As I scrolled through course offerings for Spring 2015 my screen read, “ID21100WT: Birds and Botany of Western Oregon.”
Corban offers a class on the sole topic of birds and botany? I am SO there!
What else am I going to do on Mondays from 4-5:15? Have a hot date? Probably not.
So I registered for the bird class with Professor Scott. And to be fully honest, probably 70% of my reasoning for signing up was to get to hang out with Professor Scott for another semester.
All winter break I looked forward to the opportunity to go birding with my classmates with zero real expectations of what class would look like.
The first day of class, we met in PV103 to chat and go over the syllabus like all other classes. But we ended class slightly differently. Prof. Scott led us to the Inspiration Trail and proceeded to give a field-lecture on the Big Leaf Maples, Douglas Fir Trees, and Oregon White Oak.
We even made our first bird identification of the semester: the Canada Cackling Goose. You have probably seen and harassed the thousands of these geese who live in neighboring fields.
During class, we carry around our binoculars, bird books and journals to identify and record our findings. In the Apple App Store, you can download the Cornell Lab Merlin Bird Identification app which is very user friendly and allows you to learn more about birds you see on campus without having to be an “expert.”
This past week, Melissa Smeester even brought Greece along for the field trip! She was very well behaved and didn’t chase away any of the birds, even if there was a longing in her eyes to jump in the pond and have a nice duck lunch.
Driving down Turner Road the other day, I was able to identify three new bird species! I’ll tell you what, there is a strange satisfaction in bird knowledge.
A year ago my cousin Rachel took a similar class at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas where she is studying Camp & Recreational Ministries, or some way cool degree like that. When she came back to the Northwest for summer and we were spending time together, she would not stop talking about birds. I mean, I like birds a whole lot, but they weren’t the center of my attention. However, her fascination clearly rubbed off on me and now I am hooked.
Aside from the actual birding, the people in this class are what makes this class truly enjoyable. With a total of ten friends, including Professor Scott, we get to explore the “Corban Wild” as well as take field trips to ponds, lakes and refugees in the area. As we walk around and gain knowledge about the creation around us, we build relationships with one another as well as a deeper love for Christ.
As I study the different types of birds and plants that surround me, including many of their intricacies of what classifies each organism as different species, I can’t help but be reminded of the great love and care God had when He created each of us.
We were created with one main purpose: to reflect God’s glory back to Him. Birds are pretty great at it and they are teaching me to be better at it with them.
Life can be incredibly stressful, frustrating and often leaves me in the dark. When times like this occur, it is so easy for me to want to fix everything for myself. But in Matthew 6:26-27, Jesus points us to our heavenly Father.
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
I look at the freedom of birds and get jealous because I wish I could live foot-loose and fancy-free just like they do. But then I am reminded of the freedom that we have in Christ and remember that I, too, have been given this freedom.
Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
If you ever want to go birding with me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will find a time for you to get to enjoy the blessings of birds and botany, too!