Sitting cocooned in a luscious, lemon minky blanket as a brace against the damp chill of an early May breeze, I conceal myself and wait in the southwest corner of the back patio. You must make yourself small and discreet when bird watching. Our fully blossomed, lush purple lilac tree sends its bouquet of deliciousness, so sweet I can almost taste it, around the corner of the brick wall serving as part of my cover. A couple of mature, verdant green, newly leafed-out river birches dwarf the trio of bird feeders directly between them. The birches’ treetops are full of Goldfinches, Carolina Chickadees, Cardinals, House Finches, and Tufted Titmice singing in brilliant chorus as they rise and fall on the quivering branches with the waves of the wind. Bluejays, Mourning Doves, and Chipping Sparrows hop along in the fast growing blades of grass as they hunt for and peck at seeds on the ground below the feeders. Near the trunk of one of the birches a pair of shy, but gorgeously vivid, Blue Buntings huddle close together . A Baltimore Oriole, clothed in his jet-black hood with a juicy orange throat and chest, hesitates to leave his perch in the tree canopy before carefully alighting on the feeder tray to snack on sunflower seeds. Four male Red-breasted Grosbeaks swoop in and spread out on various limbs, followed moments later by a female. Their striking v-shaped patches of rosy red on a clean, linen white chest reminds me of cool summertime treats like strawberry ice cream.
I can’t describe the incredible joy it brings me to be near these tiny creatures, to share moments of their lives with them. I’ve been trying to learn and recognize the songs and calls of a few of the species that regularly visit our feeders. Some of the common songs have been easy, but each kind has several sounds and I’m often stumped. It has also been fascinating to learn that Chickadees, Titmice, House Finches, Goldfinches, and Chipping Sparrows are plucky and not very afraid when I’m close to the feeders. While, on the other hand, the much larger Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves,and White-brested Nuthatches are much more reserved and hesitant when they see me.
Every single time I watch the birds, without exception, I find myself praying with thanksgiving to God. I think it is the natural result of spending quality time with other creatures or features of His creation. I find myself praying when I am holding my cats, or watching dragonflies and frogs at our neighborhood lake, or am near the ocean or in a forest, or surrounded by mountains. I often think of how God has revealed Himself and has shown us the awesomeness and majesty of His mind through His creation. Muggy, hot, swamps full of crocodiles and toads; blindingly white, frozen, snow and ice covered tundra with polar bears and walruses; mesmerizing shades of brown, dry, barren, sandy, dune-laden deserts; eye-popping colors of coral reefs swaying in the vastness of the oceans; mossy, earth-smelling, leafy forests with arms lifted up toward heaven. These are just a few of His many carefully balanced ecosystems and all are interconnected through meticulously designed life-cycles of plants and animals. His ability to create such diversity and His attention to detail astounds and humbles me.
Of all He has made, His detail and attention to color is the most overwhelming aspect to me. This may be one of the reasons I am so fascinated by birds. Consider the common Mourning Dove. At first glance it seems like a dull, gray bird with some black dots and stripes on its tail. But if you look closer, it has stunning pastel blue eye rims and lids! And, if you look closer still, you will notice a small, round patch of iridescent pink on both sides of its neck. It’s as if God wrote His name there in a flourishing signature. The color of Cardinals is so distinctive and singular we have called it by it’s moniker, “cardinal red”, and made millions of crayons duplicating it so it can be scribbled across children’s artwork. Goldfinches fly around sporting dazzling, buttery-yellow feathers topped with ebony heads and wings, like rays of sun flashing across the sky. In the style of modern art, the black and white markings of Downy Woodpeckers are set in extraordinarily striking patterns. And then there is the Painted Bunting. Many years ago, long before I knew anything about birds, I used to drive all over Southwest Missouri seeing patients at their homes as a speech language pathologist. I remember driving down the highway at 60 mph and seeing a crazy flash of color in front of the car and then watching it stop and land in a tree at the edge of a park. It was so arresting and marvelous that I actually took the nearest exit and drove to the park hoping it was there, not caring if I was late for my next appointment. Thankfully, the little critter was still perched on the branch of the tree on which I had seen it alight. I had never seen anything like it before. It was so tiny, yet it was an unbelievable array of vibrant colors. I watched it for several minutes before it flew away and was so impressed by the encounter that I still harbor hopes of seeing one again someday.
If this is how God has made His earthly creation, then I sing the old hymn How Beautiful Heaven Must Be with renewed vigor! I can only imagine!!
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
May God be with you! ❤️, Amy