Sing praises to YHWH, for God has triumphed. Let this be known throughout the world! Cry out, shout aloud, you who dwell in Zion, for the Holy One of Israel dwells among us in majesty!~ Isaiah 12: 5-6
Migration is hard. Some birds fly literally thousands of miles. Some of those miles are over open water and thus non-stop. Flying anytime takes lots of energy, flying long distances non-stop requires being fueled up for the trip. That means packing on extra pounds (since burning fat is the source of the energy), which also means working harder to stay in the air. It’s a Catch-22. Timing is critical, particularly in the spring, since getting to the breeding territory when the food is most abundant means the difference between successful and unsuccessful breeding. While difficult weather like precipitation and unfavorable winds can’t be ignored, they can’t stop the northward progress.
So in the midst of all these difficulties what do birds do? Sing! In fact, male songbirds cannot not sing in the spring. Hormone levels begin to increase as the days begin to lengthen causing song to burst forth. Pay attention to the local non-migrating songbirds and you will find that you will begin hearing them in February. It seems appropriate that singing House Finches are initiating courtship right around Valentine’s Day annually. There is an urgency and a restlessness that migratory birds experience just before migration begins in earnest. That period of gathering in flocks and making short flights even has a term, zugunruhe.
Long nights and difficult struggles don’t need to overshadow the joy of the time that is coming. Why not sing in anticipation of the joy that is sure to come, even if you don’t see it or even feel it in this particular moment?
Prayer: Composer of the great song of joyous creation, in our resistance, plant the restlessness of zugunruhe that we might join the angels in song. Gloria in excelsis deo! Amen.