Wanting Things to be the Same That Aren’t

These birds are not the same

Can you identify the subtle differences in the two birds?

Dear Indulgent Reader;

What follows might astound you (or maybe not), but friends, nay, even family members have called me a bird nerd. I confess. I don’t mind the moniker. I even bashfully call myself a birder, although my hobby only started four years ago.

I think of birding as an anti-Alzheimer’s project to keep my aging brain nimble with new information and my body young (because one must hike great distances to find the rarest birds).

I spent Labor Day weekend on a solo trip to very southern Arizona in search of new-to-me and rare-for-the-US birds. I know. It may seem like a waste of resources to some, but every time I seek rare birds, I usually end up find much more than I bargained for.

As I sank into the benches at the Beatty’s Guest Ranch (don’t laugh, but many birders open their homes or business to other birders who want to come and enjoy their yard ‘pets’), I hoped that this time I would see the elusive White-eared Hummingbird. They don’t show up very often on this side of the border, but one had shown up sporadically all summer long at this very location.

I sat alone on a quiet, overcast morning, and worried about whether I know one if I saw one. A bird with white behind its eye (thus the ‘white-eared) zoomed in to a feeder behind me and I started snapping photos. When it zipped off, I looked at my photos and couldn’t decide if I had seen the rare bird or not. It LOOKED like it COULD be a female. I studied it closer. The beak looked a little long, and I hadn’t gotten a good shot of the chest of the bird—which should be white.

I repeated this exercise for twenty or thirty minutes. My fingers hesitating over my bird log app—not wanting to report incorrect information, yet wanting so badly to be able to say I saw one.

A hummer buzzed low over my head and settled three feet above me on tiny twig, too close for my telephoto lens to capture. A White-eared Hummingbird! A real one!  Obviously different from the one I had been almost sure about a few minutes earlier. I held my breath and hoped she would alight on a feeder—preferably one in the correct range for my lens. I held my DSLR in one hand and my iPhone in the other, just in case. Thankfully, she moved.

I snapped twenty or so photos with my camera before she flew away. I pulled up the photos on my camera and compared them to the ones on my bird app. They were exactly the same!

When I arrived home and compared the photos of the maybe bird the real bird, I could clearly see that they were not the same.

But, oh, how often have I acted the same way in real life. The younger me wanted to be in love so badly that I mistook real love for casual interest. I wasted countless hours agonizing over a relationship (or two or three or four) that seemed to have all the potential to be ‘the right one’, but never seemed to pan out.

Only later, under careful scrutiny, did I realize how wrong those relationships were—how the seriousness existed more in my mind than in reality because I wanted to check an item (fall in love/get married) off my list.

My excitement when I saw the real deal bubbled over and I wanted to shout and jump for joy (I’m talking about the bird here, but it happened when I discovered true love, too). I quickly sent out an email to the bird nerd list serve (yes, my problem hobby runs deep) so that others would know that the White-eared hummingbird had put in an appearance.

I love it when God reminds me, in gentle, beautiful ways, to slow down; to spend time observing and studying the real deal—his word—before I rush into decisions and start spouting off to others.

God reminds us gently to test all things and to not be deceived by something that looks the same. Click To Tweet

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Beautiful post. I love birds; but for some reason hummers don’t like me. They’ve attacked me several times, stabbing their sharp little beaks into my neck.

    Ungrateful beasts. I saved one once. It you ever find what you think is a dead hummer, give him a q-tip moistened with sugar-water. They can run themselves out of energy – that will get them going again.

    Sorry the comment is disjointed. Rather a hard night, but I am here.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 55 – Still the Same, and Not {FMF}My Profile

  • First your hummingbird pictures are stunning. It is always a treat to see them on Facebook. Second, your words really spoke to me. We can be deceived so easily and I am so guilty of that myself. I am confronted by knowing that God will never deceive us and is who He says He is in all things and at all times. Good to see you tonight for about a minute. The webinar was really good! Hugs and happy almost Friday.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Five Minute Friday ~ SameMy Profile

    • Thank you :). I love spending time observing them–being able to photograph them is the icing on my cake! I hope you have a fantabulous Friday!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Saying “Yes” to ForgivenessMy Profile

  • Anita, I loved this post. I’ve mistaken the fake for the real, because certain aspects looked the same. At least in my mind. Thank you for the reminder to hold all things up to the light of God’s word to determine if they are the same as God says they should be.

