What’s Your Spirit Bird?


I sit at the kitchen table preparing to read the NY Times. I separate the front section from the rest of the paper, and then pause.

I get up, go to the fridge and grab the remains of yesterday’s leftovers.

I turn to the Opinion Pages, my first stop, and scan the titles. My eyes spot an essay by Margaret Renkl.  I’m a fan-boy of Margarets. I see that her piece is titled “Spring is Coming“…well that’s a bit aggressive on January 5th, no Margaret? 

I read on.

“There’s a New Year’s tradition among bird-watchers: The first bird you see on New Year’s Day is your theme bird for the year. Your spirit bird, the bird that sets the tone for your encounters with the world and with others, the bird that guides your heart and your imagination in the coming year. It’s hardly a serious ornithological exploration, but there are plenty of birders who will wake before dawn anyway, no matter how late they stayed up on New Year’s Eve. They will drive off to some wild place teeming with avian life, all to increase the sunrise odds of seeing a truly amazing first bird. Who wouldn’t love to be matched for a year to the spirit of the snowy owl? What a gift to be guided for 12 months by the soul of a Bohemian waxwing!”

I pause.

Yea, OK, it’s January 5th, it’s well beyond New Year’s Day but there’s no reason I can’t find my bird now. I need my spirit bird Now.

I stop nibbling on my sandwich. Get up. Step out the back door, watch, and listen.


I wait a few moments longer, in my short sleeve t-shirt, in 38° F temperatures.


Perhaps some encouragement. Come on Red! Where’s that Red Cardinal? There are four bird feeders in the backyard. All hang on their poles silently. No breeze. They don’t swing. They are Still.


I step back into the house, pull the sliding door closed, and finish up Margaret’s essay.

No Bird. Wonder what that means.

I reach for the remaining quarter of my sandwich, and look down…

Chicken Sandwich…

What a gift to be guided for 12 months by the soul of a Bohemian waxwing!

Photo: Ostdrossel


  1. Chickadee! Small, industrious, never stops 😉


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dang… I better learn the names of the birds that I see…
    And, I’m with you, it’s January 5th, not too late, eh? My eyes are peeled to my yard… Imma find me a bird, dammit.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I go to the supermarket immediately and will choose my bird for this year. haha

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Fortunately, though, it was not a turkey sandwich!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. 😉 😉 😉 Couldn‘t Margaret have specified that the bird MUST be a small one, less than the size of a chicken..? Or, failing that route; what the heck made you come down in your underwear (sleeping in a t shirt, eh?) and starting this Saturday with a chicken sandwich…?
    Should have nibbled some sunflower seeds, and I bet, at least a Red Robin would have shown it’s tiny head and you would have your red bird for all of 2019 🙂
    I have been awakening a few times already lately to bird song, very disconcerting at this time of the year…. I wondered if they know something I don’t.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Same song different tempo.
    Same temperature with fog.
    Same tee-shirt but my size.
    Same chicken but in enchiladas.
    Same shoe but fits better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lol, this made me laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Might not be all bad, pal. A quick Google query about the personality of chicken revealed the following:

    Chickens are inquisitive, interesting animals who are as intelligent as mammals like cats, dogs, and even primates.

    Chickens are precocious birds.

    Chickens understand sophisticated intellectual concepts, learn from watching each other, demonstrate self-control, worry about the future, and even have cultural knowledge that is passed from generation to generation.

    Chickens comprehend cause-and-effect relationships and understand that objects still exist even after they are hidden from view. This puts the cognitive abilities of chickens above those of small human children.

    …chickens form complex social hierarchies, also known as “pecking orders,” and every chicken knows his or her place on the social ladder and remembers the faces and ranks of more than 100 other birds.

    Chickens are social animals who form complex social hierarchies and interact in complex ways that are indicative of what anthropologists call “culture.” Chickens learn from observing the success and failure of others in their community.

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. well, as this is new to me, i’m on the lookout today, better late than never. the ignorance is bliss defense. if not, it looks like it’s a turkey for me. )

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Take a look and read the post …. ‘What a gift to be guided for 12 months by the soul of a Bohemian waxwing!’ … it’s good!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s probably not a good thing that the first bird I saw on January 1st was a Turkey in the refrigerator, getting ready to go in the oven.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What if a person saw three birds species simultaneously? (that Aspen tree is a favorite spot to lite upon…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Say it can’t be so??? I just looked through my photos to see. New Year’s Day with no fatigue or hangover of any sort or anything really to set my day. Alone, all alone. The dog has moved on and is thriving, my husband had to work, I go to the back door like habit even though the Labrador has left. Oh, I see it in the bare grey Rose of Sharon branches, bright red, a cardinal! I tiptoe to zoom in and it waits a second before flying away. Stayed just long enough like waiting for me. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I can’t help that I saw three! The wise men where in a group of three…I figure that I will have a very spiritually filled year X3…though I just glanced out at the Aspen where a Mountain Chickadee took off in flight for the five foot journey to the garden bean pole less than 3 feet from my shoulder where it balanced then flapped its wings making sure I noticed it making eye to eye contact, then whee off it went… Maybe I need to open my 3rd eye?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. LOL! Had to laugh at the chicken sandwich. Nuthatch for me. Busy, lively, friendly, eating all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve heard it said that the chicken is a borderline vegetable. Maybe your bird is just a wee bit late, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I didn’t know about this. But the first bird I saw on new year’s day was a seagull. Many of them but one followed me all the way on the pier.

    I love birds. They say it’s my attention deficiency. But birds are the first and last thing I see.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Such a beautiful idea. And what a wonderful encouragement for everyone to spend time in nature where treasures and New Year birds are found! 🌈💚💕🌈 Be patient Mr K, your bird will arrive 🐣

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Cardinal – don’t know what that means, except they are impervious to cold?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. https://abcofspiritalk.net/2012/02/20/chicken-reflection/
    To be led by this little birdie wouldn’t be such a bad thing, DK..! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Must be the wren that has been serenading outside the kitchen window over the past few days. Expressive, cute and noisy. There’s a first for all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Cute! My spirit bird must be a Little Wattlebird … not pretty but industrious and curious…hmm sounds a bit like…

    Liked by 1 person

  23. hahahaha!! I am heading to my window (a break or distraction?) with no food in my hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Drat! I wish I’d known about this on New Year’s day. My backyard is quite an aviary even without feeders. I remember a lot off cute little grey finches (I could use some socializing but does that mean I’ll be spending my year with a gaggle of chirpy little grey women? I’m a widow but not grey and not ready for a year of chick parties!) and a lovely, industrious, unassuming female cardinal, working, going about her business alone, with no expectations other than getting done what she needed to get done. A good way to be ready for pleasant surprises. I need work and I like working on my own, interrupted by pleasant surprises – especially surprise social opportunities. I’ll take the cardinal.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Anonymous says:

    I saw a Hawk. Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Can you here cackling, or better yet, clucking, over here David?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Have you id’ your spirit bird yet?

    Liked by 1 person

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