Foreign Phoebes

Updated: Jul 6


Unsplash - James Hammond

Regular Contributor: Amie Brodie - Boomer - Toledo, Ohio

I have a pair of what I think are phoebes nesting under the back door eaves. Every time we come and go, the female flies off and then sits on the fencepost looking upset. They've been there longer than it seems to me it should take to hatch a clutch of babies, so I wonder if they haven't been able to be successful.


They aren't where they should be. Phoebes like to nest in open woodlands, although they will sometimes live on human structures. This isn't their natural habitat, but will they still manage to thrive? Can they learn to cope with the strangeness of human activity, and raise a family here?

It can be difficult to be in spaces that aren't yours. We all want to hang with our own kind, but if we do, can we ever become more? How will we deal with what might be foreign to us, accept a world that isn't always done our way? How do we stretch our mouths around words that don't fit, or names we have to practice to say well?

Sometimes a new language is still our native tongue, but we have to figure out how to use it in ways that are better and more healing. Sometimes learning new ways to do things makes us awkward, but it also shows us how other people have had to be awkward, and we find ourselves understanding, and being able to see through other-centered eyes. I wish for you all the opportunity to do this. I hope you never miss a chance. You will feel uncomfortable. That's good. It means you're doing it right.

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