Last updated on September 27, 2023
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you, by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
For many summers, we had a nesting pair of birds that took up residence in the large Purple Martin house in our backyard. The Great Crested Flycatchers faithfully returned each year. We knew they had arrived when we heard them in the trees. If they thought I was watching, they would fly away.
Toward the end of summer, when the babies had fledged, the squirrels would move in and stay. When I took the Purple Martin house down at the end of the summer two summers ago, I found a large hole in the middle. The squirrels had remodeled the interior, and the flycatchers had enjoyed a mansion for a home.
I replaced it with a bluebird house the following spring. I wasn’t sure if we would attract any bluebirds. When I saw a scout checking it out a few weeks later, I thought we might get lucky. After all, the birdhouse sits on prime real estate, like Park Place on the Monopoly board with a bird’s eye view of our pool; a canopy of honeysuckles, red tips, and water oak; and a small flower garden of shrimp plants, milkweed, and philodendrons. Much to my delight, the nesting pair parented multiple broods
This year, I took a peek inside the house. I knew I should buy a new one. Only a plastic bag tie secured the warped base, but I was busy and forgot about it.
Soon bluebirds arrived and began building their nest. I watched them carry leaves, moss, and twigs into the hole. A few weeks later, I heard the faint sounds of babies. I was excited to watch the back-and-forth ritual of the parents feeding them. However, when a few days passed, and I didn’t hear or see them, I became concerned. I looked around the front yard for any dead bluebirds.
I gave up the search when I saw the mother and father working on the nest again. They appeared to be undertaking a rebuilding project. Something must have gone awry, and they had started over.
Several days later, I went out for my daily swim. When I glanced at the wooden house, two beady eyes stared out of the dark hole. They were much too big to be a bluebird. Surprised, I examined it and noticed the enlarged opening. It was big enough for one determined squirrel to squeeze into, though it was a tight fit. The squirrel had usurped the bluebirds and now considered it her home.
I would have laughed if I hadn’t seen the birds bringing in nesting material the day before. But what could I do? I got in the pool, distracted and concerned. Was the squirrel sitting on the eggs, or worse, smothering the babies?
After a while, I watched the male and female bluebirds fly to their nest. Suddenly, they halted their approach and flew over to a tree. They appeared to have no idea a squirrel was inside their quarters. I was upset because the squirrel had the entire canopy to build a nest.
I climbed out of the pool, grabbed the pole I used to skim the water, and angled it up to the birdhouse. The squirrel jumped out like he had been stung by a hornet. Wild eyes flashed as she scrambled past me, jumped from the fence into the thicket, and scurried off faster than a startled fish.
My job accomplished, I dipped back into the pool and swam to the far end. I hoped to see the bluebirds reclaim their territory, but they didn’t return. Perhaps they were waiting for me to leave. It was getting dark anyway, so I got out, dried off, and went back inside to change.
Then I heard my daughter, Joy, scream, “Mamma, the bluebird house fell over.”
I ran out of the door. The box was partially burst open and lying on the ground. The squirrel must have broken the plastic tie scrambling out of the hole. Some nesting material had dislodged from the sides where the wooden boards had separated. I peered through the opening, searching for baby birds or eggs, but to my dismay, two baby squirrels were inside. I did a double-take because I expected to see birds. They were tiny with no hair and couldn’t have been more than a few days old.
Would the mother return? How could the squirrel have been using the birdhouse? The baby squirrels didn’t appear to be hurt. At least they were moving around a little, as much as babies with closed eyes can.
The nesting debris had cushioned the fall, though I wondered how so much “stuff” could fit into such a small space. We needed to figure out how to remount the birdhouse on the post. The base of it had rotted, and there was nothing to which we could mount it. I did manage to push the sides of the box back together.
I set the house on the table by the pool and went to the garage to find something we could use. Joy later told me she saw the mother squirrel return and leave. That was a good sign. I hoped that she would come back. I found a roll of sticky blue tape that we had used to cover the windows during the last hurricane season. We could use a screw to latch it on the post and run the tape around the sides and underneath it.
Joy and I climbed on top of the wooden fence and took turns pulling off tape and wrapping it like a Band-Aid. When we finished, it was nighttime, and we went back inside to watch.
A bluebird arrived immediately, but he refused to go in. He just sat outside the opening. We grew tired of watching the perched bird, and he was half-hidden in the trees anyway. I went to bed thinking about baby squirrels and feeling guilty for my part in the disaster. I wondered what I would do if the mother squirrel did not return.
The next day I kept an eye out for her, but the birdhouse just baked in the sun with no squirrel in sight. By late afternoon I had to do something. I took Joy to the gym and visited a friend who cared for orphaned animals.
I asked her if she would take the squirrels if I brought them to her. She reassured me she would. I ran home, climbed on the railing again, and brought the box down. I set it on the table and looked inside, but to my dismay, it was empty.
My friend said the mother might have returned that night or early in the morning. She explained that squirrels make several nests, so if ants overrun one nest or she is scared off, she has another one for nesting.
I still felt sorry for the bluebirds. I went to the store and bought a brand-new bluebird house that a determined squirrel couldn’t gnaw through. My neighbor came over later that evening and anchored it so it couldn’t get knocked over again. My biggest regret was that I didn’t do it sooner.
Sometimes God paints pictures of life lessons that can have many meanings. I would have doubted my ability to raise a family if I were a bluebird. Would I even have the desire to try a third time?
If I were a squirrel, I would have learned it doesn’t pay to steal someone else’s home. I needed to build my own.
But God had a different message for me—things may not always be as they appear. While I was expecting bluebirds, God delivered squirrels.
How many times have I been so sure of myself only to find out later I was wrong? And maybe, just maybe, God wanted me to dive into the pool, enjoy a swim, and let Him take care of the bluebirds and the squirrels. God loves those little critters more than I do.
Despite my human limitations, I find joy in seeing the “goodness of the Lord” in my backyard, all around me, and in the little things of life that are easy to disregard or ignore.
PRAYER; Help me, Jesus, to see more of You in the Kingdom of God. Help me to rest, swim, and appreciate the fullness of Your Goodness here as I anticipate what You have planned for us in Your Eternal Kingdom. Amen.