Sunday, December 29, 2013

Leaving the Nest

At this point in our lives we have a child that is preparing to leave the nest, and I'm reminded of eagles.

As parents, we were the ones that taught her how to fly. We did that by teaching and modeling what we taught. This sounds very formal and oversimplified as I write, but children learn what they live. Having children forced me to become consistent in my beliefs.

As the eagle teaches her young ones to fly, so do we. When eagles are babies, the mother eagle uses her beak and picks up the eagle. At this point in time the bird can't fly, so as the bird starts to fall the mother eagle flies underneath the baby and catches it, so that the fledgling is flying on her wings.  Because eagles learn by imprinting (i.e. imitation) she will continue to do this, until the baby soars and can leave the nest. One motivation that the mother eagle uses is food. The baby needs to learn to fly in order to hunt for his own food so that he too can grow. As the baby grows, he won't leave the nest unless he has to. At first the mother is responsible for all of the baby's needs - she would bring meat to the nest. The baby eagle has grown and can fly, but not fast or far yet because he is still growing. At a certain point in time the mother eagle will stop dropping food in to the nest. It may even look like she is harming her young. But the mom knows once the fledgling is hungry enough, he will use his wings, imitate her and fly to where the prey is, hunt, eat and then return. Eventually the fledgling will not return.

An interesting illustration is thus recorded by Sir Humphry Davy:, "I once saw a very interesting sight above the crags of Ben Nevis. Two parent eagles were teaching their offspring, two young birds, the maneuvers of flight. They began by rising from the top of the mountain in the eye of the sun. It was about mid-day, and bright for the climate. They at first made small circles, and the young birds imitated them. They paused on their wings, waiting till they had made their flight, and then took a second and larger gyration, always rising toward the sun, and enlarging their circle of flight so as to make a gradually ascending spiral. The young ones still and slowly followed, apparently flying better as they mounted; and they continued this sublime exercise, always rising till they became mere points in the air, and the young ones were lost, and afterwards their parents, to our aching sight." (See Isa. 40:31.) - Easton's Bible Dictionary

Eagles in the Bible are noted for their strength (Isa 40:31), their longevity of life (Psalms 103.5), and for caring for their young (Deut. 32:11,12). As my daughter leaves, I'm hoping that as parents we have given her what she needed - we were her first role models and I hope that we've imprinted the right things on her heart. I am praying for the strength and beauty of the eagle in her life. And when she's tired, I hope she knows that she doesn't have to carry it all but that she can rest on Eagle's wings.

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isa 40:31
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

Have your children left the nest? How was your imprint? Were you ready for them to leave?

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. As you know, I left my baby eagle behind when we moved to a different nest. I used both my legs to push him out of our nest . . . in fact, we sold our nest and caused a bit of anxiety for all concerned. Though it was difficult for all of the birds, including Mommy Eagle and especially the baby eagle who had still had my footprints on the back of his feathers, he is now soaring. He has his own nest now, buys his own worms, travels under the power of his own wings . . . it has been beautiful to witness.

    Thank you for your post. It reminds me how resilient our baby eagles are and how the journey of this second birth (though emotional) is well worth the experience.


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