The Empty Nest Haiku-human version
Osprey have flown south
Family nest is empty now
And we are bereft
But-wait for next year
Keep scopes trained for their return:
Rosie and Richie.
And if you fly south
Keep watch for Rivet's blue band
High up in the sky.
The Empty Nest Haiku- Rosie's version
The nest is empty
There is no reason to stay
I have done my job
Now I can fly south
Catch and eat my own fish prey
Live life my own way
To return in Spring
Fly to the north, find Richie
And begin again
Lullaby for Whirley, the restless one
(tune: Fa la Nina)
Go to sleep now, fold your wings
Nestle down by your sibling,
I am sitting by, watch to keep,
So that you can peacefully sleep,
Sleep and dream,
Sleep and dream.
Tomorrow at dawn's first light
You can practice for first flight,
Daddy will bring fish to eat
And perhaps a fine red treat.
But right now, it is night,
Time for you to sleep tight.
Go to sleep now, fold your wings
Dream of diving and flying,
But do not leave the nest,
For you need your beauty rest.
It is time to sleep tight,
Dreaming all through the night.
Ballad of An Osprey Fledgling
(tune: Old Blue)
There was an osprey named Whirley
Lived on a crane not in a tree.
Hello, Whirley, we’re glad to meet you.
Hello, Whirley, and your sibling too.
One day Whirley said to mother nearby
“Momma dear, I want to fly.”
“Go on, Whirley, give it a try.
Go on, Whirleybird, you can try to fly.”
So Whirley lifted off from the nest,
Hovered in the air above the rest.
“Good job, Whirley, now you are free.
Good job, Whirley, now you’re just like me.”
The next day, Whirley left the nest,
Flew around then landed to rest.
“Come back, Whirley, come home to me.
Poppa has a big fish to eat.”
After a while, Whirley grew hungry
So she flew back to her family.
“Good girl, Whirley, you got your wish.
Now settle down to eat your fish.”
But that night, Whirley could not rest,
And so she flew again from the nest.
“Come back, Whirley, it is still night,
“Wait until early morning light.”
But Whirley that restless bird
Didn’t heed a single word.
“No,Momma, now I am free.
And I just want to be me.”
Lessons from the Osprey Family:
Take life one step at a time. Do not be in a hurry to grow up.
Respect your parents. They know best.
Do not be afraid to leave the nest when it is time.
Let yourself soar.
Keep watch over your children when they are small.
Teach them and set a good example.
Gradually give them more freedom and space.
But keep feeding them as long as needed.
When it's time, let them go without regret
It is good to fly free but it is also good
to gather together in the nest at night.
Humans and osprey are not that different from one another. We have much to learn and gain from each other.
Nature brings much joy and comfort. Take time each day to spend with wild flora and fauna.
Lullaby for Rivet, alone in the nest
Sleep now, osprey chick, in your nest
Just lie down and take a rest.
You worked hard today on your flight,
Now it’s time to say good-night.
Momma will stay nearby, do not fear,
Poppa is also quite near,
No need to watch, no need to fret,
Just sleep snugly in the nest.
Dream of flying in the sky
Your strong wings lifting you high,
Dream of diving into the Bay
To catch your very own fish prey.
Rivet’s sleeping now, let him be
Dreaming of his life in free,
Rivet’s dreaming now, let him dream,
Dream on, Rivet, sleep and dream.
Whirley flew all that day
Up and down and around the bay.
Chirping, “Here I am, family, now I am free.
Here I am, family, don’t you fret over me."
Then Whirley dove into the Bay
To catch her very first own fish prey.
“Oh no, Whirley, wait for us to come too.
“No, no, Whirleybird, we have to teach you.”
But for Whirley it was too late,
Her restlessness cast her fate.
“Good-by, Whirley, we’re sad to see you go.
Good-by, Whirleybird, we’ll miss you so.”
Now Whirley dives into primordial sea
Catches shining fish for all to see.
Dive on, Whirley, catch a fish for me.
Dive on, Whirleybird, be wild and free.
And she soars so high in the sky
The sun reflects her golden eye.
Fly on, Whirley, fly to the sun.
Fly on, Whirleybird, oh restless one.
Now when you look up in the sky,
If you chance to see our Whirley fly by,
Tell her, hello Whirley, you restless child,
Fly high, Whirleybird, be free and wild..
Good girl, Whirley, now you’re wild and free,
Fly high, Whirleybird, looking down on me.
(Thanks to Cindy for the beautiful suggestions, used in the final verses)
Rosie's Migration Song:
If you miss my take-off flight,
If you don't see me tonight,
You will know that I have flown
To lands unknown.
1000 miles, 2000 miles, 3000 miles, 4000 miles
Oh, I'm flying many thousand miles from home.
