A Lesson from a Bird

A Lesson from a Bird

Deborah Beach Giordano
© January 20, 2010

It was
a dark and stormy night;
and so was the day
that followed;

an eerie half-light,
a darkness at noon,
as if the sun
has refused to shine.

A solitary bird
sits hunched in the tree:
a remarkable imitation
of Poe’s raven ~

if he could speak
I’m sure he would share
that famous bird’s opinion:

No more icy winds,
no more freezing rains
that drench my feathers
and make the seeds soggy.

He looks rumpled,
and alone.

This picture of misery
inspires me
to alleviate his suffering
in the only way I can.

to ease his hunger
and warm his tummy
if not his feet,

I go to the cupboard
and bring forth an offering:
a generous second helping
of sunflower seeds.

The favored fuel
of our avian brethren:
and flavorful,

ready to eat,
easy to digest,
and delivered in
environmentally friendly packages.

A gift? A trap?
A danger or a blessing?
Head tilted judiciously
Mr. Bird takes his time to decide.

Observing closely ~
from a safe distance ~
he assesses the value,
and considers the source.

I pass the test,
established as a friend,
not foe …

Or he’s too hungry
to be bothered about details,
and is willing to risk
the loss of a few feathers …

or he’s that confident
in that formidable beak
and those not-insignificant

Whatever the cause,
his determination is set;
he swoops down
with a shout of delight.

Looking through the window
I wait and watch
eagerly expecting
him to eagerly eat;

but before taking
so much as a mouthful,
he throws back his head
and calls over and over again

summoning his friends,
the others
who are as cold
and hungry as he.

They arrive
in weary wet bunches,
fluffing their feathers
against the icy air.

He stands still
for just an instant,
watching them,
then glances over at me.

I nod and smile,
then look away,
my eyes wet with tears
at such touching gratitude.


Rationalists would say
such altruism isn’t genuine
and that birds
don’t say “thank you.”

They’d accuse me
of attributing
human traits
to a “mere” animal,

and staunchly assert
with absolute confidence
that it’s all about survival ~
not compassion.

But on that point
I must
most sincerely
disagree …

How many
human persons
would share
everything they have?

Or watch and wait
with patience and fortitude,
facing every sort of danger
for the good of others?


All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

~ from the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful,
by Cecil F. Alexander, 1848

About inklingscommunity

I am a struggling Christian, committed pacifist, near-obsessive recycler, incurable animal lover, inveterate tree-hugger; a nature mystic, a socialized introvert, an advocate for the vulnerable, an opponent of exploiters.
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