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Birds and "The Sword of Damocles"
May 14, 2012

Moms, grandmas, and all others that have filled the roll of mother, I hope you had a blessed day in your honor.

My apologies, for not making the time to write a tribute to all the very special people we call mom and the very special ones that were there in the place of mom, and that could be anyone (men included).

Spring Rocks.

It is no secret that spring is my favorite season, and I think May is my favorite month.

For our southern friends, April may be the month of choice.

Here in lower Michigan, life really begins to happen in May.

Woods and fields quickly turn green and patches of wildflowers paint the landscape and carpet the woodlands.

Flowers we so carefully plant and care for are beginning to show off as well.

Birds populations change as visitors come and go.

The promise of new life that spring always brings, is now in full swing.

You may catch a glimpse of of a mother deer and her fawn or fawns.

A fox and her kits sneak across the field or cross a street.

The first batch of fledglings are beginning to appear as they cry out for their parents.

Ducks and geese, those that succeeded are starting to show off their two legged fuzzballs as well.

Now for me, few things are as adorable as a baby duck.

How about you?

(I suppose a baby bunny comes close.)

I toss out cracked corn for the Mallard ducks that hang out around the pond and come up to
look for groceries.

In the winter the population can grow to 50 or so, right now the number varies.

No matter, the ducks know they can find a meal in my yard and often they will follow me like I'm the "Pied Piper."

I digress.

I captured the picture on the water last Sunday.

Mom and some of her brood, no more than a couple days old.

Waterproof balls of downy fuzz, swimming, almost gliding across the water of the nearby pond.

This past week, we were blessed with some new visitors.

Momma duck and her brood of 9 ducklings.

It was special, to watch her take the same trek with her young, as all the ducks do.

They walked up from the pond, cross the neighbors yards, cross the street and into my yard.

She watchfully marched them around to the backyard, where
she knew there would be some scattered feed.

I quickly had to grab a cup of cracked corn to scatter amongst a bed and under a spruce tree.

What is amazing is the instincts and how these few day old babies follow mom's commands.

When momma duck saw me, she quickly laid down and froze.

Right with her was her brood, the too squatted and froze.

I thought I would share a few pictures with you.

On the march back, for a brief moment, they followed in a single line.

What I don't have a picture of is this as I thought I might have to place crossing guard.

As they crossed the street to return to the water, a thoughtless driver went by without
out slowing down.

Mom and self preservation took to flight.

Instinctively, the nine little ones stopped in the middle of the street, made a tight ball and waited for mom to return.

Thankfully, this had a happy ending.

I just felt like sharing this with you and a few more pictures follow.

We have a few more favorites birds to share before I get on with today's story and article.

Linda in New Jersey:

my favorite bird but wanted to tell you the excitement around here yesterday afternoon. Within one minute I saw an Indigo Bunting, haven't seen one since 2008, an American Redstart (never have seen them) and a Black Throated Blue Warbler. I guess they are not too common in our area. What a thrill!! It was a fleeting moment but so exciting that all 3 would show up at my patio and fountain at the same time.

I've even had to take my feeders down because of another bear this year. Whoever said there aren't bears in our area of NJ is sooo wrong. This is the 4th year we've had this huge visitor.

(Picture credit to

Thank you Linda.

Nice colorful birds, isn't in nice when a visitor comes calling and watch out for them bears.

Dan Winer of Nova, Ohio

One of my favorite birds is the red winged blackbird. I remember, as a boy, we would drive from Cleveland to the Sandusky area on weekends for fishing. I remember the call of these birds around us as we lazily sat fishing on shore. What a wonderful surprise to hear them again when we moved here with lakes near by to draw them.

Dan, I just happen to have a picture of a Red-winged blackbird on my peanut feeder.

It is nice to see and hear them in late winter, Karen (my wife) really enjoys them.

However, for me they almost become a pest bird this time of year as the numbers are almost staggering (I live near a pretty good sized marsh).

