Consider the Birds

Perched bird.

Photo: Julia Ozab

I’m in a bit of a conundrum when it comes to my blog. First off, I’m a writer–if I wasn’t I wouldn’t use the word “conundrum.” And as a writer I need to find an audience. In the 21st Century, that means the Internet. As an up-and-coming writer, I need a net presence (blog and/or social media) or I’m invisible. So I need to put myself out there, but then I see my hits and follows and like stagnating while others’ seem to skyrocket and I wonder what I’m doing wrong.

I get so frustrated that I don’t want to blog or tweet or post or pin (or whatever) anymore. That’s the other reason why I’ve been so quiet. Yes, I was fighting a bad chest cold for most of May, but the slowdown began before that. Because the burnout began before that.

So what does this have to do with birds?

Two weekends ago, I took a day off, got away from my laptop, and drove to the Finley Wildlife Refuge with my wife and daughter. Birds were everywhere. We could see them flitting from tree to tree, but even when we couldn’t see them we could hear them.

At the first stop, while Julia and Anna had their cameras out waiting to spot a bird on a perch or in flight, I stood still, closed my eyes, and listened.

I heard music, a counterpoint of bird songs in surround sound. And through that wondrous polyphony, God spoke to me.

Listen to “the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” –Matthew 6:26

And I realized that all the worry wouldn’t add one more view, one more click, or one more meaningless web stat. That’s not why I write anyway. I write to capture just a snippet of the profound beauty we all experience in life.

And I was more inspired in that moment than I could be by a year’s worth of tweets or posts. Because in that moment, I got in touch with the Source of everything.

So consider the birds singing, or the leaves whispering their secrets to each other in a nearby tree, or a child praising her Creator in her infectious laugh. Consider the ongoing symphony, sonata, and song multiplied by a million that God conducts for his and our pleasure every day.

And leave tomorrow for tomorrow. That’s how I plan to write, blog, and live from now on.

With God’s help, I pray, at those times that I will inevitably stumble.

Amen.

Bloggerhood Etc. 3/2/15

Oren with his wife and kids.

Photo from A Blogger and a Father

This is a hard place to start, but the only place I can start. The Dad Bloggers community lost a friend and colleague on Saturday when Oren Miller passed away after a ten-month fight against cancer. I didn’t know Oren beyond the words in his blog and on the Dad Bloggers Facebook page, so I’m not one to write a tribute. I’ll leave that to his closest friends. But I can share the gift he left us.

Biggest Loss. A Blogger and a Father by Oren Miller. His words will be missed.

Best Advice.Unity, not Uniformity” by Rita Ferrone at Commonweal.

Best Prayer.God Have Mercy on Us” by Matthew Paul Turner.

Best Interview.Sarah Bessey – A Faith, Art, and Motherhood Interview” by Jerusalem Greer.

Best Story.The Girl Who Gets Gifts from Birds” by Katy Sewall at BBC News Magazine.

Most Outrageous.The Danger of Being Neighborly Without a Permit” by Conor Friedersdorf at CityLab.

Best Special Needs Post.Dirty Bird” by Robert Rummel-Hudson at Support for Special Needs.

Best Compliment.What One Courageous Dad Taught Me at Dad 2.0 Summit” by Christian Toto at Daddylibrium.

Best Reflection.This is How We Survive the Winter” by Addie Zierman at How to Talk Evangelical.

Best Question.Would Headlights Work at Light Speed?” by Vsauce (via YouTube).

To catch up on the great posts I’m reading online and to get a sneak preview of next week’s candidates, check out my new Around the Blogosphere board on Pinterest.

An Unexpected Refuge

Wildlife refuge

On the drive between Junction City and Corvallis, about five miles north of Monroe, there’s a sign we’ve passed numerous times without a second glance. It sits at the junction of Highway 99W and Finley raod and leads to the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge. Sunday, on our drive back from Wacky Indoor Bounce in Corvallis, we took the turnoff.

