Feeding the Birds: A Calming, Spiritual Experience
by Ellen DuBois on 01/01/18
I started feeding the birds during the summer of 2015 with a hummingbird feeder by my front porch.
It didn't take long for me to become completely fascinated by the beautiful, tiny birds. Watching them quickly sip on sugar water has not only entertained me, I've also been in awe of nature and its beauty. I've become more acutely aware of how perfectly made God's creations are.
Feeding the birds has become a calming, spiritual experience.
In both 2016 and 2017, I made sure I had a hummingbird feeder out front and plan to hang the feeder again in 2018. I've spent much of my free time, (in the case of hummingbirds, late spring and summer), basking in the joy those tiny, beautiful miracles of nature deliver. (Although "free time" can be hard to come by, feeding the birds is a great way to spend it. It's "destressing" time.)
During the winter of 2017, I expanded my (still) novice bird feeding by hanging a suet feeder. Shortly after discovering how much squirrels love to break in and steal the food from the feeder,
I bought a sturdy, mesh feeder meant for various types of birds...cardinals included.
It's fascinating how determined squirrels are to get the coveted bird food- no matter what kind of feeder it's in. I should have known that nothing would stop them after having a squirrel chew through the heavy, thick plastic of my trash barrel to feast on whatever morsels he found. (I have since moved the suet feeder so the squirrel can't pry it open and steal the entire block of suet.) Being the "sap" I am, I've grown fond on this little guy, (I named him Harry), and don't want to see him go hungry, either. It seems the squirrel(s) and birds are coexisting, although I often have to let "Harry" know when he's being a glutton.
Anyway, after hanging my new mesh feeder, I nestled on the couch in the warmth of the den and looked out the sliding glass doors. I watched the feeder sway in the cold wind couldn't wait to see the first bird come to dine. It took about ten minutes for the first of the birds to arrive.
Beautiful, little Black Capped Chickadees are wonderful to watch. Their markings make them easy to spot and they're such hearty little birds! (I only knew what kind of bird this was by googling "black and white winter birds". Also, a friend on Facebook told me she's got a ton of them in her yard.)
I find myself wanting to check on the bird feeder quite often to see who's come to dinner. Whenever birds are there, I am drawn to watch them. The way they pull food out of the mesh shows me how strong they are. Some birds stay and feast at the feeder while others take one seed at a time, fly off and come back for more. There are others who prefer to gather seeds that fell to the ground, making sure none are left behind. I've seen small birds, medium sized birds and some larger ones and so many colors and markings. With each type I see, I try to research them based on the pictures I take to learn what they are. After all, I'm a newbie at this.
In these record-setting, bitterly cold New England temperatures, feeding the birds makes me feel good. I can only imagine how it must be to hunt for food while the earth lies dormant and frozen. However, unlike people, birds are amazingly resilient. God created them with the tools necessary to survive these bone-chilling temps.
I'm thankful He did. Watching the birds quiets me and makes me smile. I swear I feel my whole body calm, including my breathing. I disconnect from my running thoughts, phone, computer and anything else that's "plugged in" and simply enjoy nature in all its glory.
I was excited and grateful when a cardinal came to the bird feeder! I've always loved these gorgeous birds and consider them to be quite spiritual, especially since the passing of my mother. When I saw the one pictured below, you'd think I'd won the lottery.
I look forward to seeing more types of birds and learning about them. I know I'll laugh when I see "Harry the Squirrel" make his way to the feeder to get "his share". I'll gently knock on the window when I think he's had enough, (he can be quite the pig). Setting up my HandyCam on a tripod so I can film my fine feathered friends is very fun- I don't know what'll be on there until I look. The shutterbug in me enjoys getting great shots with my 35mm camera. My phone is great for quick pictures and short recordings, too.
Feeding the birds has taken my already strong connection to nature and strengthened it. It's also given me cause to stop and focus more intensly on life, what's real and our connection to nature. In may case, feeding the birds is a very spiritual thing. To enjoy the wonder of God's creations is something many of us find little, if any, time for. Speaking for myself, it's one of the best and most therapeutic things I do.
Indeed, a spiritual experience.
The piece de resistance for me: The Cardinal. It's no wonder it's hard to take your eyes off his stunning, red color.
As I embark upon my bird feeding journey, I will learn more as I go along. I don't know what the best bird foods are to buy, but I know people who do. My best friend has been at this for a long time and she's already given me some great advice and tips. Another couple I'm friends with has an array of feeders, too and I'm sure they'll be giving me tips and pointers as I go along.
I think I'll go feed the birds now and enjoy the serenity watching them brings.
All Photos were taken by and are the property of Ellen M. DuBois. Please do not use without permission.
Ellen DuBois: I'm the author of I Never Held You: Miscarriage, Grief, Healing and Recovery and Host of MiscarriageHelp.com. I've also been published with Blue Mountain Arts, and am a contributing author to several books including: Soul Matters for Teens, Sisters, (Blue Mountain Arts gift book), Conquering Panic and Anxiety Disorders- Success Stories, Strategies and other Good News, Romancing the Soul, More God Allows U-Turns. Additionally, I'm also known as "Miss Ellen"- a piano teacher to students from 5 to tween and beyond-
I love it!