As I was driving to the grocery store on Saturday, I had to swerve to miss 4 sandhill cranes that had been feeding in the median strip, but suddenly decided to cross the road – right in front of me. Fortunately I keep a pretty good idea of the locations of vehicles near me, so I knew I had room to maneuver
For several reasons, I didn’t want to hit them. First, I love these birds. They are big and beautiful. Breeding pairs stay together year-round, both build the nest, incubate the eggs, and feed and care for the chicks until they can fend for themselves. I love their parenting skills.
Second, the collision would damage my car. They are very big birds — like hitting a 3-foot tall turkey. Several years ago, a black buzzard hit my windshield and shattered it. Cranes are bigger.
Third, Florida Sandhill Cranes are endangered. While this subspecies is numerous in Orlando, I’ve never seen them anywhere else. Estimates put only about 5,000 remaining in the wild.
Several reasons exist for their rarity. Usually they only lay 1 to 3 eggs each year. Many predators like racoons love these pre-prepared snacks. And while snaring a chick requires a little more effort, that is no problem for foxes, coyotes and bobcats.
But humankind is also a problem. Loss of habitat is devastating. While the crash of the real estate boom stopped expansion in its tracks for a few years, new housing starts are now evident in the marshes and grasslands of central Florida – prime nesting area for the cranes. Urban sprawl is a problem.
And personally, I think a main reason is their stupidity. I mean, they have NO sense of the impact of their bodies with a vehicle. They saunter along, oblivious to their surroundings.
From the behavior of these cranes, I see many parallels to my own life.
I am 60 and childless, so I guess that makes my line endangered. Thank goodness my sister has a son and my brother has 6 kids. I can’t keep track of all my great nieces and nephews. While I am not a parent, I like to think that I care for others and provide for their needs.
As a small town/country kid, I feel the “loss of my habitat” in cities. Hopefully I have learned to adapt better than these birds.
But when I cruise along without thinking about my surroundings, that behavior is dangerous. And I don’t mean when I’m driving my Nissan. Too often I get so comfortable in my job and surroundings that I fail to notice when I and others are in danger – not physically, but spiritually.
After an exhausting day at work it is so easy to plop down into my rocking chair and click on the TV. While much of the content seems like just mindless entertainment, the temptations and underlying anti-Godly message of the world is all too real. The commercials are obvious – hard to miss the skimpily clad maiden with Rampunzel locks hawking a new shampoo. But who is the real audience and what is the subliminal lesson?
Sure, sex sells. That’s why advertisers use it. They say that more men subscribe to Victoria’s Secret catalog than women. And what about that swimsuit issue of Sport Illustrated?
And although some dangers of the alluring models are obvious, the buxom blondes with perfect bodies and air-brushed skin teach that our self-esteem depends on appearance and the Hollywood norm. The ads create discontent when we fail to measure up and offer the ‘perfect product’ to cure the ‘problem.’
The more distressing influences emanate from the shows. You know what I mean – disrespect to parents and traditional values, religious beliefs ridiculed, toleration redefined to mean not only that one is entitled to their opinion, but that everyone else has to endorse it as well, or be branded a narrow-minded bigot.
Adult sandhill cranes defend themselves by spreading their wings (with a 5-foot wingspan), flying at the predator, stabbing with their beaks and kicking with their feet. But not if they don’t see the enemy coming.
What influences do you need to watch for and defend against?
If you would like resources on how to recognize and combat worldly influences, go to The Colson Center for Christian Worldview