I’ve written recently about the Unexpected Joy of Birding that we have discovered in this time of COVID-19. It seems we are now best buddies with several dozen birds and more than a few squirrels in the neighborhood. Since the Iceman regularly dishes up copious amounts of seed and suet into the feeders, they all make a fine living here at our establishment.
Along with our new hobby, we also have two spoiled rotten German Shepherd Dogs. They also make a fine living here at our establishment. The Sheps took great interest as my husband brought home bird feeders and arranged them in their yard.
While the Sheps were agreeable with the feeders going up, they were not too sure about the birds at first! Soon, though, the small, colorful invaders were welcomed into the yard. The Sheps ignore them and the birds have become comfortable with the presence of their Shepherds. They co-exist peacefully.
Recently, I peeked out the windows to see what the birds may be up to and to my horrified surprise there were three giant crows in our backyard! They were pretty creepy looking. I can’t be the only one who thinks so, otherwise why is a group of crows called a “murder”? Am I right? 😊
Even from the distance of a second story window, they appeared huge, standing at least a foot tall and with a wingspan of much more than that! One was standing on a birdfeeder, and the other two were stalking around the yard, hunting for who knows what. I watched them for a while. Then, I realized all our birds were lined up on the fence watching the crows, too. Behind the fence, the Jays were up in the trees, the Cardinals were in the bushes. The Doves were long gone. They all watched the 3 crows strutting around their yard and flapping about their feeders. (I did not get any photos, because my camera was not close by and sometimes life demands our undivided attention.)
I’m a pretty big fan of the underdog. Or, in this case, the “underbird”. So, I rounded up the Sheps. It’s easy to do. All I have to say is “Who wants to go outside?!” Since “outside” is their favorite place to be, they both wanted to go RIGHT NOW. As I opened the back door, they charged out, immediately honing in on the giant black birds who were using their mighty wings to launch themselves into the air. The crows screamed their outrage as they gained flight. In light of the Charging Sheps and the Screaming Crows, the flock on the fence, in the trees, and in the bushes scattered.
While the Sheps didn’t care at all about the ruckus the crows were raising, I cringed a bit on the deck as I watched it unfold. With the crows circling overhead, the Sheps patrolled the yard, noses down, tracking the unfamiliar scents, re-marking their territory. No question, they did not appreciate the invaders. The crows did not dare to touch back down.
A few minutes went by. The screaming stopped. The crows departed. Then, the first of our little friends trickled back. Then, a few more, all lining up on the fence again. One brave soul made the leap to the feeders, then another. A few minutes later I counted 19 birds, both at the feeders and on the ground, their world happily restored. Additionally, a couple of Jays were taking turns swooping in for peanuts while a Cardinal perched on top of a feeder making his decision about where to dine.
With order restored, the Sheps sat nearby, calming looking over their yard and their birds. I was struck by how the Sheps were living up to their name. They were shepherding and protecting what they have decided is theirs- their yard and, by extension, their little feathered friends. They are fiercely loyal, attentive, empathetic, and protective of their own.
When people think of a “Shepherd” a mental picture of a weathered man holding a baby lamb often springs to mind. We think of Shepherds as being gentle and caring. No doubt they are. But, I think Shepherds are also warriors. They care for their flock, providing for their needs but are also willing to stand in the gap between their own and any danger or predator they face.
“But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth.”David 1 Samuel 17:34-35a (NIV)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”Jesus Christ, the Son of God, John 10:11 (NIV)
Jesus Christ calls himself the “Good Shepherd”.
As I thought about the scene that had unfolded right before my eyes, how my German Shepherds charged out to protect their yard, I could not help but draw the parallel to how the Good Shepherd cares for me. In his mercy, he laid down his life for me. He rescued me from sin and death. He lives today, providing for my needs, leading me, standing guard over me.
In my backyard on a cold winter day, The Good Shepherd arranged a simple reminder of what a Shepherd does for his own- for me and for you.
I am thankful.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”Jesus Christ. John 10: 27-28 (NIV)