Why aren’t bird babies pretty?


This last remaining bird glares down at me from the nest it's afraid to leave - it's been teetering here on the edge all afternoon.

Pretty much every baby is beautiful in an entirely adorable-I -just-have-to-touch-your-tiny-face kind of way, and I don’t mean just every human baby. Even the staunchest animal hater has to at least acknowledge just how darn cute a puppy masquerading as a fur ball is, or find himself laughing at a spindly-legged calf snorting at a butterfly or – the list goes on.

But birds? Not so much.

The robin who built her nest on my kitchen porch abandoned it several weeks ago, and the same day I found a new nest on my front porch. For days she scolded loudly from the power lines leading to my house any time I opened the door. Then one evening she scolded, and the most hideous head popped out of the nest, it’s gargantuan mouth opened wider than it’s body, it’s neck transparent, naked, and incredibly long.

There were four of them packed in there; or rather, four scrawny necks and four enormous beaks opened wide continually, waiting for something to fall in. I’m just assuming on the number of birds.

And how quickly they’ve grown. I leave in the morning for work, and when I get back in the afternoon they’re bigger, but still just as incredibly ugly. Thin feathers poke from their transparent wings like pins. Beady eyes, like wide beaks, are ridiculously big.

I don’t think it’s been more than 10 days since that head first popped out of the nest and stunned me with it’s lack of cuteness, but apparently the pins have opened into feathers and two of them fled the over-crowded nest last Sunday afternoon. One fled today, the last is still afraid to jump.

I’ve kept waiting for them to take on the preciousness of other babies – the perfection in miniature form that wins hearts and captures souls the world over. But it seems that these little birds will maintain their grotesqueness until feathers are formed and speckled breasts have turned red and wings are strong and they take their places on power lines, scolding, while their own tiny offspring are gaping with hideous mouths at a world where food appears if you keep your beak open long enough.

I’ll stick with puppies and kittens, I think. You?

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