Baby Egret

So sad. I rode my bike to Shorebird Way for the second time, this time in hopes of seeing baby egrets and herons fledge. What I got was probably what happens most of the time in nature. At first I couldn’t see any fledglings, just distracted parents flying around fighting with one another. They seemed completely disinterested in all things child-rearing. Then I spotted an 8 inch tall fluff of feathers with undeveloped wings wobbling on a branch. The next instant, I saw it plummet 60 feet. I was stunned. No adults rushed to its side or even seemed to notice its demise. I couldn’t stand it. After a minute, I made my way over to the ground cover below the looming sycamore trees. At first I couldn’t spot it and was glad. Perhaps it flew when I wasn’t looking. But no, there it lay, its neck at a sickening angle, eyes closed. I crouched by its side and talked to it quietly, tears falling as I felt the unfairness of the end of a life not yet lived. I wondered how many other fledglings had died the same way. I called my friend who has been a big advocate on Google’s campus for egret nesting on Shorebird Way and told her the news. She said that most of the birds seemed to make it but that didn’t take the sting away. Today I watched a video of egret fledglings that a friend had made. Tears welled up again as I watched one make a successful flight. A reminder of the one that didn’t. Forgetting someone after death is often seen as the final death. I didn’t want my wobbly friend to die again.

4 responses to “Baby Egret

  1. So sorry to hear – and yes, I can sympathize.

    Here on the farm, early July is the Season of Dead Fledglings. Every April we’re swarmed with barn swallows, and early July is when their chicks try taking flight. An appalling number of them don’t make it and lie littering all around the perimeter of the barn. The dead swallow fledglings are saddening, but I imagine that seeing something so graceful as an egret must carry an especially heavy burden.


  2. Nature – so beautiful, and so cruel. I too have found fledglings dead or dying from their falls, or from exposure. Tears welled up when I read your story, for your little egret, and all the little creatures who have suffered or been lost.


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