So we come barreling up the driveway in our huge Ford pickup truck happy to be home after a long day at work. Rod brakes suddenly when a white-chested bird flies up, flapping furiously and making some noise best described as a gosh-awful shriek. He leans out the window and—I’m convinced by the grace of God—sees what got that little bird so excited.
Right there, in the middle of our gravel driveway, are three speckled eggs. They look so much like rocks you can barely pick them out. If not for the frenzied acrobatics of the mama bird, we would have rolled right over them.
My first thought is, “Is this bird on crack?” I mean, really. Ahem. CAT! What crazy bird digs a hole in a well-traveled (we have three vehicles) gravel driveway and lays her eggs? That would be a killdeer. They get the name from that gosh-awful screech I mentioned earlier—“kill-deer!”
I pelted Rod with what-ifs. The cats. The raccoons (we know they love eggs) and possums and hunting dogs and red-tailed hawks and other birds. How was she going to feed them after they hatched?
Rod calmed me. “She knows what she’s doing.”
I wasn’t so sure.
Turns out they aren’t nuts. Killdeers are shore birds, the least associated with water, and tend instead toward lawns, parking lots, golf courses, athletic fields, and, apparently, gravel driveways. These birds typically distract predators and other dangerous beings by pretending to have a broken wing, leading the imminent threats away from the nest. The chicks are precocial, which means they emerge from the egg able to move around immediately. I guess they come out as teenagers, anxious to leave home. (This was comforting to me, as I could only picture just-hatched chicks left alone out in the open in danger of all the wild and domesticated critters we have at the swamp. Again, CAT!)
Rod put a sawhorse in front of the nest to be sure the UPS or mail truck didn’t come charging through. Then the wind knocked it down—but blew it AWAY from the nest! Another huge sigh of relief. A couple of days later, we found a fourth egg.
And then a storm struck. The temperatures dropped and cold, ferocious rain again turned our entire yard into a swamp. We came home late. In the dark. And that mama bird was sitting on that nest, guarding those babies, right in the middle of the deluge totally unprotected.
Did I say that?
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 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?
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)
She was still on the nest this morning. And I didn’t notice her sneezing or anything. When Rod went around the car to climb in, she came at him—both wings spread—like an avenging angel, with that intimidating shriek. Rod’s no dummy. He’s not messing with a mama bird. “We’re leaving! We’re leaving!” he reassured her and escaped to the safety of the car.
I don’t know if we’ll get to see the chicks or not. Most likely they’ll be there one moment and gone the next, leaving behind broken bits of shell and a proud mom with an empty nest.
But I’m constantly reminded, if that bird can have such faith, surely, I can rest easy as He keeps me as the apple of His eye, hidden under the shadow of His wings.