Bird Watching through my Kitchen Window

imageIt is the eleventh of February today.  I am recording the activity of birds in my garden.  I live along the Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.  The warm morning has invited all kinds of birds to flit about in the garden.  A wren stays low along the hedge.  A robin jumps about among the plant pots.

The busiest birds I see are starlings.  There are three pairs flying back and forth.  Each pair had found a nook in the old wall adjoining my garden.  One bird flys in with a small twig in his mouth.  He didn’t exit for five minutes.  He must be building his nest, preparing for young.  I am excited to discover birds building their nests in my garden and so early in the spring.  I will look forward to catching the starlings’ progress each morning.

It is relaxing to sit quiet and patient keeping an eye on the nest sites.  My breakfast dishes need washed, benches need cleared, floor needs brushed.  I want to make some phone calls.  E mails need checked.  All can wait.

I am bird watching from the comfort of my kitchen.  I don’t have to go for a drive to a special bird watching sight, or get wrapped up in warm clothes to face the elements.  Watching the birds is taking my mind off all immediate troubles.  There are many things that could cause me to worry or fret.  Instead I am looking at birds.

Jesus said “Look at the birds.”
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭25-26, 33-34‬ NIV)

A pair of doves rested on a bare branch.  One flew off with a low moan.  The other followed.  I hope they return.

Later in the morning one single bird was singing from the treetop in my garden.  I think it was a Great tit.  He was announcing loud and clear.  “This is my domain.  He was attracting his mate to join him.” I will be looking to see where his nest is.

A Bird Built His Nest

 

Recently I was thinking of the blackbirds in the garden of the our Saul St home. There were so many blackbirds that I wanted to call it “Blackbird Garden”.  Every spring they would be competing for the best territory to build a nest. The hedge rows, the ivy covering the walls, the holy bushes, the undergrowth of briars, all offered a safe place to build a nest. In the big garden the birds could forage for food to feed their hungry chicks.

The male blackbird has black feathers and a bight orange beak.  He was distinctive with his shiny coat as he sat on a branch surveying the area he was planning to build his nest and singing to attract his female.  She was close by, proud of her mate who was going to prepare a home for her and her young.

The birds began to build the nest.  They flew in through a hole in the hedge with beaks full of small twigs, moss or wool.  They built their nest with the twigs and used the moss or wool for the cosy lining to keep mother and chicks warm.  When the young were hatched father blackbird was even busier collecting food and feeding the young.  He was working all the hours of sunlight.

As I watched the early morning activity of the birds, my thoughts went to my husband.  He was like the blackbird.  He was busy being responsible for me and his family and property.  He made sure his home for his family was warm and there was enough food.  He had a house full of hungry young as well.  He kept the home fires burning in the cold months.  He paid the bills.

Our Heavenly Father has put it into the heart of the bird and the father to have young and care for them.  God cares for all he has created.

We have moved house recently.  It has plenty of space for our children and grandchildren to visit.
I see this aspect of a caring father in my husband at the moment, even though our chicks have all flown the nest.  He is like the blackbird going to and fro putting things in place, hanging pictures of the children, making up beds, preparing his workplace, carrying chairs and tables.  He will sit at the head of the table as we share food and family times again.  He will sit around a camp fire out on the veranda and tell stories to his grandchildren that he told to his own children.  Brendan is preparing a home for his own children to return to and bring their little ones.

We are not retiring as parents.  Our work will continue as God gives us strength.  No pensioners bungalow for us.  Our children still need us.

Gods word encourages us to look at the birds.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭26-27‬ NIV)

People have often asked us “How can you afford such a big family?”  We have faith in God like the birds he will care for us.  We are more important than them.  God promises to care for us.  He is worthy to be trusted.

In one of the psalms it says,
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! (‭Psalms‬ ‭84‬:‭3‬ NLT)

Brendan was working with the children in our garden once before.  A blackbird came and built a nest very close to where they were working.  It busied itself with its young while Brendan was busy with his young digging the garden.  The birds like to be around life.  As our spirits reach out to God the birds respond.  They sing for us on the branches.  We will always remember that family of blackbirds.

The first of our children and grandchildren came to visit at the weekend.  I turned on the heating to warm up all the rooms.  I reminded my husband that the blackbird lines the nest with wool to keep the young warm.  He swallowed hard.

It is the middle of an Irish winter.  Whoever thinks of a house move at this time!  Our new home is bigger.  Our last house was a modern bungalow with good insulation.  It was like a hot house.  I was using the same bed covering here that I used in the bungalow.  I was feeling the chill last night.  I gave in to changing the bed covering to a duvet Brendan bought two years ago.  I tried it out before but found it too warm.  It was just what was needed in our new nest.  The feathered filled duvet kept us cosy through the cold night.  My husband had already provided for the colder days!

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The Swallow has Arrived to Rear her Young.

 

The swallow has arrived from South Africa.

Yesterday I noticed a pair of swallows swirling overhead.  They are harbingers of spring in the Northern countries of the world. They have arrived to rear their young.

Swallows spend most of their days flying through the air catching insects.  Wherever there are insects you will find swallows.  They are to be found all over the world except near the Artic and Antarctica.

They build their nests near where humans live.  Their nests are found in barns of farmers.  They return each year to the same nesting place.  I remember when I lived at home on my father’s farm each year swallows would arrive.  They flitted in and out of their nests bringing food for their young.

I have been encouraged from the scriptures when I have prayed in the past about a house for my family.

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. (Psalm 84:3 NIV)

It is amazing that this small bird travels from Africa, thousands of miles, to nest and rear offspring.  I watched a nature programme about the swallows.  They arrive at certain places on their journey north where swarms of insects have just hatched.  A feast is prepared for the migrating birds.  It was wonderful to watch.  God even cares for the birds of the air.

Scriptures encourage us to not worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? (Matthew 6:25-27 NIV)

So this small bird flying overhead has reminded me of Gods care and provision of a home for me.