The little Thrush worked tirelessly…..a Falcon had killed her mate and so she left the nest making swift forays to feed herself, never going too far away….. returning to her three speckled eggs. Then one day as she flew in and perched on the rim, the nest had changed…..one very large egg had been placed right in the centre.
Her mothering instincts accepted the new egg, and she adjusted her body to fit the new shape….the largest egg a protruding lump, beneath her.
Days turned to weeks….her life was difficult with no mate to feed her, but her only conscious thought was the protection of her eggs…..all of them.
They cheeped to her as she sat, her soft belly feathers a constant protective warmth around them….she spoke back, bending her neck, turning the eggs with her delicate beak, mothering.
One by one they hatched, three perfect replicas of herself and her mate, and one huge exception. Now finding food on her own took her all day.
The largest chick was insatiable, greedily pushing in, taking from the others.
The little mother was barely eating herself, her body just soft brown feathers and fragile bones. Each return to the nest, there was one less Thrush baby, but driven by instinct she kept feeding the remaining chicks….feeding the interloper.
The days passed, Spring turned to Summer….exhausted from the constant search for food, she landed, crop filled to feed her nestlings as dusk descended on the day.
One chick remained, the Cuckoo …..beak opened, its voracious appetite demanding, as she disgorged her feed into its gaping beak.
The Cuckoo outgrew the mother, pushing her aside in the nest with vicious little pecks, yet still she flew back and forth, feeding it.
It grew flight feathers, sat on the rim of the nest flapping its wings, hopping back and forth with tiny practise flights, constantly pecking the small mother, as it grew bigger, stronger.
And then one sunny summers day, it flew….bold and strong, straight out through the protective cover of branches into the flight path of the same Falcon, who seized it with strong talons and carried it away to feed its hungry nestlings.
The little thrush sat quietly on the rim of the nest, preening her feathers.
Nearby, she heard the soft siren call of a male. He flew back and forth, courting her and in the fullness of time, she left the nest behind….flew with him to a secret glade far, far away, to begin again.