I often talk about how we can find inspiration in anything and everything if - IF - our hearts, minds and eyes are open sufficiently. Admittedly, I do walk around in a permanent haze of awe and wonder, and can squeeze a learning experience out of most things I experience. I'm well aware this makes my kids' eyes roll right back round to the back of their heads, but I can't help myself. In fact, we were gifted one of Mother Nature's lessons as recently as last night.
At approximately 7pm my nine year-old son came rushing upstairs to find and tell me a baby bird had just landed in the middle of our garden, and appeared to be injured and in distress. As my son has a natural affinity for all things feathered, furry and fluffy, a distressed baby bird upset him enormously, and so I was urged to hurry up and help it. Apparently the bird didn't seem able to hop or fly and was just flapping around on the ground getting nowhere fast.
By the time I got out into the garden, the bird (a baby blackbird) had dragged itself to the secluded and shaded area between our shed and fencing. It didn't move as I approached it tentatively, and I thought it may have died from any injuries and the exertion of finding a safe place. Upon closer inspection however I could just about make out it was breathing, so now I had to figure out what to do.
At this point my mind was calculating a aerated shoe box and healing versus doing the unthinkable but humane thing, however the bird lurched away from me and behind the shed where I could no longer reach it. Not knowing what to do for the best I took to the RSPB website for research and guidance, and learnt the following...
Many fledglings, and typically fledgling blackbirds, leave the nest before they can fly, which is probably why it landed with a plop on our tree-lined lawn. They can then spend a couple of days (or more) on the ground whilst their wings finish growing. The best thing to do therefore is nothing, leave it where it is, trust Mother Nature has it all in hand, and that just because you can't see the parent birds, doesn't mean they're not watching and waiting for you to bugger off. It's highly unlikely the baby will be abandoned, and so parent birds will bring food, and are infinitely better at looking after their babies than we are so, unless the fledgling is in immediate danger, it's best to stay out of the natural order of things. This was great information and reassured us immensely, so I took out a shallow dish of water and duly left well alone.
From my daughter's bedroom window this morning, I looked for signs of our fledgling where I'd left it last night down the side of the shed, but it wasn't there, but there was a little, round and brown fledgling hopping up and down the garden path, on the opposite side of the garden. I couldn't be sure this was our fledgling or not, because I can't tell two apart, but it did start hopping around the shed a couple of times, so we continued watching. It then came back to the path before flying approximately six feet to the top of my neighbour's shed, where it hopped back and forth along the roof. After a few moments the fledgling flew into the branches of a nearby tree.
Rampantly inquisitive, my son went to investigate the back of the shed, and our little fledgling was gone - possibly having let us witness her maiden flight, who can say for sure? It certainly felt special to us at the time, and we were all relieved beyond measure. I'm sharing this with you now to pass on what I've learnt about fledglings, and to acknowledge (again!) that things aren't always what they appear to be.
As I child I would frequently bring home what I perceived to be injured or distressed birds, to either nurse back to health, or for a full state funeral at my parents' expense. As a species though we humans have an inherent propensity and arrogance to assume we know best. We often cannot accept that Mother Nature has a finely honed system in place, which does not require our input at all. However well intentioned I might have been last night, the fact remains I was wrong to assume initially that the fledgling was injured or in distress, and that my intervention was even necessary...it most certainly was not. I served the greater good by keeping out of it, and this is Mother Nature's most recent lesson passed down to me.
My task now is to apply this lesson, be further inspired by it and implement the central wisdom into any and all areas of my life where it might fit; else last night's learning opportunity was all for naught. Lessons stay or repeat until full and learned, so it's well worth the time and energy to think deeply about occurrences which are gifted into your life (as my fledgling learning was gifted into mine), and to extract any lessons you can from them. By thinking deeply about a seemingly injured bird flapping about on my lawn, I learnt something new and was able to see the bigger picture about perhaps resisting my instincts to rush in a rescue things, which actually don't need rescuing at all. Besides, who the hell am I to alter the trajectory of their life plan?
Even if our little fledgling hadn't made it through the night, or had been eaten by a fox, then I had to accept Mother Nature's lesson that predators need to eat too. We inherited a planet which was perfectly balanced, and I truly believe we humans need to learn to integrate more with the natural world, rather than blindly mine it for resources and treat everything like we own it. We are merely fleeting guests, who'd do well to respect our benevolent host with more deference and care, but that's another blog for another day. I'm just thrilled and honoured to have been allowed to (possibly) witness the inaugural flight of Fledgie.