Psalm 84:3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
I watched the baby cardinals from this nest fledge a couple of weeks ago. I’d planned on trimming my nandinas a few weeks back, but discovered this nest in the row of shrubs before I put the clippers to it. The birds are now out, and the bushes are shorter by half.
Genesis 1:20 Then God commanded, “Let the water be filled with many kinds of living beings, and let the air be filled with birds.”
I have a sad story about this group of fledglings, so this is a warning if you have delicate sensibilities.
Late one afternoon, my dog wanted to go out, so we headed to the backyard. Pretty quickly, I realized a pair of adult cardinals were squawking and frantically flying around the dog. Then, I spotted several baby birds in the same area. Most were on or near the ground.
Shep got excited and began barking and chasing the fledglings. The cardinal parents tried to lure him to another part of the yard, but the little birds were like new toys. To my knowledge, Shep had never had such a grand opportunity to play with active, live baby birds.
I was horrified and joined the chaos to try to entice Shep away, but nothing I offered or threatened could match his new adventure. The adult birds, being wiser than I am, got most of their young to a wooded corner of the yard, giving them much needed cover. However, Shep was already pawing at one little one in the monkey grass.
As I tried to physically shoo him away, the dog grabbed the fledgling in his mouth and proudly ran around the yard with his prize. He flung the bird in the air, like he does with his ball, but the bird didn’t bounce. It flopped on the grass until Shep picked it up and dropped it again. I think by that time, it was all over. I still tried to get Shep away from the poor little thing.
Then I noticed my husband watching from the deck. He probably came out to see what all the shouting was about. I shouted again, asking him to call Shep and take him back into the house. What was I thinking? Shep never comes on command. All my husband said was, “There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s nature’s way.” I didn’t want to settle for that.
I think part of my desperation had to do with this being the second bird who died on my watch in a week’s time. When my neighbor was out of town, I went over to her house to feed her cat and lovebirds. One morning I went to the birdcage and found one of the birds dead in the feeding dish. The other bird was squawking as it sat on a perch above the dreadful scene.
I hated telling my neighbor, but she laughed and reassured me that the birds had already outlived their life expectancy by a few years. It was nature’s way.
Mathew 10:29 For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent.
It may be nature’s way, but it’s nature after the Fall. I much prefer the part about the lion lying down with the lamb. Actually, it doesn’t say “lion”. This is Isaiah 11 regarding the shalom of the realized Kingdom.
6. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
We have a great hope for a restored created order (Romans 8), but for now we settle for nature’s imperfections.
Maybe I’ll tell you about Shep and the black snake on the path another time.