Ohio Wildlife Center offers a free infoline service that allows concerned citizens to call in with various questions about animals in their backyard, on the road, or in the mouths of their dogs, etc. A story we hear often is that of a young bird sitting on the ground somewhere alone and unable to fly. People are often concerned that the bird is injured or orphaned or both. The bird can’t fly, are its wings broken? He’s all by himself, were his parents killed? The answer to these questions is typically no.
Contrary to what we see in movies and books, baby birds do not actually just take off flying from their nests all in one day, perfect and strong. It’s not that glamorous. In reality they awkwardly hop/fall out their nest and sit around blinking at their brand new world for a while. It’s not easy to spend your whole life in a nest and then start soaring right away. These birds that we find on the ground looking clueless are actually called fledglings. A fledgling is older than a baby bird but not quite an adult bird. There’s a gawky inbetween stage where they have to get out of the nest and figure out what the heck is happening around them. Their parents will often check in on them, drop them some food, make sure they’re doing okay. The fledglings will try out their wings day by day and then when they are strong enough, they will take to the skies all by themselves.
I’m twenty years old and I feel like at this age we are all a little like fledglings. For many of us, we are living on our own for the first time, beginning full-time internships and testing out the waters of adulthood. We can’t quite fly on our own yet and luckily my parents still drop me some food every once in awhile. This stage is filled with practice and growth and constant learning. In my time with Ohio Wildlife Center, I am able to shadow the more experienced employees, trying to figure out my new world. I think it’s a helpful mindset to know that you don’t have to be able to start flying all out at once right out of the nest. Nature has its way. There are challenges and steep learning curves in every field. While we may look and feel a little confused and bewildered in our twenties, every day we are taking steps towards flight.