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Bluebirds of Happiness
"How beautiful would our land be if it were full of birds, butterflies and flower groves! If the land were to become rich, that richness will reflect in our individual lives as well. We will be full of joy and beauty, within and without." Amma

Mountain bluebird
Mountain bluebird

Many years ago through Amma’s grace, my husband and I were given the means to purchase a simple solar-oriented home just a stone’s throw from the Santa Fe Amma Center ashram. Slowly over the years, we planted numerous fruit trees and established raised beds for vegetables, growing flowers for the birds, butterflies, and bees. We greatly anticipated another spring in which we would consider what beds would be planted, what seeds to sown and harvested through the summer and fall.

With this in mind, we headed off to what we thought would be a week-long retreat in the refuge of the stark and spaciousness skies of the San Luis Valley of Colorado, bordered by 14,000 foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristos at a small house we had just purchased. However, while we were there, the Covid pandemic stay at home order took hold, and a week’s retreat extended into months. Amma’s message to be in harmony with, and have respect for nature, grew into the notion of establishing a small garden, since we obviously could not get our annual garden going in Santa Fe.

    Amma says, "Whether plants, flowers, fruits or vegetables, Nature shares her bounty with animals and human beings alike. Birds and animals help plants disperse their seed and spread their reach. Trees offer shade to animals and shelter to birds, Animals and bird droppings provide organic fertilizer to trees and plants."

The call to action to start a garden seemed like a conscious act of kindness not to mention the responsible thing to do. We carefully chose a location that was protected from the intensity of spring winds behind the house near two small out buildings. While exploring the perfect site for setting up our raised beds, we discovered of a pair of nesting mountain bluebirds just feet away in the elevated penthouse of our propane tank.

The male mountain bluebird is stunning - the color of the brilliant southwestern sky. We were both dazzled and honored by their presence. Coexisting with the birds then took on a life of its own. We adopted a do-no-harm attitude, setting up birdbaths nearby and putting out blueberries when we had them.

    According to Amma, "We must protect our plants, trees, and every other living being, understand them as being a part of ourselves. It is the duty of human beings to protect all living creature as our brothers and sisters. It is high time that this awareness arises in us."
Our small garden by the propane tank
Our small garden by the propane tank

We began spending short periods of time just a few feet away from the bird’s abode in the propane tank, giving us the opportunity to observe them closely, and for them to get used to us. (Their act of generosity in sharing their space with us seemed far more significant than our sharing the garden space with them.) We slowly gained their trust while also discovering their daily routines - their day and night activities of catching moths and other bugs, their specific flight pathways and designated points for food sources plus the monitoring of potential predators. We acknowledged that the garden would be delayed or perhaps even thwarted. To the “Bluebirds of Happiness,” we surrendered.


Pigeon eggs
Mr. Blue guarding the door

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    Amma speaks about the importance of setting up birdhouse and feeders. She says, "Leave some water for the birds to drink and a handful of grain. In the heat of the summer, let the birds come and drink the water and eat the grain."

Once the baby bluebirds hatched, many times a day over about three weeks, Mr. and Mrs. Blue, as we called them, would make regular tips into the propane tank with worms or moths to feed the babies. We could tell by the sounds of chirping each time the parents went it that there were at least three young ones. We eagerly awaited their emergence from the tank.

When the babies finally made their debut, much to our disappointment we were not around to see them come out. It became eerily quiet around the old propane tank. We figured that once the young came out of the nest, the parenting duties would also end and the young birds would fly off into the sunset, but that’s not the way it works with mountain bluebirds. The parents’ job is far from over.

The tank’s back door with 14,000 foot peaks
The tank’s back door with 14,000 foot peaks

The baby bluebirds (three females) could fly enough to get out of the propane tank, but that was about it. They spent the next few days pretty much on the ground in various locations around the outside of the house while Mr. and Mrs. Blue continued to bring them insects to feast on. Little by little, they became more independent and once again, we assumed they would eventually fly off somewhere.

Not so. In retrospect, as far as the three sisters were concerned, the house was just as much their house as it was our house.

A particular incident illustrates this point. One evening a terrific storm came raging across the valley. As is not uncommon, it was accompanied by high winds. One significant blast must have reached over 50 mph and sustained for close to two minutes. It practically shook the house. I went upstairs to check the windows and discovered two of the sisters inside the open casement window, but still outside the screen.

One of them was perched on the sill, but the other one was clinging to the screen and beating her wings, desperately trying to get inside. First I tried to dissuade her by gently speaking to her, telling her she could not come inside the house. She was not to be deterred. I even pressed my fingers against her through the screen and she still wouldn’t relent.

Finally, after about five minutes, she calmed down enough to join her sister on the sill. The poor thing was so scared by the storm. In the weeks that followed, the three sisters would regularly come and visit just before nightfall, perching just a couple of feet away from us before they fly up to spend the night, huddled on the side of the house.

So cute.

One of the sisters pay a visit
One of the sisters pay a visit

Mountain bluebirds frequently have more than one brood in a summer and Mr. and Mrs. Blue were no exception. We were once again treated to regular flights in and out of the propane tank with Mr. and Mrs. Blue bearing gifts of insects.

And as before, the babies eventually popped out and spent the next couple of nights on the ground while their parents called to them from perches above, encouraging them to fly. The dedication and selflessness of the parents is an inspiration to behold. Even the three older sisters appears to have gotten into the act, if not actually feeding their younger siblings, at least flying nearby and providing moral support.

And our garden, as meagre as it is, has survived and flourished. It has been a delightful and blessed journey, getting to know our extended bluebird family. We are grateful for this intimate gift from nature.

    "There is known to be an eagle… who once dropped raw fish into Amma’s lap when she was lost in deep meditation… This same eagle, continues to be seen sometimes perches on the balcony railing behind the temple…just feet from where Amma is giving darshan." - Amma

Bhuvana – Crestone, Colorado

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