What is it about a little bird that can bring so much joy to us?
The Audubon Society tells us there are approximately six million people who are serious bird watchers. Many plan their vacations just to be able to spot another species of birds.
Our fascination with birds goes back to the beginning of time.
In ancient Rome, an augur was a priest with an important role. He studied birds to determine the will of the gods.
According to folk wisdom through the ages, birds have been said to have a certain power.
Well, I'll tell you this. They certainly have power over me.
Often, I find the sight of one little bird so uplifting that it's almost magical.
There have been times when I've been depressed or excessively worried until I look up and spot a bird. Then magic happens. My breathing slows and I can feel myself smile.
Watching one little warbler can wash away my cares and uplift my mood.
I have no idea why that happens. I just know that it does.
On the night I recall as being the bleakest I have ever experienced because of my husband's illness, I dragged myself up my front steps with a heart so heavy it was hard to put one foot in front of the other.
When I got to my front door, I heard a bird that seemed to be demanding my attention. Bear in mind this was 9:30 at night, not a time when a bird would normally serenade. But this one was determined to get my attention.
As I looked up and watched the bird, my dark mood lifted and hope entered my heart.
Again, I have no idea how one little bird can exert such power on me.
There is something about birds that makes me think about our loving creator.
I love that little verse in Scripture that says: "If God takes care of the birds of the air then he surely will take care of you."
Maybe that's one reason why, to me, birds seem like messengers from God, bringing me peace, hope and joy.
Sometimes, when I'm so busy and feeling stressed, I remember to pause and look in the trees for birds. They are always there when I need them.
I'm not an informed bird watcher. I don't know the names of all the birds I see. All I know is that I love each and every one.
I love the tiny warblers whose song seems bigger than they are.
I love the mockingbirds that mimic the sound of so many other birds.
I love the blue birds, the blue herons, the blue jays and the colorful scrub jays that will sit on your hand if you're holding birdseed.
I especially love the bright red cardinals that come to my bird feeder.
I even love the crows. While most people vilify crows, I think they sound rather funny.
Some birds are so stunningly beautiful that they can literally stop me in my tracks. That was the case when I saw my first roseate spoonbill in Florida.
At the time, my friend Frank Johannasen had taken me kayaking in Sarasota Bay. When I spotted the pink birds, I stopped paddling in amazement. I had never seen a pink bird before.
Frank told me they were roseate spoonbills then expected me to follow him. But I didn't move from the spot. I was too taken with the pink birds and wanted to watch them longer.
In truth, every bird is beautiful, some more than others. The closer you look, the more amazing they are.
From the time I get up in the morning until I turn in for the night, I listen for my little feathered friends.
In the morning before I even open my eyes I hear the woodpecker that likes to tap away at the flue on my chimney, creating its own racket. Then the morning doves start to welcome the day with their soft cries.
Yes, I know. Their proper name is mourning doves. I don't think they sound mournful and don't like that name. Some call them turtledoves and I think that's far better.
I like to sit on my lanai and see how many birds grace my bird feeder. The other day while I was sitting there I saw an ibis hopping along the grass.
They don't normally hop so I watched intently and saw that the ibis only had one functional leg. The other one was hanging uselessly. But the little bird seemed to be doing just fine, digging for food and able to fly away with its partner.
Sometimes I think birds bring me messages of hope, and that ibis sure did. It appeared to function quite well on one leg. I, too, am limping along, using a wheelchair and walker until the surgeon says I can do weight-bearing with my left leg.
When the ibis flew off with its partner, I realized time will pass and I'll be able to do that, too. Sure, I won't fly, but it will feel like it when I can walk, dance and bike again.
A pair of sandhill cranes those magnificent big birds that mate for life are now residing on our street, much to my delight.
Big birds, small birds – they all fascinate me.
Take a look in your own backyard. A little bird just might bring you its message of hope and joy.