To the casual observer they look like adults, but they’re clumsy and not quite certain of themselves. When they perch, they flex, and the gray-white pinfeathers that were all they had just a couple of weeks ago poke out from the inadequate cover of their new grown-up plumage.
There’s a higher than normal incidence of small feathered bodies hitting the kitchen windows as they launch themselves from bird feeders and bushes; like other adolescents, they’re still learning, still trying on this new role, and their judgment is sometimes lacking. Ready or not, they’re on their own now, finding their way in the world.
I worry especially about the newly-launched hummingbirds, still growing and looking terribly vulnerable. They’re so young that they lack the distinctive ruby-colored feathers at their necks, but in the next few weeks they’re faced with an epic journey south and across the Gulf of Mexico. How many of them will live through it to return here next spring?
It’s hard for youngsters of all sorts, human as well as avian, to leave the nest; it’s a tougher climate than usual for both. I suspect that parental birds forget their offspring as soon as they’ve taken wing, but our nature is to worry about our children for as long as we have breath.
We have to have faith, both in our children (and, ahem, in their upbringing) and in God’s care for them. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” asks Jesus in Matthew 10:29-31. “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
– Sarah Bryan Miller