Honestly…I DO like birds

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I love birds; I really do. But the last couple years a pair of juncoes have decided they would like to nest in the hanging basket on the deck beside our patio door. I’m sorry, guys, but IT’S THE WRONG PLACE. I have significant time and money invested in that basket and I need to be able to water it daily, fertilize it weekly and regularly deadhead its blooms.

They don’t care. They also apparently don’t care that my hubby barbecues underneath it, that our table is frequently occupied under the umbrella beside it, or that there can be significant activity on the deck around it. For instance, a few weeks from now there will be about sixty people milling around during our annual church barbecue.

We tried surveyor’s tape, fluttering a discouragement. Then we tried hiding the basket out of sight.

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Now it’s temporarily covered by an old apron, barricading against their nest-building access during times when we aren’t around to guard it.

 

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They don’t seem interested in the tubs that sit on the deck — not that I’d want them there either — it’s just the hanging baskets that appeal. They fly in, burrow between the plants and excavate a hole into which they start importing their building material, leaving remnants on the deck underneath. The splats they leave on the window as they come and go aren’t desirable either.

It’s not as if there aren’t other nearby nesting places available to them. We live amidst trees. Lots of them. It’s a forest, for goodness sakes! There’s even a nesting box. But, no, they are persistent. Well, guess what. So am I. If I’m not, there will soon be eggs and babies, and at that point I wouldn’t have the heart to dislodge them. My basket will soon look pathetic as the heat dries it out and kills the plants. So for now I must be vigilant. Sorry, little juncoes, but GO AWAY.

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I tried to extricate a writing analogy from all this, but the only one that comes to mind is the need for persistence. In the goal for publication we first need to research the right places — appropriate agents or publishing houses — and then keep sending out queries until the ideal match is made.

Now if these juncoes would learn that lesson, too, we’d all be happy.

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JUNE 17 UPDATE:

It seems we managed to discourage their occupancy of our hanging baskets, only to redirect their efforts to the deck tubs. Sometime between dawn and 8:00 a.m. they managed to almost complete the construction of a nest in the centre of one tub. ::sigh:: Really, guys, this is taking persistence to a ridiculous level!

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Arguments are for the birds!

I had an argument with myself this morning. I really wanted to spend some time writing, but Christmas baking was beckoning. You know how it is … reason arguing with desire. If I’d just get off my fanny and go bake something, I’d have time to write later. If I write first, however, I’ll never get to the baking. I know that for a fact.

Still, there’s this tantalizing thought begging to be recorded. It would take but a moment to jot it down. Of course that moment might stretch into several as the one thought leads to another. I know myself too well.

While I argued, a similar scene played out on the back deck railing:

“Hi there, little guy. I’ll be out of your way in a moment, but I’m trying to decide whether I want millet for a snack, or sunflower seeds.”

“Okay, but get a move on. I’m hungry.”

“There’s leftover millet on the deck if you’re in such a hurry.”

“Oh sure. Expect me to eat leftovers while you get the choice stuff? Forget it. I’ll just tuck my wings behind my back and wait my turn for the buffet.”

“Suit yourself, but this might take a few minutes. Let’s see … mmm, there’s cracked corn up there, too. And peanut bits! I looooove peanut bits but the jays usually steal them all. So, yeah, maybe peanuts. Ah, but the black oil sunflower seeds have the higher fat content that I could use. I burn a lot of energy on these frosty days.”

“Oh, for pete’s sake, make up your mind! Do you have any idea how much energy I’m wasting while I pace back and forth waitin’ on ya?”

“Quit bugging me! If you’re starving, go hit the neighbour’s feeder, why don’t you? It’s just a hip and a holler beyond those trees.”

“WHAT? Do ya think I’m stupid?”

“Hey, lady! (peering back at me as I watch from the window with my camera) Will you remind this guy that your neighbour has CATS!”

“Cats, shmats. This place has a dog and you don’t see me worrying, do ya?”

“But the dog only eats the seeds left on the deck. He’s not interested in eating you, like the cat is.”

“Shows how much you know. The dog is a Labrador Retriever. Mean anything to you, buddy?”

“Oh. (gulp) Um. I get your point. Maybe I’ll just hop over to the rhoddie and check for iced bugs while you sort out your menu, but speed it up, will ya. The missus is waiting out in the hemlock for me to bring home a few groceries, too.”

“These decisions take time. Let’s see now…. Oh, by the way, did you know that if you wait until sunset the little lights around here come on. Warm toasted seeds! Now that’s a gourmet touch, I’ll tell ya.”

“Well, I’m not waiting that long. Huh? Where’d you come from? Go ‘way, chickadee! I’m next in line for the feeder when thrush is done. There’s a pecking order around here, remember?”

“Ah, drat! Now where’d YOU come from?”

“I guess it’s leftovers tonight after all.” (sigh)

“Fresh or leftover, it’s all the same to me. I don’t share with nobody, kid. So scoot!”

“Aghhh! I’ll risk the cats. I’m outta here!”

“Yeah, I think I’ll sit this one out, too. It sounds like sparrow’s feeling peckish.”

Nobody wins in an argument. Which means I’d better make up my mind about the writing versus baking thing. The baking wins out as I need to set a loaf of cheese bread to rise and make some shortbread. On the other hand, I’ve been writing, haven’t I? Isn’t that called compromise?

What excuses do you come up with when faced with something that tries to eat into your writing time?

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Learning patience by birdwatching

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Black caps and white cheeks flash past my windows as the chickadees flit to and from the birdfeeder, interspersed with the occasional nuthatch. They dart in to snatch a morsel, then swivel away on their rapid return to the trees.

I sit with camera in hand and try to catch a photo, but on the automatic setting and without my tripod it’s almost impossible. These tiny fliers are constantly on the move and most of the images show the birdfeeder, but not the birds. Timing is everything!

The stellar jays and juncos are a little more cooperative, sometimes stopping briefly on the railing as they munch a mouthful.

Sparrows and varied thrush have a different mealtime technique altogether, choosing to clean up leftover seeds from the deck rather than hover airborne. The different species often arrive at the same time, but take turns, obeying an invisible pecking order as they dart in for their meal.

There is so much I can learn about God’s care from watching the birds. They may seem like insignificant creatures with very basic needs yet God provides for them, although they must work industriously to take advantage of those provisions.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” [Luke 12:6 NIV]

Thinking of the earlier “timing is everything” comment, there’s a writing application here, too. When years of writing, revising and querying make us question our publishing dreams, it is encouraging to remember that patience coupled with vigilance and effort is important, and that “success comes when preparation meets opportunity.” [Henry Hartman]

To expect success in this particular challenge, I think I’d better go find my tripod!

What other lessons could we learn from God’s many creatures?

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