are...I love you and would do the same for you in a heartbeat!