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Warmest regards: My feathered friends make me smile

Published May 18. 2019 05:59AM

By Pattie Mihalik

It’s the end of a day and I should be in the kitchen making the vegetable quiche I want for dinner.

But I decide to forgo the healthy dinner and settle instead for a fast toasted cheese sandwich so I can stay on my lanai reading my new book.

It’s perfect porch sitting weather, not too hot or too cold. Just another perfect day in paradise.

I’m reading an unusual book titled “On the Bright Side — The Secret Diary of Hendrick Groen.

We’re led to believe the author is 85, living in a nursing home and able to write about it in a sad but funny and compelling way.

The book is a sequel to his first book with a similar title. It became an international best-seller with publishing companies in a bidding war to get it.

I think that’s because it’s unusual for an 85-year-old man in a nursing home to be able to write with such sweet sorrow.

I’m not sure the author is 85, but the subject is compelling enough to those of us with many candles on our birthday cake.

But as much as I want to read the book, my attention keeps wandering to the bird feeder that’s enjoying a lot of end-of-day activity.

Within the span of a few minutes, two absolutely gorgeous redheaded pileated woodpeckers are joined at the feeder by a striking cardinal and a beautiful blue jay.

All that color compels my attention and just about takes my breath away.

What is it about birds that makes me feel good just to watch them?

One little plain wren has the power to brighten my day. Having cardinals, blue jays and woodpeckers to watch all at the same time is a special treat.

Birds have always had great power over me. There was a time on one of my darkest days dealing with the illness of my husband it was the song of a little bird that gave me hope for the future.

I can’t explain why a bird can lift my spirits under any and all circumstances. But I can tell when some people are stressed they reach for anti-anxiety medicine. I go outside looking for some of my feathered friends.

Nor can I explain why these birds often make me think about God, the creator of it all.

Perhaps it’s that Bible verse that says if God takes care of the birds of the field, how much more will he care for you.

Do others have the same feelings about birds?

You tell me.

I went looking on the internet for the exact wording of Bible verses about birds. I was surprised to see how many biblical references there were about birds. I was also surprised to find several references to the spiritual gifts of birds.

We are told that in many cultures of the world, birds are seen as spiritual symbols of the divine.

Several sites noted that birds are seen as the supernatural link between heaven and earth.

I never read any of that before. But the good old internet tells us everything.

I don’t need the internet to clue me in to the uplifting power of birds. I feel it on a regular basis.

The older I get the more I am fascinated with birds — all kinds of birds. I think a lot of people are like that.

Maybe that’s because as we age we slow down enough to marvel at the beauty around us. We slow down enough to really observe birds.

My community has its own monthly bird walks where an expert gives detailed information about each bird. Those walks are becoming more popular with each passing month.

Many of those who do the monthly bird walks can identify each bird by the way it looks or flies. Sometimes all I see are small dots in the sky, but the bird experts can identify them by their flight pattern.

I know next to nothing about each species of birds, and I can’t readily identify each one. I have to pull out my bird identification book to determine what kind of woodpeckers are at my feeder. And even then, I’m not sure.

The only thing I’m sure about is how much I enjoy observing birds.

I have friends who plan vacations to exotic locations just so they can see different species of birds. They take along their “life list” and check off any new birds.

I, on the other hand, do much of my bird watching right at my own backyard bird feeder.

I’ve learned that even birds of the same species differ in personality and looks.

While every woodpecker is beautiful, one pileated woodpecker has a much brighter red head than his buddies.

I’ve also noted some birds are bullies. There’s enough seed for all, but some fight off other birds so they have the feeding station all to themselves.

The biggest bullies of all are the squirrels that jump on the feeder and land on a bird, chasing them away.

Not all of us love birds. My mother used to yell at them because they dirtied her patio. Then she had the tree cut down to get rid of the birds.

Yet her daughter grew up to love birds more with each passing year. To me, they are one of life’s simple delights.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at

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