Bird as Metaphor

I often capture observations here just as some use a journal. I see something that I might be able to use later by ascribing meaning to it. My house is in a wooded area and I work in front of window. I see birds all day long. Every day. With that kind of regularity, it is hard to see a bird as anything more than a bird.

But there are some days where I see more of one kind of bird than any other. I call this the bird of the day. One day I might see lots of red-headed woodpeckers or five blue jays in quick succession. Or even the day when all the grackles gather in the trees. This is more likely to be based on their uniqueness or notoriety. I’m less likely to notice many of those “little brown birds that chirp loudly,” unless they land on my windowsill. I realize that some of this is seasonal and weather-based, and that creates some of the trite bird associations like the first robins of spring representing rebirth.

When you immerse yourself in a literary world, symbols and actions have deeper meaning and often stand for something else. Or even point the way to the future. They help explain things in the world of the story. I could write a story about the hawk that I have seen patrolling my yard for the past 12 years and draw conclusions about how that maps onto my life, but in the end it would just be a story. And the hawk would just be a hawk.

Today the first bird I saw was a bluebird. That burst of color stands out against the bare tree branches of the winter. Does this bird really represent happiness or is that just a song lyric? Could this at least symbolize the start of a good day? It is already better than yesterday.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen