HARMON: Dangers in ‘Birdland’

June 25, 2014 

It’s a dangerous world out there with predators and circumstances waiting to take or influence our young people -- and some of us. Like this mother bird I know, certain decisions can make this world fraught with danger even more dangerous.

She and her “partner” have built a nest on a 3-inch ledge out in the carport about 10 feet off the ground. No problem, except that Milo, the cat, spends half his day outside snoozing there because he’s been fixed, is unemployed and that’s all he wants to do -- when he’s not eating birds.

He has this Siamese female friend, who hangs around at night expecting “dinner and dancing,” but I don’t think she understands.

So I placed a table with some cushions under the nest in the event one of the babies falls out or gets pushed out before they are ready to fly. Hopefully that won’t happen. But I digress.

Today’s children being pushed out of “nests” is an all too common occurrence among current parents who are either consumed with work, working for day care payments, or involved in other pursuits where the child gets in the way.

Oh, I realize the fatigue factor plays a part, but with the current divorce rate being what it is, those other pursuits often involve pursuing another mate to replace the one they didn’t like or got bored with in the first place.

The result is a child or children left without a secure nest and two parents to see that their needs are met. I remember the one time my mother packed her bags. We were living in South Dakota, thousands of miles from her home and dad must have done something really unusual to get on her nerves because, like I said, she packed her bags.

Where she thought she was going with four kids, no car and six feet of snow on the ground, she has no idea to this day, but I can remember the gut wrenching feeling I had when the bags were being packed. It was as though we were about to leave the nest before we were ready and flying was not an option.

When today’s parents send their children out before they are ready, there will always be some “cats” out there to take advantage of the situation. Some birds, like children, mature sooner than others and it behooves the parents to know the maturity level of their offspring. Some are just not ready to leave the nest.

But, aside from the construction of the nest, I must say it’s amazing the way this carport bird and her partner both take care of it. They bring food, watch for predators, keep the place neat and both birds are totally involved with preparing the babies for a world filled with dangerous things and wildlife.

Their lives revolve around the babies until the babies are ready to fly. They allow no outside influences to interfere with raising their offspring. This includes socializing with other birds, staying out late, bringing strange birds home, or fighting when in the presence of the youngsters.

So it appears that no matter what the actual living conditions of the nest, they can still prepare the young ones for a successful flight into a new world.

I heard some talking head the other day who wanted to throw some more money at education in an effort to better educate our “biddies.” Balderdash. Clean up the nests regardless of where they may be located, get the little ones to bed on time, focus on raising responsible children at home and the grades will take care of themselves.

When the time comes for the “biddies” to fly they will be ready and those old “cats” on the streets will miss a meal. We could learn a lot from birds.

Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.

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