Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Family Meal

When we moved into this house, I placed a cart on wheels next to the bedroom window. I put a tray filled with bird seed on top and a glass pan of water on the bottom so the birds could bathe. I didn't really believe the birds would like this feeding station. The house is old and the windows are very low. My large black cat likes to sit in the window and watch the birds, and the dogs enjoy this, as well.

Surprisingly, the birds seem to understand that there is a screen between them and the inside creatures. The only time they flutter off is when they see me move toward the window! I wish I could take pictures of them while they eat, but I think the only way I will be able to do this is if I hide behind the fence and wait. However, they do seem to respond to my voice. I will call out "pretty bird," when the large female cardinal arrives, and she hops closer to the window to look in through the screen. I also sing to the fish whose tank is on the dresser near the window. He comes to the edge of the glass to stare at me when I sing, and the little black-capped chickadees hop into the seed tray when they hear me singing, too, moving closer to the window as if they are trying to hear me, while still chattering away at each other. I think my speaking voice is perhaps a bit abrupt for them, but they do like the singing.

This afternoon, my husband walked into the bedroom where I was typing. He held up his finger for silence then pointed out the window where we watched the most magical moment between a family of cardinals.

There were two baby cardinals perched on the edge of the feeding cart. You can tell baby cardinals, even when they are larger, because they don't have all of their colors, and their beak isn't the bright orange of their parents. The parents were there, though. Both the mother and father were sitting in the tray of seeds. Each parent picked up a seed, cracked the shell, then fed the meat of the sunflower seed to the baby birds.

At first, they appeared to be simply feeding the babies, but they stayed there for at least twenty minutes, and it became apparent that they were trying to teach the baby birds how to break open the seeds on their own.

The moment was hypnotic in its beauty and for that brief period of time, all my worries and concerns seemed to disappear as I watched the tender, compassionate sharing of food between this little family.

When we first started to watch the cardinal family sharing their meal, I wanted to reach for my camera, but I knew, instinctively, this would scare them away. Then I remembered something a very good friend once shared with me. She said, "Sometimes I think God sends us these special moments at times when we don't have a camera in our hands because he wants us to focus all of our attention on what is happening before us, in the beauty of the action, and not the act of taking the picture."

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