Poet and Rumi translator Coleman Barks has observed that all the mystical traditions revere birds and their songs. They represent our yearnings for purity, freedom, play, and deliver "messages of ineffable joy." In addition, we can appreciate them as fellow pilgrims on earth, guides to the meaning of place, soul singers, and ambassadors from other worlds. As nature enthusiast Barry Lopez notes: "Birds tug at the mind and heart with a strange intensity."  Red Wing Balck Bird

Perhaps because we share these sentiments, we were sad to hear the news on January 1, 2011, that more than 5,000 red-winged blackbirds had fallen from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas, covering roofs, streets, and lawns for more than a mile. Then a few days later, 500 more birds fell in Louisiana. What caused this bizarre happening? There are a few theories but nothing definitive.

The deaths of the red-winged blackbirds tugs at our souls, and we include them in our prayers. These birds are early spring migrants and often quite vociferous about their needs. We commend these 5,500 creatures to the God of all feathered beings.

And so we pray this news:

God of all feathered beings,
Thank you for birds.
Thank you for their early morning songs.
I, too, lift a song to heaven when morning breaks.
This song of praise.
For redwing blackbirds.
For robins bathing outside the window.
For peacocks and cassowarys
For the ostrich and the egret
For the loon and the petrel
For the pelican and seagull.

Have You not gathered us the way a mother hen gathers her chicks?
I pray for chickens who can't gather their chicks.
Who live in cages the size of an innocent man's cell.
Great God, the largest space they will know is the oven.
How can we treat Your feathered world so cruelly?
And Great God, how can baby chicks be thrown away?

The morning song of a bird announces a newly dawning day, fresh, with new life.

Great God, give us fresh spirits.
Can we gather the baby chicks under our wings as we celebrate <br>Your creation?
Your feathered beings,
The woodpecker and the heron and the pigeon
And yes, the chicken.

God, You know my imperfections.

I ignore the baby chick within.
All that is fresh and new, and desires growth,
Sometimes I ignore it or fight it.
I am sometimes too fragile to allow the new within to survive.
Create within me the ability to greet each day like Your birds.
And to care for animals as You would, God,
You who would gather us all within
Your outstretched

– Carol Adams from Prayers for Animals

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