A Reflection on Wildlife

My mother is two years short of 100. Over recent years, she has lamented “we are losing our creatures because of humanity.” Mum’s long, faith-filled life gives poignancy to her lament. Her humility has kept her in touch with nature.  

Mum goes out onto her front porch each day and feeds a family of Magpies who sing for a few sprinkles of chopped nuts. She talks to them and when the nuts are gone, she tells them to “go and find a worm”. This anecdote offers insight into a loving relationship with God’s Creation.  One, we regard animals as beloved since God is Love and God created them; two, we notice and enjoy their lives; three, we provide ecological conditions that support or enhance their existence; and four, we allow nature to take its course. 

What can I do? This is a question that grows on many of us as we mature and notice more and more whether wildlife is absent or present. What is living near us? Can I improve the habitat where I live so that it provides food, shelter and water for a greater diversity of animals, great or small? Is there an organisation I can support that is re-wilding land, re-introducing threatened species into a protected habitat? What about those who need support as they work with poachers and their communities to transform attitudes to wildlife and create alternative sources of income? Locally, is there a group I can join, or begin, to regenerate a creek or pond? Who in government is motivated to back this work? 

We are in hot, dry times at the moment in Canberra, Australia, and the birds need water, especially those that eat seeds. Today, outside my window I saw the Eastern Spinebill, a regular visitor, piping his song after each splash in the shallow birdbath. Yesterday, three female Satin Bowerbirds surprised me by arriving and bathing in the larger birdbath. This morning, I put the sprinkler on under the tea tree shrub at the time the Superb Fairy-wrens and Thornbills were there yesterday. Soon after, they flew from my neighbour’s property to the shrub and flitted through its branches under the steady shower of droplets, perching on the higher branches and shaking their feathers before re-entering the sprinkling water. After a few minutes, they flew away. 

Nature responds to practical encouragement. A birdbath near a tree or in a protected spot, or a dish on the ground under a strip of shrubbery can fulfil the need for water. It is simple, diligent work. If you are absent during the day, you will miss the birds’ activity but you may well find a feather left behind that tells you they have been. Children or grandchildren can help you clean the birdbath or dish and refill it with fresh water. Let them in on the secrets of nature and how to care for it. 

As a community, we can stem the loss of creatures. Let us ask God to be with us as we discern how to restore and protect God’s Creation.

Lucy Bastecky, March 2024

(About the author: Lucy Bastecky is an Australian who loves nature and appreciates the spirituality of St Ignatius. She enjoys creating biodiverse suburban gardens and has taken up drawing plants and the small creatures that live in and around them.)