Lessons I Learned From a Baby Bird

A cardinal couple took up residence in the crepe myrtle right by the window next to my kitchen table where I work, so I’ve been watching them come and go as they built a nest. 

Today one of the babies ventured for the first time from the nest. 

I expected to see the parents trying frantically to get him back in the nest.  Because after all, think of the bad things that could happen to him out there in the yard. 

He could fall off the branch. 

The evil sparrows lurking nearby – well, they’re not so much evil as just stupid – could swoop down and scare him. 

Or the loud, overbearing grackles.  Or the into-everybody’s-business mockingbirds. 

And then, of course, there’s the huge wiener dog who comes out of the house occasionally. 

But the mom and dad just sat there, not alarmed at all.  As if this was exactly what was supposed to happen. 

They took turns caring for the baby, seemingly in perfect sync with each other.  The mother would fly off somewhere, while the father sat on a branch a couple of feet from the baby.  The baby cardinal would flutter its wings and stumble around on the branch, but the father never moved. 

As though the dad knew his place was to stand by.  To keep watch.  While giving this new one time and space to find his own way on the branch. 

The mother took turns doing the same. 

Just let one of those pesky sparrows come near him, though, and they both were on it. 


Watching this baby bird struggling to balance itself on that flimsy branch, just waiting there with its beak wide open, taught me a lot about trust. Trusting in a father who provides all that we need. Before I even know to ask. Photo by Glenn E. Wilson

What touched me most was watching the father feed the baby.  With all the tenderness of a father who knows what his children need before they ever ask, I watched him gently approach and place the worm he plucked from the ground in his baby’s beak. 

Hours later when the baby ventured off the branch and flew to the ground and back for the first time, the dad was nowhere in sight. 

But you can bet he was nearby.  


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Jenny says:

    This is just beautiful. I wonder if God placed precious little creatures, like birds, are on Earth to grab our attention with their beauty and song, get us to pause and slow down, and teach us lessons just like this one you have shared…and I thank you for sharing it.

    1. sallygary says:

      I think you’re right. He told us that he provides ‘for the birds of the air’ and says we’re more valuable ‘than a whole flock of sparrows.’ So how much more, then, will he provide for OUR needs. I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of that all the time. In really simple, yet powerful ways. And I’m so thankful that there are lots of birds around me – sometimes it seems everywhere I look! – so I can be reminded over and over of how much he loves me. He loves you, too!

  2. dan gary says:


    1. sallygary says:

      And thank you, Daddy, for being there for me. So thankful for a mom AND a dad who are there for me. Love you!

  3. Dusty Austin says:

    Wow Sally! I wept as I read this…how sweet and precious. Thank You for sharing this amazing experience with me!

    1. sallygary says:

      Oh, Dusty, it’s great to remind each other of a father who loves us so, isn’t it? And he adores YOU!

  4. Thanks, Sally! This one was very timely with me. I’ve been through two of my boys leaving home and going off to college. They’ve been on trips… as a young ADULT. But this time, it was a little different. Christian (14), my youngest, just got back from China with a People to People Student Ambassador group; he was gone 17 days with about 30 other kids. HIs group leaders were very good about blogging their trip, so, in a way, I was able to be on the branch watching, but he was far enough away (half way around the world, literally) that I couldn’t just swoop down and do ANYTHING. Of course, if there had been ANY emergency, he would have been taken care of. The kids had a great time, did community service projects, stayed with some host families, and learned to appreciate another culture. They FLEW… and did fine. Is he ready to do it all by himself now?…. nah…. but next time, it won’t be so scarey….for either one of us!

    1. sallygary says:

      Wow, Sherry, thanks for sharing this “leaving the nest” story from a mom’s perspective. I can only imagine how difficult this is for a parent. And yet it’s so important to our development, to know we can make it out there “on the branch” on our own. So glad Christian has a mom who gets that!

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