Spring 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):
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.
I believe this bird is a chickadee (thanks, Eileen).
This is what is left of the finch feeder sock I bought one month ago:
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.
19 thoughts on “Feeding da Birds”
Great photos, information and cute feathered ones. I love looking at the birds at the bird feeders.
Thank you for the beautiful explanations.
once you start feeding the birds, they expect it.
It makes sense and yet it had never crossed my mind. We have two bird feeders in the garden.
I look forward to seeing photos of the birds that come to your feeder. That reminds me, I should check on whose eating at my feeders today.
«Louis» likes both explanations for feedin’ da boids.
Re: “once you start feeding the birds, they expect it”:
Welfare statism in Boidland?
I don’t think you can argue that this is welfare; this is my cheap way of providing my daughter and myself with “pets,” as other family members do not desire such things. 😉
But interesting thought all the same. When does charity become welfare? The birds are much more productive members of society than others.
Great post. What a wonderful tradition and interesting to learn about it. Enjoyed your shots too.
It is not one of the better known traditions… I didn’t learn it as a child. I learned about when my middle son was in nursery school, and he came home with some bird seed one Friday, insistent that we feed birds.
I have never heard of this minhag before, although it sounds interesting. Do you know if it is specific to Jews originating from a certain part of the world?
It was mentioned in Sefer Ha’Toda’ah
and in the Aruch HaShulchan
If you find out more, let me know.
This was such a lovely surprise today. I am sure the birds will find your feeder especially in the winter. I can’t wait to see who shows up….Michelle
Great post and photos. Love your Chickadee. I love to feed my yardbirds. It is my way to see them up close when they come to my feeders.
Thanks for identifying my bird as a chickadee! I looked in Google images, and it sure looks like my bird.
«Louis» prefers these birds by far to the huge population of Yellow Bellied Sap Suckers in the Congress!
You and Mark Twain.
Those explanations are beautiful, thank you.
As for feeding the birds, when I lived in a house with a garden, I used to do the same. There was one particular robin and some blue-tits that always turned up at the same time each morning, as they knew that’s when I put out scraps from the night before! Water is also very important too, but I expect you know that.
No, I didn’t know about the water, but I’ve seen other birders mention it. One put out a simple pan of fresh water. I’ll think about doing that after our next snowstorm is over.
Any pan that isn’t too deep would work. I will find a photo to show…