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Empty nest syndrome

The nest no longer empty, Mr. Unidentified Species guards it against predators, including columnist Fox.
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox


August 6, 2014

I thought that it was a thing of the past. More than 20 years ago, my little one toddled off to pre-school as I wept copiously, longing for the day when she still needed her diaper changed. It seems like only yesterday that she wouldn’t go anywhere without holding my hand, or gazing lovingly into my eyes for the approval that has never waned. That little girl is all grown up now and doesn’t need me in the way she used to, and the melancholia that swept over me during the “empty nest syndrome” has faded from memory. Until now. Wikipedia describes the condition as “a feeling of grief and loneliness that parents or guardians may feel when their children leave home for the first time to live on their own” and concludes that “it is not a clinical condition.”

Little did I know that I could experience the sadness again; this time in the most literal sense, involving birds, eggs and an actual empty nest. Many of us living in the Upper Delaware River region do so in part because of our love of the natural world that surrounds us. The flora and fauna that abound are often breathtaking, and I try to capture the essence through the lens, hoping that a photo will somehow make the moment last. Utilizing the freeze frame, I can review the fleeting scene at my leisure and relive a precious memory, or share it with my friends. True, some city slickers think that I’m nuts, but “there’s a lid for every pot,” as mom was fond of saying. But I digress.

Back to the birds. First of all, I have to admit that birds scare me. Hitchcock’s “The Birds” terrified (admit it, the film spooked you, too) and imprinted me with a healthy respect for all things winged. I never understood “what makes the caged bird sing” and couldn’t comprehend keeping one in the house. The last time one flew into my home, I ran shrieking, praying that the Wonder Dog would encourage it to leave peacefully. It didn’t work out as planned, and she’s still picking feathers from her teeth. But I digress.

Soaring through the air, or perched on a limb singing sweetly is where I want to see birds. I’m perfectly content to insert a zoom lens into the camera and snap away from a safe distance, as the vast array of feathered friends chirp merrily, while adding bits of string and twigs to their intricate domiciles scattered around the property. In fact, living in the Catskills has given me a new appreciation for the Audubon Society that inhabits our region. So, I was tickled flamingo pink when a pair of birds set up shop just outside my front door several weeks ago. Camera at the ready, I sat vigil on the stoop, observing the progress as Mr. and Mrs. Unidentified Species went to work.