From One Nest to the Next for the Witherows

Bird Nest

This week, Caleb, Jake and I have been learning about bird nests. For science this year we’ve been using Exploring Creation with Zoology: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day from Apologia Curriculum.

I can honestly say I’ve never thought much about bird nests. The purpose of a nest is to provide a safe environment for birds to lay, incubate and raise their young. The vast majority of birds do not use nests year-round. The cup nest, the one shaped like a cup or bowl, is the nest I have discovered most often in my life.

In South Africa, we have weavers that make nests in our back garden each year. Weavers create their nests by weaving primarily long blades of grass into a hanging basket. They do this amazing work upside-down!

Weaver Bird

There are even more types of nests!

Bower birds build gazebo-like structures out of dried leaves, grass, straw and leaves on the ground. They add blue objects at the entrance of the nest too.

Ground and mound nesters construct mounds of rocks, pebble, soil and plants. They line the top of the mounds with feathers. For the trumpeter swans, their mound nests can be up to six to 12 feet in diameter!

Puffins, my sister-in-law’s favorite bird, are earth-hole nesters. They dig holes in the ground and then construct a two to three foot long tunnel to build their nests.

Puffin Nest

Cavity nesters find holes in trees, fence posts, or even bird houses. The Red-headed Woodpecker seeks out holes in trees that are 65 feet off the ground.

Birds of prey, like eagles and hawks, spend months at a time constructing huge platform nests. Water birds, like grebes and loons, build platform nests on pond surfaces and these nests if built well, will float.

Last of all, there are some birds that are called no-nesters. They lay their eggs on a tree limb or in a thick bush. Or others, like the Emperor Penguin, roll their egg onto the male’s feet for him to incubate and protect until the baby penguin hatches many weeks later.

Emperor Penguin

I didn’t know there were so many different types of bird nests, did you?

Now, how in the world, did I land on this subject this morning? Well, in Colossians it says this:

Since then, you have been raised up with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Chrsit is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. New International Version Colossians 3: 1-2

Just like a bird has been raised up to leave its nest in time, we too, as followers of Christ have been raised up to look beyond our earthly home and set our sights on an Eternal Kingdom.

What struck me about these bird nests was how different they all were from one another. Birds’ nests are constructed from whatever materials the parents may find that suits them best to make a comfortable and livable, raising environment. It’s not meant to be permanent. It’s not meant to be a long-term home. It’s a temporary shelter to provide their young with the physical strength and ability, the know-how, the faith and character, and the tools they need to fly away one day all by themselves. The parents use what they can to the best of their abilities to raise their young and set them aloft.

When the day of flying comes, some just push their babies out…’s time to fly. It’s no longer time to remain nestled within their nest, with their beaks gaping open for provision. There’s no lasting entitlement. Their occupancy time has expired. It’s time to move out.

For the past eight and a half years, our family has lived in the same house in Johannesburg. It’s not the biggest house on the block. It’s not the fanciest. It won’t win any interior design awards, believe me! However, for eight and a half years we nested here. We used what we found here, built into our kids and our God built into us. We’ve thrived here. Our family loved this nest.


In a few weeks time, it will be time for us to fly into a new space. Our family will be moving into a different house; just blocks away. The house is bigger. It has a bigger garden/yard. It has a tree that Jake loves to climb. Micah will be able to walk to school. There is a bonus room where we will be able to conduct our Happy Blue School with Jake and Caleb; no more dining room/classroom sharing. Our new nest will serve as the next environment where we’ll use what we have, the knowledge we’ve been given, the new experiences that will come, and the faith in Christ we share, to grow our kids. And John and I will grow too.

It’s the next place for us to continue to be raised up in Christ and keep our eyes set on Him.

It’s not going to be permanent.

It’s not going to be forever.

This new home, just like all the different and complex bird nests Jake, Caleb and I studied this week, is the place where we will learn, will grow, will mature, and will someday fly away from. I confess I like that thought. I had been mourning this move. This morning the Lord helped reframe the move from our present home with the help of a bird nest! I’m grateful for that.

So as we prepare to move and later as we begin to settle into our new nest, we’ll keep our eyes and our hearts set on Christ. It’s where he will continue to raise our whole family up in Him! And that’s a wondrous thing!


Follow this space for our moving adventure and pix of the new house in time….our South African adventure continues in a new way very soon!


Bird Nest Photo by Hashan Photography of Flickr

2 thoughts on “From One Nest to the Next for the Witherows

  1. You know that I’m both a birder and a Witherow Family fan. This post was delightful in so many ways!

    1. Thank you, Melinda! You’re too sweet!

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