Birds make me nervous. The seeds of apprehension were planted during my girlhood with my uncle’s cockatiel, Felix. Stunningly handsome, but meaner than a sack of vipers, Felix would swoop by and perch himself on my shoulder just long enough to snip my earlobe.
Felix wasn’t the only bird who made me uneasy. There was an Emu at a petting zoo that hissed at me and would have removed my right index finger if given the chance. And I can’t forget about the Seagulls that swooped low to grab picnic lunches and later dropped an unwelcome surprise on my head nearly every time I stepped foot on a sandy beach.
There is one feathered frenemy, however, that turned my distrust for birds into dislike– an Amazon Parrot named Romeo.
Romeo, the beloved pet of a former employer, showed off a few tricks during an office party. He talked, danced, and clasped his claws in prayer formation before flying over to where I stood. and ripped into my neck with his pointed beak. Blood trickled toward my collarbone as I flailed and screamed. To this day I have no clue why Romeo attacked me, but nonetheless, the sound of rapidly flapping wings still evokes terror.
After the Romeo incident, I would not even go into a house of a friend who owned a bird unless the pet was securely locked in its cage. I never flippantly decided to despise birds. I remained guarded around them for good reason; after all, it was the birds who had a vendetta against me.
And although I never tried to harm birds, I also didn’t care much about promoting their survival.
Owning a birdhouse, bath or feeder held no interest for me. I appreciated their songs, but certainly did not want to attract those chirping creatures to nesting anywhere near my home. A few years ago, my bird-loving daughter first asked me to purchase a bird feeder, I balked. Not wanting to transfer my fears on to her I simply replied, “not now … maybe later.”
A few weeks after her initial request for us to buy bird seed, I read an article about wild birds starving during winter months. My heart softened and there began a deeper desire to cultivate my daughter’s love of nature and her interest in caring for God’s creatures. Putting my reservations aside, we went shopping for some bird seed blocks and dispensers. We hung up the feeders and then waited.
Birds didn’t instantly flock to the new dining establishment. In fact, I wondered if they would ever arrive. And then one Saturday morning, while I was washing breakfast dishes, I heard a few dull taps outside my window. A regal looking red-chested bird sat atop one of the feeders. A short distance from the bright fellow were two smaller birds pecking away at a bell shaped clump of seed hanging from a tree.
I returned to that window several times during the morning and throughout that entire day. Instead of seeing what I once classified as ill-mannered scavengers, I saw sweet and resourceful creatures beautifully dressed by the hand of God.
Joy ran deep in my soul as I recounted scriptural references about birds … about His eye being on the sparrow and about the swallow who nests near His glorious alter. After feeding a few birds, I delighted in their appearing, I appreciated their attributes, and I felt blessed by offering them sustenance.
I learned a lot that day. I learned about birds, about trust, and about rushing to judgement. I had judged an entire species based on a few shady fellows.
There have been times when I looked at some people in the manner I once regarded birds. I harbored mistrust toward individuals who remotely reminded me of others who caused me pain.
I’d quickly label someone as shallow, snobby, arrogant, or abrasive if that person demonstrated a characteristic of a kid who made fun of me in high school or a coworker who stole my ideas.
When we don’t know someone, it’s easy to make rash conclusions based on a few facts or even unrelated past experiences, but doing so is foolish and could rob us of the opportunity of a rewarding friendship.
A defensive stance is warranted with wildlife, but when it comes to people, it is always better to slow down and think before rushing to a verdict. Joy and blessing do not live among bricks of judgment or walls of protection. Instead, they rest in the place where vulnerability is unveiled, service is offered and love is lavished.
Have you ever caught yourself rushing to judgement about another person? Have you ever been a victim of being blamed for the mistakes of others? Please share your story … you’ll find no judgement here.