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What's Happening?


I was birding with Sheri, my daughter-in-law in the last of April down in South Padre Island where she acted as my guide in seeing a whole bunch of migratory birds as they head north for the summer.  Sheri is a much more dedicated and skilled birder than myself but her enthusiasm is contagious.  So when we had the opportunity to go birding last Saturday at Sparrow’s Way, we both looked forward to continuing our Spring search for birds.  

Sparrow’s Way has been trying to schedule regular monthly “Open House” events to share the beauty and peacefulness of this country setting which combines the Sparrow’s Way Woods, a trail through a thicket of brush and trees, along with the trails of our neighboring Creech Prairie Restoration.  Sheri and I set off shortly after 8:00 a.m. through the Woods while others took trails through the Prairie. 

One of our first sightings was this Least Flycatcher which we watched working the trees.

Later we were led along our return path by a Great crested Flycatcher.

When we got to the “pond”, which no longer holds water but is surrounded by trees and brush, we were busy watching a variety of warblers and other migrant birds busily chasing insects through the branches.  Sheri was quick to identify many of these quick moving birds while I recorded their calls using the Merlin app. 

She is also much quicker at getting photos and captured some of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Catbird, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Yellow warbler, Magnolia warbler, MacGillivray’s warbler and Mourning Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Painted bunting, and the American Redstart.  We heard and saw many other birds such as Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxia, Mockingbirds, Scissortail Flycatchers, Bob white quail, and Dicksissel to name a few.

What does it say about ourselves when we begin to look past the beauty that surrounds us trying to catch sight of the things that are only here for a fleeting season?  Many of the elusive little birds that are passing through our Woods in Spring will return in the fall or possibly again next Spring, but these Bob white quail, brilliantly red Cardinals, constantly singing Mockingbirds, and even the strikingly beautiful Painted Bunting may well be here all year long.  The array of migrant birds remind us of the seasons and complex interrelations of nature.  They also remind us of the fragility of our environment that makes this place, Sparrow’s Way Woods and Creech’s Prairie, a crucial resting place for these vulnerable birds on their long journeys to their new homes.

What can we do to help along the way?  It would be great to have a constant water feature to provide a bird bath and fresh water dripping for the birds passing through as well as those who make this their home.  The trees and prairie will provide all the food needed.  This is part of the vision for Sparrow’s Way. 

But an even more meaningful aspect of our vision is to replicate this for vulnerable families needing a resting place to restore themselves on their own journeys.  We are working toward having living spaces and facilities which can house a handful of families at a time who need this place of restoration and healing.  This will take many more people sharing this vision and participating in some way to move this forward from vision to reality. Are you interested?

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Meditation at the Big Oak Tree 9:30 - 10:30 P.M.  

Old Oaks Walk Slowly

Convoluted skin

Grown iron with age


I am



I walk

Too fast

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Guided Birdwalk generally starting around 8:00 a.m.

Nature trails

Come see the flowers and birds as they

Welcome the Spring to Sparrow's Way

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Reflections of Claire Bankole

I am sitting on the porch of ‘the rusty bucket’, a simple wooden ‘casita’ that, back in the day, was a cowboy church; I didnt know cowboy church was a thing. Surrounded by birdsong, in the company of my two canine friends, with the noise of a weed-whacker in the distance, I am reflecting on how much I have learned in the four weeks I have been here.

I’m at the Sparrows Way, a small ranch south west of San Antonio; I am on a pilgrimage to learn and discern and hopefully I can do that in a way that encourages and blesses those I am learning from. During a brief weed-whacker intermission just now, Lourdes who lives here told me how when they first arrived things were so overgrown they couldn't see the next door house. Three months after her youngest was born she was out here each day clearing away the brush, that was eighteen months ago. We take a moment to look through the copse of mesquite trees to the house next door. She still enjoys weed-whacking, the weather today is perfect for it, not too hot, not too cold, she says, and I get the sense it provides some solitude, a short reprieve from the other more clamorous demands of motherhood.

a photo of Lourdes

Families have come and gone from the Sparrows Way but Lourdes’ has been here from the start and remains, looking after the place and hosting random guests like myself. I eat with the family each evening and at least one other time each day Lourdes will present me with a plate of delicious food. Lourdes has taught me about hospitality and community, two things I thought I had a fairly good understanding of.

I hadn't been part of any explicit conversation about my eating arrangements so after a week or so of being fed so generously, anxious lest the family thought I was taking their hospitality for granted, I enquired about somehow contributing to the costs. Soon after, Lourdes shared how in Honduras where she comes from, no matter how poor one might be, there is always a way to provide a meal and refreshment to a guest, it’s just what one does. Where Lourdes comes from people give and receive hospitality as a function of shared humanity that reinforces that common connection. She contrasts that with what she has experienced here

in western culture; we westerners are more comfortable with transactional hospitality. We want to settle accounts as soon as possible through payment or reciprocity, in her words: ‘so that you are not beholden to anyone’. For them being beholden to each other is simply an expression of the truth that life and flourishing are not found in isolation but in community. We on the other hand balk at the thought of being beholden, we’d rather pay each other off and settle for a cheaper hospitality that keeps everyone at a safe distance. We fear the mess of genuine communion, of com-panion-ship the deeper ‘sharing of bread’ together.

So some of the questions I am leaving with as a westerner with a fresh schooling in hospitality and community are:

As I offer hospitality to this person, how do I hope they will pay me back?

As I give or receive hospitality in this situation, what do I fear about not keeping these others at arms length?

The Sparrows Way Ranch is a big dream, the deepest beauty of which I suspect is what happens when we each come with a heart open to learn as we both give and receive hospitality to and from those around us.

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