Thursday, September 29, 2016


We have a fountain in our small container garden.  It stands just outside our door.  Neighborhood sparrows love us for supplying perhaps the only free water within blocks.  They congregate almost as thick as mosquitos on a hot August evening, sipping from the gurgling water washing across the top of the column and dropping down into the bowl below.  If I creep up to the door, I can look through the glass and see them shaking and fluttering as they dip wings into the coolness.
our fountain

Stealthily I inch towards the door.  I make no movements their sharp eyes can detect even behind the door panes.  They drink, bathe, fly, return.  Some clearly have leader’s rights.  When younger, smaller birds hop up for a sip or dip, they might be pecked, shooed away. 

My silent study answers some questions.   Is the fountain leaking; or why all the wetness around it?  How does it suddenly run dry sometimes?  Did it rain last night?  Where did all the water come from on those plants feet away from the fountain?

City birds do not represent quite the variety of suburban or country birds.  We have our pigeons, of course, the signature city bird.  There are surprising numbers of doves if you look for them.  Crows show up from time to time.  Starlings, of course.  Every once in awhile a redbird or a robin will show up.  But flocks of sparrows own the air space apparently.  I consider it something of an honor when the sparrow finds her a house under our eaves.  I don’t take too kindly to birds constructing nests right over our door.  We had one once and it was difficult to tell exactly where the bathroom was or if indeed we even had indoor plumbing. 

But I digress. 

Birds are what we got when dinosaurs disappeared.  I think that that evolution was a winner for planet earth.  Birds teach us.  They do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns, Jesus noted.  “And yet Abba feeds them.”  They do not hook up fountains or replenish them with water.  And yet they have enough and to spare, at least here on the East Coast where water is still relatively plentiful.  A rhyme I learned as a child runs

Said the robin to the sparrow,
  “There’s one thing I’d like to know—
Why these anxious human beings
   Rush around and worry so.
Said the sparrow to the robin,
  “I think that it must be
That they have no heavenly Father
  Such as cares for you and me.”

Consider the birds of the air.

American tree sparrow

© Frank Gasque Dunn, 2016

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