Beliefnet
Beginner's Heart

birds and happiness

the author’s

So here’s the thing about being a bird nerd: you have to work at it. If you want birds, there’s work to be done. This morning, as I sat on the deck, a hairy woodpecker came to the seed cylinder. Hummingbirds buzz each other at the feeder, then perch one by one on its saucer. One even deigned to sample one of the flowers on the planter below.

We have a lot of birds. But then, we work at it. If you want birds to come, there’s setup. And maintenance. There’s research, as well: what birds live in your area? What do they like to eat? And sure: you can just put up a feeder w/generic small seed and sparrows will love it.

But if you want 3  kinds of woodpeckers, and finches, and mourning doves and hummers and cardinals and blue jays and even the occasional hawk that swoops down for lunch? You need to have more than one feeder. You’ll need sunflower seeder (cardinals & purple finches & doves & more). And suet (red-bellied, hairy, & downy woodpeckers).  And seed cylinders (Carolina wrens, mockingbirds, more woodpeckers). And (of course!) a hummer feeder.

But food isn’t enough. You have to be willing to put out fresh water. Daily is best, but at least every other day. And there needs to be cover, so the birds can feel safe. It’s nice, too, if you build up the yard so there’s a habitat: with berrying shrubs, and nut trees, and the stuff birds love. Which you find out about when you do that research I mentioned.

And yes, there’s a moral to this bird ramble. While I was thinking of this the other day, watching the birds come to the deck that has 5+ feeders, 3 varied size water saucers, and cover around the perimeter of the yard below, I thought how much work it takes. To fill the feeders, to clean them. To make hummer food. To change water.

Plus it’s not cheap: birds eat a LOT. And once you’re hooked on birds, they’re their own sweet vice.

birds and happiness

the author’s

Not to mention there’s upkeep: feeders break, and need to be replaced. Bird seed and debris need to be swept up not only because they look like, well, what they are, but because they cause diseases to the birds, too.

So the reason for all the bird talk? I realised, as I look around, it’s a metaphor for life & happiness. How I think — even after all this time! — that happiness should come to me, the way I want it: brightly coloured birds in flight. And how, on the days the birds don’t show up at the feeders (not common, but they happen), I miss them. But I also know they will return. I don’t always feel that way about good things in my life, when all around is emptiness.

I suspect, if we put out the proper feeders, fill them w/ the right seed (after we do our research), and get busy planting, the birds will come. That seems just about right to me. Happiness as a woodpecker or hummer, just waiting for the right perch. It’s kind of like…Buddhist bird-watching.

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