Last Sunday, when Sarah and I came back home from visiting her family for the weekend I checked the vent and found that our starlings had all flown off. The Strange Noise family were gone. During the previous week we noticed less and less chirping coming from our cooker hood. We discovered that there was only one chick left, all the rest had flown off. We were a bit worried for that last chick as we heard it fluttering its wings and shuffling about inside the vent. It was getting too big to just sit there anymore, but for some reason it wasn’t flying.
As dangerous as the outside world is (there are cats around and they know what time of year it is – the time to catch young birds just learning to fly) we were happy to see that it had finally left it’s little hole in our wall. Now it can go and be a real bird, not some hole-dwelling creature crying for food to be brought to it. I wonder what went through it’s little bird-brain when it finally realised what its wings could do and what it felt like to fly. It’s amazing that these babies just have to throw themselves out there and start flapping, and that’s what they do, and it works! Whether a cat has caught it or not, at least it flew, at least it was a real bird.
People kept warning us that the starlings would be a nuisance. They warned us particularly about the noise. The vent where the nest was leads directly to our cooker hood, which acted as a sort of resonant chamber amplifying the noise of the chicks. At the start the chicks were blind and very small and made a constant but tiny little chirping. They sounded like gas escaping from a bottle. As they got bigger and stronger and opened their eyes to see their mother coming with food the chirping became louder. As strange as it is to eat ours meal to the sounds of wild birds calling for and eating their own meal, it was good to know they were getting stronger. While washing the dishes and looking out the window I’d occasionally see the mother swoop down. She was greeted with loud chirping and it always made me smile.
Then the poo came. So much bird poo! White stuff with a dark slimy thick centre running down our wall and splattered on our path. We had to walk around it when going inside. I would wash and sweep it away only for more to come. Sarah and I wondered how they got the poo out of the nest. That was answered one evening last week. There was only the one chick left at this point. We heard some rustling and I decided we should check out the noise. Sticking our heads out the back door we saw something feathery and fluffy poking out of our vent. While we aww-ed and gazed at the wonder of nature and our minds were trying to make sense of what exactly it was we were seeing, the feathery-fluffy thing erupted. SQUIRT-SPLAT! It was like someone hitting a washing-up liquid bottle with a hammer. A feathery-fluffy washing-up liquid bottle filled with bird poo. Our cute little moment shattered, we laughed and went back inside.
Nature may be beautiful and even cute sometimes, but it is mostly wild. Now the chicks are gone out into the wild and our vent is just a vent once more (albeit a vent I have to get around to cleaning out). They were our Strange Noises and I’d say we were their Strange Noises too. With all the smelly poo and all the noises I still feel blessed to have had their company and to be reminded of nature.
Being reminded of nature I am reminded of God’s sovereignty, something which always comforts me. After a very harsh winter one year I was feeling down and distant from God. While praying I remained quiet to listen for him and I heard something. I heard birds singing in the springtime. During the winter I was worried about them. We weren’t used to such cold in Ireland and I wondered how the birds would handle it. But spring came around and the birds were singing once more. They went on with life. They went on with flying and singing and having baby chicks and those chicks went on chirping and pooing and throwing themselves into the air and using their young wings for the first time. This has gone on for millions of years. There have been hardships and nature, I know, is wild, but it is also beautiful. It is beautiful to me because it reminds me I am part of something bigger and that God is in control, He has always been in control and He always will be.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 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? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)