Leaving the Nest


“I’ve often said that the most important thing you can give your children are wings – cause you’re not always going to be able to bring food to the nest.  Sometimes they’re going to have to be able to fly by themselves.” Elizabeth Edwards

On Friday, 13 days after they hatched, the baby robins left the nest.  I was privileged to witness this truly blessed event.  When I heard the noise and spotted them, 2 of the 3 were hopping around the tree and trying to maintain their balance.  One flew away to the parents across the street and the other moved from tree to bush and back to tree where she stayed for an hour and a half.

No matter how hard they coaxed her,  she was content to stay in amongst the branches.  As the shade turned to sun, she still stayed calling every so often to her parents who answered her.  They brought food close by to entice her, and momma even flew next to her to model flying from the same branch.  Still she stayed barely moving for her balance was precarious.  It is amazing how fast they grow.  The feathers needed for flying now there.  The small tail barely visible.

You could see she lacked confidence to fly that far to the family.  Still I was adverse to moving her.  I am of the belief that we shouldn’t interfere.  My husband who returned almost 2 hours into this ordeal is of the philosophy that they need a little shove so as not to be food for a predator.  So he rustled the tree and the baby flew to the lawn.  She continued to call for her parents reluctant to cross the street.  Eventually the family was reunited and they were gone.

This event of fledging has had such a far-reaching effect on me.  Actually the entire robin story that started this spring has been enlightening and brought many lessons to the forefront.  I do believe that signs, messages or omens are sent to us.  If we watch for the signs, we can see the lesson or path.

As I watched the reluctant robin (I call her Prudence or Prud for short), I saw my life, myself, on that branch.  I felt a connection to Prud.  Just leaving the nest a bit, staying close to home.  Having that separation anxiety.  Trying my wings but always returning home to safety…still cautious, still not feeling like I could fly alone…lacking that confidence, the balance.

I was shoved from the nest when my parents finally moved away.  Left on my own to find my way.  It isn’t until recently that I have truly flown on my own.  Still a bit cautious.  The wonderful quote by the amazing Elizabeth Edwards is so true.  I do have my wings.  Always have, just wasn’t sure I could really fly…I mean really fly high…soaring up amongst the clouds and sun.  Feeling the wind move through my feathers.

I must say I was totally unprepared for the intense emotions of this joyous event.  They were mixed with such sorrow that it was truly overwhelming.  Not being a parent, I can only imagine the many times these emotions are felt.  Each of those first times ( first word, first step, first day of school, graduation, marriage, grandchildren etc).  But I am content to feel a bit of this through the robins.

Having these amazing birds with us for months now has been so rewarding for me.  I feel the pain and emptiness now that they

Empty Nest

are gone.  I miss checking on them every morning before I went to work and every evening when I returned.  I do hope as the babies continue to mature they may still be around until it is time to fly south.  I also hope that this wonderful family returns to our home where they will always be welcome.  They are part of our family now, forever etched on our hearts.




The day before they fledged


I was at that time like a fledgling swallow living high up in a niche in the eaves, who from time to time peeps out over the top of its nest with its little bright eyes.
Pierre Loti





Special Note:  To read more about the robins and their journeys with us check out my posts:  Gift, Garden Journal-May, DistractionGarden Journal-Promise of June, Garden Journal-July Heats Up, Hope Grows in August, and Success.


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All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

54 Replies to “Leaving the Nest”

  1. Lovely entry. I’m very taken in with your interweaving of the robins’ story and your life – and Life in general. At times I still feel like I can’t really fly, and unfortunately I have no nest to return to. So I guess I should just be happy my parents did give me wings, as well as the knowledge that I have them. And that they work.

    1. That quote brought it all together for me I think. I am glad you really enjoyed the post and could relate. Our wings are really the most important gift from our parents!! We just have to keep testing them out until we feel confident enough to really fly high….

