Wings of Arrows

See if you can spot the hawk...

See if you can spot the hawk…

The weather yesterday made it feel like April instead of February and I took advantage of the mild temperatures by taking a nice long walk with Jazzmin. We went up the big hill, which we haven’t in many months and as we neared the hill, I saw a hawk sitting in the bare branches of a tree alongside the road. I’ve become really good at spotting hawks from a distance now and I slowed my pace knowing he would fly off as soon as we got close. As soon as we were within 20 feet, he took off just as I’d expected. I can’t take decent distance pictures with my camera phone, but I snapped a couple photos as he flew out of the tree and across the field next to the road.

A bit further down the road I saw another hawk soaring in the sky and I stopped to watch his graceful movements as he rode the wind. I see hawks quite often and I know they’re one of my spirit guides/spirit guardians/animal totems. Seeing one is always a good omen and I take them as a sign that I’m headed in the right direction with my life, my feelings and my thoughts. Hawks are like arrows pointing me on my way with their graceful, beautiful wings and I feel so blessed that they watch over me.

Although today wasn’t as warm as yesterday, I took Jazz out on a walk because it’s my duty as her pack leader and it’s good for both of us. I’d just reached the end of my driveway when I heard a hawk cry in the sky. I stopped and turned back toward my house, peering into the sky for the source of the cry. After a few moments of searching, I saw the hawk soaring high up amid the clouds and blue sky and I smiled.

Happy that I’d seen a hawk so early on our walk, I headed down the road and glanced toward where the hawk had been. Much to my surprise, I realized there were two more hawks flying with the first hawk. By the time I reached the end of my road, there were four hawks circling in the sky and they had broken up into two couples. I stopped again and just watched them in awe because it had been quite a while since I saw four hawks flying together.

When we returned to my house, I felt even more blessed as I saw that the four hawks continued to circle near my home. The couples had broken apart, one set soaring over the road down the hill and the other soaring over the field behind my house. I was honored that they remained nearby and I’m certain they’re an indication of positive things yet to come in my life. With my future traveling on wings of arrows, I know that everything will be just fine.

Blessings on Bird Wings Part 3 (conclusion)

Indigo bunting. Such a lovely shade of blue!

Indigo bunting. Such a lovely shade of blue!

There was an indigo bunting at my feeder today and as I’ve never seen one before in my life, I figured that was a sign that I need to write the conclusion to this series of blog entries. I’m not sure what drew the adorable little blue, black and purple indigo bunting to my bird feeder oasis but I’m glad he came! Maybe it was all the pretty violas and petunias I put out or the pear tree or the fountain or the addition of yet another feeder I forgot I owned. Whatever it was, I hope he comes back again and brings lots of family and friends!

indigo bunting2 indigo bunting3 indigo bunting4

When I finished the first stage of my wild bird oasis last week, it was still light enough to take Jazzmin for a walk so we headed out over the hills. As I rounded the curve on the first road, I was reveling in my immense feelings of happiness and contentment. I was thinking how lucky I am to be able to work from home with a flexible schedule that allows me to be outside during the nice weather. I can also use my free time to work on my crafts at my table with the window open to enjoy the breeze and sounds of the birds. It’s a level of peace and fulfillment I never experienced when working outside the home.

As I walked Jazz further along the hills, I took a deep breath and said “I am blessed.” It felt amazing just saying those words and knowing how true they are! We continued along the road and I was looking up into the sky as I always do in search of hawks. I almost always see a hawk when I’m outside or when I’m driving, I just have to keep my eyes peeled. Sure enough, when we topped the next hill, I saw a hawk circling slowly above the trees. I broke out in a smile so bright it would’ve lit up the trees if the sun hadn’t already been shining.

Seeing a hawk is always a positive sign and good omen for me and the sight of this one soaring was further confirmation that I’m finally on the right path in my life. I just have to continue to have faith, trust that life will work out as it’s supposed to and of course keep enjoying the daily blessings on bird wings.

Guides along the path

Red-tailed hawk. Image courtesy of National Geographic

If you’ve been loyally reading every blog post I’ve written here then you know that I’m a huge believer in signs. I don’t just mean road signs, though those have come in very handy when I’ve become lost in New England. The signs that I pay the most attention to are of a more divine nature.

Coexisting with my belief in signs is my belief in spirit guardians. Quite often in fact, the signs I see come from the animals around me. Butterflies are a sign of hope and remind me that my father and other loved ones who have passed are always near. When I see a fox, I consider it good luck. Hearing an owl in the woods at night is reassurance from the spirits that they’re with me even in darkness. Seeing a hawk means that I am on the right path and to continue on in the direction I’ve chosen.

