Sunday, May 8, 2011
Parenting the Natural Way
Wait, wait, we're talking here about observations of parenting in nature. Really, only about two instances involving birds. Now, absolutely I'm no ornithologist. In fact there are only a certain few birds I can identify, but a cardinal is definitely one of them. And we consider, for various reasons in our family, the cardinal to be a good-luck bird. When one is sighted, we all tend to sing out, to share the luck. So one day several years ago I looked out the windows overlooking the deck of the house where we then lived, to see two little birds hopping up and down, very agitated. Then I spotted a male cardinal (those are always the bright red ones) at the bird feeder. I called to my husband and we stood there enchanted, as the father cardinal carried food to each of the small birds in turn and fed them. The small birds were apparently fledglings, able to arrive on the deck rail from the nest, but not yet accustomed to foraging, especially from an alien feeder. And they were as anxiously hungry as any human teenager. And again the other day, I spotted a young cardinal in a crape myrtle near our feeder here, and again watched as the daddy took seeds over to his young. What a wonderful privilege to get a little insight into the animal kingdom. Cardinals are bright and colorful, and they may or may not bring good luck (but we think so). But the most wonderful characteristic to us is that trait, be it only instinct, that makes them look out for their young as long as they need to. Birds are supposed to have small brains, but maybe they have something just as nice or nicer.