  2. It is a very relatable story. I hope Prud has a happy, healthy life. I know the feeling checking on them daily and watching them grow. It is rewarding to see them off too. With them gone, it seems like something in my day is missing.

  3. Oh, I feel for you and those robins. Last year robins nested in a basket on my front porch. We, and the mailman, and FedEx and everyone else … had to walk by them to get to our front door. One day I opened the door and they all flew from the nest! One stayed on the covered front porch on one of the chairs for the entire day much like Prud. I believe one of the fledglings was killed by a neighborhood cat … so sad. But the others I would see around the garden. This year the robins did not nest there again but I have left that empty nest in place. It is a wonderful reminder of all that has taken flight.

    1. Thx for sharing that story. I had planned to keep the nest in the tree as a reminder. Perhaps they will return to your nest as well….

  4. A beautiful post Donna. Sometimes I wish I could fly, literally, it would be wonderful to be a bird for a day. It is remarkable when we watch these birds grow from egg to fledgling how they echo our own lives. What takes us so many years to achieve, is all compressed into just a few short days for these beautiful creatures. Good luck Prudence.

    1. So glad you liked this post. I too wish I could fly like a bird and release my fear of heights. It would be so incredible to see the world from their view…

  5. Donna, your first photo sums this up so beautifully. I don’t know whether that’s actually Prud, but the soft feathers and hunched shoulders and that bright, bright eye just radiate youth and fear and promise. Hope you enjoyed a moment of pure flight today.

    1. Stacy that indeed is Prud. Actually all the pics here are of her at different moments that day. I continue to try out my wings daily. Today was an exceptional day for flying!!

  6. I’m about to help my youngest move on to college, so this is what I will feel like in a couple of weeks. It’s rewarding yet sad at the same time. I’m happy for her, and my kids turned out great, so I have to celebrate that part of it. But I know I’m going to go through boxes of kleenex. Thanks for putting it all into words so sweetly, Donna.

    1. Oh Beth what a wonderful milestone and celebration…I am glad you enjoyed the post and it spoke to you…just remember you gave your youngest those wings…you will see them fly!!!

  7. Hi Donna. What a great post for me to land on during my first visit to your Blog! I enjoyed reading and the photo’s are wonderful.

    1. Mo how wonderful that you could visit. I am so happy you liked the blog and photos…I am enjoying getting to know your blog too…I hope you will visit again. I usually post Mondays and sometimes a second post during the week.

  8. Ohhh … how sweet. I miss the robins already in sympathy. I still miss the bluebirds that fledged six weeks ago. It’s like my friends are missing … How wonderful that you were home to see it all.

  9. A robin always appears in my garden to peck about wherever I have weeded. It makes a boring job worthwhile.

    You have a nurturing soul Donna, I’m sure that more robins will seek protection in your garden next year.

    1. I do love the birds about the garden. Now many of the birds are already leaving or have left for their winter homes. The garden is quiet but we still have bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Oh and the barking frogs…thx for those kind words B-A-G

  10. Have you ever heard of native american earth medicine totem animals? According to that belief, each encounter with an animal has a meaning and symbolizes a particular connection, growth path, or acts as a guide. Your photos are so apt in telling us the story of their growth and struggle to leave the nest. It is very much like our own struggle as young adults.

    1. Michelle I actually have heard and studied about totem animals. I have been told that a wolf (teacher) is prominent in my totems. I also think it is why I care about the critters in my garden so much. Definitely Prud had significant meaning for me and was a message/guide. I was with her on that branch every step feeling her fear. So glad you connected with the post.

  11. Hello again, Donna. Thanks for popping by my blog 🙂

    Like others above, I too have enjoyed the human life connection with the fledgling robins. I love the images of your Robin too which are quite different from our European ones.

    Having witnessed the full story of a family of birds in my garden via a nestcam I can fully understand how connected you become with this family that has grown up in your garden.

