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Mother and child reunion

May 13, 2012 - Harry Eagar
This is for the moms in my family, Emily, Marjorie, Emily again, Tricia, Deb, Marjorie May, Rachel and Kathryn.

Friday afternoon, I was working in the backyard, clearing out an overgrown hibiscus bush, when I noticed two downy chicks, one pale lemon yellow, nearly white, the other brown. They were lost.

At least their mother was nowhere in sight. I could hear her, 25 feet away, clucking in the mock orange hedge. Blondie and Brownie were chirping constantly, and the biddie was making a “chuurck” every two seconds. Twenty-five feet is a long way when your legs are an inch and a half long.

If they had been older, Blondie and Brownie would have known what to do, but they were only about six hours out of the shell. I didn't see it, but earlier in the morning, while I was doing some carpentry, I heard the commotion of the hatching under the Indian cinnamon tree.

Blondie and Brownie, with Blondie in the lead, would start off one way, stop, dither, start off another, stop, dither again. After a time, Blondie struck out determinedly in the exact opposite direction she should have gone, Brownie following.

Big though widely scattered drops of rain began to fall. Blondie's mistake would soon be fatal.

As I watched, the chicks made a big circle and finally headed toward the hen. But they encountered a brick garden edging, about as tall as they were. After some hesitation, the charged it, scrambled over and disappeared into the undergrowth.

I didn't see what happened next, but I could tell by listening. Blondie and Brownie found their mother, and the eight or nine other chicks she was sheltering. The chirps and chuurks stopped and there was an explosion of happy clucks from the hen. Then silence.


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