Ashlie Miller: Of bluebirds and graduates

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

By Ashlie Miller

Do you have a bluebird box? I received one a few years ago. I needed to research the best place to put it, so I just set it on the back of the mailbox post, and for the last few years, it has remained there. We have witnessed several visitors over the last three years.

Sometimes, a cautious peek reveals nothing more than a nest. At other times, there is a clutch of three turquoise eggs. Sadly, some have not made it to hatchlings. Perhaps another creature preyed upon them. But there are glorious times when little chirps reveal success, and we anxiously await the weeks leading to their departure.

This year, my watchful youngest two and I were honored to observe the stages of parents and their brood. After weaving the nest, the parents perched in the nearby crape myrtle with anticipation. Another peek inside the nesting box revealed tightly closed eyes and mouths opened wide, hoping for a bite that mom or dad had foraged and later gray, downy babies sitting contentedly inside, getting plumper.

Two weeks ago, as my youngest two and I made our way to the minivan, low-flying bluebirds swooped down upon us like fighter jets. We ducked for cover and ran for the van. How odd! We thought. We knew this was uncommon, so we sat and watched. Ah, the treasures that await the patient observer!

For the next 10 minutes, we witnessed parent birds encouraging the babies to launch from the nest. Leading by example, they would go through the quarter-sized hole, give a chattering pep talk, and then fly back out of their box. At other moments, perched on our house, they watched for the potential threat of the humans and predators — darting close to the classic gold Honda Odyssey, keeping us at bay.

Finally, one little fellow found his wings. Clumsily, down onto the ground, he fell. But Mama and Papa bird chirped either encouragement or warning — which, I am not sure. Within seconds, little Junior was fluttering in the air. Success!

It could be because I have my first high school (and homeschool) graduate, but this lesson was timely. Mama and Papa prepared cautiously for our eldest’s arrival. Immature, still learning as parents, much less adults, we tried our best to provide and nurture him while he was young, to keep him fed through his teen years, and to comfort him in tumultuous times of misunderstandings, grief, broken relationships and hard lessons. As he has finished his final homeschooling days, we must rest in our efforts to give him both caution and encouragement, probably leaning too much on caution at times because of dangers we see, have experienced personally, or allow to rule unnecessarily. We will have to continue to push him positively when things look too scary for him to face, sharing how we have done it and pointing out potential obstacles while reminding him that this great big world is awaiting his impact and contributions.

Thank you, Lord, for providing care for the little bluebirds. You see each one that falls. How much more do You love those You made in Your image? Help us to trust Your care and direction for our little fledglings.

Now, pardon me, there appears to be another brood awaiting their turn growing up and preparing to leave the nest!

Ashlie Miller and her husband parent five in Concord. You may contact her at 

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