Over the winter on any given Friday, he and his friend Daryl could be found in our garage, dust masks in place, sawing up wood to make bird boxes, bat houses and bee houses. This was part of a project for the Priddis Greens Golf Course who holds status as an Audubon certified golf course, and who needed an upgrade for their bird houses. The particular birds being attracted there were the Mountain Bluebird (with my new knowledge of the four-letter identification system used, I’m guessing these are the MOBB – I could be wrong but it sure sounds good!)
If you have never seen a Mountain Bluebird (MOBB), you’re missing out. (I’ve just been told the official four-letter ID code is MOBL – I still prefer MOBB!) Their beautiful bright blue-turquoise feathers are unparalleled in beauty. They are a medium-sized bird, between the size of a chickadee (BCCH) and a robin (ARBN). We loved watching for them when we lived on our acreage for they heralded the coming of spring. Now living in the city, we see less of them since they stick to the Bluebird trail, out of the urban areas. The Priddis Greens Golf Course happens to be situated on Bluebird habitat, so they were interested in encouraging these little beauties to come to nest on the course. And so, it came to be that the construction project in the garage took flight.
When spring came, the boxes were mounted just before the arrival of the birds and Jim and Daryl were thrilled that out of 75 boxes put up, almost 50 were inhabited in this first year. And as it so often happens in life, what starts out as one thing, soon becomes another. Once the bluebirds arrived, the boys knew they needed a system to keep track of them. In the early weeks, they went out to the course, clip board in hand and recorded the number of babies in each box.
A few weeks later, before the babies were ready to leave the nest, Jim went out with an official Mountain Bluebird bander, Don, to learn the official ropes. Jim loved his day and voila, a new passion was born.
Before long, the clipboard was replaced with a spreadsheet, the circle of banders was increased to include more friends and new banders at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary in Calgary. Jim managed to land himself a volunteer position at the Sanctuary, where once a week, he stole out of bed before five o’clock so he could continue to understand the art of banding. Each week he arrived home excited to share his new knowledge.
Apparently, to catch the birds, the sanctuary uses something called mist nets. Think of them as very fine badminton nets. Birds of all species fly into, and become temporarily trapped in the nets. Jim and the master bander, Steve, head out to the nets, and one by one they gently remove the little birds from it, and drop them into individual, clean, cotton, draw-string bags. Surprisingly, the little (and big) birds are not stressed by this.
Once in the bags, the birds are taken to the banding table where they are identified, examined for health and age, measured, banded and released. Jim is amazed at the way the birds simply lay back and allow the process to unfold. Needless to say, the incredible experience of the master handler plays a big part in this.
This whole idea of entanglement, examination and release got me thinking about life. How often in life do we get tangled up? We find ourselves in situations that make us feel trapped, afraid and unsure how to move forward. Often, we are unable to see our own pattern of behaviour that lands us in the same position over and over again.
If only we could take a deep breath, become more master bird-bander-like and use the opportunity for simple observation. What if we could look at our mess of tangles as a scientist might; with an eye for looking at data without adding all the judgements that could accompany it. What if we could sit quietly and think about, perhaps even keep notes about, what got us to where we are, how often we find ourselves in a similar situation, how we even build our own nets that trap us, and what we might do differently to avoid finding ourselves there again. And then what if we could simply set ourselves free? I’m thinking our four-letter code might become NTGL and a five-letter code might be PEACE.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What does untangled look like for me?’
Elizabeth is a life and leadership coach in Calgary, AB. She provides leadership coaching for individuals and groups and she creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you or your organization to figure out to stop tangling yourself in your own nets.