Generally speaking, modern Paganism seems to associate new beginnings with spring – often as early as Imbolc. Granted, in the northern hemisphere, by the second of February there are lambs and the sheep milk is flowing, and there are snowdrops in bloom, but it is the beginning of beginnings. Eggs aren’t laid until it is considerably warmer. If that early part of the year did not strike you as a good time to get moving, perhaps the nest-leaving season will.
For birds capable of flight, there are two ways of leaving the nest (aside from being eaten by a predator!). Water birds nest low, in reeds, on banks and are usually very close to the water. As soon as the chicks hatch, they are able to float about, and so it’s not unusual at this time of year to see tiny, day old ducklings on the water. When they are this tiny, ducklings have so little weight that they can run across the water’s surface, which is a lovely and strange thing to behold. Water birds become independent quickly, foraging their own food and getting about by paddling. It will be some time before they can fly.
Non-aquatic birds tend to nest higher up, although there are exceptions, like the lark, which nests in the grass. However, regardless of where it nests, a bird not designed for the water or purely to walk on land will not be able to leave the nest until it flies. It has to wait, calling for food, dependent wholly on its parents, until it has the feathers in place to get airborne. Leaving the nest is a big event. Unlike the water bird, a bird who has to fly cannot just waddle a few steps and float. They have a matter of seconds to transition from being something that has never flown, into something that can fly.