“Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away barns, and yet your heavenly father fees them. Are you much more valuable than they?”
Our pastor’s group had a day of prayer and so I went off with my bible and sketchbook and was reading in Matthew 6:25-34. This place is a camp on a lake near Madison and it is next to a rather large marsh of cat tails. So i managed to observe quite a number of birds and in fact saw no little bird barns, looms or combines.
Jesus made extensive use of the natural world, the “2nd book” of revelation in his teaching. We often to go these places to find inspiration or escape as well. Though I have quite a number of creatures in my urban back yard, including the rabbits who enjoy my attempts at gardening.
Here is the list of birds I saw that day: Canadian Geese, Red-wing Black Birds, Mallard and Teal Ducks, Cardinals, Coots, Sand hill Cranes, swallows, brown and tree sparrows, purple finches (they are not purple but red/scarlet) and chickadees. Coots are duck like birds which are black with white bills; that was a new bird to me.
I also saw some kind of water snake in the marsh, so I decided not to go swimming.
So I went back to make a watercolor sketch. There are ducks, sandhills and a blackbird if you look closely.
Proverbs 1:17 is an interesting case where there was some disagreement over it’s meaning. Would a bird avoid getting caught in the trap and thus be a positive example, or would a bird obviously stumble into the net because it is, after all, a bird brain?
So a little education in bird biology was needed. From Sunday’s message….
The Father illustrated his warning with a proverb about a bird. Most commentators read it one way – that is if a bird sees you laying out a net, he will not get trapped by it. However, one commentator found that hard to believe, because he thinks all birds are basically dumb.
I went to the Biology Library at the University to see what I could discover about bird intelligence. It tunes out some birds are dumb. The Dodo bird had no fear of humans, and was soon hunted to extinction. However, I discovered some amazing indications that birds do have intelligence:
• The oldest human sport is probably Falconry, where these birds of pray are taught to hunt by their human trainers.
• Crows and parrots are as smart as dogs, and smarter than cats. There are crows in Japan who walk out into traffic during a red light, drop nuts in front of stopped cars, walk back and wait for the cars to crush the hard shells for them while they wait on the sidewalk.
• A Raven learned how to pull up a long string using its beak and foot in order to retrieve a piece of good tied to the end. Some crows use sticks to catch bugs in crevices. One bird even was able to bend a hook in a wire to make a tool to retrieve food.
• House sparrows have learned how to open grocery store doors by flying in front of the electric eye. Once inside they feast.