Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What God's Been Saying Through the Cardinals

Some food is better than other food.
There’s a bird feeder that hangs in the cherry tree in front of my house. Last year, I kept it filled with sunflower seed because the bird seed bag said it would attract songbirds.

The songbirds showed up. But so did the squirrels. The feeder is supposed to be squirrel-proof, but the sunflower seed was an incentive for the squirrels to live dangerously. The squirrel (Cami calls them all “Chippy”) shimmied out onto the branch that holds the feeder. When Chippy reached the spot over the hanging birdfeeder, he launched himself toward the ground. On his way down, he grabbed the perch at the bottom of the feeder with his paw (sometimes the front one, most often the back one) and pulled himself up to the feeder. Then he wrapped himself around the feeder and munched away on the sunflower seed.

You have to admire that out-of-the-box thinking, don’t you?

I was filling the bird feeder with sunflower seed every other day. Not because I wanted to watch squirrel acrobats. But because there were indeed beautiful visitors to the now-Chippy feeder: goldfinch, titmice, chickadees, purple finches, and cardinals. The local chipmunks and sparrows enjoyed the seed detritus underneath the feeder as well. I don’t begrudge Chippy his well-earned snacks. I’d rather watch birds and chipmunks.

This year, I’m trying a different kind of birdseed: safflower seed. Guess what? Chippy doesn’t like it. So the seed lasts longer in the feeder. And I have seen more cardinals than I ever remember seeing in my life. They come in, eat their fill, then swoop up to the cherry tree branch and sing their songs. Maybe letting all their friends know the Chippy-buffet has been converted and is again songbird-welcoming.

The best way to learn a song is to sing it.
I love to sit and watch birds from my office window. A few weeks ago, I watched a male cardinal high up in the tulip poplar behind the fence. While the tree branches swayed in the swift breeze, I discerned three parts of his song. (Do the females sing, I wonder.) What made the song change? Was he adjusting to the breeze, finding his footing on the branches as they moved in the wind?

Whatever he was doing, he was singing. Loudly. I noticed that he was a juvenile, not quite totally red, mostly dark gray with a red head. I thought, “That young whippersnapper has the right idea! I should have his courage.”

(Note to self: The “right idea” = sing for all you’re worth, which is a lot, and don’t care who hears you singing.) (Or sees you crying.)

All you have to do is take the next step.
Some days, I spend huge amounts of minutes just watching the cardinal activity in the front of my house. The mamma cardinals are busy this month. Last week, I saw a female cardinal in the parking lot, hopping along with a bundle of twigs in her mouth. She must have hopped for a good five minutes, all the while with those twigs in her mouth. (So maybe they don’t sing---with all those twigs in the way. . .)

I thought, “Wow. She isn’t thinking about next month’s trip to Nashville. She isn’t thinking about next week’s Breakaway schedule. She isn’t thinking about tomorrow’s homeschool plan. She’s just making a nest, because that’s what time it is: spring means egg-laying time.” She was so busy, hopping about, taking only the next step. She wasn’t fluffing the nest yet because she was still building it.

There’ll be plenty of time to fluff later, when she’s sitting on those eggs.

1 comment:

betsy canas garmon said...

other blog tags should include:

God's voice in Nature

thanks again for sharing what you see (and hear) in the world. It is illuminating. and unabashedly His.