A Rare Moment in Life


The screaming from the little girl pierced the air, putting an abrupt end to what had otherwise been a peaceful morning.

It was the start of our last day of a two-week quarantine, and though there were ten minutes before online school started, the education for the day had already begun in our little office schoolroom.

What I was about to witness would be so unique I had never seen it before – not during those seven years growing up back on Flamingo, nor any years since. It was truly a rare moment in life.

“He’s back, Papa! The Red Bird is back!” Little One, our granddaughter was shouting and pointing out the window while she bounced up and down in the swivel chair. “He’s so pretty.”

Thankful that our granddaughter hadn’t fallen off her perch and broken an arm, leg, or been otherwise injured, I hurried over to see thrashing going on directly under the window.

“Yes, he’s really bright red. That’s how you know he’s a male. The female is over there on that railing. She’s brown and tan. Guess they have a nest in the bush. Time to log on; school’s about to start. We’ll check on birds later.”

I was sad our two weeks of homeschool was ending. I’d enjoyed spending all day with our granddaughter but was happy she would be going back to school and seeing her friends the next day.

Walking to the kitchen to get us a glass of water and a snack, I didn’t make it halfway before the screaming started again. Only this time it rose to the level of panic. I was sure she had swiveled too much, crashed to the floor, and was now badly hurt.

Running back to the office, I found our granddaughter not in a crumpled pile on the floor, but rather leaning far across the desk, her face inches from the window, “PAPA! Look! A baby bird, a baby bird! He’s so cute and poofy.”

Sure enough, on the other side of the window, clinging onto the screen for dear life was a grayish brown baby bird fluttering its wings, testing them out for the first time. Even though there were still five minutes before school started, her lesson for the day had already begun.

Still clinging to the screen, the baby bird fluttered its wings faster and faster until, finally, it took a leap of faith and went airborne for the very first time.

“It flew! It flew!” Little One shouted. To be honest, I was more excited than she was. We had just witnessed a baby bird being kicked out of its nest and flying for the first time with Mom and Dad looking on.

It landed ungracefully on the steps a few feet away, rolled once, then stood on wobbly little legs looking around — I’m sure trying to understand the new freedom it now had.

Mom witnessed all of this from the nearby perch on the stair railing just above, and Dad looked on from the back of a chair about twenty feet away.

Looking down, Mom chirped encouragement as the baby bird hopped over to the edge of the step and started to flutter its little wings once again. She hopped down, landing next to the baby bird, chirped once, and then flew away. The red and black daddy bird flew over to the step, chirped and also flew away.

With this encouragement, the grayish brown, poofy baby bird leapt off the edge of its step and flew after Mom and Dad. If we hadn’t been on a two-week quarantine and doing home schooling, Little One and I would have never witnessed this rare, once in a lifetime event.

Over the next few months, some of our young across this county will experience a rare moment in life. They too will be leaving the nest they have called home all of their lives. With words of encouragement, moms and dads will look on as their children stand on wobbly legs, stretch, and flap their wings for the first time.

Enjoying their new freedom, they’ll go off to college, military service, or apprenticeship programs — and maybe one day have a nest they can call their own full of baby birds.

After Poofy flew away, Little One asked with concern in her voice, “Will he come back? He was so poofy and cute!” I smiled at her as she logged on for her first class which had already begun.

“Perhaps. Who knows? Soon there could be a couple of little birds back in that nest that need taken care of until they’re ready to fly.” I patted her on her head, “Right, Little Bird?”

She chirped up at me. Then, with excitement in her voice, she started to explain to her teacher why she was a little late logging on to class. “You won’t believe what we just saw! It was a rare moment in life.”

Good luck to all those little birds out their flying for the first time. I’m sure with encouragement from your moms and dads, you will soar to great heights. Just don’t forget to come back and visit the nest a few times along the way. Trust me, the parent birds will be missing you.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]