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Baby Birds

Hustling from the car into the schoolyard this morning, it turns out I wasn’t too rushed to pause for some birdwatching. A cluster of five birds hopped across one of the tiny patches of grass Newark still affords, foraging. I don’t know what kind of bird they were— the shiny black birds ubiquitous temperate, urban areas, just a little bigger than and often found foraging among sparrows.

Or rather, three of them were shiny and black. Two of them were grey-brown and very fuzzy, molting their baby feathers. They were far too big to be babies; indeed, if it weren’t for the molting, they’d look like adults. They moved with adult strength and coordination. They were entirely capable of picking through the grass; I know this because they did, a bit. But mostly they pestered mom (Dad? They look too much alike…) to provide, as she had in the nest. In the twenty or thirty seconds I’d watched, mom responded with simplified gestures resembling the giving of food, but didn’t actually give any up.

It was time for the kids to grow up. Almost adults, capable of doing their own work but not yet mastering either the technique or the self-discipline to do it, still trying to be spoon-fed because it’s easier that way.

Then I left the birdwatching behind and went inside to teach fifteen-year-olds how to calculate a grocery bill.

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