The temperature has been in the teens and low twenties at night for nearly a week. Towhee is a typically secretive bird, keeping to the undergrowth – literally scratching out a living. With the ground being frozen, they too are coming to the seed feeders surprising me with their numbers. Let go of attachments they tell me. The Varied Thrush have come down to the lowlands, they’re persistently scratching, keeping close to the margins or completely hidden. The rare occasion when I see them is brief. Usually I only know they are here in the yard by their haunting trill. Make my presence known. Use my voice. The Winter Wren pops in and out of view, asking if I am confidently using the resources available to me?
To my delight, this time of the year also brings the Fox Sparrow – my favorite in the sparrow family. I think. It’s hard to pick a favorite of any species. I so enjoy them all – each with unique character and color. The color of the Fox Sparrow is such a rich shade of brown, invoking warmth in me. They too are secretive, remaining hidden most of the time. It is the sweetness of their expressions that truly endears them to me. A small flock of Gold-crowned Sparrows have been here for the better part of the last month. Conversely, they are bold and bossy having no reservation with taking their place at the feeder. Song Sparrow lives here year around. They’re not pushy in the least. The males throw their heads back and sing with abandon. In the springtime a veritable chorus all around me. White-crowned Sparrow are sure to come too, although so far I have not spied them in the mix. Sparrow medicine speaks of personal power and not being under anyone’s thumb. Am I standing up for myself in a good way? Do I know where my own powers lie? Am I using them well?
Both Chestnut-sided and Black-capped Chickadee are regulars. Purple Finch too. So is the Oregon Junco. The Slate-colored Junco has recently arrived. Theirs is a shade of brown unmatched by anything else I’ve ever seen. Steller’s Jay are particularly stunning in the bright sunlight of these frozen mornings – their blue seems to have intensified into a shade of dazzling blue radiance. Crows keep watch from a distance, vying for the peanuts I offer. Red-breasted Nuthatch dart to and from the suet feeder with regularity. Even the ordinary, the usual, remind me to find joy in the moment.
A huge flock of Pine Siskin has been in the neighborhood all week. Yesterday, Freeman, a Douglas fir that lives with me was filled with them. Little voices that collectively are quite noisy. What must we do as a human community? If we care for the Earth and all her children, what are we to do? Who is the leader for the greater good?
The freezing temperatures are also cause for bringing in the hummingbird feeder at night. I am generally not an early riser however the hummingbirds give me cause to wake before the sun is up to put the feeder back outside again. Having been in a state of torpor for probably 14 hours, they’ll be looking for a drink first with the first morning light before the sun has even risen to light the treetops with the golden pink of morning. Such a holy moment. Within an hour it’s time to change the feeder out again. It has become a slushy. Brain freeze! Act. Be focused. Be diligent. More joy! What is the source of my sustenance? What needs my fierce protection? Last week a female Anna Hummingbird crashed into the Plexiglas on my deck. I held her and sang to her until she was able to shake off the blow and fly away. What a magical moment as we looked one another in the eye. Friends now, she comes come with intention to eye me again, reminding me that my song is a prayer.
Two male Evening Grosbeak came down out of the treetops to feed, leaving their flock to glean up in the top of a Big Leaf maple. Again the medicine of the Grosbeak call my attention back to my FOO. What family of origin healing is needed within me today?
On the water, the ever-present Pied-billed Grebe. Go deep. And ride the surface. Many ducks have come, more come each passing day. Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, Gadwell, and Ring-neck are here this morning. There may be as many as 200 birds – on occasion they seems to all rise up at once, flying in great loops around the lake only to land again finding their places along the lake edge to feed. They remind me to find comfort in the truth of my emotions, to be at ease and fly with grace through my day. To move when needed. Canada Geese and a few Cackling Geese have been using Echo Lake as a stop over to rest and feed. Flocks have been numbering in the dozens, coming in waves. Leaving the same way. Where have they come from and where are they going? Is it time for me to have an adventure too? They remind me to be creative with my life. I sewed rattles throughout the day yesterday, both the geese and I sitting outside in the sun. I was able to be present with my thoughts, stitching prayers and bird song. Trumpeter Swan have flown over going somewhere to the North. Their strong wings powering them forward – keep calm, know your wisdom, and have faith. Surrender into Spirit.
Another surprise – Snipe! Yes, they’re real!
A lone Sharp-shinned Hawk has been traversing the yard on the hunt for small songbirds. I’ve seen him fly into the bushes a great speed but leaving without success numerous times. He flew very near to me yesterday, passing me from behind to light in the tree before me. Persist. A change is in the air, something new is coming, be watching for the subtle message. Observe. Accept things as they are.
The day is warming up, most of the frost has melted now. The Towhee have made short work of a full feeder, it is nearly empty now. Of course they haven’t done it alone. The winged community is at work. All around the yard the voices of the Winged Ones charm me. They teach me plenty about myself and who I am in the world, who I can become if I’ll just tap into the wealth of their powers. There is such abundance in the season’s bounty.
May you find their blessings in your own life.
Mitakuye Oyasin ~ All My Relations