I was sitting in my usual place at the dining-room table--a chair near the kitchen, facing the outside window. Lunch was ordinary. The atmosphere at home was quiet and the view from the window remained unchanged--a big mango tree without mangoes, with the season still a few months away. It was hot, as it always is in a tropical country.
I had no idea how my home atmosphere was going to quickly change. It started with the question, Did I just imagine something move in that mango tree?
I stood up and stepped to the window to get a better look, then grabbed the binoculars. There was a big bird--in fact, two big birds!--sitting on a branch of the mango tree. I had never seen a bird like it in my life. What was it?
Excitement was in the air. I wanted to know what this bird was but didn't want to move from the window.
After looking for some time, I noticed the birds seemed comfortably stationed on their branch, without obvious intention to fly away. I quickly moved away from the window and rang a resident lecturer, who is a bird specialist. Excitedly, I described the birds, only to hear an almost nonchalant answer. He was obviously well acquainted with them.
"It's most probably a frog____," he said. I did not understand this word, so he had to say it slowly. "A. Frog. Mouth--a frogmouth."
To my delight, he informed me that these birds were going to sit on that tree for a few days--perhaps even a month. I could hardly believe my ears! This amazing bird might stay for week, right outside my window. I could sit at my table in the comfort of my home and observe them. How special is that?
Over the next few days, I learned more about these fascinating birds and have seen frogmouths many times since that first encounter.
They have excellent camouflage, so are often mistaken for dead branches. They are nocturnal birds: while I'm sleeping, they look for food. When I'm awake, they peacefully perch on nearby trees. If I can recognise them, I can look at them the whole day. During the breeding season, they stay on the same branch for about two months. As I was writing this story, there was a frogmouth nesting on another tree next to my house--even closer than that mango tree. What a privilege to see one of God's marvellous creations up close, yet living free in its natural habitat.
I can't help but think what a wonderful planet we live on. But am I careful in what I do to preserve it? Revelation 11:18 says those who destroy the earth will also be destroyed. If I don't take this responsibility now, I may not be a citizen of the new earth where the "wolf and lamb will feed together" (Isaiah 65:25).
Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you. Let the fish in the sea speak to you. . . . For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being. Job 12:7-10. Danijela Schubert is a theology lecturer at Pacific Adventist University, near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.