Birds offer life lessons for us all

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 11, 2009

I am a bird lover. I have fed and watered birds for most of my life. They further enthrall me by my knowing that they are the direct descendants of dinosaurs who once roamed the earth. I know that their progenitors survived a catastrophic bombardment by a huge asteroid that wiped out others. The aftermath of this event blocked out the sun and killed over ninety percent of all life on our planet, some 75 million years ago.

I have wanted a Carolina Wren to nest around my house for a long time. They are the only bird that sings year-round.  I have tried to encourage them by erecting houses, etc. This year, a pair nested in my carport. I watched them as they built their nest, laid their eggs and hatched three nestlings. They were then very busy collecting bugs and caterpillars to feed their brood.

One day I found one of the pair dead on my garage floor. He apparently had been searching for food and was ambushed by a stalking cat. It had been killed but not eaten. This was the most labor-intensive phase of raising their brood, and one of the two providers had been eliminated.  The surviving member continued, with extra effort, to feed the brood alone. She raised the chicks, perhaps at a slightly slower pace, and they fledged and flew into the treetops.

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Observing all this, I experienced a Henry David Thoreau moment. Had all this been human activity, how would it have unfolded? First of all, it must be somebody’s fault; send in the trial lawyers.  “Why was there no sign warning of the presence of cats?” “Whose cat is that?”  “Whose house is this and is he a cat lover or a wren hater?” “How will I raise these offspring alone with no outside help?”  “This is a grave injustice,” would be likely human responses.

Since his inception, man has always imposed inhumanness on other men. We have all experienced unwarranted attacks and injustices by others. Historically, there have been bloody wars, ethnical cleansings, the Spanish Inquisition, holocausts, slavery, indenturing and servitude caused by greed, piety, bias and the powerful exerting their will over the weak. It will be thusly for as long as we continue to exist.

We have all had struggles and disappointments, but it is counter-productive to dwell and foment on these matters.  People delight in things of beauty and light and shun their episodes of darkness and doom. Our only choice is to plan and prepare ourselves to make a positive contribution to humanity and struggle to achieve it.

So it was with my wren. She had been woefully wronged and her task was daunting. But, she just got down to business, never veering from her objective, and got the job done.

I heard her call this morning.  I could have sworn I heard her say, “Just get over it.”

Ed Field

Natchez resident