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The Baby Birds

The Baby Birds
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle
The Baby Birds
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle

Nestled securely in a bluebird box just off of our front yard, a cluster of baby birds eagerly awaits their morning meal. I’ve heard them for the last few days — their chirping crescendos filling the yard — when one of their devoted parents arrives with a bug in their beak. That sweet sound reminds me of something that happened at work 15 years ago.

I worked for a company that made rubber floor mats. On a typical spring day, we were all running around the plant “fighting fires” when the receptionist, Marilyn, told me something that stopped me in my tracks.

“Miss Amber,” she said, “We’re going to have baby birds!”

“What?” I asked. She continued while pointing toward the front of our building, “There is a nest with four eggs in it just to the right of the front entrance — in the thorny bush.”

“Oh,” I said smiling, and I automatically abandoned my work-related task and began walking in the direction that Marilyn had pointed.

The news had already spread through the plant by the time that I got to the front, and two other coworkers were already pressed against the glass entrance door trying to see the bird, the nest, and the eggs. I squeezed in among the spectators just in time to see the mother bird come in for a landing.

“Mockingbird,” I whispered as if the bird might mind me identifying her. “It’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird…” The mockingbird’s construction project had gone unnoticed until that morning, and her nest perfectly framed four beautiful spotted eggs.

The bird had obviously not considered the first rule of real estate — location, location, location. The nest was cradled in the branches and spiny leaves of a holly bush just inches from the front door, and every time someone entered or exited the building, the motion frightened the mother bird, and she would nervously flutter away for a few minutes.

In the next few days, everyone in our plant became an avid bird watcher. Our plant manager, our accountant, our shipping manager, our engineers — yes, we all kept watch over the bird nest. At our morning meetings, we would discuss the day’s schedule, manufacturing obstacles, potential solutions, projects, and the status of the eggs in the nest. Then one day amid an otherwise mundane meeting, there was an urgent newsbreak — the eggs had hatched. All of our woes melted away for all of 20 seconds as everyone smiled and said, “Awwwwww…” I saw the little guys later that day — tiny, red, fragile baby birds. They were asleep one second, and the next second their little wobbly heads would move suddenly as they cocked their mouths wide open. The mother bird worked tirelessly feeding the little helpless creatures as we watched from the glass door. It was like we were watching a show on the Nature Channel.

For the next several days, the bird watching continued as the baby birds seemed to grow by the minute. Eventually, little feathers started popping from their skin, and we knew that it was just a matter of time.

I returned from a long weekend to find an empty nest. Yes, I had missed the baby birds’ debut airshow as they clumsily learned to fly (and land) in our parking lot. I was disappointed even though I had witnessed other birds learning to fly.

In the next few days, the empty nest left my coworkers and me a little melancholy. We had grown accustomed to having the birds around, watching them, talking about them — it had added something special continued from page

to our workplace. Amid all of the hectic hours of the workday, the mother mockingbird’s nest had served as a constant reminder to us that something more important was just beyond a glass door — life.

There is work, and there is life, and all too often, work spills into life. Sometimes, life spills into work and things get interesting. The nest had allowed me to see a softer side of my coworkers — a side I would have never seen had the mockingbird not built her nest next to our door.

A few days later, I saw our maintenance manager gently moving the thorny branches of another holly bush just to the left of the entrance walk.

“I thought so,” he said, and motioned his head for me to look.

Another nest. Three spotted eggs. I hope that I don’t miss it when they fly away.

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