Saturday, June 6, 2009

His Eye is on the Sparrow - The Sparrow is on the Windowsill

I don't have any great affinity for birds, but neither do I gave any great dislike of them. I know one person who is deathly afraid of birds, but I consider them to be mostly harmless - tiny dinosaurs with feathers. They haven't the brain power to plot evil deeds, so what is there to worry about? Birds basically do what instinct tells them to do in order to survive, and sometimes they don't even do that very well. For instance, they can't tell a reflection on a window from open sky, leading to costly mistakes in their flight plans.

Some years back I wrote about bird omens on another blog. I got lots of interesting feedback on birds and omens and what they all mean. I found myself wondering why birds play so many roles in superstition.

I have now experienced the odd sight of sparrows sitting on my windowsill twice in a matter of days. The first time, one perched on the sill just outside the window near my computer. He looked around but not at me, and then flew off. I thought it was interesting, but not very notable.

This morning two sparrows alighted just outside my kitchen window. One was on the sill and the other landed in the rather overgrown bramble bush that is threatening to swallow that side of the house. I think the first sparrow on the sill had something in his mouth, something the second one seemed to want to claim as his own. The second one made an attempt to connect with the first, who lunged at him (I can't explain how a bird lunges, try to imagine it). The second bird took that as a "no" I guess and flew off. Seconds later the first sparrow left as well.

There are many omens about birds and windows and houses, but a search on the net yielded no information about birds being omens if they just sit on the sill and have a bird conversation. Still, just the overwhelming number of bird superstitions made me a little anxious.

I found that the most commonly believed omen is that if a bird flies into your house or into your window that it is an omen of death. No problem, the bird wasn't in the house, nor did it hit a window.

But it was the sheer number of bird omens that amazed me. For instance, if a bird taps at your window, the number of taps is the number of days till death. A little bird sitting on top of your house means death too. That one seems a bit suspicious, as birds often sit on top of things, they are up there most of the time after all. Yet, I haven't seen a sudden rise in the neighborhood death rate due to birds landing on rooftops.

An owl screeching signals death. A raven on the roof signals death. A swift down the chimney signals death. There's not a lot of variety or imagination when it comes to bird omens.

A rooster seems a particularly dangerous bird to own. Whether it looks at the yard, crows outside the door, crows inside the door or refuses to crow at all, it probably signals death. Better to just get an alarm clock, I think.

Here's my favorite one of all: If a Whippoorwill sings in a graveyard, it is a sign of death... Umm...okay.

Now I am not a superstitious person. The main reason for birds landing on my window sills is probably that there is an unusually high bird population in this neighborhood and a sill is a convenient place upon which to land.

Sparrows should be a good omen. The Bible mentions them specifically, and states that God has His eye on them. It doesn't say He sends them out to be tiny, feathered, grim reapers.

Still, I am glad that I didn't have the kitchen window open on this particular morning, for then I might have had a bird in the house. According to my research, that could still turn out alright, provided that you don't allow the bird to leave the house still alive.

Then you have to wonder, which is worse? Letting a sparrow out alive and tempting the omens? Or killing a sparrow that God has been watching over?