Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)
I love watching the birds at bird feeders. They are God’s creation, it is true, but also they are the Creator’s guests on this planet too.
They are social creatures, and often very human in their behaviors. Bird feeders are gathering places for birds to socialize. At times they seem to take turns feeding – rotating in and out giving all the other birds a chance to feed as well. There are periods of time when no birds are at the feeders and then suddenly a number of birds show up vying for space at the feeders. Perhaps they have a herd mentality.
Some spend much of their energy chasing competitors away from the feeder, even though they sometimes don’t get to eat themselves so preoccupied are they with chasing others away. And then before they can eat, they themselves are chased away by another bird.
Some birds are bullies and they are mean. Others seem to get along with a wide variety of other species. There are two feeders outside my bedroom window. Sometimes all the birds are at one feeder, squabbling about room and turns, while the other feeder is virtually ignored. Occasionally while a group of birds is disputing space at the one feeder, a lone, seemingly more sensible, bird quietly feeds at the otherwise unoccupied feeder. It reminds me very much of kid behavior (and adult human behavior at times too!).
Others majestically swoop in and all the other birds leave, making way for the heir apparent.
None live at the birdfeeder. Some stay for minutes, some just grab a seed and flee, like hungry teenagers raiding the fridge.
One can see birds defending the seeds and the feeder as if they themselves had worked hard to put it there, rather than it being completely grace, gratuitously given. The seed is put out for any or all birds, not just the good ones, or the pretty ones or those that add beauty to the airwaves or color to the drab winter landscape.
The bird feeder is an example of God’s own kindness and goodness toward the world. He gives sunshine and rain to the good and the wicked (Matthew 5:45).
Those birds, comical and beautiful, social and competitive: they are so like us, or perhaps we are so like them. They receive freely but some begrudge others benefitting from the common gift for which they themselves did not work but have taken possession of it for themselves.