    I love your pictures. Simply amazing. That hummer? Beautiful!!
    Jeanne Takenaka recently posted…Same: Valuing Being DifferentMy Profile

  • How cool! What pretty pictures too. My story is similar, looking for love at every turn, but knowing the difference when God sent the real deal. 21 years later, he’s still the real deal, and I am blessed. You were blessed to see the real deal hummingbird. They are one of my favorite birds, not a bird nerd but enjoy watching in my own yard 🙂
    Christy recently posted…Everything Stays the Same; Nothing Stays the SameMy Profile

    • I’m so glad you recognized your ‘real deal’ and that you’re happily married and blessed by waiting! I also spent a morning at another bed and breakfast where the swarms of hummers were mind-boggling. Over 200 hummers from five different varieties. Just amazing.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Wanting Things to be the Same That Aren’tMy Profile

  • Tara

    Gorgeous photos! I love this too: “I love it when God reminds me, in gentle, beautiful ways, to slow down; to spend time observing and studying the real deal—his word—before I rush into decisions and start spouting off to others.” I’m parked in the #9 spot.

    • It was a tough prompt, no? It’s always a pleasure to ‘see’ you on Thursday nights and read your words–I love how everyone can take the same word and come up with a unique perspective and lesson!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…The Shocking Truth About My Neck and CalvesMy Profile

  • Oh my – I LOVE those photo’s, my friend! So gorgeous!
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…When Change Looks The Same… a Five Minute Friday postMy Profile

    • Aw, thank you! I’m looking forward to finding some birdies we don’t get down here in the desert when I’m up your way…although, most birdies might have flown south for the winter by then!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…In Which We Find Our Eight SonsMy Profile

  • Your photos make me smile, and I wished you could come to my parents house and identify the different hummingbirds among the dozens they have feeding there. I’ve no idea how many different kinds they have, and I suspect they are all pretty common. But as a not-bird-nerd person, I’m hopeless! 🙂
    Jen Daugherty recently posted…Comfort in the Sameness {Five Minute Friday}My Profile

    • Where do your parents live? Not that I’m going to show up in their backyard or anything (unless they live in AZ ;)). Location has a lot to do with which hummers might be in their yard. There’s only one species that shows up consistently east of the Missouri…the Ruby-throated. I only get to see that one every few years because I don’t go east very often!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…What Happens When Students Feel SafeMy Profile

  • Anita, I’m a tad confused. You did or did not see the white-earred hummer? Signed, another Bird-Nerd (I think you know this).
    Susan Shipe recently posted…five minute friday: sameMy Profile

  • I’m not quite the “bird-nerd” as you but I do love my red cardinal couples and my blue jays and mourning doves. I hear their chirping and tweeting in the morning and know a new day has begun. Thanks for this story and beautiful pictures! Happy Friday to you!
    Rachel Quigley recently posted…September 11 is Never the SameMy Profile

  • I am in love with hummingbirds — and was startled to discover a hummingbird moth last summer. I thought I was hearing a small bird on the Phlox blossoms, but when I looked more closely, he had a proboscis and not a beak. The experience was kind of jarring, because he looked so much like a bird and sounded like a hummer. Now that I’m used to the idea, I can’t wait to see another one.
    Michele Morin recently posted…Wisdom for Waiting: Ten Lessons from the Life of JosephMy Profile

  • A white-eared hummer….I have never heard of them. I am totally enthralled with your hummer pictures on FB, then to come here and find MORE. I love it. I told my husband recently that my dream, when I get to heaven, is to have a pet hummer and a pet baby deer. They are two of the most magnificent creatures to me. So glad I stopped in today!
    Leah Adams recently posted…Five Minute Friday ~ SameMy Profile

  • I’ve been fooled too, Anita, thinking things were the same and they weren’t. The only way to know for sure is to test what I’m hearing against what God has said. That comparison keeps me outta trouble all the time!
    Holly Barrett recently posted…It’s your birf-day!My Profile

  • I actually enjoy “bird nerds” or whatever you want to call them. I think being observant of nature is so important. This year in my girls homeschool I’m making them study birds. We are doing a bird observation book. I love it that you wanted to scout a special bird out. Honestly don’t you think it is disappointing to God how easily we lose our fascination with His creation, His creative genius, His attention for detail and variety. I say go for it. Get lost in nature. Get Wonderstruck! (BTW have you read that book? really good)
    I liked the connection you made here
    Thank you for your sweet words on my blog. They really encouraged me. I’ve had the creativity sucked right out of me this year. You inspired me.
    Somer recently posted…SameMy Profile