What a blessed holiday season we had along with some fantastic birding adventures! Our local meetup group has been able to visit both nearby state parks: Huntington Beach State Park and Myrtle Beach State Park. During these visits we have been blessed to see some interesting birds like the Harlequin Duck but were also able to see some captivating behavior. One event we witnessed was seeing an Osprey dive and catch a fish only to be accosted by another Osprey who tried to steal his prize, albeit unsuccessfully. On another personal birding trip down the Kiawah river, we were blessed to see Bald Eagles, Buffleheads, Double Crested and Great Cormorants and several Terns. As a bonus, on that trip we were also able to see several pods of dolphins.
Locally, this is the coldest time in Myrtle Beach, but birding is still in full swing. I daresay that I even like it better (if I am mostly inside) because with the leaves gone the birds are easier for me to see. In our backyard, the Downy pair, Cardinal Pair, Mockingbird Pair, Chickadees, and Titmouse pair come regularly. The Robins are back as well as the Cedar Waxwings who are my favorites. Additionally, the chipping sparrows are now numerous and come daily along with our every changing Mourning Dove population. The four noisy but cute Jays are still here and we noticed that the Mockingbirds often “hang out” with them coming at the same time. The Pine Warbler is now also a regular but tends to come after all the other birds have left. Sadly, I haven’t seen two of them so “Piney” might be all alone. The Eastern Bluebird pair still come still a few times a week, but I have YET to get them to come to the feeder. The Orioles have not returned regularly apart from their visit in late fall. The Yellow-Belly Sapsucker female and male also come occasionally but favor the tree farther away from the house; so, I must be in the prime position to view them here. Of course, our Hawks are always close by and we see them both flying and perching in the neighborhood several times a week.
It is always amazing the plethora of activity that goes on in a single neighborhood tree, let alone in the hundreds of trees in my neighborhood and in neighborhoods across the globe. Along with our birding in the neighborhood there are many birding activities that now go on across the world which we can view from the comfort of our home via webcam.
One of my son’s favorite is of an eagle pair in Florida. This is the link: https://dickpritchettrealestate.com/. The female, Harriet laid two eggs this year. Every day my son would join in watching the countdown until hatching. Sadly, one of the eggs never did hatch and though I explained to CJ that this is normal, he was slightly disappointed. (The girls were less disappointed as they remember some years ago, we artificially incubated some duck eggs and of the fourteen only about seven hatched, which I was told at the time was actually a good ratio). Along with this discussion of eggs not hatching, we have had to have the discussion regarding bird survival. This discussion in our house has ruffled quite a bit of feathers since it usually centers around our neighborhood hawks and what if any intervention we should do should we see impending doom for one of our feeder birds. We understand that the Hawks have the right to eat too and beside taking a headcount of the Doves we do not interfere. (I did however take down the nesting box after the Sharp Shinned Hawk came close to the feeder). The Hawks are not the only threat. We had a bout of Avian pox at the feeder in late summer and early fall. This resulted in several birds with sores on their body and one finch with only one working leg. We realized she might not make it and that was a fact of life, though eventually she did pull through and the sore has mostly healed.
Well, Harriet’s other egg did hatch, and it was named E14. Unfortunately, the hatchling ultimately did not make it This was a sad time for CJ and a lot of the web-cam viewers, but it was also a reminder to us and me that, God is God but that I am not God. He has created and has looked after his creation including birds for thousands of years, with or without me; and He will continue to do so for some time. We can say that, “We know God is in control,” but it is very hard sometimes to accept THINGS that one does not control; especially, for those of us that have perfectionism as part of our personality type or employed in a profession which can be summed up with the phrase, ”Perpetual problem solver,” like the profession in which I was once employed.
Of course, on a cognitive level I am well aware of the fact that I don’t control: the weather, the birds that we see on field trips, the birds in my backyards or any number of other variables that come into play. Yet, if I know this, they why do I react with annoyance when we plan a bird outing and don’t see the birds I hoped to see? Why do I get fret for the birds when a loud, windy storm blows through town, or worry when there are freezing temperatures for a few nights in a row? See I know, “God is God and I am not,” but do I really know? Do I know it enough to both design my action and understand the limits of my action? Do I know it enough to subsequently control my reactions when things don’t work out? So, when it comes to birding, what actions can I do? I can put a warmer in my birdbath. I can plan to go on field trips at the most opportune times to see birds. I can research, buy, and offer seed that I know the birds like and possibly a few other things but there ARE limits to what I can do.
We are often told to, “Let go and let God.”
Hmm… maybe so but perhaps we should do action until there is no more action to do. At which point we then let go and prepare to have the proper reaction to the outcome. Maybe both aspects, action and reaction, of this are tests of my Christian maturity. I can do all the actions above and STILL not have the birds that I want to come to the feeder but then I have something else to do…I must control my reaction.
It might even be possible that my reaction often defines me MORE than my action does. So yes, “Let go and let God,” but I need to still remember who God is and what He says. When a tiny baby eagle dies, I can remember that God is in control and use it for a teaching moment; remembering that God knows even when the tiniest of sparrows falls, Matthew 10:29. When the Bluebirds refuse to come close to the feeder, I can react not with disappointment but by thanking God, that he gave me even a small glance at these beautiful peaceful birds (in everything give thanks). When Doves disappear from my count, I can react without anger remembering than even the Hawks deserve to be fed (Mathew 6:26) and God creation is orderly and under His plan (Genesis 1). When I get cut off in traffic instead of reacting in anger and I can react with empathy realizing it was a mistake or at the least maybe they are having a bad day. When an unexpected bill or bills come, I can react with faith and prayer remembering God’s promises of provision, strength, and historic care of my family. (Is 40:31, 41:10, 41:13, James 1:5, Deut. 31:8, Jer. 29:11, Philippians 4:19, Rom. 8:28 and many more)
God is God and I am not. How I react sometimes makes MORE of a difference for my future that how I acted in the first place. Ultimately, when I fail as I often do; I can react knowing by ignoring the whispers of the devil, by shoving worldly doubt aside, by kicking fleshly fear out of my mind and by repenting, laying my failures at the feet of God. Why, because “God is God and I am not,” but I am still loved by this merciful God who calls me His own, forgives me of my failures, and loves/ed me despite my errors. Thank you, Lord, that you are God and I am not!
Winter Tips for Birders
ALL PICTURES ON THIS SITE WERE TAKEN ONLY BY ABBY, CJ OR ME. WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE PHOTOS ON THE BIRDING FIELD TRIP PAGE, ALL PICTURES HAVE ALL BEEN TAKEN IN OUR URBAN BACKYARD/TREES, OR IN THE SKY AND TREES ABOVE OUR HOUSE/NEIGHBORHOOD FROM 2018 TO THE PRESENT. WE ARE USUALLY BIRDING EVERYDAY BUT ARE ALSO USUALLY BEHIND UPLOADING PICTURES.
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