Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Bird Story - The Man and The Birds


The Man and the Birds

-- Author Unknown --

(Shared by Paul Harvey on his radio show)


Below is a story that didn't end the way I
thought it would, could, or should.  So I
have added words at the end to represent my heart's hope for human and bird

the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind,
decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with
other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the
churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too
honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about
God coming to Earth as a man. "I'm truly sorry to distress you," he
told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas
Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay
at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to
the midnight service.

after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the
window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to
his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was
startled by a thudding sound. Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump
or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his
living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found
a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm
and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large
landscape window.

he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the
barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter,
if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped
through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on
a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in.
So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the
snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But
to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around
helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the
barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every
direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a
strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them
know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help
them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them.
They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared
him. "If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and
mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be
afraid. Then I could show them the way to safety ... to the safe warm barn. But
I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and

that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above
the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste
Fidelis - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he
sank to his knees in the snow.....

(This is the end
of regular story. What happened to the birds?  And so I add...)

And became a bird.

The word made bird

And love was born

Monday, December 14, 2009

BirdsEye Application


  (New York State Tower Kill Survey)

I read about the recent iPhone application that
helps users know where to look for specific birds and to get recent bird
spotting reports.  Here once again I am
reminded of the ambiguity of technology. 
On one hand  communication towers,
which iPhones rely upon, kill from 4 to 50 million birds a year. They endanger
or threaten at least 50 species. 
Technology might also shift brain processes so that when we see birds we
are not being in open, heart communion with another being, but have shifted
into "left brain" thinking that is largely cognitive and might see
birds as objects, and not subjects worthy in their essence without being part
of a bird list.  On the other hand,
applications such as this can help draw us out into nature, communicate and
share that experience with others, and also use our cognitive functions to keep
track of the range and status of numerous species. 

I am not arguing for either/or in our relationship
with birds, but to put as many tools as possible in our hands for the good life
for our communities of mixed species. 
Then we can choose what we feel is best for us and others.

Let us have in our hands iPhones, bird recordings,
field identification books, binoculars, cameras, and spotting scopes so that we
may know the world around us.

Let us have in our hands a child's hand, listening
and attentive to them as we share the experience directed outward so that we
may know one another and the whole of nature.

Let us have in our hands books, keyboards, internet
articles, newspapers, scientific journals, scripture from faith traditions,
conference proceedings, journals, and nature writings so that we may know our
inner world, and how humanity impacts the outer world.

Let us have in our hands, tenderly held, the needs
of life expressed in bird and human.

Let us have in our hands injured, sick, or captive
birds so that they may be healed and fly free.

Let us hand in our hands the millions of people who
appreciate birds so that we, in solidarity, may know the power of what we may do

For we have in our hands the future of our feathered



Monday, December 7, 2009

Shedding Tears for Birds


White-eyed Conure (photo by Dario Sanchez)



was a White-eyed Conure that I meant to rescue from a California pet store when
I turned 19.  He was there, wild and
green, frantically pacing his cage as dozens of pairs of eyes ogled his beauty
through cage wire and plate glass.  I
don’t know how he came to be there and in those days I barely wondered.  So fierce was his incomprehensibility of his
captivity and indeed, his captors, I later suspected that he had been an adult
bird in the wild when he had been cruelly removed from home and flock in South


boyfriend at the time saw my eyes light up with desire for this bird.  He bought Bilbo for my birthday.  Bilbo and I never became friends.  He was too wild for that and perhaps I was
too, spending much of my time at college and work, and when free time presented
itself, I did not spend it at home with this bright beauty.  Despite his neglect he survived until I
graduated from the University of California at Davis with a degree in Avian
Sciences – birds.  I had a degree in
birds, but not as yet much of a degree of understanding birds.  Bilbo had been with me for three years at
that time.  I left him in the care of the
owners of a struggling bird farm while I toured around the country with  a man who would become my first husband. We
visited 48 states and 2 countries in those 2.5 months – and I don’t think I
often thought of Bilbo.  When I returned
to Davis I was told that Bilbo had been kept in a shed and that one day he had
been discovered dead after the owners had been gone for a weekend.  He had died alone, cause unknown, holy
purpose of a life well lived apparently never accomplished.  Except perhaps he did leave this world with
one poignant and painful point – do not forsake a bird, for the loss shall
dwell within you forever.


Have you ever
had to juggle multiple claims on your time, and felt remiss that you have not
fully been present in each activity? 
What do you desire, which attaining might harm other beings?