His Eye is on the Sparrow

I woke up to the sound of birds chirping outside my window, so I stretched and smiled and went to open the blinds, thinking the forecasters had been wrong. By some miracle, instead of rain, wind, and incessant gray, I would find sunshine on the other side of the window pane. No such luck.

Instead, I found a crow hanging nearly upside down from the roof of the sparrow family's bird house on my porch, while mom and dad sparrow hopped from branch to branch in the nearby tree, angrily, frantically calling for the crow to leave their unhatched eggs alone, alone!

Out in the pouring rain, those tiny little sparrows sat, while the crow, safe under our porch roof, took it's time, peeking it's head into the too small hole, reaching, reaching, for precious, tiny eggs. I watched as one of the sparrows took flight and bombed the crow, who lost his footing and squawked angrily. I watched those little birds fight with all their might and I willed them to win.

Rationality told me that interference didn't make sense. Wild things live and die according to chance and the laws of nature, just as we do, albeit we pretend control. But, really, could I save the sparrow eggs? Maybe not forever. Maybe they'd never hatch, but damn it, I could give them a chance. I ran outside, barefoot, and clapped my hands, "get out of here!" The crow looked at me with disdain, not leaving his perch, but only tilting his head at me.

I clapped my hands and went right up to him, "Shoo! Get out of here." He finally gave up his perch. Before I could step back, mom and dad sparrow were swooping at my head with far more courage than they showed to their foe, the crow. I ducked and ran back inside the house, getting soaking wet in the process of zig-zagging away from the sparrows.

Some people see sparrows as pests. I don't. They mate for life. Did you know that? And their social behavior is very like that of humans. I feel an affinity for them. They're so tiny in this great big world, so fiercely protective of their children.

The first time I rescued a sparrow, I was a little girl staying with my Grandma Grace. We found the mother dead and the nest on the ground, with one baby bird still alive in it. We put it in a box in the garage and created a nest. Grandma gave me a hot water bottle to put under the tiny bird. We fed it with everything from mashed bugs to bits of bread. We didn't know what to feed a sparrow. Grandma let me sleep by it.

It was dead in the morning. We put it in a box lined with fabric from a dress grandma was sewing, and we buried it. My tough, no-nonsense grandma didn't chastise me for caring so much about a baby bird. I could tell she understood.

Part of me wasn't just fighting for that baby bird, I was fighting for me. For every hurt thing that didn't really have a chance.

It was the same today, when I ran out to chase the damn crow away. He has his eye on that nest of sparrows and he won't give it up. Crows are smart and determined and love a challenge. He'll likely get an egg or two but I've watched every year as nest after nest of fledglings take flight from that particular bird house. I've also scooped up more than a few and set them safely atop a branch before a predator could grab them.

Some never make it. Every year, when I clean out the bird house, I find a smashed egg or two, tiny little partly formed baby sparrows, fetal-like hatchlings with nearly translucent skin showing between bits of downy fluff. I cry over all of them. I'm in good company. In the bible, Matthew tells us that even God watches over the sparrows.

I sat for awhile and watched the birdhouse after I came in. I towel-dried my hair and shivered, wrapped myself in a blanket, and sat watching the rain and the little birds. A pair of Mallards landed in our little pond. I've never seen a Mallard smile but this pair seemed happy. Then, I realized that in spite of the pouring rain and the gray sky, birds were singing everywhere. They feel Spring in the air. They're joyful in the midst of the rain and cold. Even the sparrow parents seemed content again.

And so it goes.


©Just Kate, April 2010

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    About Me

    I love laughter, wickedness, fearlessness, irreverence, and kindness. I love road trips where I can prop my bare feet up on the dashboard. I love the feel of sunshine warm against my bare skin, the smell of the mountains and the roar of the ocean. I love to read. I love to challenge conventional thinking. I'm a huge fan of spirituality but have little tolerance for religion. I love to talk faith and philosophy. I love children. I get bored far too easily. I love debate and people who don't try too hard. I love it when people aren't afraid to disagree with me and know why they believe what they believe.

    Music

    Things that sound like music to me: rain on a tin roof, the trill of birds first thing in the morning, the coo and gurgle of happy babies, the beat of African drums, the roar of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, the sound of a rushing river, unrestrained laughter, the wind moving through leaves, the tick-tock of my grandma's old clock, the crash of thunder, a quiet whisper in my ear, the contented purr of a cat, the musical ting ting of wind chimes, children laughing, the sizzle sizzle sound of something yummy cooking, and the rustle of dry leaves under my feet.

    I also enjoy many musicians and bands including: Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, The Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, James Carrington, CCR, REM. My favorite genre is acoustic folk/rock.

    Favorite Quotes

    "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." —Aristotle

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." - Ben Okri

    "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."—John Ruskin