Latham: No matter the species, I am for the birds

I disconnect on my back deck.

Donald Trump is not invited here, nor Joe Biden, for that matter. Bernie Sanders would scream, frightening the birds and, here, birds, lizards, squirrels and all other manner of God’s creatures reign supreme.

They are welcomed with food and water. Nothing fancy but it is enough for them and they are enough for me. We are twice blessed.

If I were voting today, I would pick a cardinal as my candidate. They are faithful for their whole lives and don’t raise much of a ruckus. Still, watching the scene, you can tell the other birds pay them homage, even though the cardinals don’t demand or even seek it.

Respect doesn’t mean anything unless it is freely given and gratefully received. Cardinals are always grateful for what they have.

Sincerity is the mark of a cardinal.

The squirrels watch the cardinals closely to see if they should stay or run. There’s always indecision among the squirrels that way, which is why I wouldn’t vote for them. Get on one side of the street or the other. This running back and forth is not a winning strategy.

By the way, squirrels, stopping in the middle of the street does not magically hide you from view. You might blend in against the forest, but not the highway. You’d live a lot longer if you didn’t venture to roam.

Maybe being footloose, even with all the dangers, is a better life than playing it safe, though. I’ll not criticize squirrels further. They likely know much that I do not.

Blue jays would do well in public affairs in the Southern states, though they are a bit bellicose for my nature. For those who want a secure backyard border, blue jays would be spot on, but I can’t see that they would have many, uh, humanitarian concerns.

Despite what you might think about their politics, blue jays don’t dissemble. What you see is what you get, by golly. No obstruction, either. They are all about that rough justice.

The doves have already flown south for the season. They are the only migratory birds that regularly come in to the Rebecca Mullens Hightower Bird Sanctuary, though all are welcome. I hope the doves will be back to stay next season but I never take that for granted.

I can’t identify most of my avian friends other than to say, “There’s the blue bird with yellow on its chest,” or, “There’s the brown bird with dots.” They are sparrows, wrens or some other type of little birds that seek sanctuary daily.

This isn’t to diminish their importance. A recent study showed that 3 billion birds have disappeared in the United States. With that kind of shrinkage every last feathered one is valuable.

Just because I can’t name every species does not mean they aren’t important. Each has its own place in the sky and amongst the bird feeders. I’m not sure that the birds grasp just how much they mean to so many of us. These are wild creatures that still aren’t quite sure they should place their full trust in humans.

And I’m not so sure they should, either.

The back deck is a sanctuary for all of us who want to disconnect for a while. Unfortunately, the world is too much with us, late and soon, as Billy Wordsworth told us.

Back in reality, politicians lack the honest simplicity of birds, though all of them could use an injection of the cardinal’s wisdom, or the blue jay’s sense of right and wrong.

Still, one can always dream, at least on my back deck where all the problems of the world get solved with a little bit of bird seed and a lot of love.

— Phil Latham is editor emeritus of the News-Journal. His column appears Wednesday. Email .

Today's Bible verse

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

— Psalm 42:11

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