Avian Friendship by Sara Wright

The other night I had a dream about a strange green hooded figure that was guarding a green gate underground. She wasn’t  human; she had a hooked bird’s beak (like many of Marija Gimbutas’s goddess figures). Something about the strange face reminded me of an American Indian. This creature was not friendly but she was not hostile either. Just really intent upon making it clear that you did not pass through the gate without her permission. The word Root kept reverberating out loud in this place… Root Woman? Strange that she was also a bird.  Anyway, thinking about bird women prompted the following poem and brief reflection on my relationship with one kind of bird…

Avian Friendship

 “Chirp chirp!”
“ I love you!”
Always this exchange
between us as he
lands in the crabapple.

I peer into withering leaves,
  encroaching dusk,
strain to glimpse my friend.
He fluffs his feathers
  flashing ruby red.

   He sings for Life –
Sorrowful songs
for trees and water.
I feel his Love
pouring through
each cell…

He is Phoenix
rising out of the ashes
of Mourning Days,
his presence Balm
  for war torn minds,
  fear-bound bodies
 moving on.

 Though mist shrouded
 mountains crumble under
Anthropogenic strain,
 each dusk he comes
for seed,
to remind me
 – grace exists,
to let me know
 I am seen.

It is impossible to describe the intimacy that develops between a bird or animal and a person. The fact that a wild creature has chosen to befriend me like this cardinal has (and all of his

 predecessors have) seems like a perpetual act of Grace even though our relationship spans almost 20 years and generations of birds.

This kind of love is dependent upon a mutual ability to feel and sense. Our feelings and our senses reside in our bodies. Our culture denigrates feeling and sensing (along with bodies) just as it elevates thinking. I have been taught to feel shame about feeling so intensely, my sensing is ignored or dismissed as non – rational, and yet without these gifts, which I am still apologizing for, I would be unable to communicate across species with the ease that comes with non-verbal communication.

Animals know because they sense and feel.

This bird announces his presence from the crabapple when I walk out the door – all year round. I never get used to the fact that he is talking to me, lets me know when food isn’t available, and during late summer, brings in his offspring to teach them how to call me for food when I am inside the house. He has an uncanny knack for appearing to witness when I am feeling totally invisible and unloved. In times of deep distress I am comforted. Sometimes, like last spring, he flies in chirping madly when I am going to make a serious mistake. Although we always greet one another out loud the remainder of our conversation is wordless on my part; he continues to chirp. Except when I call out “Hi Beautiful!” in a random sort of way. In the spring he sings his complex love songs, sometimes over and over. Our communication occurs directly – body to body.

 My relationship with these birds began when I first built my house, and over the years has become more complex and nuanced. Even when I am experiencing profound hopelessness his presence brings me back into my body in a way that allows me to feel gratitude for the gift of life.

Autumn Equinox 2021


Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.

Categories: animals, Community, Eco-systems, Ecofeminism, General, interspecies relationality, Nature, Women's Spirituality, Women's Voices

Tags: , ,

13 replies

  1. “to let me know … I am seen.” What a beautiful way to end your lovely poem! I do believe that the way non-human living beings relate to us without all the constraints and assumptions humans place on each other is one of the most healing aspects of our relationships to them. They let us see ourselves as we really are because they see us as we really are.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love cardinals. I don’t think I have as deep a relationship as you do but I do have the tattoo of a cardinal feather on my left shoulder. It is very meaningful for me. On also showed up for me when I was in need. I love that you have cultivated and enjoyed a relationship that has deepened and layered all these years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Janet, there is a strange thing about cardinals… they DO seem to show up for people in need… often when I am talking to people about birds I hear stories of how they showed at some critical juncture in a person’s life…it’s hard to comprehend this level of interconnection but that it exists for ALL is a reality I don’t doubt – our relationships with these birds may be different for now but that might change over time…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Smart bird! I also love cardinals. And robins, too. These are the birds I became most familiar with when I was a child in that suburb of St. Louis. (I was even taken to a Cardinals baseball game once. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.) I think it’s beautiful that you’ve developed relationships with birds, especially this one, and you talk to each other. Bright blessings to our friendships with birds! Hooray for Audubon! (Let’s all send money to the Audubon Society to care for more birds.)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Smart birds!!! These birds of mine span generations…I wonder who you have as avian neighbors? I think all birds are smart in ways we cannot comprehend – at least rationally.


  5. The bird that shows up for me is the mot mot. Sometimes I utter a gasp at the surprise appearance at the right time. Mot mots have a distinctive crown so they always remind me to keep my crown open.


  6. re “root”: I think of _If Women Rose Rooted_ by Sharon Blackie. To her “root” means having a sense that you belong to the place.


  7. I’ve been reading and hearing on the TV news about the species, including the ivory-billed woodpecker, recently declared extinct. Have you considered writing birds that are extinct and if you had any connections or encounters with them? That would be an interesting post coming from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful story and poem – it reminds me a bit of the robin in The Secret Garden. My home is filled with Bradley Jackson paintings of birds, legacies from my mother, who made such good friends with him that his remarques on the matting are half the size of the paintings themselves. I didn’t understand when I was younger why my mother loved birds so much… now I do. <3

    Liked by 1 person

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