Not a true Audubon here. You know, the experts who can distinguish between the two million variations of sparrows…with one eye closed. Nope, I’m not one of them. But there are some birds that even I can point out with some degree of confidence. Bob goes considerably beyond that—his still has his trusty Peterson’s from high school, and if there is a question about a sighting, out comes the book, color plates and all!
One that I get a little excited about is the red-headed woodpecker. Okay, yes, I know there are a plethora of woodpecker types, and some of them have even helped themselves to generous portions of the telephone pole in my yard. Many times, I can hear them before I can see them—that unmistakable sound of a jack-hammer, especially if a confused bird tries to get grubs out of my aluminum siding. So, no, I can’t tell you definitively if it’s a Hairy or a Downey, but the good ‘ole standard Red-Headed one I’m pretty good at. (Maybe it’s because I grew up with Woody the Woodpecker?)
My middle daughter has one of these as a recurring visitor up here in her Catskills backyard. I’ve seen him twice now. Just beautiful. Of course, at first I was able to recognize him because of the signature bright red ski mask he wears. But this morning’s sighting was a little more interesting. I first saw his under-wings in full flight, the dark color and white stripes; that, plus the general size of the specimen, and I thought, hey! Is that him again?
And then, of course, he landed, and flashed that bright red head through the trees. A welcome site, since I don’t see many of that kind in my Missouri backyard.
My knowledge and experience in this area was limited, but it was still knowledge and experience, enough so that I was able to recognize my morning visitor even before sighting his obvious distinguishing mark. Audubons have the advantage of much more invested time in study and pursuit of their passion. I would go so far as to say that they are intimately acquainted with their subject. They don’t need the capstone markings, but can probably point out birds merely by flight pattern, movement, call, and other less apparent clues.
And it occurs to me…
Recognizing our Father’s workings also takes practice and skill, which means invested time and effort. Sometimes He may choose to make Himself obvious (the Resurrection is not a minor example, but there are also others.) I think most often, however, He makes circumstances more, hmmm…dare I say interestingly challenging to find His involvement? Sometimes, like my husband, we have to go back to “the book”, or even check in with those more experienced. It is our privilege, as well as responsibility, to search out the less obvious clues, if you will, not because God’s trying to make it hard, but because His goal for us is intimacy with Him.
“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”
Ephesians 3:17-18 Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. All rights reserved.