Throughout the spring and into the early summer, we watched the action on CBC's peregrine falcon cam. Two sets of peregrine parents, located in Winnipeg and Brandon, were watched from afar. The Winnipeg parents raised 4 birds; Brandon raised 3, although one of the Brandon youngsters died in mid August. This is part of a larger project called the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project (Manitoba).
We eagerly watched the growth stages -- patient egg sitting by an adult for more than one month; the birthing of scrawny, large-winged, desperate-for-food babies who spent the next few weeks squished under a parent's body to shelter from the cold, wet or heat. The baby birds grew quickly. By mid to late summer they left the nests in which they were born.
The picture I loved the best (above) is on the CBC's website, which is home to many more gorgeous shots.
Watching the chicks emerge, grow and fledge made me think of my children and my role as a parent. From being dependent on the adults for everything, the game started to change. I watched the peregrine chicks emerge from under their mothers, screeching for food, jumping and hopping around the nest boxes, moving out from the nests to the roof's edge, hanging about, trying some jumps around the edges of their home buildings, and finally taking the big leap off the tall buildings on which they were raised. From being fed mouth to mouth by their parents, they learned to tear apart the food brought by the parents; in fact, one of the videos posted is quite graphic. I realized one day that the little fuzzballs were in fact major predators... efficient and voracious killing machines.
I'm not going to compare child raising, or my own kids, to the predators of this story (although some days I might want to!), but I do love the image of fledging. Much of the energy of our early years together was focused on making sure the babies and toddlers were fed, clothed, watered, put to sleep, entertained. Our job as parents isn't over, by a long shot, but those little bald babies we had are certainly a bit hairier, more efficient at feeding, clothing and watering themselves, and usually manage to put themselves to bed. And they can entertain themselves in such wonderful ways, interacting with friends and family in loving, feisty, positive, creative ways.
I know they are starting to move around the edges of our nest box. They jump in and out. Forays into friendships, generating relationships that aren't set up by us. I want them to keep trying, keep moving back and forth. My job is to provide acceptance, love, and support to keep the movement going. They already have the interest to try more. I am there to make sure they take the necessary leaps when they are ready.