Then one day I will land
On a far-off Southern strand
And I'll spend the winter there
With weather fair.
But one day in early Spring
I will once again take wing,
And I'll fly through sun and rain,
To find my mate again.
1000 miles, 2000 miles, 3000 miles, 4000 miles
I will fly thousands of miles to come back home.
I'm looking rather messy now, while sitting on my crane,
The osprey have all flown off again.
Oh, the crows, they come to clean me, and the gulls, they come to rest,
But I am still a lonely osprey nest.
Oh, my branches are all falling and the eel grass is all wet.
I haven't seen an osprey fly in yet.
But Snakey is still with me through the winter rain,
And I know I'll soon see the osprey again.
For I am an osprey nest, I am an osprey nest,
As anyone can plainly see.
As long as Snakey's here inside me, they'll love me the best,
And I'll forever be their osprey nest.
This post is dedicated to Cindy Margulis, Director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, who conceived the live cam of the Whirley Crane Osprey nest, who orchestrated it, and who brought the chatters together to create a community. I have learned so much and spent so many enjoyable hours watching the magnificent osprey and enjoying the chat group. The birds are beautiful and amazing to watch, sometimes delighting, sometimes anxiety provoking, and most often calming. I love to sit and watch Rivet looking out at the Bay.
The chat group is an amazing group of people, known only by their screen names and whatever they choose to reveal about their lives. I have never met a more intelligent, creative, knowledgable group of people. Through them, I have not learned only about osprey behavior, feather structure, and growth of the babies, but I have also received an education in art history, in films and songs, in how to take a screenshot, and the joy of photoshop. I have also not laughed so much in a long time.
I thank especially Craigor and Geonni for their amazing creativity and wit, GailMac for her kindness and goodheartedness, and Bill D. for reminding us that wildlife can exist in spite of us. And especially, I thank Cindy, Diane R., Tony and all the other experts who take care of these-and other- wonderful birds and make sure they will continue to thrive around the bay. May you continue to soar in the sky, Cindy, aka Osprey Gal.
To ensure the continued existence of the osprey nest, please go to the Audubon website and click on the red button to contribute. goldengateaudubon.org
And Craigor gave me permission to end on a silly note. For Snakey also became a part of this group. With apologies to Bill D.- you don't have to read it (:
Please note that all names and incidents are fiction and not necessarily related to real people (teehee)
The Purple Snake
A young boy named Craig crept downstairs early Christmas morning, before anyone else was awake. Santa had come! In his stocking, he found various goodies. There was an orange and some candy and a can of nuts. When he opened the can of nuts, 3 snakes sprang out. The boy laughed aloud. But then he saw there were more presents. On the mantle, a bird with a red beak bobbed up and down over a glass of water. There was also a glass globe with black and white discs revolving slowly. The boy wondered about these toys and the science behind them, but he would consider that later. For on the hearth, he saw more: a game called Shoot the Moon and a long, purple velvet snake with googly eyes. Craig fell in love with the snake immediately. He named it Snakey.
The rest of Christmas Day passed as all Christmas Days, Craig and his sister playing with their toys, family visiting, and a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. That night, the boy got into bed and fell asleep immediately, his new snake friend at his side. And every night after that, the snake slept with the boy.
The snake, of course, was a toy. While the boy loved his snake for many years, and it went on vacation with him to the cabin, it finally fell by the wayside, as the boy grew older and his interests turned to art and music. He learned to play an instrument and he got artists’ pencils to draw. These consumed his waking hours. And finally, one day when he was at camp, his mother was housecleaning and she got rid of Snakey.
Many years later, when Craig was now a man, a little girl named Maria went shopping with her mother. It was the day before Christmas, and the girl’s mother could not afford new toys for her daughter. So she took her to the thrift store. There the girl fell in love with a purple snake. It was old and no longer had any eyes, but Maria didn’t care. She loved it anyway. She tied a red ribbon around its neck, named it Snakey and slept every night with it.
Maria took Snakey everywhere with her, to daycare, to the store, to the park and to the beach where she and her mother liked to walk. And one day, Maria put Snakey down for a moment while she waded in the water. Her mother called to her that it was time to go home. “Ahorita,” her mother admonished. And in that terrible moment, Maria ran to her mother and left Snakey on the beach. Of course, she realized her mistake as soon as she got home, but her mother didn’t have time to take her back to the beach and it was not until her big brother got home that evening that she could return. Alas, Snakey was gone.
Maybe another child took it, her mother said. Or the waves came up and washed him away. We’ll get you another toy, she promised. A new one this time.
Maria couldn’t sleep that night or the next. She thought Snakey had run away and she didn’t know why. Had she made him mad?
