Of course, the fact that I tuned in was also due, in no small part, to the fact that I had a crush on Suzanne Pleshette (who was later to portray Emily, Dr. Bob Hartley's wife, on The Bob Newhart Show). That plus the fact that I also thought Rod Taylor was way cool – sort of like an everyman “James Bond”. But I digress…
The one part of the movie that scared the heebie-jeebies out of me was the scene where Tippi Hedren was seated on the bench outside the school, and the birds were amassing for an impending attack on the children. When that attack came, it was gruesome; and I have never forgotten it.
These days, I understand that the whole scene was masterfully staged by Hitchcock. In fact, ii is only in this day and age of digital movies that an attentive viewer can recognize that very few live birds were actually used. The vast majority of perched birds were fake ones (never moving), periodically interspersed for effect with a few live (and visibly animated) birds.
Hitchcock’s one blooper in the scene is evident without digital slow motion. All the gathering birds in the scene are black crows. Yet, when the ensuing attack on the schoolchildren actually occurs, most of the birds appear to be white seagulls! But who am I to question the master?
These days, birds don't really scare me all that much. After all, down through the years, I’ve fairly well mastered them. As a small boy, I took my BB gun and killed a bird that was raiding my father’s fruit trees. Later, as a hunter, I went on to harvest my share of turkeys, geese, ducks, dove, and quail.
But nowadays, I've come full circle. Granted, the walls of my man cave are now adorned with mounted specimens of the various species of birds I just mentioned. Perhaps this is why I now spend less time wanting to master them and more time appreciating them, both for their beauty and for the blessing they so often bring to my life.
In this regard, perhaps, I have even more in common with Noah of old than I thought. As I referenced in my previous post, I am finding that, in my old age, I now share his proclivity for horticulture.
The Biblical text also relates how Noah, having raised a family, built an ark, gathered the world’s animals, and survived the flood, likely came to value and appreciate the significance of birds in his life. As Genesis chapter 8 makes plain, Noah first cared for, and then received, a blessing from both a raven and a dove.
And thus, in addition to hours spent planting fruit trees, grape vines, and berry plants, I have been busy as of late hanging bird houses. To begin with, I have now hung multiple song bird houses. Trees all over our property have attached boxes for them to inhabit and propagate within.
In His famed Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonished us to consider the birds of the air, which neither sow nor reap crops, nor build structures, but are nonetheless taken care of by Him. I guess, in this case, just as He did with Noah and the ark, the Lord is simply using me to care for them. And in turn, He is using them to bless me, just as they did Noah.
In addition to song bird houses, I have also added duck boxes all along the creek that runs adjacent to our yard. Armed with little more than a Google search’s worth of knowledge on the subject, I have now constructed and hung multiple such boxes. Hopefully, as the internet assures me, migrating waterfowl will soon stop off on their journey and recognize and appreciate the nesting location I have provided them. Thereafter, when they return in late January, they may well decide to settle down and raise their brood right here on our property.
If and when they do, I assure you (at least from my perspective), that they will prove a blessing to me, as did the raven and the crow to Noah of old.
For like Noah, I will be reassured in that I will be reminded that the God of history is the God of eternity. Thus, the same God Who judged the world for its sin, and then wiped out the world for its sin, is the same God Who went on to declare that “as long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall never cease”.
For ever since that day, all the world’s fruit trees and grape vines and berry plants combined have continually born their offspring in their respective seasons.
As have the birds of the air. In the process, each successive generation of these, in its respective time and place, has only gone on to enhance and enrich the lives of men and women around them.
Each of my duck houses consists of little more than four or five wood planks, a few metal screws, and a handful of cedar shavings. Yet, combined, these things bespeak the unfolding of untold generations of waterfowl to come. Given this, to say the least, their construction and hanging are visionary beyond measure.
Next February, when the time comes that ducks return to our area in order to mate, I will know whether or not my efforts have all been for naught. I cannot say for certain, but for now, my best guess is that I will be rewarded for my efforts. And like Noah, I will rejoice in the birds God has used to bless me.
The screenplay was based upon the 1952 collection of short stories of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, itself clearly inspired by hordes of Nazi airplanes cruelly attacking England in World War Two. Cf.: https://www.filmsite.org/bird.html.