On the “Outskirts”

This word has been on my mind all day: outskirts. Either you are thinking, “get a life,” or you are wondering, “why?” For those who wonder, outskirts is synonymous with fringes, the outer edge of something.

I have found a bird that is definitely on the outskirts.  This is my explanation.

The bird referred to is the emblematic American Robin (Turdus migratorius, (turdidae are the thrush family). It holds an esteemed place for nature watchers. For some it is a herald of warmer days ahead. It has been the subject of songs and poetry. A robin’s song stirs the human heart. Found year around in the United States, Robins also nest in most of Canada. It is estimated that 310 million American Robins live on the North American continent. The estimated population of the United States for 2017 is 324 million. There are almost enough robins for every American to enjoy their own personal robin! The robin is likely at the outskirts of the places where North Americans live, whether it is Mexico, the United States or Canada-there is a robin near you.DSC_0038_843sig

Robins are more than symbols of good weather. They are prolific. A female robin may produce up to 3 broods each year. This is a necessity. The entire population of 310 million turns over within 6 years. Life is short for a robin. In fall, surviving robins gobble enormous amounts of fruit as they prepare for migration. Robins are frugivorous. They eat fruit. Of course, worms are in their diet, but only when in season. John James Audubon praised the robin for skillful nest-building and for nourishing their young “with anxious care” He described the robin pair as “tender parents.”  Such behavior enables the robin population to remain steady, even grow in some areas.

Robins are the birds we are most familiar with. Being an “outskirts” or at the edges, dweller, it is often the robin whose nest or eggs are found by children. The robin is likely the bird most children know because robins live in proximity to humans. Children and adults delight in the sight of two robins in a tug of war contest over a fat spring night crawler. It is equally delightful to watch robins gorge themselves on the fruit of fall. They especially enjoy the small ornamental apples produced by the thousands of flowering crab apple trees planted in many places of the country.DSC_0044_844sig

The robin magnificently represents another use for the word “outskirts”. Have you thought about the magnitude of 310 million robins dying every 6 years? Have you considered how many eggs female robins lay to produce 310 million juvenile robins in 6 years? How many worms and how much fruit do these 310 million eat? How many feathers are on 310 million robins? Yes, the robin is a perfect example of a model for the word “outskirts.”

Here’s what it means. Job is one of my favorite Bible people. While he was explaining to his friends used the word “outskirts” to describe the unfathomable majesty of God. He spoke of “hanging the earth on nothing,” and of “binding water in thick clouds and the clouds do not split open.” He said, “even the pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke.” (Job 26) In conclusion, Job reminds his friends that these things are “but the outskirts of his ways…” The robin is another outskirt example. This bird, a delight to many, is another example of the power and majesty of almighty God. There are many examples of things outside which demonstrate just the “outskirts” of God’s power. What delight there is in being a student of the “outskirts.” What a privilege it is to examine just the edges of the greatness of God!DSC_0051_845sig