I just finished repairing and reinstalling one of my bird feeders, and this morning I stopped in my tracks when I saw a bright red cardinal enjoying his breakfast with a smaller white-striped bird I didn’t recognize.
Then I saw him feeding the little guy—ah, what a good parent! Daddy even aggressively chased off a sparrow from the breakfast table so his growing kiddo could eat privately. (Poor sparrow. He was just trying to quietly go about his morning also…)
It was fascinating to watch, this avian culture! But I just wanted to be sure I was identifying it all accurately. Thus, I turned to that incontestable resource—the internet—and guess what? It wasn’t a juvenile cardinal Daddy was feeding; it was a juvenile cow bird!
If you know my penchant for analogies, you might find the following interesting from Under My Apple Tree:
This is a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird who was raised by a pair of cardinals. Yes, cardinals. They adopted this little guy, but not intentionally.
Although the Brown-headed Cowbird is native to North America, many people consider them a nuisance bird. They can be found in open fields, parks and backyards. They will show up at feeders, although no one I know puts out seed to attract them. They are noisy birds and the male makes a whistling or chattering sound.
Cowbirds are brood parasites. They do not build their own nests or raise their young. Instead, the female will lay eggs in the nests of other species and then remove one of the eggs of the host bird. Some host species eject the unwanted egg but most birds don’t notice and will raise the cowbird as their own.
Cowbirds are promiscuous, there is no pair bond. Males and females have several different mates within a single season.
A female will lay up to 40 eggs in a season and spends her day searching for nests.
Cowbirds will lay eggs in the nests of more than 220 species of birds.
Cowbird eggs hatch faster than other species eggs, giving cowbird nestlings a head start in getting food from the parents.
It is theorized that cowbirds became parasitic because at one time they followed roving herds of bison and had no time to stop to nest.
Cowbirds do not “imprint” on their foster families and will join the flock of cowbirds once they are grown.
Hello, America. Need I say more??
Maybe not, but I will anyway.
One of the dignities of Christ’s redemption is a holy attitude toward resource utilization. I am quick to add that generosity and care for the poor are signature injunctions of the Christian faith. My family was on W.I.C. for a few years and I’m thankful for it! I am concerned, however, that our culture is more adept at “managing” the poor, even enabling the decisions that keep them in that state…?
Jesus, on the other hand, gives us a different perspective on how to use what we have in our hands (He was not politically correct):
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Anything else just leads to bird-brained behavior.
Matthew 6:33 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.