So You Think Your Life Is Going To The Birds?
I think my life is literally going to the birds.
I am sharing my porch with a robin.
Or should I say, a soon-to-be robin family.
It happened reluctantly at first, and then…it was so.
Each day for a week, I would step out my front door and notice strands of grass and weeds draped over my porch-light fixture and haphazardly strewn upon the chair and floor underneath.
I would gingerly lift the nest-making materials off of the light and clean up the overflow beneath it.
All clear…Until the next morning.
I am not necessarily opposed to sharing space with a bird’s nest, but to my mind it is not a very conducive spot to build a home: on top of a light that is on all night, two feet from a door through which people will be coming and going sporadically. How peaceful and restful would that be?
The tree swallows chose a much more favorable space (again, to my mind). They have been nesting above the light on the front of my garage the past few years, where human proximity is scarce while flight and sight lines are wide open.
Anyhow, back to the robins.
Eventually one morning I stepped out and there was nothing - no grass draped over the light fixture, no pieces upon the chair or floor.
I figured they must have given up and found a better place to build a home.
I felt a twinge of sadness that I had a part in driving them away; that once again, humans unfavorably impacted nature. But I also felt a wave of content for the birds because they must have found a more beneficial place to thrive.
Fast forward ten hours.
I come home at the end of the day, step onto the porch, and…
I see a whole nest - grass, twigs, mud and all! Totally built and solid and being lived in.
What is running through my mind now?
“No way. Wow! They are quick! Yes! I have bird neighbors! Do I dare take it down now?”
I give in to the force of nature.
These industrious robins have persevered despite my efforts and have built a whole home in the blink of an eye.
I feel the need to recognize and honor their adherence to nature’s rhythms.
And truth be told, I am actually feeling a bit redeemed, having ‘lost’ the nesting challenge.
I reflect and realize how often I, as a human, fashion nature to my needs and convenience.
I do this so often that I sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture, where the delicate dance between nature and humans plays out: nature, I am pretty positive, will do just fine without humans, but humans will fail without nature.
So, recognizing an opportunity to consciously take part in the dance, I plan my next steps.
First: talk with my new neighbors (yes, you read that correctly).
I rev up my imagination and have conversations with them. Why not? I welcome them, let them know that I will try to use other entrances when possible so as not to disturb them too often, and ask them to be tolerant of visitors who need to use ‘their’ entrance. I bid them good morning, wish them a peaceful day, and ask them to watch the house while I am gone.
I figure that putting positive intentions and attention out there, including toward birds, will send beneficial ripples in every direction.
Second: learn about my new neighbors.
Yes, I have seen robins all my life.
But what do I really know about them?
I think about all the times I have seen them pulling worms out of the ground and sitting on fenceposts, chirping lovely songs.
What else do they like to eat? Where do they usually build nests? Do they have different songs for different occasions? Where do they go during the winter?
I want to know more about them, not just continue to see them as merely part of the backdrop of my day.
I now have a reason to learn more about fellow inhabitants of this world, and so I begin.
Third: probe the greater question, “What does it mean?”
When I begin telling folks about the robins living on my porch, they begin telling me bits and pieces of what they think it might symbolize, and this intrigues me.
Societies throughout time have held and continue to hold various animals in high esteem. You may have heard of animal totems before, where certain animals are revealed to a person for the purpose of providing guidance or protection.
I decide to follow my curiosity and look into the symbolism of the robin. There is a lot out there!
Here are some highlights of what I find:
- Robins represent the beginnings of renewal, growth and change
- They teach us that change can be made with joy and laughter
- They signify embracing, rather than opposing, change
- Robins encourage us to gain new perspectives and seek clarity
- They signify believing in yourself, listening to your intuition, and using your gifts
Plus, they represent the ability to find contentment and joy in the simple things, and to be able to help others to do the same.
Many of these attributes ring true with me at this moment in time, and I now look at my new neighbors as partners in my daily journey.
As the season goes on I will continue to embrace this new experience.
I notice their little muddy footprints on the railing of the porch and the chairbacks, so it appears they are making themselves at home.
I like to think we are becoming more comfortable with and trusting of each other, yet still respecting nature.
When I do sit out on the porch these days, I stay a distance away from their nest. My neighbors swoop out of their nest and fly across the yard at first, then hop back toward me and their nest, closer and closer each time.
Time will tell where these baby steps lead us.
Thinking about it now, perhaps it is more accurate to say that my life is going with the birds.
If the sun is shining, my Crosstrek is calling me to fill up her tank, throw open her sunroof, and head for the back-roads. With wind in my hair, I smile at everyone I see. Grace smiles back at me (even through the trees).