They’re Singing for You
May 10, 2017
21

“Nature does nothing in vain…”
Aristotle

It’s happening right outside our homes. The only question is: are we listening?

The other day it was warm enough for me to sit outside for my morning quiet time. The symphony was simply amazing. Of course we cannot always stop and listen, since we often have other things we need to attend to. But sometimes we should just stop and listen.

Because they’re singing for us. They really are.

From what I’ve read, and noticed, each of the birds ignores the calls of all other species. They hear them, but they’re not listening to them. Their calls are for others of their own species: either to invite or delight the other sex, or to warn and repel competitors of the same sex.

And there I sit in the midst of the great overlapping chorus. Cardinals, Baltimore orioles, orchard orioles, house wrens, tree swallows, bluebirds, red-headed woodpeckers, robins, mockingbirds, American goldfinches, wild turkeys and the list goes on. Where do I fit in?

I am convinced they are singing for me too, even if they don’t know it. One of the most remarkable aspects of the natural world is the inter-weaving of ends. In simply going about being what they are, the countless species of living things are also serving one another, working together in a coordinated fashion that is simply breath-taking. As surely as the blooming of flowers serves not only the plants themselves but also the bees that harvest nectar, the singing of birds should serve us too.

So what should it do for us? That is perhaps like asking what listening to Bach should do for us.

Much. And the only way to find out is to start doing it; patiently, regularly.

Nature does nothing in vain. But it is in our hands, to some real extent, to assure that the song of birds will not have been in vain, by learning to listen to them.

~ ~ ~

FOR THIS WEEK: Here are a couple of birds to listen and look for. When I walked out my back door this morning these are the first two songs I heard: the Cardinal and the Mockingbird.
Take just a few minutes to listen to their songs here. You really will start to be able to recognize them in your yard, especially this time of year in the morning!

Northern Cardinal, whose image is above; go to this Audubon site and down towards the bottom on the right side they have “Songs and Calls” where you can click and listen to various versions of their calls. I recommend listening to Songs #1-4 (all very brief); together they give you a good sense of what to listen for.

Northern Mockingbird, whose image is below; go to this Audubon site and again down towards the bottom on the right side are “Songs and Calls.” While the Mockingbird is famous for imitating other birds’ calls, it also has a very distinctive song of its own, which you can easily learn to recognize. There is a mockingbird that sings in the parking lot all the time now at Christendom College where I teach; he greets faculty/staff/students/visitors–anyone who will look up and listen.

mockingbird

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21 comments

  1. I like the thought that God had me or my wife/children in mind, when we can enjoy a certain aspect of nature at any particular time.

    I like thinking that He knew, when whatever we are noticing was created, that we would marvel in that one moment of the bird singing or flower blooming.

    I tell my kids sometimes, “He made this flower so that we can enjoy it right now and others can enjoy it later.” (A good way to talk my daughter out of picking every flower we see and bringing it to mommy).

    Thanks for posting!

    1. Mark, I completely share your sentiments. Thanks for sharing this beautiful way of looking at it.

  2. Oh my goodness. I was listening to the mockingbird’s alarm call, and although my finches ignored all the other songs, they took off as soon as they heard the alarm! Mocking bird is king on our property, and the other birds know it :). Thank you for a lovely post.

    1. Cecilia, Oh yes, good point: sometimes there is that special call that crosses over species lines! There is so much to observe.

  3. Reminded me of lyrics in a Bob Dylan song I’ve listened to lately, “You’re a Big Girl Now”:

    Bird on the horizon, sittin’ on a fence
    He’s singin’ his song for me at his own expense
    And I’m just like that bird, oh
    Singin’ just for you
    I hope that you can hear
    Hear me singin’ through these tears

    1. Fascinating comparison. Thanks Rob.

  4. My boys and I have been getting into nature study, so I particularly appreciate your direction in purposefully learning bird calls!

    1. Caitrie, What a wonderful thought of you having that time with your boys. They must love it!

  5. I love starting my day reading and thinking about what you have written. As someone who has delighted in nature and found direct evidence of the hand of God that way, I delight in your words and cheer you on as you teach us more. Thanks, much!

    1. Dianne, What a kind comment; I really appreciate it.

  6. Chester J Lewandowski

    Hearing the birds sing brings to mind the Canticle of Daniel (Daniel 3:80) “All you birds of the air, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.” All created things praise God according to their own natures.

    1. Great point. Just like God made each “according to its own kind.”

  7. I’ll be listening hard this weekend.

    1. And we are looking forward to it!

  8. In the nicer weather, I spend every possible morning out on my wonderful, private patio attempting to read or pray but getting distracted by the symphony constantly going on around me. Sometimes I just get so caught up in it’s beauty, the beauty of watching birds at my multiple bird feeders, and the flowers and shrubs I’ve planted that I just don’t get anything else done. But I never feel it’s wasted time. Thank you for posting this and confirming my thoughts.

    1. I sure know what you mean Ginger. Very blessed time indeed.

  9. I was feeling the tug to just soak in the bird calls instead of listening to a truly inspiring podcast as I walked through the woods this past Monday. Now I’m feeling convicted. It so hard to prioritize and maintain a good balance. There is so much good truly good writing, audio, and video out there. But there is also the need to just quietly receive what God has to give us in the book of Creation, in His Word, and in silence with Him alone. It’s so hard to discern what is worthy of my time and what I need to let go of, good as it may be.

  10. Yes, yes! I have been bird-watching for maybe 10 or more years, ever since I got a bird-feeder as a birthday present. Like you I have learned to identify many local birds by sight and call. The ones I mostly see at the feeder are House Sparrows, House Finches, Cardinals, Common Grackles, Chickadees, Catbirds, and Juncos in the winter. Obviously there are many more around the yard, such as Robins which prefer their food live. It is fascinating to watch their habits and interactions.

    Thank you for your posts!

  11. lovely. and thank you. I look forward to your comments every week – always a blessing.

    1. Loved the post, thank you. My dad was a Birder. His fave bird was the “Showy Cardinal”, God smiles at me several times a day, with a pair of Cards, at my bird feeder, giving a seed to one and then, the other bird, usually at the 4-5 eve hr, when I’m asking Jesus to stay with me awhile longer…the same Cardinal couple show up, reminding me of the loving dedication my dad had for my mother, I say a Hail Mary in gratitude.

      1. Jonnie, That is so beautiful. I have had several experiences where I am confident that my father was coming to visit me through a bird. Thanks so much for sharing yours.