Out of the nest, day three,
she sits on our deck, still figuring things out.
Seeds spilled from the feeder have her attention.
Her nearby parents, yesterday’s food providers,
stay put. Find your own, they urge, under your beak!
Things distract her:
sounds (caw, caw; chickadee-dee),
movements (acrobat squirrels in overhead pines),
and objects from other worlds (a riding mower).
All these impressions and images get logged
in her head’s recesses.
It’s more complex than we thought, a bird’s brain.
Back to the deck. Her hunger’s trumping
nervous hesitation, but which seed to choose?
She tilts her eye. Hmm, this one.
She eats one more, same kind. Good also.
More brain registry. Repetitive learning. Progress.
Here’s a sudden, whooshy intrusion,
the wind at her back, under her still-fuzzy tail,
an airy puff to remind her she got where she is
by moving those wing things, triangular lifters
attached to her slender, almost weightless body.
Oh, I do that, she remembers.
She jumps, stretches, catches the gust, and rises,
This feels right, natural—flying.
She could perfect it, use it to get to a tree limb.
Which she does, perching there,
quite satisfied with herself.
© by Richard Swanson.
Used with the author’s permission.