I never before saw so many birds together, although I have frequently been startled by the peculiar sound made by large numbers flying in company, and have looked at them with wonder and admiration.
The migration of birds is one of the most remarkable phenomena in natural history. “The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times, and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming,” and so do all birds of passage. Their Creator has endowed them with a wonderful instinct, which, in some way, unknown to us, teaches them to guard against the severity of the season by seeking a warmer climate, and when “winter is past,” and “the flowers appear on the earth,” and “the vines, with the tender grape, give a good smell,” then “the time of the singing of birds is come,” and their voice is heard in our land. Some of them return, not only to the same country, but to the same place, where they have previously built their nests, and, year after year, raise their broods in the same friendly tree.
It is said that, to enable birds to fly with ease, and to continue long on the wing, they must fly against the wind. I observed, this morning, that there was a brisk wind from the west, while the birds were flying a little south of west. Perhaps they had been waiting several days for a favourable wind, and that may have been the reason of the great number of flocks we saw.
“Behold the fowls of the air,” said our Saviour, in his sermon on the mount; “for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” At another time, when he was talking with his disciples about the persecutions they should endure for his sake, he said to them, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
Not one of that immense number of birds, which we saw flying to a warmer country, can perish without God’s knowledge. He sees every one of them. During the summer, he has fed them on the meadows near the sea-shore, and now that winter is approaching, he has taught them to seek other localities, where their appropriate food can be found.
Whenever God’s children are tempted to yield to despondency, and to fear that they shall suffer from want, let them remember that they are of more value than many sparrows, and that if they trust their heavenly Father, their bread shall be given them, and their water shall be sure. He who feeds the birds will feed them. May he
“Fill” our souls
“with trust unshaken
In that Being who has taken
Care for every living thing,
In Summer, Winter, Fall and Spring.”