I lost track of how many hawks I saw perched in trees, atop poles and flying through the sky on my last drive to New England. I felt that they were not only guiding me but also showing the approval of higher powers as I pursue my dreams. There are always signs and guides along the path, if you’re willing to open your mind, heart and eyes to see them.

Walking Toward the Unknown

The beautiful feather I found on my walk

The beautiful feather I found on my walk

It was excessively humid yesterday. I took Jazzmin for a short walk in the morning and while it was cool, the air was far too thick with humidity to be comfortable. The air was even hotter and heavier by our evening walk and the moment I stepped out onto the road and felt the heat radiating off the pavement, I decided we’d walk up the farmer’s access road. I knew it wouldn’t be much cooler but the ground is more grass and dirt and the trees lining it provide shade.

Jazzmin is always very excited on the access road because she can smell the deer that frequently travel along it. There’s also no shortage of birds, chipmunks, squirrels and bunnies that like to make the occasional appearance. We made it along the straight part of the path without any major issues and I was quite ready to go home and shower the sweat off! I turned us back around and we started our return trip. I then heard an unfamiliar noise that made me stop.

The noise was coming from the long grove of trees that lay just beyond where the curve in the road starts. It sounded like a crow call but deeper and more ominous than I’d heard before, almost like a bark. Curious, I walked toward the noise wanting to know exactly what animal was making it and why. I suppose there are people who would turn and run from such a haunting sound but I’ve learned that walking toward the unknown can reveal amazing discoveries.

Getting closer to the origin of the noise meant walking off the access road and into the farmer’s recently mowed field. The ground was still a bit soggy from recent rain and all the humidity so Jazz and I had to navigate around a few puddles. Following the continuing noise, I charged on through the field and a few moments later a red-tailed hawk flew out of the trees and to a spot further down in the grove. I love hawks and feel they are a very positive sign and symbol, so whenever I see them I smile. I continued walking toward the small pond in that field and the hawk appeared again, this time flying across the field to a thicker forest of trees. A crow then emerged from the trees near us and followed the hawk across the field where it started making unhappy noises that were more familiar to me. The noise I’d heard was in fact a crow being rather upset that a hawk was near something important to it, a nest or some fallen prey perhaps.

Satisfied that I’d solved that mystery, I led Jazz back toward the road. As we walked along the tree line I saw some fallen branches and I approached them hoping maybe we’d find a deer antler. I didn’t find a deer antler but I did find a rather beautiful feather. I picked it up and was in awe of how it’s copper color reflected the light. I collect feathers and that feather was certainly the largest and nicest I’ve found yet. I didn’t want to put it into Jazz’s backpack and risk damaging it so I tucked it into the top of my ponytail where I knew it’d be safe. If I’d encountered anyone on that walk back they would have probably done a doubletake seeing a feather protruding from my hair.

Proud of my discoveries and my little treasure, I walked Jazzmin back home. Once in the house, I tucked the feather into a spot on my desk-side cork board and then happily showered to feel human again. After my shower I powered up my computer and began searching through images of bird feathers trying to figure out what I’d found. I ruled out red-tailed hawk and owl but among the random images I found an exact match. Clicking on the image I read that it was a wild turkey feather. Sure enough, when I went to the full website, there were more examples of turkey feathers and what I had found matched exactly. I was so happy I’d figured it out! It was fascinating to me that such a beautiful feather could come from creatures that look less than graceful when they attempt to fly.

Once again I learned something new by walking toward the unknown. Nature showed me that being brave brings unique gifts and that sometimes the most beautiful things can come from the most unexpected sources.

Confidence is Natural…

Mr. Bluebird perched confidently on my pine tree.

Mr. Bluebird perched confidently on my pine tree.

Confidence. The Oxford Dictionary defines confidence as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” A very apt definition. To me, confidence is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. Perhaps everyone struggles with it at some point in their life. I often worry that if I am too confident in myself I will come off as conceited. Conceit defined as “excessive pride in oneself.” It can get rather confusing…to me anyway. Then again, I’m a human.

On my drive into work this morning I saw a red-winged blackbird sitting on the tiniest twig of a branch. He was rather calm looking and didn’t appear to have any fear that the twig was going to break and drop him. He knew his wings would catch him if the branch broke. He had confidence in his wings, or perhaps it’s just natural instinct. I envy animals and their instincts and I highly doubt they ever suffer from low self-confidence, worry, doubt or self-deprecation. Seeing that one bird sitting there started the wheels of thought in my brain and when they start, they’re hard to stop.