Joe & Rita Wilson of Spartanburg, in the Upstate of South Carolina:

I agree, not fair to ask which bird is my favorite. I love them all, especially the Eastern Bluebird. Their calm collective ways, their beautiful song, and the way they defend their nestlings. They can calm my nerves. They don't usually make a quick action. They sit still for a 20 seconds or more. Perfect for taking pictures.

I've had a Male House Wren follow me all over the yard this spring/summer, just talking and talking (calling or calling for her) but he was right with me, everywhere. Gosh, I started to get a complex. I finally said sorry guy,"You're not my type."

Cardinals are absolutely gorgeous against a snow background. They always catch the wife and mine eyes. I really like swallows, when they follow the lawn mower catching the bugs to eat or feed their young.

And I can't forget those darling Black Capped Chickadees, So sweet, and friendly. I guess I'm just partial to pretty birds. The wife says the Cardinals call, "Pretty Pretty Pretty", refers to her. I love the remarks about Gods little creatures.

Dang Joe, you about covered it all.

Happy Bluebirds, and people miss a real treat if they have never watched swallows follow a lawn mower or a farmer on his/her tractor.

If I were Rita, I would worry about you and the wren and let the call of the cardinal refer to my wife :-)

Kidding Joe, I'm kidding.

Gloria Monroe in Paris, Tennessee:

My Favorite Bird is a Woodpecker, all types hehe, I love the way they can hold on to a tree and eat the goodies I have put there for them.

Thanks Gloria, woodpeckers often fly under the radar as a favorite bird.

Woodies often tell us when a tree has insect problems (boring insects especially) .

Depending on the species, they can peck up to 20 times a second and have a long tongue that rolls up behind its eye sockets.

Here is a picture of my Male Red-bellied woodpecker.

Lynne of Springfield, Manitoba (just outside Winnipeg):

Favourite birds -- wow, that's a hard one. I asked the five kids (and hubby who calls everything a 'red-breasted robin duck) -- no surprise that the Chickadee was a popular vote, especially in the winter when they sit on the garden rail fluffed up. The Canada goose scored well, it's our harbinger of spring and we know with their arrival the snow will soon melt. We actually give a Loonie (our $1 coin) to the person who spots the first goose of the season.

At the moment we are enjoying the broods of fluffy yellow chicks. Not as frequent a visitor to our yard as the blue jay, the Canada Jay - or Whiskey Jack, as we like to call them, keeps us laughing at it's raisin stealing antics, every bit as fearless as the Chickadee. Most times I am delighted with our Bald Eagles - less so when they are snacking on the Mourning Doves -- but I must admit a fondness for owls. From our little Screech Owls in the Wood Duck box to our huge Grey Owl (our provincial bird) who spends more time hissing at me and sweet talking my hubby.

My eldest says no votes for our Red Winged Blackbirds - who are busy nesting and therefore like to swoop down and smack your head as you stand by the pond....I have to admire one brave soul who stayed over winter (in our -40 Celsius weather) and claimed the best nesting spot.

Lynne, you mean Canada geese do migrate?

All kidding aside, many of them do spend winter here.

A picture of mom and dad with goslings.

Here is a picture of a Gary Jay (Whiskey Jack).

Indeed a friendly bird about the same size as all other North American jays and they love to play too.

I don't not know that much about Celsius, but I do know that -40C is just as cold as -40F on the thermometer (look it up) and no matter, it is mighty cold.

Again, thanks everyone who participated in our favorite birds this spring.

While many birds are popular, it is nice to see the diversity in selections and what goes into making a favorite bird.

No matter, our Creator has blessed all of us by these very special creatures.

We enjoy them, but we must learn to protect them and the delicate balance of nature that Creation so carefully provides for all.

(Ducklings crossing the street to get to our yard.)

I love birds, I have for as long as I can remember.

Who doesn't enjoy our avian friends?

No other wild creatures brings such joy, to so many, throughout the course of the year.

Yes, birds entertain us.

They educate us.

Yes, they bring more joy, relaxation, and entertainment year round than any other creatures I know of.

