Carefree in the Hands of God


"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!'" (Luke 12:22-24 NIV)

In order to really understand the promise of Luke 12:22-24, you first need to know just how much time is required to take care of a few birds. You would think that it couldn't be all THAT time consuming; after all, we've all watched birds flit around the porch. They seem such independent creatures!

But are they, really?

We have a small, in-home aviary. It was not a planned thing; instead it came about as a natural consequence of having two intriguing, persistent boys. About 6 years ago, while saying his prayers, my youngest son was overheard to say, "Dear Jesus, please help mommy and papa to buy me a bird! Amen". Needless to say, a cockatiel and proper accessories were under the Christmas tree that year (Well, actually, the BIRD wasn't LITERALLY under the tree . . .). Things were fine for the next couple of years, and then it became apparent that the cockatiel was getting tired of being "shared" between two active boys. My oldest son was getting tired, too-tired of chasing her when she flew away to find some peace! He began to save his money to buy his own bird. One thing led to another, and, well, we now have twelve birds in seven cages, with two more forthcoming!

Be careful what you give your children!

It soon became apparent that our interest was not just in having birds as pets, but also in raising babies. This interest was, of course, sparked by a pair of lineolated parakeets (linnies) who simply decided it was time to multiply. This was fine with us. The parent birds were doing all the work, and we were enjoying watching the baby grow-until the mother rejected the baby, that is! When he was just three weeks of age, the mother bird became insanely jealous of the time the father was spending with the baby. In order to save the life of both the father and the baby, we had to remove the baby from the nest and hand-raise him. We were immediately hooked, and that day marked the beginning of our home-based aviary.

Life is never dull when you have eager kids, but thanks to them, we have been able to supply many satisfied customers with beautiful, hand-raised birds. To date, we have never met a disgruntled client. I'm sure glad about that!

At the moment we have 9 linnies-four breeding pairs and a baby. The baby is actually from our last clutch. She is a creamino, a rare mutation among linnies, and we will be searching for a suitable mate for her. Naturally, we still have our original inspiration, the cockatiel, but she has acquired a mate; and our newest acquisition is a Blue-Headed Pionus, for whom we are also seeking a mate. Isn't it amazing how easily an aviary can expand???

Though these birds represent a variety of sizes, colors and personality traits, these three species all have one thing in common: they aren't particularly noisy, and they all make excellent apartment birds. (Good thing for my poor ears!)

But let's get back to our original question. Just how much time DOES taking care of birds require?

If you only have one or two, and if you don't factor in the amount of attention they need, basic bird care takes a minimal amount of time. Naturally, caring for 12 birds becomes much more cumbersome!

Food is, naturally, a priority. To have a healthy life span, we can't just feed our birds seed (birdie "junk food"). Otherwise we would end up with a pet cemetery on our hands, as well as two, very unset kids. So hold on to your chairs as you discover just what a healthy pet bird's diet should consists of!

Every week my wife makes several containers of seven layered salad. This consists primarily of leafy greens, fresh green vegetables, fresh orange vegetables, whole grain pasta, mixed beans, fresh fruit and frozen mixed vegetables. If immediately enclosed in individual containers, this salad will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week. Every morning, each of our birds receives a cage-delivered serving of this delicious mixture, to which appropriate vitamins and minerals have been added. In the afternoon, the dish is removed and replaced by one of the following, depending on the day of the week: soaked grains; half a millet string; a quarter slice of whole wheat bread crumpled in a dish (Delicious! Ummm!); puffed millet, puffed corn, puffed rice, Rice Crispies or popcorn; or rice and beans. Besides this, they always have a small dish of seed or pellets (pellets is healthier, if your birds will eat them!).

And what about water?

The water bottles get changed four times a week. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, half a teaspoon of liquid Calcium is added, as well as a drop of iodine and the tip of a spoon of Bioplus. On Wednesdays and Sundays one drop of Saniclense is added to keep the water fresh. Naturally, when the hens are laying, they receive a drop of calcium everyday. My sons are quite faithful in following the weekly directions on our fridge.

Birds also need to have a roomy, safe cage, sandy perches to help their nails stay trimmed, and plenty of toys and swings to keep them entertained. Their cages are cleaned thoroughly once a week (I'm sure glad I have kids!) And the newspaper in the bottom of their cages is replaced every second day.

Sounds time consuming, doesn't it? And that's just basic bird care!

Now comes the fun part. Each of these birds needs daily human attention, as well as some free time out of their cages. How much time depends upon the specie, but most need a minimum of an hour of interaction per day. Naturally, each bird has a different temperament, thus requiring different kinds of attention. One bird might only be satisfied if he sits on your finger and watches you talk to him. Others prefer to chase one another around the house. Still others want to ride around on your shoulder . . .

Are you beginning to get the picture??? Caring for birds is an ALL TIME-CONSUMING TASK! What would happen if we had all of the neighborhood birds in our house? We would probably have to give up sleeping, because it would take more than 24 hours each day just to keep them happy and healthy!

Knowing what I now know about bird care, I am absolutely amazed that all these birds in the wild are provided for. Not just in the neighborhood, but all over the world! None of them are in need. They receive their food and water, along with all of the necessary minerals and vitamins, and none of them lack attention. I just love going for a walk early in the morning to hear how happy these birds are. They sing at the top of their lungs, and I am quite sure that they are thanking their Heavenly Provider for fulfilling all their needs.

Despite all of the time required to care for the birds, we have the guarantee from Jesus Himself that we are SO much more valuable in His eyes: "How much more valuable you are than birds!" (Luke 12:24) So if we are that much more important to our Heavenly Provider than the birds, why do we worry? God is faithful. We can trust in Him!

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." (John 14:1 NIV)

Why not join your neighborhood's birds in praising and thanking your Heavenly Provider?

P. S. Would you like to borrow twelve birds? We could use a vacation!

Rob Chaffart

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