I’ve discovered birds!
Before the surgery that gave me Better Than Ever vision, I never understood bird watching. Why get so excited over something you can’t see? I didn’t realize other people could see birds just fine, thank you. After my surgery, the wonderful world of bird watching unfolded, and I’m moving quickly toward fanhood. I still can’t see a lot of detail but I can see motion, a flash of color, and, if I use my assistive technology spyglass, I can see in full detail a bird on the ground.
What have I found so wonderful about bird watching?
At last count, the world hosts about ten thousand species of birds with numerous varieties within each species. Did you know there are nine varieties of wrens, seven of robins, and a whopping 330 kinds of hummingbirds?
Since I spent most of my life not seeing or caring about birds, I was good to tick off the names of five species. Now that I can see a robin pecking in the grass or a starling in flight, I’m paying more attention to bird names, markings, and calls. What else is out there, I wondered. When I invited friends to share pictures of birds in their locale, I was shocked. So many birds I had never heard of! And I thought I’d get a few pictures of only the birds I knew. Surprise for me!
Check out these species.
Yellow bellied sapsucker
Red Bellied Woodpecker
Indigo Bunting and Cardinal
Okay, God. Is this your idea of showing off?
Now I get it. Part of the joy of bird watching is the discovery factor. The avid bird watcher wants to know: How is this bird different from that one over there? What new bird can I find today? Is that bird local or migratory? What else can I learn?
Avid photographers make a hobby of getting the perfect close-up of yet another variety. Those of us who feel clumsy with a camera still slowly reach for our smartphones to snap a picture that shares what we saw today. Bird watching becomes a bucket list of tracking which birds have been seen and which are yet to be seen.
I’m in, I’ve joined the club. I’m waiting for that first good onsite view of a cardinal. But why spent hours upon hours watching birds?
Habits and homelife.
Birds do more than fly, my new eyes informed me. I stood at my kitchen window, transfixed, as I watched a robin peck through the grass. He lifted his little legs, strutting as if he was big and mean enough to fight off a critter ten times his size. Above, an unidentified bird furiously flapped his wings to gain altitude and then soared effortlessly on an updraft. How did he do that? On another day, a hummingbird dove toward a feeder with more dexterity and maneuverability than any fighter pilot. How could something so tiny and fragile move that quickly and effortlessly?
The birds peck, play and maneuver through space as if they have no other care in the world save that pesky squirrel who would dare steal their food. My friend, Marilyn, told of three blue jays and two chipmunks fighting over a peanut and the jealousy of Mr. Cardinal over his mate’s interest in an intruder Marilyn dubbed as “Gorgeous George.” So, birds can have love triangles too, eh? Even the trite jealousy and food fights seem playful and simple. If only human life could be so uncomplicated!
As I watched my backyard visitors, I sensed my shoulders relaxing and the weariness around my eyes receding. I envied the birds’ lack of concern for health, safety, and wellbeing. Like so many caught up in hectic time demands, I longed for simpler days, and slower paces. Alas, it’s the human condition to shoulder more cares and complexities than worm hunting. Food for us doesn’t come as easily as a sunflower seed or a peanut.
Or does it?
Jesus told his listeners during the Sermon on the Mount that they didn’t need to be so concerned about their life—what they ate and what they wore. If God took care of the sparrows, wouldn’t He also care for us?
Wonder and worship.
I looked at my dishwater. I was wasting time. But bird watching was so much fun. After a lifetime without ever seeing birds outside an aviary, I felt like I had lots of catch-up to do: so much to learn and so many to see. A half hour could slip into the past unnoticed while I observed those robins at play with a squirrel nearby, digging for hidden treasure.
Was it time wasted?
The birds in my backyard speak of a God who created each variety of bird with their own unique set of habits, catalogue of bird calls, and eating requirements. As Spring warms into summer, the birds fill the sky with their music and dance across the stage, performing for an audience thirsty for color after the cold drab of winter. God orchestrated and choreographed it all for us. He sent the birds as a reminder of His care and as a reason for us to linger for a moment or more to enjoy the show.
Bird watching leads me to honor a God capable of infinite creativity, a God who also has an equal amount of concern and compassion for the height of His creation—human life. God accepts my wonder and appreciation as worship because I’m sacrificing the time I would otherwise use for my own ambition to stop and marvel at His creation.
Time spent with the Lord, enjoying His creation with Him, is not wasted time. It’s one of the best things we can use our time to do.
Do you have a favorite photo of a bird you’ve seen recently? Worship and praise of our creative God is sweeter when we share it with others. Come join the Facebook group What I Saw Today and share your photo of what you’ve seen in God’s creation. Let’s worship God together.
Thanks to Grace on Parade subscribers and the Facebook What I Saw Today Group for sharing their beautiful photos with the Grace on Parade audience.