I was surprised one year by the return of migratory birds. It felt like the first week in February was too early with night temperatures still running near zero. With over two feet of snow on the ground there was very little food for the birds to forage or materials for building nests.
When I wrote this column, it was snowing … again … lightly … but still. Many of you know how much I love the snow, but that year the love affair was so over—I wanted a divorce! The weather had been hard on the song birds, too. There were days — and nights — of blizzard conditions where chickadees were under my awnings, fluffed out and holed-up. A sweet but pitiful sight.
Red-winged blackbirds are usually the first to return to our area in the spring. They like open fields and are seen perched on teasel stalks. That week the only parts of the teasel showing above the field of snow were a few dried pods. There hadn’t been a sighting of the red-wings; these may have been the wiser of the birds that year.
The bluebirds and robins, the poor dears, had arrived.
Robins are solitary birds and have territorial battles often. That week I saw them in a way as never seen before — in a flock.
While doing breakfast dishes, I looked out the kitchen window and was amazed to see 12-15 robins in the dwarf apple tree. The whole flock of them each had an apple and were pecking it frantically as if starved — which they probably were. The apples looked like bells as they swung back and forth with the robins’ rapid jabbing. The whole tree appeared to quiver.
A few apples had fallen on top of the snow and a couple of robins were sharing in the meal, unmindful of each other. Not a single bird was disturbed nor gave up their fruitful dining when joined by a squirrel.
The territorial nature of the robins was cast aside when they were desperate and their world harsh. The birds that first found food were a signal to the others who then followed. It is in times of hardship that they looked to one another for guidance and relief.
When things are tough we often come together, and by our actions point the way to what is good. When we act in community with what God has provided, all are fed.
Copyright 2020 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB