03 May 2010

Lessons from a baby bird

Mosquitoes are plentiful in Texas and many Texas residents keep purple martin birdhouses in their yards in hopes of attracting these migrating birds who love to spend their summers in the hot Texas heat where they will find a plentiful supply of one of their favorite foods: mosquitoes.

We do not have a purple martin birdhouse, but 2 of our neighbors do.

My mom always told me that purple martins are just a little bit picky about selecting a summer vacation home – they like it to be very clean. No remnants from the previous occupants.

I don’t think that our neighbors ever received this advice. Sparrows are still living in the purple martin houses. But that is OK. We love the sweet little sparrows too. We’re just having to break out the citronella candles to ward off mosquitoes.

Yesterday evening, Cristy was watching the sparrow activity on the ground around the bird feeder and bird bath. There was one youngster sparrow that had not yet learned to eat by herself. She was able to fly, but still relied on mom to pick up the bird seed from the ground and give it to her. I suppose with birds, they have to learn to fly to the source of food before they can learn to eat it on their own. One hurdle at a time.

The mommy sparrow patiently fed her offspring who scurried behind her making a big fuss. Or, at least, that is what it looked like from where we sat.

It made me think about how long it sometimes takes me to grasp concepts that appear to be very obvious.

I remember, as a child, using scissors to cut a circle out of a piece of paper was very perplexing and frustrating. That day in kindergarten class I watched while all the other students cut out their circles, but I succeeded only in cutting an endless spiral. I didn’t get it. Later, my mom showed me another technique that made more sense to me. I was so relieved. I just needed more instruction.

I also remember in first grade at recess, I was having trouble running relay races as quickly as the other children and I asked my dad for help. He showed me exactly the things I needed to know to solve my problems. They were things that other children somehow learned merely by observing, but again, I needed more instruction.

Recalling these experiences makes me realize how crucially important my parents were for me. I felt safe taking a problem to them and asking them to help me solve it. And they did, in a nonjudgmental way. These two early episodes, like so many others, transformed my feelings of frustration into feelings of competence.

And more recently, Cristy showed me how to use one of the features of our television remote control. My technology phobia generally scares me away from that contraption, but Cristy showed me how simple it really was. And I can use it now. Maybe not for everything, but I’m OK with some simple navigation. I can feed myself.

And that baby bird will soon learn too.


  1. Oh, Diane....can I just tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog entries?

    They're always a perfect combination of humor and wisdom. Little snippets of life that we can all relate to and learn from.

    One of my favorite things to do on my days off, is to sit in the park and feed the squirrels and sparrows. Aren't sparrows the cutest little creatures? I too have observed the same thing between momma sparrow and baby sparrow. However, I never thought of it as being the same learning process as we humans, but you're right!

    Great observation!

    Delightful post!

  2. Reading your posts is always delighting, Diane, I'll think on that little sparrow for days :)

  3. I love this. It's so true. Some things we pick up easily, some we need more instruction. And it's different for everyone. That's why a really good teacher is so valuable. It's a gift.

  4. Nice post. yes, we learn many necessary life lessons from those we love and trust...parents and partners. It's good to have confidence in someone who has patience to teach us things that we need more clearcut instructions on learnig.

  5. You must no be frightened of these modern/technological things. They really can help make life easier.

    Bless these little mosquito eating birds.

  6. 你不能決定生命的長度,但你可以控制它的寬度 ..................................................

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