Many people plan trips around bird watching activities.

Look how you may get excited when you see your first American robin or Red-winged blackbird of spring.

A smile covers your face and you can't wait to tell others when you see your first hummingbird of the season.

This reaction takes place all around and with different bird species.

The first loons or swallows may tell you that spring is officially here.

We almost covet them.

To hear their songs or watch their aerial dances.

You and I watch them build nests and raise their young.

It's almost like being a proud grandparent, when the babies fledge and the parents bring them to your yard and feeding stations.

A new generation of backyard birds to enjoy.

Then, there are the times when you are enjoying your yard or happen to look out a window and you see a bird that you have never seen before.

You feel a bit of a rush and run to your books to see what visitor you have.

A new one to add to your life list (lifers are always fun).

Birds force you and me to learn.

Yes, they teach us.

Birds are an indicator species.

A declining bird population or a threatened species always points to problems.

Environmentally or some other form of human interference or messing up a fragile balance.

Indeed, birds have special qualities and characteristics that are totally unique to the species.

"We Need Birds, Period."

(Ducklings and mom feeding.)

When I was a young boy, I wanted to be a bird.

Oh How Grand it would be to have the 'Freedom of Flight'.

Then I could go where ever I wanted to go.

Think of the cool places I could go and what I could see.

Literally I would have a 'Bird's Eye View'.

I would have super vision, and excellent hearing.

I would dress up in all of these beautiful feathers.

How wonderful it would be to see things from a bird's eye view instead of planted on the ground like we are.

Birds can come and go.

Dress in beautiful colors and sing songs of splendor.

Watch over their own little kingdom, some are world travelers.

Oh to be a bird, and have such freedom.

The Sword of Damocles:

The story goes something like this, and you may have heard it before.

Dionysius (II) was a fourth century B.C. tyrant of Syracuse.

To all appearances Dionysius was very rich and comfortable, with all the luxuries money could buy, tasteful clothing and jewelry, and delectable food. He even had court flatterers (adsentatores) to inflate his ego.

One of these ingratiators was Damocles.

Damocles used to make comments to the king about his wealth and luxurious life.

One day when Damocles complimented the tyrant on his abundance and power, Dionysius turned to Damocles and said, "If you think I'm so lucky, how would you like to try out my life?"

Damocles readily agreed, and so Dionysius ordered everything to be prepared for Damocles to experience what life as Dionysius was like.

Damocles was enjoying himself immensely...

Until he noticed a sharp sword hovering over his head, that was suspended from the ceiling by a horse hair. This, the tyrant explained to Damocles, was what life as ruler was really like.

Damocles, alarmed, quickly revised his idea of what made up a good life, and asked to be excused. He then eagerly returned to his poorer, but safer life.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes.

So much for wanting to be a bird, something is always after them, or so it seems.

Before you ever wish to be another person, or like another person (or bird), walk a day in there shoes.

This must be what it is like to be a bird.

A bird's life seems so free with the world as its oyster.

Now take a good look at the life of a bird.

You have a 25% chance, from egg to your first birthday.

You must constantly deal with and be on the look out for Predators on land, in the sky, and in the water.

Add poisons and other human interference that may lead to a species extinction.

You must contend with all kinds of weather conditions, and hunting for food is a daily and not so easy chore.

These are not good odds,.

Even the top predator birds don't have it as easy as you might think.

You always have to be on top of your game.

One slip, one moment of not being on your toes, and you are lunch for another creature.

(Ducks walking back after feeding and my favorite picture is the last one at the very bottom of this letter.)

Birds often sleep with one eye open (really they do).

Life of another is never as it seems.

The pasture isn't always greener.

The Sword of Damocles?


Nature's struggles and survival?



Thank the Good Lord, you are who you are, and for what you have.

Still, there is something about the freedom of flight, that calls to a little boy and tugs at his heart.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.”

Victor Hugo

Birds are special to you and me.

Birds play a part in song and poetry.

God's word mentions birds many

One of my favorites.............

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Isaiah 40:31/b>

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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