Feeding da Birds

bird looks downSpring is sprung, da grass is riz.
I wonder where dem boidies is?
Some say da boids is on der wing.
But dat’s absoid!
Da little wings is on da boid…

It is a Jewish custom before the Shabbat in which one sings Shirat HaYam (the Song of the Sea, the song about the crossing of the Reed Sea) to feed the birds. Why feed the birds? I found two explanations:

1) There is a tradition that on the first Shabbat of the Manna, not only did people go out looking for Manna, but they (wicked people, says Rashi) had previously scattered Manna around the camp in order to find it and “make a liar out of Moshe”.

Birds came by early in the morning and ate up the Manna, thus protecting the honor of Moshe, and of G-d Who had said that Manna would not fall on Shabbat. In repayment “one good turn deserves another” style, we feed the birds around this Shabbat when we read of the Manna in the weekly portion.

And here is the second:

2) We joyously sing praise to G-d for His having taken us out of Egypt and saved us from the Egyptians. Singing is the special domain of the birds. That is how they express themselves in acknowledgment of the Creator (so to speak – or so to sing). We borrowed their skill; therefore we “pay royalties” on our Song by feeding birds on (before) this Shabbat.

Since last Friday was right before Shabbat Shira, I decided that this was the perfect time finally to take the new bird feeder I bought out of the box and hang it on our garage window (with the help of my seven-year-old daughter):

bird feeder

After some initial difficulty with the suction cup attachments (you have to first soak the suction cups in hot water, then dry them, then rub them with your thumb, then attach them), I finally got the feeder to stay up properly. However, I don’t believe any of our neighborhood birds have been eating from it. I did see one pecking away at my compost.

bird in a tree
I believe this bird is a chickadee (thanks, Eileen).

This is what is left of the finch feeder sock I bought one month ago:

empty finch sock

As one of the reasons for the feeding the birds custom is to become more sensitive to the needs of the animals around us, I plan to continue to feed the birds. As Michelle of Rambling Woods has taught me, once you start feeding the birds, they expect it.

I hope to post more bird photos tomorrow for SkyWatch; one day last week, my eldest son said, Eema, there’s a bird making a strange noise outside. I went out with my camera and there many, many, many birds.

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