“Frozen with Fear” by Reva Lachica Moore
I scatter birdseeds on the cement sidewalk in our backyard every day, except when it rains. The birds and squirrels like the assortment of black sunflower seed, thistle, crushed corn, nuts, safflower. I also put birdseeds in feeders and two dry birdbaths. The dry birdbath near the shed, some 80 feet away from our door, has been the favorite place of the birds and squirrels.
This dry birdbath filled with birdseeds is also the place of many “fights.” Birds fight other birds and squirrels. One dove, in particular, likes to have the place to itself. The birds cannot be in the birdbath when the dove or a squirrel is in there. A few birds have unique ways to scare other birds. The dove puffs its feathers to look double in size. A nervous bird, the blue jay gives up and ventures on the sidewalk where the majority of the birds and squirrels feed.
The cunning cowbird lands on the birdbath, even when the dove is in there. Like an experienced fighter, it dances around the dove. Strike after strike with feathers inflated to look huge and fierce, the dove chases after the cowbird. The latter bounces around, trying to place its footing on the birdbath. And it does. It feeds on the seeds while the dove sits on the edge staring its enemy down. Intimidation is the dove’s plan to drive the cowbird away. The dove strikes its opponent. A few more rounds, the cowbird has had enough and takes off.
With the intruder gone, the dove’s feathers smooth down quickly afterwards. It’s back to its normal size. Feeling like a champ, the dove once more is in the center of the birdbath feeding when suddenly, a squirrel jumps into the birdbath bumping the dove off.
I would see “fights” in the birdbath almost every day. A bigger bird would inflict fear on other birds to drive them away. One day three blue jays fought each other, flying above the birdbath when a woodpecker landed on it. Two blue jays left, leaving one to fight the “new ruler” of the birdbath. A few seconds of stillness was followed by a sudden strike. The blue jay couldn’t fight its opponent with the long beak. It retreated and flew away.
One day, I saw a most amazing sight. The “scolding” bird came. I call it “scolding” bird because it has the most annoying, loud sounds. When this bird comes, the birds and squirrels feeding on the walk become motionless, as if frozen with fear. That bird’s noise means a predator is on the prowl! What could make the birds and the squirrels become so afraid?
Sometime back, my husband hollered, “Look over there! There’s a hawk! It’s huge!” Then I saw it. The eagle hawk sat on a limb of a tree 80 feet away. The birds and squirrels had disappeared. The “scolding” bird had alerted them of the danger. Later, the eagle hawk was gone.
Yesterday, I heard the “scolding” bird again. Its calls got louder and faster. Then I saw the birds fly and the squirrels scamper away. Three squirrels were frozen with fear; they couldn’t move. For a few seconds they sat motionless on the walk, looking at the same direction. Then they disappeared. One squirrel had jumped onto the Magnolia tree nearby and it, too, was frozen with fear. It hung on the tree trunk looking like a branch for over 3 minutes. What caused the birds and animals become so afraid? What did the “scolding” bird tell them?
Then I saw it! A shadow caused by a big flying bird above passed by. The Eagle Hawk! It caused sudden chaos and then total silence. Suddenly, I realized that birds and animals experience fear just like humans. No wonder why the blue jay stays in one place for only a few seconds. And the squirrels are always on the alert; even a whip of wind makes them scamper away. Then I think about us humans. How we become frozen with fear when something tragic happens in our lives. I’ve had many of those. But one good thing I know, we have a loving and caring Heavenly Father Who truly cares. And whenever we are afraid, He is only a prayer away.
Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows who trusts Him.”