Bad Seed and Contaminated Food

shutterstock_66883147One of the small pleasures in my day is watching the birds, especially when praying a rosary. Their feeding at the window reminds me of the Bible verse about sparrows (Mt 10:29-31), and I am comforted in knowing God is at least as attentive to me as to his little brown birds.

For this reason, I’ve added a platform feeder to the sill outside my oratory window. It hangs near the suet feeder that’s attached to an iron swivel bracket. Positioning the feeders at a second story window has the added benefit of being out of reach of marauding squirrels. Those thieving rodents have enough food supply on the stone path beneath.

During the summer the squirrels would gather the fallen sunflower seeds and bury them randomly around the yard. These small clusters of sunflowers were left to grow, and matured seed heads allowed to partially dry on the stalks. I would then deadhead the pad, leaving it intact, and place it on the shed’s workbench to finish drying. Throughout the winter I’d attach a pad—seeds up—near the window and delight as I watched chickadees and nuthatches pluck a blackened hull from its papery cup.

Last summer there was a bumper crop of sunflowers. To make more room on the bench, I’d bagged a few of the seed heads—regrettably, too soon. They hadn’t dried properly and a fungus grew. Undeterred, and not wanting to waste the food supply, I used a brush to clean off the fuzz and set them in the sun to dry a bit more.

The weather turned colder and it was time to bring out the sunflower pads. The birds had been devouring the fresh supply of food but within a day all feeding stopped—including feeding on the suet nearby.

I waited for two days, still no birds. Only a few seeds had been eaten from the pad. Then I surmised I had probably placed a formerly-fuzzy head upon the tray, and that the tainted seeds had turned the birds away—even from that which was good. It seems a tainted source of nourishment could upset the whole supply of food.

I realized it was the same with us, as we seek the fruits of our faith. When a corrupted source presents us with tainted spiritual food, it can turn us away from whatever good is nearby.

The sparrows can recognize the difference. We should, too.

(Image by Karol Gallus, courtesy