Birds of a Feather

mike bird2
photo by Mike Hyland

“Once we reach a certain age, we often worry that those precious hours and days–the ones which we remember so fondly and so well–will never come again. We think that all of our best experiences are contained within them, and that all we really have now are our memories of them. While none of us knows well what the future holds beyond our basic understanding of the limitations of our bodies to sustain us indefinitely, all that we have experienced in our lives–every nuance of the totality of our contributions to life and those of life to us–every single twist and turn that led us to this moment in time, lives within us at every moment, and the reverberations of all those moments and memories echo in each of our thoughts and actions as we breathe in this very moment now.”
– excerpt from a recent correspondence with a friend

Sitting at my desk this afternoon, trying to resolve some of the inevitable clutter that accumulates during the all-too-brief time I get to spend at it writing, I finally felt comfortable enough with the clear view of the desktop to settle in to my writing, when I suddenly noticed a thumping sound outside my window. At first it was on the periphery which I dismissed as a branch from the tree outside banging against the window in the wind. Each time I heard the noise I would look over at the window, and after a moment, it seemed to be quiet, so I continued with my reading. After several minutes, the thumping sound would return and it started to make me wonder, so I stopped what I was doing and simply stared at the window, waiting for the sound to return.

bird window

To my astonishment, the thumping sound was being perpetrated by a robin, who apparently found some sort of fascination with my window. At first I was mostly curious as to what might be attracting the bird, which appeared to be attempting to land on the middle ledge where the two windows met. Some confusion may have been possible, I thought, and so I adjusted the window to change the appearance, hoping that would dissuade the bird. It did not. I decided to attend to some other chores for a time, figuring that the bird would get tired of failing to land or get through the window or whatever it was trying to do, but after several delays away from the desk, each time I returned to it, the bird returned as well.

Now I was starting to get a bit anxious. Why wouldn’t this bird get tired and just give up? I opened up the inner window to expose the screen, and when the bird came near I made loud noises and tried to wave it away with my hand. It still came back. I went so far as to walk outside, waiting for it to appear outside the window, and started throwing sticks in the air to discourage it from landing on the branches outside the window. It flew away, and when I went back to my desk, it would start thumping against the window again. This went on for several hours. I decided to call my sister to talk with someone calm and steady to question about this. We checked for a solution on the internet: “Block the window with something so that the bird can see that it’s not an open window.” This seemed to work for a while, but then the bird returned again. I started up Skype to show my sister what the bird was doing. It was so…persistent.

bird window2

We talked wistfully about how uncanny the whole thing seemed, and talked about our dear late brother, Mike, who not only was a bird fanatic, but whose last weeks of life were filled twice daily with flocks of birds–once in the morning and once in the evening, as they flocked in the tree outside his window as he lay dying. We marveled at the many such instances where birds seemed to appear since then in our daily routines, and how it always seemed like there might be some connection in the strangeness which always surrounded such appearances. I almost got through writing this post, some seven hours after the thumping began, when the bird appeared again. I opened the window all the way, and left it open while I typed. The air felt cool and the gentle breeze was soothing to my spirit. The daylight was fading as it past 7:30 PM here on the East Coast of the United States. I put on some classical music, and continued to write.

bird window3

The photo at the top of this posting was one of my brother’s favorites, and it was on his desktop background for many months after he took it at a nearby bird sanctuary. We all felt that there was some importance to the image of the bird, and today, as we skyped, we felt as though we must have needed to talk, and the persistent bird thumping at my window was the catalyst for our conversation. That seemed to satisfy us all, and whether or not the prompting was in spirit or just a practical matter, we enjoyed the conversation, and as night fell, I looked out the window, contemplating the words I had written to my friend. All of our wonderful memories of our lives which included our dear brother, as fine as they are, contributed to our lives in THIS moment now, and perhaps, that is the best conclusion of all.

7 thoughts on “Birds of a Feather

  1. Coincidentally, I saw a bird like the one in the top picture earlier today. I took a picture and plan to post it soon. I think it’s a Bahama Swallow, though I could be wrong.

    1. Hey Mark,

      Nice to hear from you. The string of coincidences surrounding this bird and the one at my window are a bit strange to be sure.

      I looked this one up and it looks very much like a tree swallow…the adult spring version.

      Thanks for sharing your bird story and for your interest.

  2. I have seen male cardinals battle the themselves in the side mirror of a car for hours and days. I have also seen both male and female bluebirds (both sexes equally territorial) battle themselves as reflections at our back windows. This in addition to the occasional bird that crashes into the window thinking it open space, also because of the reflection from the yard.

    You can purchase special stickers that are mostly transparent to human eyes but reflect ultraviolet light visible to birds to help them realize the windows are windows.

    Perhaps the lesson is that we often mistake ourselves for the enemy.

    1. Hey Jim,

      There are clearly behavioral components to the circumstances with the birds you mention, and I appreciate that you shared your experiences with me on this. We often overlook these components when trying to understand behaviors we observe in the natural world, and it is not lost on me that this bird may simply have been confused and threw itself repeatedly at my window for hours out of confusion caused by the appearance of the reflection. Had it occurred at any other time, and not when I was specifically engaged in expressing the bird connection to my brother, and while I was apparently stuck trying to articulate my thoughts, I might have dismissed it as simply an odd coincidence. It’s never happened to me before so I hope I can be forgiven for being a little shook up by it all.

      To me, it actually seems far more prevalent that we DON’T recognize ourselves as the enemy when we actually are the enemy! But certainly, we may, on particular occasions, mistake ourselves for the enemy as you point out, and the bird was simply demonstrating a behavior that we also engage in from time to time. Your point is well taken.

      If there is a repeat of this behavior, I may have to invest in the ultra-violet sticker you mentioned.

      Regards…..John H.

  3. After my father died I started noticing hawks and owls. I’d dream of both. Once I was going to a friends house and as I turned the corner an owl was in the road, in front of my car, just cleaning itself. I had to stop my car for the owl and once it finished it flew away. It’s uncanny. What do birds want to tell us?

    1. I’m so glad you asked.

      It is my belief, and a central component to my expressions about human consciousness, that we are far more intertwined with all life than we realize. On some level, we can see by the responses of other humans with whom we interact, that there are certain individuals who clearly resonate on a number of wavelengths that match our own, and to the degree that this resonance is apparent, our interactions with these individuals can compare to a whole range of experience from throwing open a window on a bitter cold day, all the way through to the more subtle varieties of experience like a knowing glance or a spontaneous smile. If we are sensitive and alert to these experiences, the whole spectrum of life is open to us.

      We often sense our connections intuitively with our human counterparts, since we have so many aspects in common, but we can sometimes fail to recognize the responses of other living creatures and environments because they do not fit so neatly into our “cognitive paradigm,” but as we both have seen, there is a resonance possible with all life forms.

      I believe that the birds, and all of the stirrings of life that surround us, are trying to tell us that WE ARE ONE, and that we are not alone in our grief, nor are we alone in our ecstasy, nor in our struggles to move forward through our lives. Everything that lives is connected to everything else that lives.

      Thanks so much for your visit and your comment. I feel a great connection to your spirit here and appreciate your patience and kindness in sharing with me……..John H.

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