It’s a day “not fit for man nor beast.” Yet there are the birds…

Slippery gray slush stripes the road out front, but I’m not going anywhere, and the birds, well, they can fly. And their focus and mine is not the road, or neighbors, or even the field, opposite side of the house…

I am sitting by the window that looks out on my chosen “secret spot” for this one hour of this morning.

Quite an open “secret,” as Husband passes by, glancing sidelong and quizzical.

“I’m having breakfast with the birds,” I tell him.

He just smiles; he knows me.

They’re busy at the feeder. I sit, plate in lap, with luscious little homemade pita filled with omelet, colored bright and flavored rich with broccoli and herbed minced onion left from dinner yesterday and a few melted shreds of  good wheel cheese from the country store. 

Husband wouldn’t touch this, and he’s had his early chow, now headed out to tramp through snow-sleet up the hill to sharpen tools by woodstove warmth in the old milk house turned wood shop.

I first veiled my presence by curtain lace, inside light extinguished, to see them without them seeing me.  By now I’ve pushed the lace aside a bit, to clear my view, acclimate them to my intrusion, and pushed down the upper sash, to listen.

I hear, faint and distant, a “twert-twert-twert-twert,” then a sort of gutteral trill. But these birds nearby are strangely quiet today. At last I hear familiar “chickadee-dee-dee” (but brief) and later some plain chirps of sparrows, but mostly there’s serious silence of song.

The weather whispers round me though, sparkling tinkle of fine sleet, a sort of auditory glitter.

Soon it hits my window pane and sill in larger beads, and bursts of blops, leaving tracks upon the glass…

And bird wings beat, intermittent, a drum of air, and when something startles, the fleeing flock makes collective “Whoosh!”

Me, I sit still and just let them be. The cold steals in down the window pane and cools my feet and I don’t mind. The curtains pulled fully back now, I feel I’m a silent member, almost in their midst.

No big thoughts, no deep lessons. Just me in the morning, sitting, in community with the birds.

That alone brings a warm sort of  peace.

If I repeated this enough, I’d start to see not just a flock, nor different species, but unique personalities, and yes, birds do have them. I note some individual quirks already: in the downy’s own personal flight path in, in one cardinal’s repeated glancing over his shoulder at the bigger, sharp-beaked flicker whose curled claws cling to suet cage…

They come and go, nibble and leave. They watch their surrounds—and neighbors— wary, but they neither sow nor reap, and yet they’re fed—ultimately not by the can that dumps seed into the feeder, nor the human hand that flicks it sideways down, but “their heavenly Father” (Mt 6:26). And perhaps that subconscious truth running beneath this shade of maple is source of this serenity.

Giving thanks this morning for…

  • stripes decorating road out front,
  • shelter from the wet,
  • sound of bird wing, beat and flutter,
  • tinkling of sheer sleet spray,
  • endearing buzz of “chickadee-dee-dee!”
  • signature songs of other feathered friends,
  • delightful detail and variety, even individualization, among His feathered creations,
  • cold-dropping draft, reminding me what a gift warmth is, 
  • feeding-flock reminder of the Father’s ready provision,
  • excuse of a “snow day” to linger longer, (in)
  • maple-shadow serenity.


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19 thoughts on “A Day for the Birds

  1. Love the photos of the raindrops… and the words. God’s gentle touch in His surroundings when we are quiet and just breathe it in. Lovely.

    Your pita sounds delicious too! 🙂

  2. Thank you for encouragement, Pam. I was actually thinking of you as I wrote this. Hoping and praying things are going well for you. God bless.

  3. Burrrr… that looks cold… I’m like you. I study the life around. It’s amazing. I watched yesterday during an outside meeting the sparrows about five feet away, eating, playing, and making loud cracking sounds at the seeds they were eating sprinkled there by God himself in the desert.

    To see life is to consider our own… Which belongs to our Father the Master…

  4. This is a beautiful and eloquent post. We do see God’s creativity and provision in nature…..and just sitting quietly and enjoying all He’s given brings us peace and joy. This post reminds me of watching sparrows (I think that this is the quote that you meant). I love the song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” I won’t detail it all here, but it had a special significance with regard to my father. I sang it at his funeral, and so reading about the birds here brought that to mind. Thank you again for your lovely eloquence.

  5. We have sparrows that will soon return to build their nests along our roof line. Some in the corner near the drain pipe, they seem to have their favorite places. Our dogs watch and would like to catch one. Oh NO. I notice birds that sit in a row on the telephone wires, perhaps their little feet get warmed there. Thank you for bringing us a look at your birds at “Tell Me a Story.”

  6. Oh I love the red birds against the snow. So far I have not seen any red birds in California , or at least where we live. But I do watch the finches and hummingbirds daily around their feeders. But there is no snow where we live either, cold rain which does not keep the birds away. Lovely post

  7. I love watching birds. When I’m on a trip or visiting outside of town I have a chance to truly see and hear them. In our busy, filled neighborhood, I see a variety of birds, but never get to know them well. So happy for you when this is a part of your life that is joyful. Want mine to be, too. [Well, it IS with the Lord, but want birds and some other beautiful lively aspects added.] When I visit my friend in MN, seeing her birds, deer, foxes, on her property and nearby cattle, goats, and on and on … I’m a happy lady.]

    Bless you. And your bird friends.

  8. Floyd, what picture of our heavenly Father’s care for us, even in “the desert” times of our lives!

  9. Glad you mentioned the sparrows, Lynn. It made me see I’d made a typo, which brought up a verse in Mark (Mr) instead of Matthew (Mt)! (Didn’t make much sense, did it?) The thought of Matthew 10:28-31 (specifically verse 29) did flit through my head. And yes, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” is such a good song to have in the heart! I can see it has especially strong significance for you, and right now, thinking of it is very timely and strengthening for me. Thanks!

  10. Hazel, for us it’s two cats who would like to catch the birdies. That’s why all that chicken wire in the photos!

  11. Betty and Joanne, you both help me be more appreciative of my blessings. Thanks!

  12. Sylvia–I’ve been practicing just ‘sitting’ outside with only my camera and field glasses and a book called ‘God in the Yard.” When I tell my husband I’m going outside to be quiet for 30 minutes I say “I’m going to go sit with the birds,”and he totally gets it. They bring me such joy–I cannot snap photos quickly enough.

    “Auditory glitter”…..that phrasemade me just sigh with knowing. Beautiful! (and the link toDawn’s place–thank you!). (new laptop sorry about the spacing)

  13. Jody, I think it was you who inspired this “bird sitting”–mentioning God in the Yard. I decided not to go sit in my yard right now, though (my husband said, “Aw, why not?), but picked a spot where I could sit when the weather turns warmer. At first after sitting a half hour, I felt a little silly, to be honest, but later, nuh-uh, not silly at all! And it’s nice to have husbands who do get it, isn’t it?

  14. Hi Patricia,
    It wasn’t really so cold that day (slush means “warm” around here for this time of year), but it is cold now! But the birds at the feeder remain the same — and their personalities are becoming clearer. I could start writing “character sketches”!

  15. I would love to sit with you and watch the birdies :). It’s one of my favorite things. And I never tire of their antics. Such a sweet play date, Sylvia 🙂

  16. Aw, Laura, thank you for taking the time to stop round to visit and comment. I wish you could stay to watch the birdies with me now. The big snow’s just coming in, and they go crazy at the feeder before a storm, just like the people in the supermarket! 😉

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