The Fledgling Woodpecker

Newsletter 26th June 2022


Dear friend,

The other day I was out on a walk, and I came across a fledgling green woodpecker.
I was at once startled and amazed to see such an unusual and beautiful little bird so close I could easily have picked it up.
It was in the long grass just to the side of the path, which runs along a tree-lined field.
I stopped and watched it. At first I thought it was tangled in the grass, but I soon realised it was just hopping back and forth and flapping it’s wings, which is what so many fledglings do, as they take their first tentative steps beyond the nest. Because many fledglings are out of the nest before they can fly.

I googled ‘fledgling woodpeckers’ … and discovered that it’s parents were probably nearby, and that it’s always best to leave a fledgling alone unless it’s near a road or something … and moreover that it may even spend up to two weeks on the ground.

Did I find that reassuring? No.

I looked at this tiny, pristine little bird, with its very particular colours and markings, and started to feel anxious for it.
There are dog walkers who come this way. Should I move it? But then there are foxes too.
In the end I tiptoed quietly by, listening to its occasional squawk, and listening hopefully for an answering cry from a parent, and all the while gazing into the trees in the hope of seeing either the parents, or at least a nest.
I thought about the bird as I continued on my walk.
On my way back I hoped it would somehow have gone; mustered its strength and flown, at least to a tree branch, where in my view, it was really supposed to be.
But it was still there, bobbing and squawking, all on its own.

I stood and watched again. I might have imagined it, but it seemed to be able to leave the ground for a few seconds longer now as it flew ahead of me. I waited at a reasonable distance so it wouldn’t go too far from its spot.
Finally, in order not to alarm the bird into going even further away, I plunged carefully into the wheat field to give the bird a wide berth.
That was all I could do.
I thought again of fledglings leaving the nest and then spending days, (and nights), on the ground.
It seems inexplicably odd, considering how unequipped they are for life on the ground.
There are so many challenges for this tiny little thing.
I find it troubling.

I then thought how unequipped and unprepared we all are for the big world out there.

For the little birds it’s black or white. They either make it or they don’t.
For us, it’s more complicated. We get wounded, damaged, injured, scarred.
We think we have to soldier on.
We sometimes feel miserable, anxious, incomplete, dissatisfied. Even powerless.
Sometimes even overwhelmed. And still we just carry on.
Does it really have to be like that?
I don’t think so.
In fact I’m certain.

And I don’t want to sound cliched….but….
We too have wings.
We can learn to fly regardless of our scars.

When I went back the next day the fledgling had gone.
And I choose to know it spread its wings and flew.
It grasped its chance and reached out for its one, beautiful life.


Debs xx
(prev. eftsouthuk)

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