Tuesday, January 5, 2016

National Bird Day

The 14th Annual Bird Day is sponsored by The Avian Welfare Coalition and Born Free USA.  It's a day to celebrate birds, educate children and adults about the needs of birds, inform the public about helping stop extinction of bird species, and take the time to appreciate all things bird.  If you're interested in learning more, visit the official National Bird Day site.

I have never owned a bird or interacted with them up close, but there are several species who have come into my life at some form through the years.

My grandma was a bird watcher and always had full bird feeders hanging along the clothesline outside the kitchen windows so she could enjoy them in the room where she spent a lot of time preparing meals.  A red cardinal sighting was always a treat and worth a mention.  More common birds were also welcome, unless they were mean or took more than their fair share of the seeds. 

Living in the city, one of the most common birds I encounter are pigeons.  People seem to have strong feelings about them and either love or hate them.  I like observing them in the winter because they are able to puff out their feathers for warmth and appear to be little balls of feathers.  

I took the below picture a year ago at the Davis El stop in Evanston, but it's a common scene on any winter day.  These smart pigeons are not afraid of people, especially when there's a heat light in play.  They show no hesitation when taking a prime spot under the heat.  Typically, a conversation will start about the pigeons and people are respectful of their space while we all try to stay warm in the cold air.  

The owl has been one of my favorite birds for a long time.  I like that it stands for wisdom and intuition, among other qualities.  Although they are predators, they are also very protective of their family.   Check out the Universe of Symbolism for more information on the owl symbolism and spirit guides.

Over the holidays, there was a great documentary on PBS about the white snowy owl - tracking an owl family as they braved the harsh winter.  The sole focus of the parents was protecting and feeding the owlets until the owlets could provide for themselves.  I was surprised at how invested I became in the survival story and found myself rooting for the owlet that was scared to cross the lake, mourning the owlet that didn't survive, and marveling at the soaring father owl.  

During the years when I planned and hosted weekend informational conferences for PhD students interested in management consulting, there was always a need for an icebreaker to get people talking.  One of the best things we would do is produce a paper Facebook that introduced everyone prior to the event and included answers to fun icebreaker questions.

One question that was always included is "If you were an animal, what would you be?" and my answer was the owl.  One year, I ended up having an interesting conversation with a participant of Chinese descent and learned that the owl is not viewed positively in Chinese culture.  Nevertheless, I will continue to enjoy them for my personal reasons.

Amigurumi, a Japanese craft of crocheted cute animals and other items, is one of my favorite uses of my crochet skills.  A number of amigurumi are featured in my Etsy shop, including these cute little owls.  

Owls are also included in my personal collection of handmade (by me) Christmas ornaments.  A set of cross-stitch owls always grace the limbs and celebrate one of the first crafts I learned as a child.  

So . . . before I wrote this post, I was planning to fix a chicken stir fry for dinner.  Now, that sounds like a horrible tide on a day that celebrates birds.  During my evening walk with Archie, I will need to reassess my plans.

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