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From The suns babies by Edith Howes.
Age Rating 2 to 4.

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On a grassy tableland a pair of albatrosses made their nest. They dug a ring of earth and pushed it into a central mound, then hollowed out the top and lined it with grass. Here the mother laid her one white egg. Father and mother took turns in sitting on the egg. When the little one was hatched they again took turns in feeding him and sheltering him from cold sea winds. All through the summer days and nights they tended him with utmost love and care, until, when autumn came, they could safely leave him in the nest. Then back to their old sea life they went, skimming the rolling waves throughout the day, but winging their patient way at each fresh dawn to feed their little one. Where they had left him, there the baby albatross sat in his nest, day after day, week after week, month after month. His thick brown coat of down kept him warm, his rich morning meals supplied his growth, his stillness fattened him. Motionless he sat, hour by hour. Above him sea birds wheeled against the bright blue sky and golden sun. Winds danced among the grasses; storms drove over the hills. Half a mile away the racing waves boomed loudly up the beach. At night the quiet stars looked down on his contented sleep. A wild duck came and looked at him. "How slow you are!" she cried. "Why don't you move? My babies learned to fly and swim long months ago, yet they are not so old as you." He turned untroubled eyes towards the sea. "Some day," he said, "I shall follow where the white waves lead. My time has not yet come." The wild duck flapped impatiently. "Slow!" she said. "If you were mine I'd turn you off that nest before another day had passed." She flew away. The baby albatross still sat and watched the sky and sun, and listened to the waves. Summer came again. One afternoon the parent birds returned. They stroked their little one and fondled him with loving beaks. "Dear one, you must leave the nest," his mother said. "We need it for this season's egg." The baby was dismayed. "But I do not wish to go! The nest is mine," he said. "It is not good that you should stay too long in it," his mother said. "You are nearly twelve months old. It is time for you to learn to fly and swim. Come off, and exercise yourself." But the baby was afraid. "I don't know where to go," he said. "I must stay here." He would not move. Between the mother and the father passed an understanding look. With their strong bills they gently turned him off the nest and rolled him on the ground. "Pick yourself up and go down to the sea," laughed the mother. She sat on the nest to keep him off. The baby picked himself up and looked at them. It was hard to understand this treatment, after all their loving care of him. However, he had rather liked his feelings when he flapped his wings to right himself, so he flapped them once again. He raised himself and tried to fly; he waddled several steps on his wide webbed feet. But he was fat and heavy, and his limbs were soft and quite unused to exercise; he was soon glad to rest. "Keep at it," said his mother. "Power will come with use." For several days he stayed about the nest, encouraged by the parent birds to exercise his wings till he could fly. Then very slowly he made his journey to the sea, walking, flying, resting, sleeping on the way, for many days and nights, till at last that long half-mile was passed, and the welcome beach was won. Here he learned to swim and catch his food, the juicy cuttle-fish that floated on the sea. He grew and gathered strength, but his flights from land were short--his power was not yet at its full. Another year passed by. Again with autumn days the parents left the nest to go to sea. From the waves a noble bird rose up to accompany them. His snowy plumage glistened in the sun, his wide-spread wings cut through the air with a majestic grace. It was the baby albatross, grown at last to his full strength. Sailing, gliding, rising high above the shining waves, dipping low on downward curve, he followed to the far-off shoreless tracts, there to live his life of tireless flight, the splendid marvel of the sea.


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