Our Bird Family

I came home from a week away to discover that a pair of barn swallows had built a nest over the front door of my house.

Now when I say “discovered” what I clearly mean is “dive-bombed by birds intent on removing my face”.

Because my wife and I host a lot of people in our home I knew that I couldn’t allow the bird nest couldn’t remain there, but I also couldn’t risk destroying the beauty and fragility of a working bird family… especially not with my reputation in the bird community…

I have a history of negative bird experiences, my low point being a confrontation with a gang of vicious seagulls over a plate of sweet & sour chicken in Vancouver, British Columbia.

After receiving my plate of food I walked outside the establishment only to be immediately confronted by a large seagull who flew directly at my face. About six inches from my nose, the great beast pulled back and began flapping its wings like a hummingbird, squawking loudly while blasting me with his funky jetwash.

This is when the smaller seagulls began dive bombing my plate, making off with huge chunks of chicken.

When I realized what was happening (premeditated avian ambush) I did what every Southern California native does when confronted with nature, I attempted to destroy it.

It’s nearly impossible to punch a bird.

It’s even more impossible to attempt to punch a bird and not get hassled by hippies and stoners, who to my reckoning, make up the majority of Vancouver’s downtown population.

“Why are you hassling the birds Eh?”

When an American man is confronted by Canadian birds over Chinese food, you’d think that people would understand him making an international incident over it.

You can understand now why I would need to safely move a nest filled with bird eggs.

After putting two plastic grocery bags on my hands I moved the nest from above our doorway to a larger place under the eave on our porch. My wife and I waited and watched to see if the bird parents would return to the nest.

After about 10 minutes the swallows returned, and after a quick inspection began expanding their nest to fit the ledge. I was pretty impressed by their rapid progress.

3 weeks later we had baby birds. It was fun to watch them from the front window, a sort of live-feed from the nature channel. They ate and chirped and pooped all over our front patio. It was fun.

Eventually the birds would notice when we would watch them through the window. Usually the mom would look at us and squawk. It made wonder if she liked that I had put her nest in a much bigger, better, and safer spot?

I learned two things from this experience:

1.) If you’re going to be hosting birds, put some newspaper down.

2.) If you think a bird will attack you in order to protect its eggs, imagine what happens when the eggs become babies!

Every morning that I went out my front door after the baby birds hatched, the mother would fly from the nest and buzz my head, then she would try to lure me off the porch. Since I was already headed out to my car I would just get in and drive away.

You’d think that after the first three days of our little game she would have realized that I was always going to get in my car and drive away… so she could give it a rest.

She didn’t.

For two weeks we played the little game where she “lured me away” and I disappeared for 9 hours.

She must have thought that her strategy was good, because it kept working. I never messed with her babies and they all grew up safe and sound.

A week ago they all flew the coop.

Since then I’ve wondered how often I treat God the way that bird treated me?

Misinterpreting his presence and purpose.

Vainly attempting to validate my own notions by aggressively asserting my will.

I’ll bet God sometimes looks at me and thinks, “Hey man I put you in a good spot and now whenever I check in to see how you’re doing you freak out, then chase me away.”

I’m pretty sure that our pitiful attempts at self-protection and self-sufficiency feel like they’re working, but in reality life is influenced and affected by forces much greater than us. The fact that we make it through each day has much more to do with Divine providence than it does responsible behavior. It just feels good to imagine that our squawking and darting is doing something big for us doesn’t it?

I guess that in the end I’ve learned that I’m much more like a bird than I want to be, regardless of how sophisticated I am. I’ve ganged up on people to get what I want, I’ve lived under the assumption that I’ve got things under control, and I usually don’t say thank you to the people who’ve helped me the most.

I come home now, walking past the empty space where our birds used to be with a touch of melancholy. I miss those little guys.

The bittersweet note that sounds in my heart reminds me that God isn’t just providing and caring for birds, he’s providing and caring for me…

He surely feels the same whenever I fly his coop.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” -Luke 12:6-7

2 Responses to “Our Bird Family”

  1. Sharon O August 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    Wonderful writing, I love to watch the birds from my family room. I missed two sets of them this year… never really did see ‘babies’ other than little tiny beaks and chirping from within the bird house. Usually I see them fly away.

  2. Mike Maxwell August 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    I enjoyed that…reminded me of a time when remodeling that we had to move a nest but…. the mother abandoned the babies and I felt compelled to raise them. Took them to work in a box that I kept under my desk, feeding them every 3 hours. Eventually they grew up and flew away but whenever there was a group of their “tribe” in my yard I always wondered if the babies were among them….

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