A gravel road leads back to the entrance to the refuge. It’s a slow, dusty drive, but well worth it. Once inside the refuge, the roads are paved and the wildlife is plentiful.

Marsh

Birds and other animals vary with the seasons. Visiting for the first time in late May we missed the Dusky Canada geese. These are slightly smaller than the Canada geese we see locally year-round, and have begun their flight back to Alaska for the summer. But we saw the usual mallards and geese as well as a large flock of raptors.

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The View from Our Window

Outside our living room.

Eugene, OR, 9:45 a.m.

It’s not much. I doubt it would land me a spot in a popular online series. And certainly not in the contest portion of said series. But for an apartment complex in a city of about 160,000, it’s nice. Lots of trees and some flowers in the spring and early summer.

A tree with pink flowers

Flowering tree at our neighborhood park.

And wildlife. Mostly city wildlife. Birds like scrub jays, Steller’s jays, and crows, along with the ever-present squirrels begging on our balcony.

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Anna’s Favorite Raptor

Peregrine Falcon talk at CRC

Freya and her handler meet the first graders. (Photo: David Ozab)

The peregrine falcon. Here’s a description of this amazing bird from the Cascades Raptor Center.

A large, dark, powerful falcon with long, pointed wings and a long, narrow, tapered tail. Plumage is similar between the sexes, but females are larger.

The Peregrine Falcon has a black hood that extends down along the side of the head in a distinctive wide mustache mark. Upper parts of the bird are a dark slate-gray and lightly barred; underparts are a whitish color at the throat, shading to a buffy color with elongated spots on the chest, and more dark barring across the abdomen; legs and feet of the adult are bright yellow. Like all other members of the falcon family, the Peregrine has a distinct notch in the upper mandible for cervical dislocation of its prey.

This falcon flies with smooth, shallow, powerful wing beats, often soaring high with wings out flat and tail fanned when searching for prey, then diving and maneuvering at high speed to strike birds in midair. Peregrines are capable of gliding and flapping speeds up to 60 mph, and of reaching speeds up to 200 mph in spectacular dives called stoops.

We got to meet Freya, one of CRC’s resident falcons close up on Anna’s class field trip. We each took a photo.

Freya the peregrine falcon (taken with zoom lens)

Freya (Photo: David Ozab)

I was in the back and used the zoom lens on Julia’s camera. Anna didn’t need a zoom lens. She was in the front row and got to see Freya up close.

Closeup photo of Freya

“Peregrine falcon power!” (Photo: Anna Ozab)

When the keeper talked about the dark feathers under the falcon’s eyes and how they help her see—sort of like eye-black—Anna compared them to the dark stripes under the cheetahs eyes.

She learned that from her favorite TV show, Wild Kratts on PBS KIDS.

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Bald Eagle Photoblog

Bald eagle facing slightly to viewer's right. (Photo @2013, Julia M. Ozab)

Photo: Julia Ozab

A description of the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) from Cascades Raptor Center.

This majestic bird of prey, our national symbol, has a distinctive adult color scheme – white head, white tail, dark brown body, yellow eyes, and massive yellow beak. As with many other raptors, the female is larger than the male and the sexes look alike. It takes four years for immature birds to develop the characteristic adult plumage pattern, so identifying young birds can be confusing. Juveniles resemble Golden Eagles in being generally brown, but they lack the golden head, and their legs are only feathered halfway to the foot. Immature birds of both species are brown with areas of white; young Golden Eagles have areas of white on the tail and the base of the flight feathers, while young Bald Eagles show more variable patterns of white speckling. The Bald Eagle has a relatively large head, and long, straight-edged wings; young birds have broader wings and longer tails than adults. This eagle flies with slow, shallow, powerful wingbeats, and soars with wings held out flat.

More information on CRC’s resident bald eagles here.

Bald eagle profile facing viewer's left.  (Photo @2013, Julia M. Ozab)

Photo: Julia Ozab

Bald eagle head on.  (Photo @2013, Julia M. Ozab)

Photo: Julia Ozab