    Being a parent of two daughters age 18 & 20 I can relate to the need for them to exercise their wings now too. I hope we have prepared them well enough to fly well 😀

    1. Shirl I am so glad you enjoyed the post. If I had a nestcam I don’t think I would get anything done. I would be unable to stop watching . Never fear that your daughters will fly because you gave them wings filled with love and you will be there to continue to help them when they need it.

  12. I so know how you feel. We got to see our second clutch fledge and it was definitely a moving and memorable experience

    1. Cathy I am so glad you saw it too. There is something amazing and so spiritual being able to observe nature….what a blessing you both had!!

  13. We watched a nest this spring, tiny little miracles. It was a Carolina Wren who built the nest in the top of our propane tank. I worried until they fledged that the gas guy was going to come to fill the tank and mess with the nest. When he did come the babies had left. He said if they were still there he would have come back later. Nice guy.

    1. Oh Janet how wonderful…it is a miracle…and what an amazing guy…so respectful of them..thx for sharing that…drop by anytime!!

  14. That first photo is so sweet & charming, and how perfect a name for the fledgling! What a deep, reflective post – you have quite a gift, Donna.

    1. Oh Shyrlene thank you….I think Prud brought out those emotions which I just had to share…that it touched you too means a lot…

  15. You touch so many of us with your meaningful post. Thank you for opening your heart to us, and in return you have made us all look back on this point in our lives…from all angles.

    1. Pam you are so right. I find my greatest joys are from watching the critters who grace my garden…so glad you enjoyed the post and found meaning in it..that means so much to me!!

  16. Donna – You write so eloquently. My oldest son is going to be a junior in high school this year and as much as I don’t want to let him go and keep him home forever, I’ve been putting in a lot of thought about how to mentally prepare him for entering the world. We had a robin family outside out dining room that I became very attached to, as well as the baby Junco’s. It’s an amazing process to watch.

    1. Malinda thank you for such a sweet comment…you know first hand what I felt and you feel it on so many levels…amazing!!

  17. Donna, Being fortunate enough to have a bird’s nest in your garden is truly a magical experience. A few years ago we had one in a spruce right outside the kitchen window. I was able to see the progress in the nest, and take photos, without disturbing the birds. It was amazing to watch the progress once the chicks hatched. Things happened so quickly, it did make me stop and consider how different our ‘chicks’ lives are than the birds, and how similiar too. Great post.

    1. Debbie so wonderful to have you visit my blog…and how incredible to have the experience of seeing the baby chicks grow at home and in the tree…so glad you enjoyed the post!! Come back to visit anytime…and I have subscribed to your blog…I really enjoyed it…

  18. Donna, I have enjoyed the journey of the robin. The world would be a better place if only more people were blessed with a personality such as yours. (and I used to think all yanks were brash.)

    1. Alistair you say the sweetest things…actually we can be rather brash at times…most annoying…thank you for following their journey with me and I am so pleased you enjoyed it!!

  19. a happy ending, it seems like yesterday and yet so long ago too that the first nest was made and lost, a wonderful story of perseverence and triumph, I’ll miss reading about your robins but so pleased for them and you at the out come, try not to worry too much remember Dumbo he flapped his ears and flew …….
    take care, Frances

    1. Oh Frances you always have the right words…what a wonderful thought about Dumbo…so glad you enjoyed their story!!

  20. Donna, I took a lunch break today to catch up with some of my favorite blogs and have just gotten to this post, which really resonated for me. Like you, I do not have children. But yesterday, I met my new first-year college students for the first time. At the liberal-arts college where I teach, most of our first-year students are 18 year olds, away from home for the first time. Some of them are eager to fly, while others are trying to use their cell phones to keep in constant contact with the “nest” they must leave. And many parents, too, struggle with letting their children go. Thanks for this beautiful piece of writing.

    1. Jean what a special job you have working with college first-years. I remember working with students at the pivotal transition grades, K, 1, 7, 9. They each had issues with leaving the nest. We seem to crawl through those phases and some of us are still learning to fly. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Your comment made my day after a very stressful week.

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