That blackbird didn’t spot that twig from the sky and think “I wonder if that will support me? What if it breaks and my wings suddenly malfunction and I drop to the ground? What if all the other birds laugh at me?” He probably thought: “Branch. Perch.” and accomplished exactly what he wanted to. No doubts, no fear, no worries, just action. That bird was confident in his abilities as a bird because he knows no other way to be. I envy him. I continued on this course of thought…

I always see hawks circling in the sky or perched on the wires between telephone poles. They’re searching for prey or resting from their last meal. When they spot a mouse, small bird or other oblivious impending victim they don’t think “What if I swoop down, misjudge my aim and miss the prey? What if the prey spots me and runs away? What if my wings get tangled and I tumble and fall gracelessly onto my head? Would my fellow hawks see? I’d never live it down! Would the prey come back and laugh at me?” They just dive and either get their prey or they don’t. If they miss, they’ll try again without a second thought and without a loss of confidence. That’s how they know to be. I admire them.

I am opening myself up for some ribbing from friends by saying this, but I then thought about squirrels. Those bushy-tailed rodents are always running across the road, scampering across wires and climbing trees. They quite often make great leaps from tree to tree and run the tightrope of wires spanning the road. Do they pause on the branch or wire and think “What if I gauge the distance wrong and miss the branch? What if I swish my tail incorrectly and topple from the wire? What if the car doesn’t swerve with screeching tires when I pause in the middle of the lane?” They just act, confidently and quickly. Their lives aren’t long enough to waste doubting their own abilities and there isn’t room in their devious little rodent minds for useless worry. I’m almost jealous. Almost.

It’s spring and therefore mating season among the birds in my yard. The male birds are constantly strutting around puffing out their chests and flapping their wings as they sing what must be a beautiful serenade to the female birds. They’re very competitive and chase each other away every other minute. Their instinct is telling them they need to mate so they do it. They don’t perch in bars, scan bird dating sites and spend hours fretting about having every feather in place. They do what they do and expect it to work and it must since there’s never a shortage of birds in my yard. They’re confident that they can get a mate because that’s how it has worked for countless years.

In my constant quest to be more confident in myself, I’m going to take lessons from the animals I observe around me. There is a balance and power in the animal kingdom that I’m certain can teach me quite a lot. I’m confident that when I stop tripping over my own worries, doubts and fears I’ll finally be able to spread my wings and truly fly…and perch on the tiniest branch of hope without the slightest fret of falling.

My Peeps aka Bird Watching

A gold finch and a purple finch at my feeder

A gold finch and a purple finch at my feeder

Finches feeding 3

Goldfinch keeping an eye out

Finches feeding 2

Both finches checking either direction

Finches Feeding 4

The finches eating side by side with a slate colored junco on the ground

I love feeding the birds. I have three bird feeders around my house so I can watch them from my kitchen window, living room window and deck. It’s fascinating watching the birds with their aerial displays and feeding tactics. I’ve learned what birds flock together, what their songs sound like and how their appearance changes depending on the season.

When I first put out a new bird feeder it usually sits untouched for a day or so. Eventually a scout chickadee will appear and I know that shortly after that the feeder will be covered with goldfinches, house finches, purple finches, cardinals, sparrows, blue jays, juncos, tufted titmouse, nuthatches, grosbeaks and the occasional bluebird. If you click on any of the bird names I just mentioned, it will take you to Audubon’s website with interesting facts about them, what they look like, what their songs sound like and where they live.

The finches and sparrows will eat together with only the occasional squabble and the juncos tend to remain on the ground and eat the fallen seeds. The cardinal couples usually come separately but now and then both male and female share the perch. Nuthatches and tufted titmouse flit quickly in and out without lingering and when the blue jays come they always make a lot of noise about it. Red winged blackbirds visit sometimes but starlings, cowbirds and grackles travel with them too and I don’t like having a huge flock hogging all the food.

I learned a rather surprising life lesson one day while watching the birds. I was sitting out in a chair in my yard watching several gold finches eating happily when suddenly a red-tailed hawk swooped out of the hedgerow and snatched one of the little yellow birds. My mouth literally dropped open. I felt bad for the little birds and they were traumatized for quite a while after that but eventually they returned to eat. That was certainly a vivid display of the circle of life and I am no longer surprised when I see hawks circling in the sky above my yard. The hawks need to survive too and my bird feeders fulfill that need in a roundabout way.

Springtime is an amusing time to watch my feeders because the male goldfinches are ridiculously combative during mating season. They perform aerial duels circling up into the sky before flying off in a huff. Meanwhile the female finches with their less vivid plumage sit contentedly eating at the feeder as the males compete in vain for their attention. I don’t think even female birds are impressed by macho, show-off males. The cardinal couples are always sweet to each other with the male feeding the female and sometimes coming alone to fetch food for her while she tends the nest.

Chickadees are the bravest and often fly right up to the feeder shortly before I fill it. I’d love to have them eat out of my hands someday but we all don’t know each other well enough for that yet. When I sit out on my deck and watch all the birds they often land on the railing or the electrical wires and chirp at me curiously. They’re not shy when it comes to getting their food and I am always humbled and comforted by their trust in me.