The Tale of Perry the Purple Finch

Lucy Mae and I sat on the front stoop and watched the robins maniacally soar through our airspace. My canine friend was far more interested in the process than I; that is, until one earnest flier nearly took off my head.

What’s up with these birds, anyway? I wondered. You’d think it was mating season the way they are swooping and diving around with such show. ‘Bout that time a squirrel leaped by, desperately searching the ground for any fallen nuts or berries.

Ah. Well, yes. It is that time of year again.

The creatures are frantically readying for the coming season of cold…this frenetic activity is the precursor to the inevitable slowing. Whether they need an extra bit of fat to carry them through a long migration or to enable an uninterrupted slumber, this anxious energy I witness is just part of the process.

Soon, the black-eyed juncos will return and our fair-weathered friends will head south.
Everyone except Perry, that is.

This bird has been pecking on my door at all hours of the day for months now. I have tried to scare the blasted thing away by abruptly opening the door while he is in the midst of his percussion manifesto… But he is always one step ahead of me, feeling my heavy footfalls approach the door; he flies into our rhododendron just as my fingers touch the knob.

Little pecking ghost, he is.

But he always comes back.

Peck. Peck. Peck-peck.

I was able to finally spy him by cautiously approaching the dining room bay window that provides a view of our front porch. There he was: sitting boldly on my flower pot offering up a lovely song. The rascal is a purple finch.

So we named him Perry. Perry the purple finch.

When his song was complete, he hopped back down and stared at his reflection in our brass kick plate on the bottom of our door. Then he started pecking at it.

“Why does he do that?” asked Jeffrey, the ever-curious one.

“He sees his reflection and thinks it’s another bird, I think.”

“Why would he peck another bird?”

“Oh, trying to get its attention, I suppose.”

“That’s weird.”

We both agreed that, indeed, Perry was weird.

But he is persistent too.

I’ve decided that the only thing that could inspire such persistence is love.

Perry is in love with himself.

More precisely, he’s in love with the image he sees in the brass kick plate. Puffs up at the reflection of beauty. And he thinks if he keeps pecking at this lovely vision it will finally give him the time of day. He seeks validation in vain, pouring his energies into something that will never respond.

Peck peck peck. Look at me. Peck. Hey! I said, look at me! Peck peck peckity peck.


I’ve seen a lot of Perrys in my day. Even been one.

Blinded so much by desire for self agenda that the efforts of others are belittled or ignored. Instead, I become self-consumed…pecking away at my own image, demanding attention in vain.

And the strange thing is, the longer I am ignored, the harder I seem to peck!

Just like Perry.

Friends, if we are all puffed up about our own ministry, service, charity, etc., etc., we will fail to see there are good things in the efforts of others as well.

We may even judge them harshly.

Now, sometimes those others are just pecking at their own image too, but we do no one a favor if we join in. Then we’re all just pecking in vain.

And no actual ministry gets done. No great commission realized.

Just feather-preening and puffing up.

Christ calls me to die to self.

I have found that I have to do this over and over and over again.

Pride is a terrible foe to be pitted against. He has beaten me many times.

As I sit here and type, Perry is at it again.

Some people–er, birds–just never learn.

I don’t want to be one of them. How ‘bout you?


  1. says

    Good post and good analogy. As I was reading I thought maybe you shouldn’t clean your glass door so well (like the windex commercial) and they wouldn’t think it was an opening. But I see it was the brass. Very weird for sure. How do birds mate…maybe Perry was trying to kiss what he thought was another bird. Oh, to know the mind of animals…that would be neat.

    Die to self over and over that’s for sure.


  2. says

    I meant to tell you also that I like your facebook picture on your sidebar. Not that I didn’t like the last one. I like the pink scarf…it looks good. I see more and more people wearing scarves with a ribbed t-neck or a sweater. Maybe I should try to pull that off…

  3. says

    That ol’ death-to-self thing, it’s not a one-time deal, is it? Comes up again and again. Just when I think I’ve “arrived” (ha!)…I need to die again! Let him who thinks he stands…
    I die daily!

  4. says

    ‘course I can never look at something completely straight up. All the while Perry is smacking his little beak into the brass, I’m thinking I’m more like the metal plate. Don’t look up, don’t engage, just ignore it and it’ll go away and I can return to my quiet little uninterrupted life.

    Sometimes I need to see what Perry’s all excited about.

  5. says

    How funny, we have a little bird (a sparrow) pecking at our lounge window! And his name is Percy!! Short for Perseus, because he is being heroic – he and his wife have a nest in the gutter above the window, and he is defending it, although he must be driven insane and exhausted by this other bird always threatening his family!

  6. says

    I’ve worn my beak down with the pecking…

    Honestly, I exhaust myself, but a lot of swift kicks in the pants and humblings therein have taught me a thing or two. I’m finally finding some beauty in back seat, friend.

    Oh, dear, does that count as pecking?

    Beautiful analogy. For the record, I think your beauty exceeds a purple finch.


  7. says

    I don’t want to be like Perry either!

    I laughed through much of your post today, visualizing the vain purple finch and then he slowly turned into several people that I know just pecking away at themselves. hahaha.

  8. says

    I definitely get this post, but to be honest I received it a little different at first…

    I want to me a little more like Perry. I wish I knew how to be in love with myself. I wish I could see beauty in myself, the beauty that I know God sees, but somehow I think only belongs to other people.

    I loved this story. Thanks for sharing!

  9. says

    Well written. Self promotion and self love is so empty anyway, isn’t it.

    And we are valuable because we are made in HIS image …. isn’t it a given that there is more to admire in the original rather than the copy …. no?

  10. says

    Hey, Laura,

    It is so much better we remain humble because He is so gracious to those who humble themselves before Him. I pray that I never get too big for my britches and forget my purpose in life is about Him and not me or the ministry I do to serve Him.

    Thank you,


    PS…if you put an owl statue by the front door, i think your friend may leave you alone…if you want him to that is.

  11. says

    It’s hard to die to self. Just when I think I’ve made progress I get caught up again in my petty concerns and miss the big picture. But HIS grace covers all that and draws me back to Himself. He’s good that way.

  12. says

    Wonderful storytelling! I also loved the story behind the story. I don’t want to be persistant in the vain things, but in the eternal things!

  13. says

    laura, thanks for popping by my blog for a visit the other day… your words made me smile and i was delighted by the thought that that little heart-shaped piece of foil just might be a *kiss*! a kiss for my boo-boo of the day! 😀

    i enjoyed your percy story… my favorite thing about it, however, is his PERSEVERANCE!! persevering percy!! THAT is a wonderful disply of determination and perseverance (though a bit futile, in this case!)… i can definitely take a lesson from him… to keep peck-peck-pecking away at heaven’s door as the Lord keeps peck-peck-pecking away at my heart! 🙂 love the imagery!

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