BIRDS inhabit all parts of the earth, and they are among the easiest creatures to observe. What is more, their variety in form, color, song, antics, and habits can make bird-watching, or birding, an entertaining and rewarding pastime.
You may even be able to observe a bird’s daily routine from your kitchen window: a European blackbird digging for worms, a tyrant flycatcher hawking for insects, a dove courting its mate, a swallow tirelessly constructing its nest, or a goldfinch feeding its hungry brood.
Some birds will impress you—such as eagles, falcons, and hawks—as they patrol the skies. Others may amuse you: sparrows squabbling over a tidbit, a male pigeon puffing out its breast to impress a seemingly indifferent female, or a group of squawking rose-pink and gray galahs hanging upside down on a swaying power line as a result of losing their balance. And some sightings will thrill you, such as the overhead passage of migrating storks, cranes, or geese. Indeed, such migrations have been observed for thousands of years, leaving viewers in awe of the ability of birds to navigate great distances with clocklike precision. In fact, the Creator himself said: “The stork in the sky knows its seasons; the turtledove and the swift and the thrush keep to the time of their return.”—Jeremiah 8:7.
Observing the Birds in Bible Times
The Bible makes many references to birds, often to teach valuable lessons. For example, concerning the ostrich and its incredible speed, God said to a man named Job: “When she rises up and flaps her wings, she laughs at the horse and at its rider.”* (Job 39:13, 18) God also asked Job: “Is it by your understanding that the falcon soars, . . . or is it at your order that an eagle flies upward?” (Job 39:26, 27) The lesson? Birds perform their feats without any help from us. Their abilities testify to God’s wisdom, not ours.
King Solomon wrote of “the song of the turtledove,” which heralds the arrival of spring. (Song of Solomon 2:12) A psalmist mentioned the swallow when he was writing about his yearning to serve in God’s temple. With a touch of envy, he said: “Even the bird finds a home there and the swallow a nest for herself, where she cares for her young near your grand altar, O Jehovah.”—Psalm 84:1-3.
“Your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are?”—Matthew 6:26
Some of the most beautiful references to birds were made by Jesus Christ. Consider these words found at Matthew 6:26: “Observe intently the birds of heaven; they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are?” That touching illustration reassures Jesus’ followers that they are precious to God and need never be anxious about obtaining life’s necessities.—Matthew 6:31-33.
Today, bird-watching is a popular recreational activity—and understandably so, for birds amaze us with their antics, beauty, courtship rituals, and songs. What is more, they can also teach the thoughtful observer valuable lessons about life. Will you “observe intently the birds”?
The ostrich is the largest living bird, and it is the fastest runner, able to reach speeds of about 45 miles an hour (72 km/h) for short bursts.