I can “waste” more time than anyone I know, watching birds. I find them to be amazing creatures. They fascinate my imagination. I see tiny replicas of modern day aviation being gracefully demonstrated in their tiny frames. I’m content to sit quietly and just watch.
From one branch to the next, they flit and hop. They soar from the treetops into the sky and vanish, only to circle back and perch on the tiniest delicate branch, swaying until they have a secure foothold, and then a stable resting place. They are blown about like a run-away kite before getting settled into a gentle glide, and then soar almost motionless across the immense canopy of the sky. I am mesmerized, intriqued, interested; at rest.
When my family lived in Langdale, Alabama, our little white-framed house sat atop a small hill, just above the veterinarians office. Mr. Otto, the Veterinarian, was a kind man. I never remember a time when the back screen door of his office was locked. As a five-year-old, exploring the world in my neighborhood, I often found small creatures, and in particular, birds who were in various stages of injury. Sometimes the birds were almost dead and I merely observed their plight with sadness. But on one particular occasion, the little robin obviously was trying to fly, but his wing was broken and protruding at an odd angle. I just KNEW Dr. Otto could fix him. Gently as I could, I wrapped that tiny bird in a piece of cloth and carried him down the hill and into that back door. I never knew what became of the baby bird, but all my life I remember the compassion of Dr. Otto as he received my broken bird and the child-like faith I had in his abilities to make the repairs.
Many years later my understanding of the scripture took on much more meaning than mere words. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care….So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31)The care Dr. Otto had given for my emotions regarding that fallen Robin, enlightened my understanding of Gods care for me.
I believe God was a bird watcher also. In fact, in the very beginning “God created every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:21).
When I was a youngster living in Owensboro, Kentucky, I watched birds. I even climbed the trees in the neighborhood to get a better view. One afternoon, from my terribly high perch above the ground, I noticed a birds nest just below me…in the full heat of the afternoon sun. Feeling sorry for the baby birds that would soon hatch, I gently moved their nest to a more shady, appropriate location in the tree. Each day I climbed my perch and observed the nest. The grim reality of my mistake came just a few days later when I discovered a predator bird had come in and destroyed the eggs. It was a time of intense pain as I realized my “good intentions” ran contradictory to God’s design for His creations.
I sobbed out my guilt and shame as my dad held me and explained that God knows all about his creatures – big and small. He explained that God wants us to “look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet [their] heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? (Matthew 6:26-34).
Sometimes “good intentions” can be misunderstood by the birds I am watching. Here, this angry bird was watching me as I took pictures of her nest. My intentions were innocent, but each minute I continued my photography endeavor, the threat of an imminent attack by this particular very angry bird became much more acute.
There are many lessons to be learned about God in just watching his magnificently intricately designed flying creations. I have discovered hawks, ospreys, and eagles nests, watched birds on the surf, in the woods, in the trees… I suppose bird watching has probably become a favorite pastime for me – but with my new camera, the joy is intensified.
Today I have simply wanted to share some of my recent Robin-Adventures, and the joy I find in knowing that God is watching His birds and mindful of their needs. That knowledge brings me rest and confidence that He also has me in His eye.
I’ve always got my eyes to the sky. I’d love to hear from you about your bird-watching adventures.