Sunday, April 12, 2015

Return of the swallows (#SmallWonder)

The swallows have returned. 

I saw them today, swarming from a distance as I stood on the bank of the river slough that tumbles through one of my favorite parks. I saw them, electrifying the sky, dancing with paper wings and split tails through layers of blue and white and charcoal. I saw them, and my heart soared.

I don't know the exact date they left. It must have been sometime in the fall, as looking ahead toward winter, their biological clocks chimed their departure. I'm told that from here, they often migrate south to California, Arizona and Mexico to winter, where food sources are more abundant for songbirds. All I really know is that one day I noticed they were gone. The fields lay still in the parks, the meadows absent of song. And I missed them, these birds that enliven the backdrop of my world. And what am I to them, but a giant form moving through their own cyclical backdrop? 

Surely they don't know: I am an enraptured observer. A mysterious relative, bound by something more sacred than DNA.  A grateful benefactress of their song and dance across the earth.

They came home by the hundreds and thousands. They came home against fantastic odds, obstacles and hardships I am not privy to, inclement weather conditions and sheer exhaustion. They made it, the ones that filled these skies, and I stood on the ground below witnessing their celebration.

Their triumph.

Their dance of wonder.

And it gave me a glimpse of hope.

Joining these words with Kelly and the Small Wonder community.

Also, if you share an appreciation or love for songbirds, I'd like to pass this onto you. There is a brilliant film in its final stages of production, called The Messenger, about the steady decline of songbirds worldwide. Its goal is to raise awareness, to share a glimpse into the beautiful mystery of migration and its challenges, to promote dialogue and actions that may benefit the conservation of songbirds in our world. If you would like to check it out, you can visit this website (click here).


  1. Amber, I loved this as one day last week I heard chirping out in the yard for the first time this spring. It was such a beautiful & hopeful sound. Amazing the gifts our God drops into our world to bring us hope in Him. Blessings today!

  2. I used to live close to San Juan Capistrano in California. And the annual return of the swallows was quite a treat. It is rather amazing, isn't it, how these birds (and other animals) have a sort of built-in *homing device* - they innately know where they belong. I was reminded of this verse:

    "He has planted eternity in the human heart..." (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NLT)

    It's true, that we were made for another place, and we know this in our souls. It's an inner longing, like a whisper of Heaven, a call to come home. And one day we will return. Our souls long for our migration to the side of our Master.

    May the swallows remind us always of our Hope.


  3. Amber my husband and I share your love of songbirds--3 feeders on the deck, binoculars nearby. When I was growing up in southern California the return of the swallows to Capistrano was such a big deal. It saddens me, no matter which they are flying--here or down South, that there are less of them. Thank you for the video link. I'll have to check it out.

  4. Amber,
    Sigh...Songbirds ...I love how you found hope as you watched them...the older I get the more I appreciate them :-) Thanks.

  5. Amber. I feel the same way when my duck pAir shows up each spring and I am beyond happy when I see them w their babies.

  6. Beautiful! Surely their return is a sign that spring is here. It is so amazing to me that birds inherently know where to go when it gets cold but then always know their way back home...a small wonder, indeed!

  7. I bet you would enjoy the Sabbath poems of Wendell Berry, Amber he writes often about birds and their songs. This morning, walking the dog around the yard, I noticed SO MANY cardinals whipping through the air. It was great. Thanks for linking, Amber!