Thursday, June 26, 2014

Birdhouse Continuity Returns  

After the disaster of my last blog, continuity seems to have returned to the birdhouse. Feathers from the predator have all blown away. The continuation of life as usual gives me hope that the baby swallows I returned to the nest are alive and recovering from their trauma of last week. Perhaps one day I’ll catch a glimpse of them under better circumstances than the first time I saw them. I’ll wait patiently to see.

Mr. and Mrs. Swallow are each at their posts. Mrs. Swallow hovers over her nest with occasional short flights, I assume for food. Too bad swallows prefer flying insects to birdseed. The bird feeder filled with seeds of various kinds hangs at the other end of the birdhouse pole. Mr. Swallow also seems to be supplying some food. He flies around and returns to stop at the birdhouse perch and poke his head in or enter briefly. Then he returns to his spot atop the pole, or flies off again to repeat the scenario.

Birds are twitchy and quick. They run fast, fly swift, and have wonderful coordination. They land so efficiently on a twig or the edge of a bucket. Their balance is unprecedented. They can take off and be at full speed in a nano-second. And they don’t run into anything or each other (well, mostly they don’t). Amazing! I am in awe of these little creatures.

I watched a robin bathing in the birdbath this morning. It was a quick splashy bath. His feathers ruffled and wings fluttered and water was tossed around. He seemed to enjoy his bath. Then he hopped on the ledge, looked around for a moment shaking his feathers, and flew off. So quick! Later two Cassin’s finches decided to enjoy a communal dip. It’s fun to watch their antics.

Each morning I awake to birdsong. Why, I wonder are the chirps and trills of these little creatures such pleasant sounds in my ears first thing each day? Sound is such an interesting thing. Pleasant ones are quite soothing. Many birdsongs are a delight to hear.

Sometimes a break from the rush and drama of life is so refreshing. I think our birdhouse dwellers are enjoying that today. I’m so thankful things are continuing on normally in the birdhouse. We also need occasional days that just hum along…mellow and predictable…days that start gently and end quietly. Today feels like one of those days for me as well. I’m glad. I hope you’re having a peaceful day, too.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:15)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gloomy Gray Bird Day

It’s been gray all day. First the sun hid behind gloomy gray clouds creating coldness like fall, not warmth like almost summer. I needed a warm jacket when I went out to buy groceries. Finally the sun  peeked out beneath the clouds late in the afternoon, but by then another gray gloominess had settled over us.

Returning home from shopping, I found that a tragedy had occurred. As I put away my groceries, I peered out my kitchen window and noted feathers—lots of feathers on the ground around the birdhouse. Immediately I went out to investigate. The birdhouse was quiet. The feathers were not from the swallows. They were wide feathers, white, black, and gray/brown stripped. “Whose feathers could they be, and why are they scattered about,” I wondered?

As I walked around the area puzzled, my eye caught a tiny pink form lying on the deck step a few feet away. A featherless baby bird, Its eyes not even open, lay helpless. I went over and examined it carefully. It was breathing. The tiny body felt warm as I gently picked it up. It seemed unhurt, but its belly was large and bluish. I wasn’t sure if the fall from the birdhouse nest had perhaps caused an internal bleed.

Everything came clear. A menacing bird must have attacked the little family. There was surely a fight! The vigilant swallows no doubt fought for their little family’s lives. It happened while I was gone, so only a short time had passed since the fray.

As I gazed at the tiny creature warm and breathing in my hand, my eye caught another below the step on the pebbly sidewalk. Why hadn’t I seen it? This little bird was also alive and breathing. I gently picked it up and laid it beside the other in my hand. It's belly resembled the others', so I hoped that represented a normal look for baby birds instead of an injury. Neither made so much as a peep. Then I saw another tiny form about two feet farther on the path. This little bird was not breathing and had obviously been injured. Sadness filled my heart. I searched the area carefully for more, but no more were found.

The nest seemed abandon for the moment. I didn’t know if other babies were still inside and safe. I also didn't know if mother swallow would reject these two little ones if I returned them to the nest since I had handled them. Yet they could not survive without their mother. One-by-one I put the two surviving babies back inside the small round door of the birdhouse. Then I went inside to watch from my kitchen window.

