I’ve been having a great time these past few days watching a mother sparrow teaching her fledglings about free food at our bird feeder.
In this rather fuzzy photo, the mother is in the front. She’ll take a seed out of the sock feeder and put it in the youngster’s mouth. Since she is still doing this, the fledgling, which is nearly as big as she is, will just cling there with its mouth open, waiting for her.
The fledglings are having a little trouble learning how to use their wings. They do quite a lot of fluttering. There are three of them, and sometimes they knock each other off the feeder with all their flapping. The mother just watches them fall. Occasionally, they all just fly off to the tree. The mother jumps around the feeder looking for them, then she will fly off, too…usually in the opposite direction.
I look at the kids who come into the library, and think about the first time I saw them, and how quickly they are growing up. My own kids are growing up…Erin, my oldest daughter, turned 19 yesterday. She lives with us while she goes to college here in town, which is probably good. Otherwise, she would eat boxed macaroni and cheese and Spaghetti O’s for every meal. She makes those things for herself… I am always trying to poke a carrot or a grape into her mouth.
I am already getting glimpses of what it will be like to have my own empty nest. Andy, of course, has already been gone for four years. I miss him, but I can’t say it’s an unpleasant feeling. It’s the way things should be. I know my kids are out there somewhere and there are so many ways now for us to keep in touch.
Megan, my youngest daughter, will be 17 in two months. She just came home from a week of being a camp counselor for middle schoolers. Far from being tired, she ate everything she could get her hands on, then asked if she could go shopping with her friend. Much as I wanted to say no, they drove to the city, an hour away, and didn’t come home until late. But not too late. And she texted with me the whole time, sending me pictures of what she was buying.
I wonder if the fledglings still go back to their nest. I wonder if the mother will ever go back there, once the babies are gone. I wonder if the babies will stay around this neighborhood, or if they will move on.
As long as there is free food, I bet they’ll stay.