By Martin | Sunday, October 12, 2014 | 9:30 AM
I do not consider myself an avid birdwatcher. I like to watch birds out my back window but not the avids. Serious birdwatchers, called "birders," can be walking through the woods and quickly spot a yellow-rumped warbler, also a pretty accurate description of my daughter when she was a baby. Another easy one for the pros is the bristle-thighed curlew, which oddly enough is how people used to describe my grandmother. Experienced birders have no difficulty spotting the lesser goldfinch, mainly because of its chant, "We're number two!" I'm more of a birdbrain. I know certain kinds of birds like robins, sparrows, cardinals, orioles, Larry, and Big.
Some of you will remember when the governor of Tennessee was inaugurated several years ago there was a serious problem with starlings in the plaza. They were roosting in the magnolia trees . . . uhhh, the starlings, not his aides. His aides were roosting near the lobbyists. Evidently starlings love trees with substantial foliage to break the wind. There seems to be more than an ample supply of that in government.
There are other interesting facts about birds that have nothing to do with wind-breaking foliage. The harpy eagle of South America (similar to the grouch and zeppo eagle) feeds on monkeys. For them there really is no more fun than a barrel of monkeys. The Montezuma quail is most famous for its revenge on freshly washed parked cars while the Chihuahuan raven of Southwest Texas is known for its quick temper, especially if you try to take away its biscuit. It also makes numerous stops in flight to mark its territory.
The long-eared owl is relatively silent. According to one expert it sometimes gives off a series of low moaning hoots, sort of like the bass section in the church choir. A more down home bird is the red-necked grebe, so-named because when it goes to Walmart it wears a T-shirt that says, "I'm with stupid!" The secretary bird of Africa kills and eats poisonous snakes and lizards, but not before she types their letters and makes them coffee. The most unique of all is the sandwich tern. It feeds on liver wurst, from which we get the phrase, "took a tern for the wurst."
The Robertson County Players recent finished a wonderful production of "To Kill a Mockingbird." In the play we were reminded that mockingbirds are special. Miss Maudie, one of the characters said, "they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us." We can learn from birds. Every bird has a song to sing and he has no trouble sharing it. Listen to the varied melodies of the thrush, the robin, the mockingbird, the cardinal, and others. Think of how incomplete nature's symphony would be without the singing of the birds. Someone once said, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." That may be a catchy proverb but it doesn't work that way when talking songs and gifts. Both were meant to be shared.
Every Christian has a gift. Are you using yours in the church or community or are you holding on to it? God's symphony is incomplete without every Christian singing his song and sharing his gift. Besides, a gift, like a bird in the hand, will soon die there if not set free. Is there a place of service in the church's ministry where you need to be singing your song? If you are not singing your song and sharing your gift, then you are a living a Christianity that is simply for the birds. Sing your song. "Swallow" your pride and be "swift" in your decision. Don't "duck" your responsibility. Take your "tern" and stop "robin" yourself of the opportunity to serve God. You won't "egret" it.