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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Strictly For The Birds *

* Neighborhood cats and squirrels are not invited.

It's a kind of gift exchange. We provide over a hundred pounds of food for our neighborhood birds each winter, and they provide us with the simple pleasure of being able to observe them--up close and personal--within several feet of our dining room and kitchen windows. It's one of nature's truly fascinating reality shows, non-stop and in full color from early dawn until dark.
Red-bellied Woodpecker

With the exception of occasional brief spats, our feathered friends (not nearly all of the same feather) manage to get along quite well, usually taking turns foraging at the base of the feeder. Among them are juncos (our most loyal customers), chickadees, song sparrows, mourning doves, cardinals, blue jays, grackles, song sparrows, starlings, and occasionally a beautiful and rare red-bellied woodpecker.

Jesus cites birds as examples of creatures who never worry about where their next meal is coming from, but from our observation they certainly do work at it tirelessly. They are constantly doing what they are created to do, searching for food and providing for their families.

Sunday at our house church we sang a number of ancient hymns by some of the saints of the past, including one by St. Patrick on his special day, "I Bind To Me This Day". We then especially enjoyed belting out all five verses of the great praise hymn by St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of birds and a Christ-like servant of the poor:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia!
Alleluia!

It is said that in a sermon St. Francis once delivered to an audience of birds he said, "My brothers, birds, you should praise your Creator very much and always love him; he gave you feathers to clothe you, wings so that you can fly, and whatever else was necessary for you.  God made you noble among his creatures, and he gave you a home in the purity of the air; though you neither sow nor reap, he nevertheless protects and governs you without any solicitude on your part."

Sounds like some good words for all of us.
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