New Year-New Life in 2021

Memories and the persistence of nature to inspire.

Therese Ralston
6 min readJan 1, 2021


We have a high walled courtyard off the main bathroom. When my children were preschoolers, they planted a branch of cypress there. Surprisingly, a pine tree grew. It must have come up from a seed on the stick. The kids thought themselves master gardeners, especially when a pair of Willie Wagtails built a nest in the pine.

We gravitated to the bathroom, watching the birds sit tight on the tiny bowl. Once the eggs hatched though, the Willies became the mother of all birds.

At first, we could barely see beaks stretch up to be fed. After a week she flew straight at the glass doors anytime anyone walked into the bathroom.

The cranky chirps seemed like bad language. These Willie Wagtail parents could have filled a swear jar. My son had just started school but was scared to use the bathroom. My daughter was 3, and terrified to wee. I’d find her holding on for dear life because she didn’t want mad birds flying at her.

My kids were continually dive-bombed from the courtyard. Though the Willies were outside and the children were in, those black and white feather balls waged war on them.

Helicopter parents, soccer mums and hockey dads; none of them have anything to rival a pair of nesting Willie Wagtails, fearsome despite their size.

When I swished a hand at the birds and stared her down, she or he would fly off. Half my size, the children were picked on by merciless birds.

Toilet training was over, but one November a long time ago I still had to accompany my kids to the bathroom.

My maternal protection was needed to keep them safe from the maternal and paternal protection those Wagtails gave their own babes.

We’d sneak in and spy the chicks testing their wings on the rim. The nestlings flapped excitedly, building up strength.



Therese Ralston

Writing about the real life, farm life, reading life, birdlife, wildlife, pet life and school life I have in my life. My blog: