Of Cooper’s Hawks and Empty Nests

DSC_0270I look and listen for them still, though some weeks have passed since they flew away, disappearing into the great wide world.

And I know it’s silly, but I worry. That they might swoop down in front of a speeding car. Or that some ignorant human will shoot them. Or that they’ll starve before they learn to be silent, deadly hunters.

You see, back in August our farm became a hang-out and wing-testing grounds for three clueless young Cooper’s hawks newly-fledged from a nest on our neighbor’s property. As they impatiently awaited food deliveries from their parents (presumably—I never saw the far-stealthier adults), the trio would fly from tree to tree, rooftop to rooftop, and even alight on my Subaru. One—the palest of the brown-blotched youngsters—often kept me company in the morning, watching from a big fir near the barn as I fed animals and cleaned the horse’s paddock.

By the way, the fledglings did all of this while keeping up a nearly incessant shrieking that scared away every blueberry-stealing robin in the vicinity AND made me seriously doubt whether they could learn to be silent, deadly hunters. Ever.

But hey, I grew used to the shrieking, loved watching “my” Cooper’s kids discover their wings, and even though I knew better, let myself get way too attached.

And then they were gone.

Now it’s fall, a bittersweet season of newly-empty nests as human fledglings fly away, too. I’ve heard some parents feel a kind of good riddance relief during this time, but that wasn’t the case for my husband and me when our only daughter left for college four Septembers ago. We felt pride, of course, but pride mingled with a profound sense of loss and sadness.

Still, all young must leave the nest eventually and find their place in the great wide world, so what do you do? Well, I can’t speak for other empty-nesters, but if you’re us…

You fill the empty space with brand-new activities, things you didn’t do together as a family of three. You sign up for yoga, start geocaching, or maybe join a drum circle.

You discover, little by little, you have a life again as a couple. You take long bicycle rides together, just the two of you, or spend Friday nights talking to other grown-ups at the local brewery, or take your very first kid-free trip to Paris, city of light and love.

You try not to worry and helicopter, even though it’s very hard. And yes, thanks in part to cell phones and texting, you often fail miserably.

You never stop missing, but it does get better. Slowly.

Most of all, you hope your fledgling returns to the home nest to visit someday soon.

What did you do when faced with an empty nest?

Thanks for reading,




  1. Thanks, Cherie, for reminding me that my middle-schooler will one day be leaving this crazy nest & I’d better appreciate the craziness while it lasts!! PS, hang in there!!!

    1. cherielanglois · · Reply

      Thanks, Lori, you too! 🙂

  2. awritersalchemy · · Reply

    One of my three daughters is off to WWU this fall, and I vacillate between thinking, “whew…that’s one,” and “oh, no!” I enjoyed this meditation. Your pictures are amazing.

    1. cherielanglois · · Reply

      I’m happy you liked it–thanks so much for the nice words!

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