Look At the Birds!

by the American Sunday-School Union

October, with its golden and crimson hues, its "gentle wind," and its "fair sunny noon," has passed away. November has come. The sun shines brightly, and the sky is almost clear of clouds; but the chill wind blows roughly, and the leaves are rudely torn from the trees where they have gladdened us through the spring and the summer by their refreshing shade, their modest beauty, and their sweet music, as they sung to the gentle breeze which played amid the branches. They lie now, most of them, beneath the trees, wrinkled and faded, or scattered here and there, far from their fellows, wherever the cold blast has wafted them.

The birds have been taught by their unfailing instinct that summer has departed, and winter is near. They no more warble their rich melodies, or flit in and out of the bowery recesses of the honeysuckles or peep with knowing look under the eaves, or into the arbour. Other purposes prompt to other acts, and they are taking their farewell of the pleasant summer haunts, where they have built their nests and reared their young.

This morning, soon after sunrise, Willie was standing on the lawn, contemplating the beauties of nature, and thinking, I suppose, of the changes of the seasons, when all at once I heard him shout, "Look at the birds! Look at the birds!" We threw open the window, and there were thousands and thousands of them almost over our heads. Their wings made a noise like the rushing of a steam-engine as it cleaves the air in its speed. They were calling to each other with a short, quick sound. It seemed as if they were giving and receiving orders. We watched them till they disappeared over the tree-tops.

"There are more! There are more!" shouted Mary. We again looked towards the rising sun, and up over the eastern hills came another immense flock, calling to each other as the first, and they too disappeared behind the western hills.

"There is another flock!" and so indeed there was. Up from the meadows and over the hills they came, swaying up and down in their flight, and so near that we could see each bird distinctly. Almost simultaneously they alighted on Clover Hill to rest for a moment. I can never forget their motion so full of grace and beauty, waving and undulating like the gentle swell of the ocean. Soon, another company followed in the same direction, and when they were over Clover Hill, up flew the others, and away they went with them beyond our sight. Flock after flock appeared, each taking the same general direction, and some of them so large that they stretched from the hills which bounded our view on one side, as far as our eye could see on the other. They looked, as Willie said, like bees swarming, only they were much larger. Occasionally a few stragglers could be seen, hurrying on to join their party, which was in advance of them. Perhaps they had delayed to take a last farewell of their pleasant summer homes, or, may be, they were dilatory in their habits, and did not make their morning toilet in season. I hope they will be more prompt in future, for it is a bad habit to be late, and occasions, often, much vexation and inconvenience.

I never before saw so many birds together, although I have frequently been startled by the peculiar sound made by large numbers flying in company, and have looked at them with wonder and admiration.

The migration of birds is one of the most remarkable phenomena in natural history. "The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times, and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming," and so do all birds of passage. Their Creator has endowed them with a wonderful instinct, which, in some way, unknown to us, teaches them to guard against the severity of the season by seeking a warmer climate, and when "winter is past," and "the flowers appear on the earth," and "the vines, with the tender grape, give a good smell," then "the time of the singing of birds is come," and their voice is heard in our land. Some of them return, not only to the same country, but to the same place, where they have previously built their nests, and, year after year, raise their broods in the same friendly tree.

It is said that, to enable birds to fly with ease, and to continue long on the wing, they must fly against the wind. I observed, this morning, that there was a brisk wind from the west, while the birds were flying a little south of west. Perhaps they had been waiting several days for a favourable wind, and that may have been the reason of the great number of flocks we saw.

"Behold the fowls of the air," said our Saviour, in his sermon on the mount; "for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" At another time, when he was talking with his disciples about the persecutions they should endure for his sake, he said to them, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows."

Not one of that immense number of birds, which we saw flying to a warmer country, can perish without God's knowledge. He sees every one of them. During the summer, he has fed them on the meadows near the sea-shore, and now that winter is approaching, he has taught them to seek other localities, where their appropriate food can be found.

Whenever God's children are tempted to yield to despondency, and to fear that they shall suffer from want, let them remember that they are of more value than many sparrows, and that if they trust their heavenly Father, their bread shall be given them, and their water shall be sure. He who feeds the birds will feed them. May he

"Fill" our souls "with trust unshaken In that Being who has taken Care for every living thing, In Summer, Winter, Fall and Spring."