Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: bird watching

Peacemakers

We took a trip yesterday to visit my cousin Paul We being my wife and I plus our daughter and her husband. Somehow Michelle and Ken have never met Paul, although he and his wife live only two and a half hours away.

Maybe it’s because we older cousins mostly meet and visit at funerals. Our last uncle passed away at the beginning of the month, at the age of 95. I guess his children have had very little contact with the extended family and didn’t know how many nephews and nieces would want to say their good-byes at a funeral. So they didn’t have a funeral.

My wife suggested a couple weeks ago that we should take that day we would have spent going to a funeral in Alberta and go visit cousin Paul and his wife instead. Ken & Michelle were interested, so yesterday was the day.

Paul and Vivian have lived on their farm in the South Saskatchewan River valley for forty years. They had a herd of registered Simmental cattle grazing on the hills and raised chemical free hay on irrigated land in the valley. Some years ago they cut back on the farming operation and began to operate a guest ranch. Since they live beside the river and Paul had never used pesticides or herbicides on his land they have an amazing variety of bird life that appealed to nature lovers.

Now they have sold most of their land and quit the guest ranch business. But Paul hasn’t quite got farming out of his blood yet. He has built up a small herd of registered Texas Longhorn cattle and  has a few Appaloosa horses.

Paul is 77, a year older than me, and has accumulated a lifetime of stories. I’ll just repeat one I heard for the first time yesterday. One day when Paul was 11 or 12 his best friend, a peace-loving boy, came to school with a full package of chewing gum in his pocket and proceeded to give sticks away to the other boys. When it was all gone, one more boy came around the corner of the school and asked for a stick. When he was told there was no more he punched Pal’s friend in the mouth, splitting his lip and knocking him to the ground. Paul helped him get up and then started out to catch up with the attacker and teach him a lesson. His friend caught him by the arm and said “You’ll not get into a fight on my behalf.” According to Paul, his friend maintained that peace-loving attitude all his life.

I remember a story my mother told years ago about Paul’s parents. Uncle Hank, my mother’s oldest brother, had always admired his uncle’s farm and yearned to have a farm just like it. His uncle was a very good farmer and his prosperity was evident in the impressive and well maintained buildings on his yard. However, he wasn’t so wise when it came to investing his extra cash, and lost large sums of money on the stock market.

One day uncle Hank came home and excitedly told his wife, “I just heard that the bank has foreclosed on uncle Jake’s farm. I’m going to get cleaned up and go to the bank and swing a deal to buy that farm.” His wife said, “If you do that, everybody is going to say that you took advantage of your uncle when he was down.” Uncle Hank’s dream of owning that farm he had always envied ended right there.

The education of a bird lover

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When we moved to our current home ten years ago, I put up a post that was clearly visible from our dining room window and hung a bird feeder. In other places where we have lived that kind of feeder drew a variety of interesting little songbirds. Here it drew mostly magpies and grackles, noisy and greedy birds who scattered the seeds looking for the ones they wanted, and scared away the small birds. We stopped filling that feeder.

We had more success with a thistle seed feeder hung from the same post; we love to watch the goldfinches float down from the trees and compete for a spot on the feeder.

We put a hummingbird feeder on the other side of the house and it didn’t take long for the little hummers to find it. Occasionally an oriole would come and drink from it. I saw an oriole feeder at Canadian Tire – same principle as the hummingbird feeder but larger holes. It seemed like a great idea; I bought one.

The first summer it attracted wasps, who prevented any birds from coming near. Many of the wasps managed to crawl down the tubes to get closer to the nectar, and drowned. It turned out to be an effective wasp trap, but that hadn’t been our intention. This year we tried the oriole feeder again. Within a couple days there were a bunch of dead flies floating on the nectar inside. We took that feeder down and gave up on it.

Yesterday I took down the unused birdseed feeder, drove a spike through a scrap wood block and screwed it to the bracket the bird feeder had been sitting on. Then I impaled a half orange on the protruding end of the nail. It didn’t take long for an oriole to find it. They seem to be happy, and so are we.

Birdhouse battle update

I want to report a victory in our battle with the invasive sparrows (see May 14 post). My wife opened up the birdhouse on our garage two more times and each time found and removed a nest the sparrows were building. They finally got the message and gave up. The swallows happily returned to build their nest again.

We now have three happy swallow couples preparing to raise their families in birdhouses around our house. Last week we heard a wren’s song and saw that they have returned to their birdhouse on our clothesline pole.

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We hear the brown thrasher singing his repertoire morning and evening, we hear an oriole song from time to time and occasionally catch a glimpse of orange in the trees, goldfinches flock to our feeder and Chris even saw a catbird one day. Everything seems to be right with the world.

Pressing utmost need

hummingbird-140461_640The days here have been cool for the last few days. Today was the coolest at 10° Celsius. Sunshine and warmer weather is supposed to return tomorrow. Throughout the day today there was always a hummingbird at our hummingbird feeder and a goldfinch at our finch feeder. I know there was more than one of each, but we only saw one at a time.

These birds are so tiny that they need to take in prodigious amounts of food to maintain their body temperature. That reminded me of a verse from a hymn that we sang in church this morning:

Come ye thirsty, to the living waters,
Hungry, come and on His bounty feed;
Not thy fitness is the plea to bring Him,
But thy pressing utmost need. *

The birds obviously felt their pressing utmost need, and were taking full advantage of the food offered. How am I doing at maintaining my spiritual temperature? Something I read in the Bible three days ago really warmed my heart — is that keeping me warm today? Not likely, especially if what I read didn’t move me to take action of some kind.

It is not enough for the birds to just eat, either. The physical activity fuelled by the food they eat helps to warm their body. In the same way, a Christian needs to feel a “pressing utmost need” of spiritual food, but if that food does not lead to spiritual activity of some kind, Christian life will eventually grow cold.

* Him That Cometh Unto Me, words by Eliza E Hewitt, 1851-1920

Illusions

Tweetie-tweet-tweet-tweet — thunk!

Tweetie-tweet-tweet-tweet — thunk!

The sound was coming from just outside our bedroom window.  I roused myself groggily and peered through the blind.  Here was a yellow warbler on the window ledge outside.  He would sing his song, then fly up toward the top corner of the window — and bump into the glass!

Our bedroom was on the west side of the house facing the road.  There were a few trees between the house and the road, not enough to provide an effective screen to prevent passers-by from seeing in so a previous resident had put reflective plastic on the inside surface of the window.  When I went outside to look, there was a pine tree clearly reflected in the window.  This little yellow warbler spent three hours trying to fly up into that pine tree reflection and bumping into the window glass.

The whole performance was quite interesting to Panda, our big Maine Coon cat, so we opened the blind and set a chair beside the window for her.  She could see the bird but the bird could not see her.  The warbler would sit on the window ledge just inches away and sing her song, Panda would pounce and go thunk! against the window glass.  Neither cat nor bird hit the glass hard enough to do themselves any harm, but both found it a very frustrating experience.

How often do we bump into our illusions and find it hard to comprehend what has gone wrong?

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