It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

First Flight: Scary Stuff

First FlightMy wife and I had a pair of barn swallows build a mud/grass nest on our back porch. They were about half-way through the building of it when our pest control guy came to do his quarterly.

“I can knock the nest down if you like, but those little birds will take care of the mesquitos,” Daniel shared. Faced with the choice of bird poop or mesquitos, we let the nest stay. (I’m a softy; I wasn’t going to destroy their hard work anyway.)

Would you believe it? I don’t recall one single mesquito this summer on my back porch. Next spring, I’m hanging out a “FOR RENT” sign on that nest. 

Bobbie (my wife) and I were amazed at just how fast this whole circle of life took place. There were eggs, then baby birds (four) and then … FLIGHT DAY.

I have to plead ignorance; my knowledge of barn swallows is quite limited. On the day that was apparently flight day, the birds’ parents, with help of some other swallows, were dive-bombing anyone and anything that stepped out into our back yard.  I guess they were running a bit of interference for folks and cats who might try to catch a young fledgling in their most vulnerable moment.

Two of the barn swallowettes had already left the nest, and two were still in it. I saw one of them was perched on the edge, apparently contemplating that first flight (see the photo). Apparently, he thought about it for a long, long, long time. He (or she) was perched on the edge of that nest for over an hour, just thinking it over (or whatever goes through a young barn swallow’s mind). To that little bird, I’ll bet diving off that nest and negotiating the slope of the porch and the terrain of the back yard would look to us like jumping head-first into the Grand Canyon.

Obviously, the little bird DID make that first flight. Instinct took care of that. 

We can probably remember as kids our FIRSTS: the first time off the big diving board, the first time on the bike without the training wheels, the first time we drove the car all by ourselves and, for the guys, a first of firsts: the first time you asked a girl for a date. (How many weeks did you perch on the edge of the nest on that one, fellas?)

Life’s firsts … sometimes they’re scary stuff!

James Sutton, Psychologist


August 18, 2007 - Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Educators, family, Inspirational, Parents


  1. Dr. Jim, this was a touching post and I’m delighted that you left the nest where it was. I remember asking for my first date, and it was scary as all get out, I even remember the girl. Oddly enough, after becoming a widower in ’96 when I decided it was time to step out again, it was just as scary, if not more so. “Life’s firsts … sometimes they’re scary stuff!” Sometimes life’s seconds are too.


    Comment by GM Roper | August 24, 2007 | Reply

  2. […] First Flight: Scary Stuff August 2007 1 comment 5 […]


    Pingback by 2010 in review « It’s About Them | January 2, 2011 | Reply

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