The Healing Power of Birds


(scrub jay on the railing outside my north window)


I recently arrived in Abiquiu, New Mexico after an absence of several months. That first morning I was struck by the light that gilded the mountain in gold at sunrise as I hung up my bird feeders, scattered corn on the ground, and put out a dish of water.


The first thing I do when I move to a new dwelling is to call in the birds. There is something about being surrounded by these winged ones that binds me to a particular place especially during difficult transitions.


Within minutes I was delighted to make the acquaintance of a number of raucous scrub jays who hungrily swallowed sunflower seed while Lily b, my collared dove, peered at them curiously from his hanging basket indoors. We have east, west, and north windows that surround us on three sides that makes viewing our new avian friends a pleasure. Our next visitors were mountain chickadees and a curved bill thrasher.


A week later I count twenty – seven species of birds! Among them were ravens, hawks, an eagle, towhees, magpies, curved billed thrashers, dark eyed juncos, flickers, robins, stellar jays, finches, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, white winged doves, a flock of collared doves, and one single collared dove that comes alone. The smallest birds greet us at dawn getting a chance to eat before the larger birds arrive. The woodpeckers know just where to find the fat that I have attached to the rough hewn trunks of the Russian olives. The Great Horned owl awakened me one night at 3 AM serenading me with his low resonant hooting. Every morning I hear the sound of geese as they fly by at dawn and the eerie calls of the flocks of sand – hill cranes remind me that bird migration is underway. Is it any wonder I have named our little refuge the “bird room?”


My dogs, birds, and I are surrounded by scrub that lets in the stars at night. With a northern exposure I look for the Great Bear rising over the horizon thinking about my black bear yearling raking in bedding and entering his den to sleep in peace. Last night I saw a falling star not long after sunset.


I can’t decide if mornings or evenings are my favorite times of the day with glorious orange sunrises and pale yellow sunsets tinged with scarlet ribbons that can be witnessed from both east or west from this one small room.


During the day the sky is that deep New Mexican mountain blue, and even though it is almost December the sun still has warmth…


The river is running high and every day I go down to let the water move through me, helping me to return to this abandoned body after weeks of prolonged stress.


Water is Life. Not only are we made of water but for some, like me, water acts as a natural healing force. I am irritated with my body willing her respond to my command to relax her hyper-vigilance, even when she is indicating to me that she isn’t ready. I am distressed by this split I have created in myself with my impatience. I ask the river to begin to flow through me as I watch the birds soaring over my head.


I remember the words of Emily Dickinson:


“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul…I’ve heard it in the chilliest land, and on the strangest sea.”


Hope is the bird that lives in me.

2 thoughts on “The Healing Power of Birds

  1. Oh goodie, I get to see all the birds you’re seeing now, and the river, and the sunrise and sunset and stars. They travel through the words you wrote, and somehow arrive intact! Now that is a form of magic, to be able to transport real living beings from one place to another via printed words. Yowee, I love it.


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