Although I love nature, I’m far more fond of flowers and greenery than I am of creatures and animals. I live in a neighborhood of single-family homes, in a large Southern city, in a house surrounded by trees. During the summer months, you will never find me mowing grass or trimming hedges; but in the fall and winter, I’m quite likely to be found raking leaves. First of all, I find summer entirely too hot to spend significant time outdoors. More importantly though, I love the fall and early winter, when the air is crisp but not yet frigid, and richly colored leaves fall to the ground by the thousands. I truly enjoy raking leaves; I find it quite relaxing.
Although done for the season, I ventured outside to gather up leaves and pine needles no fewer than 10 times this fall and winter. Every time I’d come inside, sore and achy, yet satisfied by my work, I’d take a few minutes to look out of the front and back doors at my work. And, every time, I noticed something odd, to me anyway:
Birds would flock to the freshly raked front and back yards. Clearly, quite a bit of food had been hidden under those mounds of leaves, from crickets and worms to seeds and berries from nearby bushes.
Because I’m fairly observant and, again, I do love nature, I watched enough to notice 3 types of birds in particular. After a bit of research on birds found in my area, I believe I saw robins (grayish with distinctive orange bellies), cardinals (vibrant bright red), and doves (light gray with beautiful blue accents). The robins were few, the cardinals far fewer, and, the doves, surprisingly, were many.
I often walk around the neighborhood, and I don’t usually see groups of birds lingering around in random yards. Of course it happens when I don’t see it, but I like to think that there is a spiritual meaning behind the specific birds visiting my yard. Rather than research the Internet to see what others think, I’m going to evaluate the meaning as I see it.
First, there’s the sense of pride and accomplishment I felt after working hard to rake up countless numbers of leaves. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time in my head, worrying and fretting instead of doing. I need to spend more time *doing*.
Second, I learned that the work I put in made a way for others. I literally cleared the way for a number of bird families to eat. Birds I never even gave a thought to previously. If I can do that for the natural community in my yard, what more could I do if I made an effort? For people in need, and for myself, in my own life, especially?
Finally, I realized that I must continue to rely on my instincts to remain sharp and focused in vision. Although the cardinals were easy to identify, I spent some time identifying the robins and doves because I initially wondered whether they were orioles and pigeons, respectively. But I didn’t really think orioles were native to the area, even if there were some color similarities. Because there were so many doves, and I didn’t think they would appear in such large groups, I dismissed them as pigeons. But in my gut, I knew that those birds, with their delicate heads and soft coloring, were far too beautiful to be basic-ass pigeons. I have good instincts; I need to trust them more.
So, basically, my venture into ornithology has been both inspirational and aspirational.