Soon Mrs. Swallow returned. She sat on the perch and looked inside. Then she looked again. She flew off and circled around quickly returning to repeat the same behavior. But this time she went inside and disappeared out of sight. I hoped she was glad to find her two lost babies there.

I prayed for the little bird family as I buried their tiny sibling. It helps to know God knows. He understands the ways of nature in our fallen world. He doesn’t miss even the difficulties of his smallest creatures. I cared, but He cares more.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.”  (Matthew 10:29)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Practicing P-a-t-i-e-n-c-e

My new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Swallow are still busy nesting. Mrs. Swallow is in and out of the birdhouse. Mr. Swallow continues as a vigilant watcher and helper to his wife. By now we are certain they have some young ones. Yet the smallest family members are very quiet. It is only Mr. and Mrs. Swallow who decide to chirp every now and again.

I marvel at how baby birds can be so quiet—nothing like their human counterparts. We have a new baby in our family circle. With loud vocalization he does not hesitate to let his mama know when he feels a need for her attention and services. When he wails, anyone holding him quickly responds by returning him to her. Mothers gladly take their crying infants and comfort them. Human babies are loud and demanding.

I tried again to peep into the birdhouse today. It was swaying in the breeze, so I steadied it with my hand. As I brought my face closer to the circular door to take a peak inside, Mrs. Swallow suddenly flew out. She startled me so that I nearly toppled over!

My desire to see her little ones is great but far too threatening for her. So I guess I’ll have to be patient and wait. The little ones will grow and venture out soon enough. Watch and wait is my new motto. Yet waiting is not what I’d like to do. I am far too curious.
Watching and waiting has a familiar ring. Isn’t that what we are told to do as we consider the return of Jesus Christ? An angel told the disciples that Jesus would come again, in the same manner they saw Him ascend into heaven. (Acts 1:11) Watch and wait.

Waiting on our little bird family creates another opportunity to practice the task of observant watching and patient waiting. I’ve not done too badly at observation, but my, how I need to practice the patience of waiting. How about you?

“…we wait for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,…” Titus 2:13

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

White: New Life in 
the Birdhouse     

Something on the ground piqued my curiosity. Lots of things are there: dirt, pebbles, sticks, dead flower peddles, and such, but not usually white things. I bent down to examine it. Small and curved at one end, I could see it was half a tiny eggshell. It was near the birdhouse. That meant only one thing…baby birds!

I was so excited. I called my husband to come and see. He thought it was nice, but didn’t display quite the passionate joy I experienced. For me, all the birds are such fun to watch; and babies, well that’s just over the top wonderful.

I found a new bird book at Costco. I looked up swallows and found that our birdhouse residents belong to the family called tree swallows. They are not barn swallows as I had previously thought. Their back and wing feathers are a deep iridescent blue-green and their tails are shorter than those of barn swallows. They also have a snow-white breast and they lay white eggs.

Usually the males are more colorful. The bird book said females are slightly duller in color, but Mr. and Mrs. Swallow seem equally colorful to my untrained eye. I’ve noted more comings and goings lately. But it’s becoming harder to know who is coming and who is going. They flit about in and out so quickly.

The bird book also said they liked to eat flying bugs. It told how papa swallow would feed mama while she incubates her eggs. So if incubation is over, then maybe they both need to be out hunting flying bugs to feed their hungry brood. It all makes sense when you realize they have four to seven babies to supply.

The birdhouse hangs on a chain and gently rocks when there is a breeze. I wonder if rocking is as soothing to little birds as rocking is to little people? I ventured as close as I dared trying to listen for baby bird sounds after I found the eggshell. But it seemed awfully quiet inside the birdhouse. Maybe baby birds don’t cry like baby humans do when they’re hungry. I hope we’ll soon catch a glimpse of these tiny additions.

My experience with the swallows makes me think about new life in Jesus Christ. When I was a teenager, I realized my need for His saving grace. That was a long time ago, but I will never forget the peaceful feeling I had when I finally yielded my heart to Jesus. I knew He had forgiven my wrongs and accepted me into his family. It changed my life. Without a doubt I knew I’d done the right thing, and I’ve never regretted it. In that moment I was born again. I became a baby Christian. And those who knew rejoiced with me. New life…it’s a wonderful thing!

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  (John 1:12-13)