Meanwhile, two little osprey chicks had hatched in a nest atop a rusty old crane on the waterfront. Just like Craig and Maria’s parents, the father osprey, whom the humans named Richie, liked to bring gifts to his mate and children. He especially liked red things, so he brought a red cap, a red pennant, a red plant pot. And each of these was rejected by his mate Rosie. One by one, she pushed each object out of the nest. But she picked up the red cap, flew out over the bay and dropped the cap in the water. Richie was not discouraged. He would simply go looking for something else. And one day, he found the perfect gift for his two chicks. It was long and would help fence them in. It was purple not red, but it had a red ribbon around its neck. It had a large soft head to use as a pillow. So Richie picked up the snake, which was bigger than he, and flew with it back to the nest.
Rosie seemed to accept the snake. It did make a good fence. And the two chicks liked it. At night, they would snuggle up against its warm body and lay their heads on its soft head. They were unaware of the two human children who had done much the same.
The humans who came to watch the nest saw the snake and wondered how it had gotten there. Where had Richie found it? And how did he lug it all the way to the high nest? As the chicks grew older, the snake was moved to the edge of the nest and forgotten. Soon it dangled over the top and was in danger of falling. But it hung on.
One day, Maria’s mother said, “Let’s go to a different spot today, instead of the beach. I read about a bird nest high on a crane. I would like to see it.”
Well that sounded like fun, so Maria agreed. She didn’t like going to the beach now anyway because it reminded her of Snakey, whom she still missed very much. When they got to the nest, Maria craned her neck to look way up high. There she saw a large bird perched on a railing. That was Rosie. In the nest, Maria saw the head of the young chicks. Suddenly, Maria shouted. “Momma, I see Snakey!”
“Where?” Her mother looked around on the ground.
“Up there, in the nest.”
Her mother looked, but all she saw was a round purple thing and a red ribbon.
“Yes, it looks a bit like Snakey,” she admitted. “But it’s probably just a piece of kelp. The birds like to gather kelp for their nest.”
“No, it is Snakey,” Maria mumbled. But she didn’t argue further; she knew it would do no good. Strangely, it made her feel better to see Snakey there. She didn’t need him anymore, she decided. The chicks were little; they needed a bedtime pillow. They could have Snakey.
A man and a woman came up next to her.
“There are the osprey,” the man told his wife. “That’s Rosie the mother on the railing. And you can just see the heads of the chicks in the nest.” Then he exclaimed, “And I see Snakey!”
“Who?” his wife asked, bewildered.
“Snakey, my pet snake. The one I had when I was a boy. He had googly eyes. I slept with him every night.”
His wife just looked at him. “Craig, that was years ago. How would your snake end up in an osprey nest?”
“I don’t know,” he mumbled. “But it sure looks like him.”
“Excuse me,” Maria said in her bravest, most adult voice. “That isn’t your snake, that is my snake. That’s Snakey. I used to sleep with him. But then I left him on the beach by mistake.”
Craig looked down at the little girl and smiled. “I guess you’re right,” he said. “My Snakey didn’t have a red ribbon and he had googly eyes.” Then he stopped, thinking.
“He was probably new when you got him?” he asked tentatively.
Maria shook her head. “No, Momma couldn’t afford that so we went to the thrift store.”
“Hold on,” Craig said. He took out his cell phone and placed a call. “Hi, Mom,” he said. “Yeah, I’m fine. I just have a question. Do you remember that purple snake I had as a child? I don’t suppose you remember what you did with him?” There was a pause. “No, I’m not still mad. I was just wondering whether you threw him away or what. I never asked.” There was another pause. “You gave him to the shop on the corner? You mean, Mr. Benoni's? Yeah, yeah, really? No, I don't think he is still there, but the shop is, with his name on it. Okay, thanks Mom.” Another pause. “Nothing, I was just wondering. No, I’m not excited. I know it was a long time ago. Listen, Mom, I have to go. I’ll call you later. “
Craig turned to Maria’s mother. “Did you buy Snakey at the store on the corner by the grocery? Mr. Benoni's?"
She nodded. “Yes, that store is so old. I think it has been there forever.”
"Craig,honey," his wife warned. "That was a long time ago. I don't think the store would keep something that long."
“Who knows?” Craig answered."Maybe the snake was lost behind some books or something." He turned to Maria. “I think that is my Snakey and your Snakey,” he said. “He once had eyes but somehow he lost them. I don’t know how he got the red ribbon.”
“I gave it to him,” Maria said.
“And now he belongs to the osprey chicks,” Craig mused. “I wonder what they call him.”
“Snakey,” Maria answered. She didn’t have to guess. She just knew. What else would you call a pet snake? “Where do you think he’ll go next?” she asked.
“Who knows?” Craig answered with a far off look in his eyes. His wife and Maria’s mother just looked at each other, smiled and shook their heads.