The Birds of the Air
Early in the morning, when I take my walk to the nearby lake, the birds are awaking and announce their arrival with cheerful chirping. They begin their bird songs about 5:00 or 5:30 and this continues as I make my way to the park and the surrounding residential streets near where I live.
These early morning fowl brighten the air and enliven the spirit with their cheerful sound. I realize that bird experts may say that the birds are marking their territory or seeking a mate, and this may be true. But regardless of the meaning, to me the sound of birds is a blessed way to begin a new day. The birds are regular “friends” each morning.
Presently, we are in the spring season and this is especially the time for bird activity. I think of the delightful description in Scripture: “Behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12). The birds seem to enjoy the springtime—even as we do.
As we read through the Bible, maybe you have noticed various references to birds. I think of the Lord’s words in the Sermon on the Mount. “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor do they reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:26). Here Jesus, by way of contrast, says that God is interested in birds, but He is much more interested in us—His special creatures, made in His image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:26-27). Further, just as He cares for the lowliest of His creatures, He has a much greater interest in us, thus we should not fear or worry. God will care for us, particularly if we are His dearly loved children (cf. Matthew 6:33-34).
Further along in Matthew (10:20), the Lord speaks to His apostles and warns them of the trials, rejections and persecutions that will come to them. In order to comfort and encourage them in light of these approaching sufferings, Jesus asks, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” If God knows the details of earthly life, including a lowly bird, He will surely care for us!
For about three or four years now, I have been trying to attract the local birds to two birdhouses I made and have hanging on an oak tree in our back yard. Alas, it seems that these winged “friends” just don’t like my works of art! They must prefer a more natural habitat. One of the psalmists made this observation: “Beside them [the donkeys] the birds of the heavens dwell; they lift up their voices among the branches” (Psalm 104:12). Generally the birds do prefer the tree branches where they merrily lift their voices in song!
We do have a bird bath (easily seen from the kitchen window) and two water saucers are placed on the ground. How the birds love this fresh water! Whether it is a matter of quenching their thirst or taking a full splashing bath, the birds enjoy the water. Above the birdbath, we have a bird feeder which is an ever-present attraction to most of the birds. Although the robins prefer worms, the sparrows, mourning doves, blue jays, and cardinals love the seeds. We are content to see the doves and sparrows, but it is a special treat to host the blue jay and brilliant cardinal.
As I think of our gift of seeds, I am reminded of Christ’s parable of the sower. Do you remember the first place that the sower’s seeds fell? “As he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up” (Matthew 13:4). Apparently birds everywhere enjoy the richness of God’s little seeds, whether millet, corn, or sunflower.
You may be aware that not all birds are permanent but many of them head south in the wintertime and then return in the spring. Depending on where you live, maybe some of the birds leave your area and fly further north for the summer. I suppose that in the Southern Hemisphere the reverse is true. I am now living in a place where we see many birds year round, but some do leave for a season. I think of the experience in Judah that Jeremiah described: “Even the stork in the sky knows her seasons; and the turtledove and the swift and the thrust observe the time of their migration” (8:7a). You may want to check out of the library a video entitled “Migration” which is an amazing description of migratory patterns around the world, one that is utterly fascinating. With stunning visuals, the DVD is wonderful. Although it is meant to be secular, it does show how God has created, by His wisdom and power, even the incredible way birds travel hundreds and thousands of miles each year!
Hopefully, you will be more attentive to the birds around you—maybe in your own back yard. Remember that God is the creator of all wildlife and wants us to appreciate what He has made. Especially it is good for us to be mindful that God considers you vastly more important than our tiny bird friends!