I love watching birds. I have bird feeders and bird houses. I put out orange slices and cracked corn. I have a hummingbird feeder. It’s relaxing and distracting.
It’s also highly educational.
I was thinking about the different kinds of birds, and the quirky little ways they go about their daily lives. Kind of like us. And I think we could take some lessons from our feathered friends. Here are some of the personalities in my back yard.
Robins: Everyone knows robins. They hop around, stop, and cock their head. Then BAM! they have a worm. Lesson: Stop and listen. Look around. And always be aware that something good might be right under your feet.
Blue Jays: We all know these guys, too. Most people don’t like them at their feeder, but they are smart–among the smartest. Some of them learn to imitate hawks to scare other birds away from feeders so they can have them all to themselves. They are also the alarms of the forest, alerting everyone else of danger. Lesson: Be creative to get what you want. Think. Make sure you know your enemies, and don’t let your friends get hurt.
Nuthatch: These are little tree-clinging guys that hop right down the side of a tree. They swoop in, snatch up a seed, and swoop back off again to crack and eat it in a tree. They are fast, skittish, and can stick to just about anything. Lesson: Don’t eat in front of too many people. Stick with it, and don’t be afraid to travel in a direction others aren’t headed.
Gold Finch: These are some of the prettiest birds I have. They are flashy in a world where camouflage is the norm. You can spot them hopping around in the trees together from fifty yards away. Lesson: Don’t conform. Stand out, no matter who can see you.
Swallow: I have tree swallows, and I love them. When they fly, they almost look like bats. They dive like hawks to catch the nuisance insects which make up their diets. They aren’t very afraid of humans (or dogs.) Mom and Dad feed the babies, and they take turns standing watch over the nest box. Lesson: Help others. Get rid of pests. Be fast, be a team, and watch out for your family.
Brown Headed Cow Birds: These guys are prolific. They travel by the dozen, males and females, and make a lot of noise. They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, which means they like to mate but don’t like the responsibilities of raising young (must be liberals!) ((That is only one, I swear.)) Lesson: Stick together; there is safety in numbers. Be heard. Don’t let a bad reputation bring you down.
Hummingbirds: These guys are miracles of the bird world. They can hover and fly backwards. Their hearts beat around 1200 times a minute. The fly like lightning. The migrate thousands of miles and can remember the exact locations of feeders they visited the previous year. Lesson: Be agile–you might have to go in an unexpected direction. Travel–it’s good for you. And be sure to know where all the good restaurants are!
Cardinals: These are our state birds. They are beautifully red. In the winter, is it quite common to see them just sitting on a branch, hunkered down on their feet to keep them warm. Lesson: Be dignified. Know when it’s time to fly, and when it’s time to just chill out.
Wrens: These are my favorites. They are small, round little birds with a big attitude. They keep their tail cocked up high. The male flies around the perimeter of his territory (such as my yard) and sings his song for all to hear. When the chipmunk is in the bird feeder, he sits up above and scolds him the whole time. They will nest almost anywhere–pockets, shoes, light fixtures, anywhere they can. Lesson: Be proud. Stake your claim. Call people out when they are doing something wrong. Home is wherever you make it. And most importantly, even if you are small and a little too round, that doesn’t mean you can’t be heard.
So, what’s going on in your back yard?