A couple years ago, a Franciscan friar in my community, Fr. Carl, built and mounted a number of bird houses on the property of our St. Anthony Shrine. The birdhouses are nicely constructed of cedar and are the exact type suited for bluebirds. Because there were no bluebirds around the shrine property, we friars joked that the birdhouses were built on the “if-you-build-it-they-will-come principle.”
We have lots of birds around St. Anthony Shrine. Cardinals, robins, woodpeckers and finches of every color are abundant. There are a few boisterous mockingbirds. And, yes, we have bluejays, warblers, wild turkeys, owls, sparrows, hawks and God knows what else. All to be expected, of course, as the Shrine is just across the street from Mount Airy Forest, a Cincinnati park covering 1,498 acres. When I joined the Franciscans here at St. Anthony Shrine in the 1960s, there were some bluebirds around. Today there are more feral cats than bluebirds.
Now there is hope that bluebirds will become abundant. Why? Because recently we had a few bluebird sightings, around Fr. Carl’s bird feeders. So maybe the principle should be revised: If you feed them, they will come.
What next? Well, I don’t think Fr. Carl will be preaching to the birds, as St. Francis and Anthony are supposed to have done. But if a good community of bluebirds develops, we will have to credit his efforts at caring for God’s creation. He is taking part in the effort to restore the population of eastern bluebirds in the United States.
May we all learn to care for God’s creation.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons/William H. Majoros