Sunday, August 14, 2011


Nothing triggers my imagination for flight more than a fledging bird. Their first "steps" are mine. Watching the juvey osprey test out their wings, actually flapping against the air, or fanning their wings out against a firm breeze, and feeling a brief lift, is a visceral experience. You can feel it. I can vicariously imagine what it would be like myself to be airborne, way more so than observing an experienced flyer like the adults. Their aerial magic is more akin to an olympic gymnast. They're so good they make it look easy, and frankly impossible for a layman like myself. It's simply beyond me. But watching, and feeling, these young osprey pushing against the air and contemplating their power, realizing what their wings are actually capable of, puts me right their in their shoes.

I can also relate to their anxiety of leaping out into the air. Every moment of their life up to their first flight has been earth bound through their nest. Their first leap is my first leap, and suddenly the terror, the rush of that first flight is as palpable as it would be for me jumping out of an airplane for the first time, or maybe hang-gliding off a cliff.
The other flight aid for me and my mind was a photo I snapped of a fledgling with it's wings spread out fully in the nest. I could see more clearly than ever the wing bones extending out from the chest. Suddenly the feathers looked like drapes or a cape, hanging off the birds "arms" (not unlike what you see in photos of bats). Prior to this little aha moment, I always viewed the wings as one big feathery appendage, extending out from the body. This little anatomy lesson was also a keen reminder that we're anatomically pretty similar. One might even say we're related.

In the end though, while the young osprey are twisting, turning and soaring through the air over the river and beyond, I'm still earthbound in my chair, typing this rumination. Fact is: I can't fly. This is where my imagination turns to envy. Oh well.

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