Unexpected Joy

Blue Jay, November 2020

I have never liked birds.

My Mom used to tell the story that when I was just a little girl, I came in from the backyard screaming at the top of my lungs, and jumping nearly as high, because a flock of blackbirds had just flown over the backyard.

Funny how quarantine changes things.

With too much work, too little downtime, and nowhere to go, this past Spring I began taking to my backyard with my camera in the early evenings. Focusing on taking a photo, capturing a moment in time, clears my mind like little else.

One evening, I casually mentioned it would be neat to try to capture a photo of a hummingbird. A couple of days later, the Iceman (my nickname for my husband) came home with a hummingbird feeder and hung it on our deck.  

He’s thoughtful like that.

A couple of mornings later, I saw the most beautiful bird I had ever seen hovering around the hummingbird feeder!! Turns out he was a bright orange Baltimore oriole. I had never seen such a bird!  I jumped up from the table and quickly snapped his photo through a window.

Our first visitor, Spring 2020 Baltimore Oriole

I was intrigued.

So, I asked the Iceman what he thought about getting a birdfeeder? Would different birds come? And I found that after all these years I can still surprise him! Because, you know, the lady who doesn’t like birds is asking about a bird feeder…

A few days later he came home with another bird feeder. We waited three days.  Nothing. And then a Cardinal arrived! He was beautiful! We named him “Red”.  A couple of days later, he was back, but this time, he brought his missus with him.  We named her Rosie.  (Aren’t we original?!)  They dined together.

Red and Rosie, 2020

I was hooked.

A few weeks later, Houdini arrived at the hummingbird feeder…he buzzed in and buzzed away so quickly that by the time my mind registered, “Hey, that’s a hummingbird” he was gone!  After work each day, I began sitting on the deck with Veronica and Diana (my camera and one of my lenses) patiently waiting and the wait paid off.  Houdini came by, not one day, but two! 

Houdini- fast as lightening and escaped several times before I caught him.

I was thrilled!

A few weeks later, there was a hawk (a hawk!)  sitting on our back fence, scanning our yard! I was not home, but The Iceman was able to capture this magnificent bird!  And, in our joy over this visit, we chose to ignore the fact that Mr. Hawk was likely stalking one of our feathered friends. But, he was only here the one day.  And, no birds were harmed in the making of this photo, or after, that we know of. 😊

Magnificent!

This past year, COVID-19 has forced us all to find new things to do at home. The Iceman developed a new hobby, birding!  Now, where there used to be none, our yard is now home to 7 bird feeders.  Seven! Often, when he goes to buy bird food something new finds its way into the car, too.  This last week it was a heated birdbath because, you know, all birds need a spa day, right?  😊  Really, it’s so our little friends have water to go along with their peanut, safflower, sunflower and suet delights.  Our German Shepherds must truly think we’ve lost our minds, but they have adapted to sharing their yard with these small creatures.

I have developed an affection for our feathered friends that I never expected.  In the summer and fall, I sat on the deck in the cool of the evening and listened to the songs and chirps and twitters that I had never heard before. It brightened my days and lifted my spirits during a very challenging time.  Every day it seemed new birds of different and vibrant colors were arriving. 

Now as we have rolled from Fall to Winter, we find that our faithful flock still visits the feeders my husband faithfully fills.  I can often be found on a step-stool shooting through an open window upstairs.  I can’t help myself. We have a running joke…he feeds them and I shoots them! (With my camera, of course.)

Cardinals, a Blue Jay, and a newcomer. The Male Cardinals are striking, but I think the female is more beautiful. January 2021

We also have some of the most well-fed squirrels in the neighborhood!   

So much seed and walnuts, so little time….

This time in our history has certainly been stressful and chaotic and worrisome. Yet, every day at the feeders, I see beautiful creatures I have come to love.  They have no worries. 

Blue Jay, Red Bellied Woodpecker, and a Northern Mockingbird or a American Goldfinch (the debate is still raging. 🙂

“Do not be anxious about your life…look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…Are you not of more value than they?”

Jesus Christ. Mark 6

As I have observed and come to love these creatures I never really had much regard for, these verses now have new meaning and depth and impact on me. 

Many things have changed.  I hope some of them last. People walking the neighborhood as families, more focus on what’s really important, living a simpler life, discovering new beauty and unexpected joy where it was never noticed before. 

And yet, some things will never change, like God’s enduring love for us. I am reminded of that love today.   He loves and cares for little birds such as these.  He loves and cares for me and for you, too.

I am thankful.

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” 

David. Psalm 86:15


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