There’s a little family living in our backyard. About a month ago we watched them build their home. Stick by stick the tiny birds meticulously built their nest, until the day came for their family to grow.

Our attention switched to watching the parents take turns sitting on their eggs. One Piping Shrike would rustle about in the nest, fluffing their tail feathers and then sit gingerly on top of their eggs keeping them warm, while the other one would dart off for food. The bird sitting in the nest would also be on predator watch, darting out to swoop at other birds. Days in and days out they vigilantly guarded their unborn babies.

We’ve been watching this proud family for weeks now. Only yesterday we were commenting how we thought the eggs must have hatched. The birds were more active, taking turns to glide through the trees, returning with morsels of food for their teeny babies. They’ve worked so hard to build their home and grow their family. The paranoia and commitment, not too dissimilar to new parents nesting.

We as parents know the feeling all too well of trying to get pregnant, growing babies, the fear which consumes you until your newborn comes into the world. For some the pain of earth shattering loss. For others new life. As our children grow we guard them like hawks, protecting them against dangers. We juggle work and child rearing. Dart about getting food and creating homes that are safe and warm.

You can easily imagine the birds chattering away to each other. “I’m popping out to get dinner can you get the kids ready for bed?”,” bird one. “Sure honey, can you pick up something to drink when you’re out,” bird two.

The little family has been such a constant in our daily routine. Each time we pass under the tree we look up at the birds. We’ve felt lucky to be able to follow their journey. It’s like they chose to let us into their world.

Last night there were huge winds. Winds which ferociously whipped through the city. I woke in the night and tucked my girls in, gently lifting their limbs back under their quilts, kissing them gently, before snuggling back into my warm bed. Safe and warm.

This morning I went out into the yard to check for any wind damage. I glanced up into the tree.

The nest and its family were gone.

bigwords x