A freak sideshow in nature? No, it’s for real.
After we had moved into our new home in Florida, one of the first projects on our “to do” list was to get bird feeders up and filled. My wife and I play a game to see who can be the first to identify a particular song bird. We marvel at the red-throated hummingbird’s sounds. We marvel at the painted bunting’s high-pitched singing in short phrases of variable pitches. But we marvel most at the sound made by a small tropical bird, different from the song of any other bird.
Deep in the tropics of Ecuador, an ornithologist heard what sounded like a miniature string orchestra. Baffled, he pushed his way through heavy vines and underbrush to watch a bird sing with its wings. A tiny red-headed bird’s wings created a loud, clear tone that sounded as if it came from a violin. The bird, called a club-winged manakin, sings, not with his throat but with his wing feathers as they vibrate to create violin-like sounds. If this ornithologist had been in tune with the manakin’s Creator, his discovery would have provoked praise to God as well as surprise.
The psalmist calls for all the birds to “Praise the Lord from the earth small creatures and flying birds” (148:10), so the manakin plays his “violin” to delight his Creator, a God of variety and surprises.
When the manakin “plays his violin,” he wings his music heavenward, first and foremost, to his Creator and his Creator lets us enjoy what he hears. As our human voices add our hymns of praise to the manakin’s “violin,” then our blended musical praise soars for the pleasure of, and glory to, our music-loving God of the universe.
Every time now when I hear a violin playing, I think about our delighted Father listening to his unique club-winged manakin’s “violin,” deep in the forests of Ecuador.
E-mail me and tell me what bird song you have recently heard that reminds you of God’s unique creation. firstname.lastname@example.org