Empty Nest Syndrome and Nostalgia

The definition of nostalgia is:

a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

Last week was a nostalgic week.

Last summer Brooke and I were parents to seven Whooping Crane chicks. Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8-17.

Last Saturday two of our chicks, 6-17 and presumably 4-17 flew over White River Marsh. In this screen grab of #6-17’s GSM hit you can see her flight path in relation to camp. I wish I had been looking up at the right moment.

Today Doug and Mako Pellerin came to camp to visit and brought me a present! Mako took two of Doug’s photos from last summer, transferred them to fabric and made pillows of them!

The day Doug snapped these photos was a fun morning, the chicks were eating Dewberries and I was trying to hide. The weaning process was different for each chick. You see my two little clingers, numbers 8 -17 and 4-17 were not ready to have mom out of sight.

One my favorite things to do with them was teach them to explore and forage. Dewberries and snakes were a favorite find. 


Brooke, who is the most patient man on the face of the Earth with birds, had to lure them into the North Pond the 1st week or so. They were nervous in a new place.

Here at the North Pond is where most of the weaning took place. At first Brooke would hide in the willows while they slowly wandered away from him. Then he sat in a camo’d blind for hours a day watching to make sure they were safe, while the chicks learned to forage and explore alone.

Raising those seven chicks from hatch to first migration was a once in a lifetime experience. I am profoundly grateful that I got to be mama to seven Whooping Crane chicks. How lucky am I? Really really lucky!

The Greek word nostos means return. Algos means suffering. So, nostalgia is the suffering caused by unappeased yearning to return. It bites hard sometimes.

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  1. Mollie Cook July 17, 2018 12:36 pm

    My yearning to watch the chicks grow on the cam brings tears so I can’t imagine your feelings having raised them & spending endless hours keeping them safe. I wish you could have seen 6-17 & 4-17 (one of your clingers) fly over the marsh. Pillows are a nice gift from Doug & Mako. Thank you for sharing pics & video. Take care Colleen.

  2. Grandma July 17, 2018 12:17 pm

    Thank you for the photos and updates. It is so rewarding for you to see the chicks progress as you sit day after day in all kinds of weather to show them how to find food, shelter etc.. Thank you and all at OM for your dedication.

  3. Dick Brooks July 17, 2018 9:46 am

    Thanks Colleen, Brooke and every one at OM. What a pleasure it was to meet and talk to you and see eleven whoopers at White River Marsh last fall. Your dedication on behalf of this species is an inspiration. we all look forward to seeing the 2017 cohort succeed as wild birds, thanks to your efforts.