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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bye, Baby Bunting

Not as in the English nursery rhyme:

Daddy’s gone a-hunting…

I remember this English ditty from my childhood—and especially being of Royal heritage and all. You understand. It does, though, seem to get a little violent, doesn't it? Something about a rabbit being skinned? Although I do have “babies” on my mind, I’m talking about a Painted Bunting.

My Sweet Hubby (MSH), TLC and I moved to the country eleven years ago, I started collecting my “Texas” books: Texas Wildflowers, Texas Snakes, Weird Texas (your State probably has one of these books—they are hysterically funny and tres interesting). I didn’t have a book on Texas birds until we’d been here for a couple of years. Mostly because I was never going to be one of those people who are obsessed with birds. (Right, like I wasn’t going to be a “dog” person, either. Sigh.) I’ve enjoyed seeing all kinds of birds in my life. However, I’ve never wanted to be a “birder.” No, no thank you.

We were having a party for one of my nephews in mid-May of 2002. He’d graduated from our local State University with a Horticulture/Landscape Design degree. We had lots of family and many of his friends over for burgers, etc. Several of us were on our front porch—rockin’ and visitin’. I’d walked into our house when I heard a really loud THUD. I began looking around our Great Room—trying to figure out what had fallen—when I heard some shrieks. Coming from the porch. I could see people looking down at something.

As I opened the front door, MSH firmly said: “Watch out! A bird just crashed into the door!” There, at my feet, was a stunning bird (we were immediately certain it must be a male). I thought he was some kind of fancy parakeet. That must have escaped from his cage, gotten lost and flown—in confusion—into our door. Landing on our “Welcome” mat.

MSH suggested I go find a box—to put him in. So he could bury/dispose of him. Being the “hoarder” Hubby thinks I am (but which I am NOT), I always have an empty shoe box. As he picked the bird up and placed him carefully into the box, the bird moved! I put the lid on and took him into our house. Less than five minutes later, I could hear the little fella moving! I began to wonder where I might find a bird “Rescue” and/or Sanctuary.

One of our clearly worldlier-than-us guests thought it might be a bunting. I got the “B” of our World Books and looked that up. There was no picture, but he did sound like a Painted Bunting.

Thirty minutes later, we could tell he was virtually recovered. We realized he’d mostly been stunned. MSH took him back outside and walked over to the edge of our hill. When he took the lid off the box, away flew the Bunting—into the wild, blue yonder! Many of us (okay—mostly MSH, three older women, yes, including moi, and TLC) sighed with relief. Said a little prayer for him. I’ll never forget that day. Mostly because of OUR DISTINGUISHED GUEST—The Painted Bunting.

Turns out he probably wasn’t “lost.” I soon bought a book called Birds of Texas, by Fred J. Alsop III. I learned Painted Buntings can be found in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. They’re declining on the East Coast. The males have dark blue heads, lime green backs and red “underparts.” Females have green and yellow-green coloring. The males can be highly aggressive. During breeding season, they can be solitary. Or you might see them in pairs, as they are mostly monogamous. Before laws prevented it, they were sold as “cage” birds in the United States. They can be shy, secretive and often difficult to spot. Most often they forage on the ground for seeds and insects.

MSH and I had not seen another Painted Bunting since that party. Nine years. Not until…could I have a drumroll?...late this morning! Hubby was about to walk out our back door to go over to the Barn when he said, as I walked nearby: “Shhh! Come here! Come look!” During this scary snake season, I become a nervous wreck when I hear him say words like that. As I got to the door, he pointed to one of our feeders on the hill behind our house. I could immediately see the bright little bird! We both stood in silence—and awe. Watching him feed.

Knowing he’d fly off if we opened the door, I still went to find my phone. I took this picture—through the glass. (This could possibly be like Where’s Waldo?) Squint your eyes—be determined—and I think you’ll see him in the background—on the feeder. At the right. You’ll get the general idea of what we watched. Today. Sunday. The Lord’s Day.

When I encounter a gift like this dear little bird, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude to My Lord God. And His Son, Jesus Christ.

Almighty God,

Thank You for our country home on this spectacular hill in Your incredible world. Thank You for all the blessings You’ve given to me and my husband, especially TLC and Little Leighton. Thank You for the joy my husband and I felt this morning—as we watched one of Your creations eat his “brunch.” It was truly an honor to be a witness to such GLORY. Thank You for Your Amazing Grace.


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