This is a post written by my Aunt Evie in which she shares lessons that she has gleaned by observing birds. Her article can be used as a mini unit study, encompassing the subjects of character development and science. Character qualities are shown below in italics and are linked to a description of the character quality being discussed. Each type of bird discussed is linked to a page that tells shares a picture, habitat, and qualities of the bird. These can be shared with children and discussed while reading Aunt Evie’s story. To add language arts to this bird unit study, lists of spelling words can be created from this post and writing assignments given. To include art, assign sketching or watercolor projects of the birds discussed. An energetic bird watching hike fits into the subject of physical education. I hope you enjoy her thoughts.
Just as the Bible uses many chapters, all different so God’s second book also has many chapters, and each one is full of character building lessons for those who look for them. One of my favorite chapters deals with birds and I would like to share a few of the lessons they have taught me.
From the common robins I have learned diligence. Early in the spring while other birds are just flitting about choosing nesting sites and going through their courting antics, the robins are busily building their nests. They have no time for nonsense! They are the first ones up in the morning and the last to retire at night. Their sturdy mud and grass nest is quickly finished. By the time most of the other birds have settled down to start making their nests, the robin’s babies are almost ready to fly.
In the killdeer I have observed courage and perseverance. One hot day in late spring I watched a brave little mother killdeer standing over her eggs which were laid among the rocks on the edge of a sunny parking lot. There was no need to sit on her eggs to keep them warm. Instead, she stood beside them to shade them from the burning sun Cars came and went on the lot but she would not leave her eggs. Even when I walked up to her nest to look at the eggs, she stayed at her post of duty, though she was obviously upset by my nearness.
The lovely cedar waxwings have taught me refinement and good taste. They do not go in for flashy colors like some birds do, but in their quiet way they are as beautiful as any of the more showy birds. Every feather is always sleek and perfectly groomed and their soft conservative colors look so neat and smart. Their voices are as gentle and harmonious as their colors, and their family life seems to go on without any scrapping or fussing, They will sometimes sit side by side on a branch and pass berries to one another.
From the beautiful yellow warbler, I learned something about the meaning of this text from God’s first book. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” A pair of these sweet singing birds had just nicely finished building their nest when along came a mother cowbird and aid an egg in it. She expected that her egg would hatch before the yellow warblers eggs did and then her larger baby would crowd the others out and get all the food. Many little birds are thus forced to raise baby cowbirds which are bigger than themselves, instead of raising their own babies. But the yellow warblers have found a way to overcome this problem. I once found a very interesting nest that showed me how they do it. It seemed to be a very deep nest but when I began to take it apart, I found that it was three stories high and the first and second stories each had a large speckled egg in them. The cowbird had laid her egg in the first nest and the warblers had simply built another nest over top of the first one, covering the unwanted egg. Then the persistent cowbird had returned and laid another egg in the second nest. But the yellow warblers still did not give up. They built a third nest over the second one and laid their eggs in it. How often we try to do right only to find that something spoils all our plans Can be learn from these little birds to keep on trying and “overcome evil with good”? Next time someone spoils something you were trying to do, see if you can find a way to overcome evil with good.
Patiencewas the lesson that an Oregon junco taught me one summer day. He was just getting ready to take a nice refreshing dip in our bird bath when an old robin hopped in and started splashing around. Since the pool was not big enough for two, the junco flew to a nearby rock and patiently waited his turn. The robin took his time, splashing and splashing, then just when at least he seemed to be finished he started all over again. he took so long that the patient junco finally fell asleep while he was waiting. Still the robin continued to splash. At last he flew to a branch to preen himself, but the junco did not notice he was too sound asleep. Suddenly, with a start, he woke up and seeing the pool empty at last he hopped in for his long delayed bath.
A western wood pewee once taught me a very striking lesson: dare to be different. I watched him taking a bath at the edge of a lovely wooded lake. But he was not content to just wade into the water and splash around like other birds do. He had a style all his own. From the top of a post at the waters edge, he darted at the water, hitting it a glancing blow with his chest, just before he swooped upward again. Water splashed in every direction as he struck it. he repeated this several times until he was thoroughly wet, then he settled on the post to preen himself. Sometimes we need to have the courage to be different, not just for the sake of being different, but because it is the right thing to do.
Last but not least, I have learned from my pet chickadees. They have taught me to trust. Birds generally do not trust anyone. Especially do they fear the human hand. It could close on them and take away their freedom and to a wild bird, freedom means more than any delicacy. But chickadees can be taught to be more trusting. As I held out to them my hand, filled with seeds, I thought of how our heavenly Father holds out his hands to us and calls us to come to Him. But we are so afraid that He might take away our freedom to do what we want to do, that we refuse to trust Him. But the chickadees learned one winter day that they could trust and eat from my hand and still be free. In fact, they were more free than ever. The rich food that I was offering them kept them warmer and better nourished than the meager food that they were finding for themselves and they did not have to work so hard to try to survive in the cold. So it is with us. If we will learn to trust our heavenly Father we will find more real freedom and satisfaction than we ever thought possible.
In an Audubon’s Nature Encyclopedia I found an interesting note about chickadees. It said that if you want to find birds in the wintertime, listen for chickadees. They have an air of confidence about them that leads other birds to follow them. I have found this to be very true. Wherever there is a band of chickadees, there will usually be other birds close by.
Those who learn to trust also develop an unconscious air of confidence in God that leads others to follow them. Would you like to lead others to your heavenly Father? Then first learn to trust and eat fro His hand, and your life will attract others and you will be able to teach them to trust your God. “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. Matthew 4:19.
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