friends · gardening · gratitude · happiness

Feathered Friends…and Fears!

Young Magpie

Going back to the beginning of time, for myself at least, I have always been afraid of birds.

Ornithophobia ~ the fear of birds.

As a general rule, ornithophobia is brought about by an unpleasant experience, perhaps as a child, involving birds, such as being attacked in some way or pecked badly when feeding birds at a picnic in a park.

If the fear is left unchecked it can, apparently, lead to fear of leaving the home (agoraphobia). The ornithophobia sufferer could possibly fear an unexpected encounter with their feathered enemies, therefore wishing to stay within the safe confines of their home.

Another theory for the cause of ornithophobia is when a child has lived with a parent who has an extreme fear of birds and this fear is passed onto the child.

Which of the above gave me my own fear of birds?

None of them!

I haven’t even seen the Alfred Hitchcock/Daphne du Maurier movie “The Birds”!

There is not a single bad bird experience in my early life to relate!

And both of my parents loved birds!

The strange thing is, there is no logical reason for my fear.

However I do recall, as a child, having nightmares which had me waking up all a-tremble, in which birds were flapping their feathers around me!

During my teenage years, a friend suggested that my fear may not be of birds, but rather feathers.

Pteronophobia ~ the fear of feathers.

Pteronophobia (please don’t ask me how to pronounce the word!) is believed to have the sufferer in fear of being near feathers, being tickled by feathers and even afraid to use a feather duster!

Um, I’ve always loved collecting feathers, find the gentleness of feathers against my skin very soothing and have never given my feather duster any further thought other than knowing  it will dust my furniture successfully!

As a result of my fear….

…I have never owned a bird as a pet.

Never, that is, until August last year, when a pretty little feathered fellow, with the most beautiful personality and expressive eyes, won my heart. You can read the story of the first bird I have ever owned here.

So much for the theories!

I’m afraid that I’m not a typical example of a recovering ornithophobic or pteronophic person. The extreme fear of being around birds was most certainly real, although it has never caused problems in my life. There was no explanation for my fear and I have never felt the need to seek professional advice to overcome my fear.

How is ornithophobia and pteronophobia treated?

It is suggested that the sufferer confronts their fear and is taught some positive self-talk. Relaxation and meditation are recommended to curb their anxiety. Hypnosis and medication may even be recommended.

How did I overcome my fear of birds?

Gradually, unexpectedly, and without even trying!

During the last three years I have spent hours, which have turned into days and even weeks, out in my garden, alone ~ planting, digging, weeding, mulching, watering, pruning ~ with a family of magpies standing nearby, chortling to me and quietly walking so close to me when my back has been turned that I could have reached down and touched them!

They are not afraid of me!

The magpies have talked to me in their own very intelligent bird language. At times, I have been certain that I know exactly what they are telling me!

The adult birds bring their baby birds to me, asking for titbits of food from my kitchen. They are so trusting and tame that I’m sure they would allow me to hand feed them, in the same way I hand feed my own little pet bird, Charlie.

Gratitude for my new friends and their habitat.

Just as surely as nothing in particular, (that I can put my finger on anyway,) gave me the fear of birds, my fear has vanished.

As I have pottered the hours away quietly working in my garden, appreciating every brightly coloured flower and butterfly, the industrious bees and warmth of the sun, I have felt no fear.

My garden is a safe, enjoyable haven.

Perhaps my calm and appreciative demeanour has been evident to the birds, who have happily shared their “home” with me, sensing the happiness I have felt within my surroundings with their own “sixth sense”.

Whatever the reason is for overcoming my fear of birds, I’m just happy that it happened! 🙂

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