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Feathered Trust

Story ID:6706
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Fort Lee New Jersey USA
Year:2005
Person:Teams
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Our home filled with the heavenly scent of fresh-baked bread. Outside, snow
covered the ground. Several birds gathered in the bush behind our house for protection
from the bitter wind. I cut the first slice from the warm loaf, placed it on a plate, and
gathered the crumbs from the counter.

I was about to throw them in the garbage but remembered the birds. I slid the
patio door open and tossed the crumbs to the base of the bush. As soon as I closed the
door, the birds flew to the ground and devoured the still warm bread.

It became a habit – when I sliced bread, the birds got the crumbs. More birds
began to hang around. Ginny and I bought a bird feeder. The day after we set it up, our
backyard was filled with more than a hundred sparrows, a few grackles, a pair of
cardinals, and a variety of other birds.

We loved to stand by our patio doors and watch them feed. At first they were shy.
They’d fly from the bush to the feeder and back again – afraid to be out in the open. If
Ginny or I walked out onto our deck, they’d fly away. A few weeks after we put the
feeder out, they learned to trust us, and only flew to the far side of the bush and wait
for us to leave before returning to feed.

It was the same when I filled the feeder. At first they flew away. Then only a few
flew away. The rest stayed and watch me. I moved slowly and tried not to startle them.
Through patience and perseverance, I gained their trust.

We lived close to the Hudson River. A variety of hawks nested on its steep cliffs.
Unfortunately, my back-yard feeder became a feeding ground for them too. Hundreds
of birds perch on the outer branches of our bush. If one bird sensed a hawk, it made a
noise, and rushed to the center of the bush, where the hawk couldn’t reach it. Heeding the
warning, the rest of the flock followed. The flock was a team with many eyes. Each
member looked out for the others.

Ginny and I were the new members of their flock/team. It took a while for them
to trust us. The flock was an office. Ginny and I were the newcomers. We had to earn
their trust and learn from our co-workers. We had to do our job well and look out for the
others. The success of the team depended on each member pulling their weight.

If a heavy work load is dumped on your team; when a threatening situation arises
– a hawk – are you going to flee in fear, or are you going to rally your team to safety?

Be like the birds and rally.

Be part of the team.

Michael T. Smith