Fledge. v. [flej]
- to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity;
- to leave the nest after acquiring such feathers
- to rear until ready for flight or independent activity
This spring I became, and I’m not using this word lightly, obsessed, with the Eagle cam in the Washington Arboretum. I watched them every day from their hatching from eggs until they fledged. I was obsessed with them learning to eat, getting their feathers, and with them learning to perch and then fly. This year I have had fledging on the brain.
And maybe I was even more aware of it this year because one of my young friends went off to college this week and I (with his parents) watched with both a joyful and heavy heart as he made the big leap into flight. And for so many of you this past week has really been the great migration--so many fledgings: first grade, high school, college. New jobs, new moves, new lives. Humans fledge hundreds of times. Maybe even thousands if you count all of the hops, leaps and flights.
I love the fact that the verb 'to fledge' is reflexive in its own way. That it is both the act of leaving the nest, but also the act of raising a bird to flight. It is both.
And so this is my offering to those who are fledging, and those who have raised their young for flight--no matter how young or old the fledgling or big or small the flight.
For more information on the Eagle Cams of the American Eagle Foundation