Consider the Birds: On being an opportunistic feeder

Have you ever noticed that when you sprinkle seed onto a bird table, in no time at all, loads of birds show up?  I always find myself wondering “How on Earth did they know?”

I know nothing at all about birds, so when I felt that God was giving me this postcard to paint for this week I was a bit stumped. But it was definitely the right picture,  so I did what any other person would do… I asked google!

It turns out that lots of other people have asked this question too, and although there’s no definitive answer, two theories seemed to emerge:

Birds have great eyesight and they’re constantly watching for food.

Birds let each other know when they find something good and plentiful.


So I’ve been simmering those thoughts away, and asking myself a couple of questions:

What does it mean for me as a follower of Jesus to be ‘constantly watching for food’?

‘Food’ is anything that sustains you and helps you to grow.  So it could probably be many different things: teaching; wisdom; reading the Bible; praying or worshipping with friends; or escaping to somewhere quiet to be alone with God.  You might find it at a certain times of day or at a certain place; at church services; in a person; at prayer meetings; on the internet; or in a book.

The thing I’m really hearing God say to me through this picture is that he’s calling me to be like a bird: an opportunistic feeder.

Birds will return to a place where they’ve been fed before, but will always be on the lookout for more.  They are picky about what they will eat, but eat from a variety of sources.  Ever watchful,  if an opportunity comes their way to take on board things that will give them energy and help them to grow they will take it.    This speaks to me about flexibility, alertness and also my own responsibility to seek after God’s provision for me:  For a bird, maturity is to go out there and look for your own nutrition… not to stay where you are and wait to be fed!

How can I let others know about the feast?

I was amused to read that some birds live as part of a community and let each other know where food is to be found… by tweeting. Smirking aside, there’s a message here too – It’s much easier to find out about places to eat, to grow and be strong, when we are part of a community.  And taking an active part in seeing other people in our community get ‘spiritually fed’ is an important part of what we are called to be.  This too will look different for everyone.  Sometimes it will be choosing to breathe words of life and encouragement over people; sometimes it will be sharing a link to a worship song on Facebook; it might be recommending a book, it might be writing one. Find a way that works for you.


‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’

Maybe for some of us this is also a challenge to call others who don’t yet know Jesus to come and join in the feast. A bit of ‘tweeting’ about how good and sweet life with Jesus can be might be in order!




reflect greens


For your Journal:

Think about the ways and places you ‘find food’?  In what ways can you pay more attention to them, or how could you look for new ‘food sources’?

How can you let others know about the feasts you find?  Who in your life could you ‘call to”?


And finally…  Writing this blog is like throwing seeds onto the bird table… Thank you to every one of you who has shown up to taste it, and has called friends in to have some too.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.   Ellie x

11 thoughts on “Consider the Birds: On being an opportunistic feeder”

  1. I love the originality & humour Ellie. 🙂 It’s also once again very thought provoking & challenging. I already feel prompted to call someone & will do it! Thank you!!!


  2. Hard to believe you never painted before coming to Cyprus. Your blogs are like a glass of cold coke with ice on a hot summer day. Sorry I am not as poetic as you:)


    1. poetic enough Ji! I understand exactly what you mean by it – thanks! And yes, it seems strange to me too that it took the loneliness and boredom of that first year in Cyprus to make me want to learn to paint. And now I love it! I might never have discovered that about myself if God hadn’t led me into a difficult place…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the way you ‘wonder’ and ‘see’ things all around you, Ellie, that nudge your inner soul and relate them to your journey with God. Wondering first how the birds know about the food on the table, has inspired me to get a bird table, or at least put food out for the birds. I haven’t done this for decades as I have had cats and the birds became their food!! This in itself tells a story!

    But now I can encourage the birds, so I will.

    I too, have been out today walking with my dogs and found myself seeing it from the perspective of my journey in life and now with God in it too. I know He has always been around, but I hadn’t accepted Him in my life….my walk today also included birds.

    I went into the undergrowth at Allestree Park into new territory to me even though I have ventured there a lot.

    I noticed in the dark that the birds were not singing, in fact they were hardly around at all…. it was almost devoid of sound and with only a glimmer of light showing through the summer foliage. The silence was deafening. But on the outer edge as I got closer and closer to the light the birds were singing their usual music, and I started to feel I was back on safer ground too….! The journey through the undergrowth was as interesting adventure for me today, although, just as it was when I didn’t have God in my life and I was in the dark – I got stung by overgrown nettles and scratched by brambles. But like the birds I sing my song better out in the light where I am feeling alive and fed……! It doesn’t mean the nettles and brambles aren’t there, or that life isn’t a great adventure but out in the light I can shine even through the dark days, thanks be to God….! I too can sing a happy tune! ….

    Thank you Ellie, I love your postcards from heaven, you inspire me!


  4. Whenever I read your blog I always come away with a new perspective, a challenge or some affirmation to process. It is amazing to return to feed at the same place and to get something new each time. Thank you for sharing Ellie.


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