Crazy bird lady and the sixth sense

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On the first day that Ani and I moved into the new flat, a small, unidentified flying object hopped in through the big glass doors to say hello. He looked a bit like a sparrow, but his legs were too long. A bit like a thrush, but he was too small… it took a while to work out that he…or she…was a juvenile robin. Symbolically, the robin is a harbinger of renewal and new beginnings, so it seemed rather appropriate that he should be my first visitor… especially with what was going on with my son and the changes that would bring too.

Since then, the robin has dropped by almost every day, waiting where I put the scraps until I come out and feed him.  I have watched as he has grown, seeing the baby feathers start to change and the first traces of colour show on his breast. Gradually, I have seen the colour spread until he is almost just like any other robin. Except, he isn’t.

Robins are renowned for being friendly creatures…largely, it is thought, because they know that humans dig up worms and fill bird tables. Nick has had a breeding pair in his garden since last year and they have become pretty tame…which is only fair given how well he has fed them. I generally get a robin when we visit ancient sites too and for me, they have had a special place in my heart since the children brought an injured one home for  me to heal.

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But I’ve never known a wild, uninjured robin this tame before. He sits on the table and calls me if I haven’t fed him when he’s ready. He sits by my feet while I feed him. The neighbours must think I’m a lunatic… we have long conversations as he sits on the fence within a foot of my face, with his head on one side, listening.

“Crazy bird lady,” said my younger son. “…as well as crazy dog lady…” I thought it better not to mention adders or llamas at this point. “…and crazy fish lady.” In fact, there wasn’t much I could say really. I talk to things. They don’t seem to mind. The robin didn’t even mind being called a scruffy looking article… but then, none of these creatures speak English, so they aren’t confused by the difference between words and actions… they only hear what is in a voice. But perhaps they are not judging their safety by sound.

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Maybe they just know when something is wrong or right, listening to that sixth sense that we too possess but often override with logic or self-doubt. We have been taught that  the five senses are the limit of our physical interaction with the world for so long that any talk of a sixth sense smacks of the supernatural. My own feeling is that the sixth sense is akin to both instinct and what we call intuition or ‘gut feeling’ and could be seen as the sense that makes sense of complex collections of sensory impressions, gathering and reading the slightest nuance and arriving at a simple conclusion, almost instantaneously. This would make that sixth sense both superb and natural.

It isn’t some airy-fairy theory, but ties in with recognised psychological states. Vigilance keeps us safe, but its pathological variant, hypervigilance, is an exhausting condition of being permanently alert to potential threats. The idea of sensory processing sensitivity has given rise to a nascent understanding of the ‘highly sensitive person’, defined as being “more aware of subtleties and [able to] process information in a deeper, more reflective way.” These states and modes of being affect the way we perceive the world.

You could call that sixth sense perception… dependant on the five senses to collect information that is processed by something other than the sensory nerves. If you add in other unseen ‘senses’, like empathy and compassion, to that iinterpretation of information, I think you could explain a lot of what is classed as unusual acuity or even psychism as an acutely developed response to ‘gut feeling’….one that is both trusted and acted upon. Not so much supernatural as hyper-natural. The enhanced awareness that comes with such practices as mindfulness or meditation seems to increase this capacity for acute observation. Like anything else, some will be more talented than others in that area, just as some have a talent for art or music, where others have a facility for creating laughter or making a home.

I have to wonder how differently we would see each other and our fellow creatures, and what a difference we could make to the world, if we taught our children how to be mindful, or how to meditate… and that there are more ways of interacting with the world, its creatures and each other than through the five physical senses of which we ourselves were taught.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in baby birds, Birds, Dogs, Life, Photography, Spirituality, wildlife and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Crazy bird lady and the sixth sense

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very perceptive observations Sue. I agree with you about our sixth sense, to truly practice this skill is to communicate with the natural world as you do with the young Robin. Animals know how to communicate with humans sadly most of our race don’t know how to reciprocate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Judy Martin says:

    I agree that we have a kind of ‘sixth sense’ that we don’t use to its full potential. It is wonderful how that scraggedy little robin and you have built up such a lovely friendship, and that he welcomed you to your new home 🙂


  3. jenanita01 says:

    I have long thought that the world would be a special place if we could all learn to think with our hearts, which is what I think our sixth sense is…


  4. fransiweinstein says:

    I agree with you. And as for you and your new little buddy, i have “conversations” with my cats all the time. One, in particular, communicates with me in an almost human way. He’ll tuen to me and start “talking to me” all the time, especially if the TV is on and he fully expects me to answer because he keeps staring at me until I do. And I’ll say something to him and he’ll talk back; and this can go on for 5 or 6 minutes. This happens dozens of times a day. And now you think I’m totally out of my mind. 😊


  5. Bernadette says:

    I never thought about how humans can interact with animals by using their sixth sense. This is a very thought provoking post.


  6. Lovely post, Sue. I think animals are far more intelligent and sentient than we give them credit for. There’s amazing capacity for understanding and affection if we are open to that sixth sense and create the space in our whirlwind lives. 🙂


  7. samanthamurdochblog says:

    Wonderful post! Loved the story and I totally agree. In this present age and time when so much bad is being done we need to re-awaken our ancient ties and senses, our connections with nature.


  8. Widdershins says:

    That plumage certainly is a work in progress. 🙂


  9. noelleg44 says:

    Lovely post, Sue, and I agree that animals can sense that certain people are attuned to them. We had a sea gull land on a post outside our balcony in Maine. I gave him some pieces of an oat bar, and he had a long and noisy conversation with me when there was nothing more forthcoming!


  10. Eliza Waters says:

    How sweet that you have a little robin friend. 🙂 I’d have talked to him as well. I often speak to the wild ones, esp. the helpful ones like birds and bats, welcoming them to the yard and thanking them for coming and eating up the bugs. 🙂 I don’t think it is crazy at all. I think it is a sign of feeling connected!


  11. Bun Karyudo says:

    He’s a lovely little fellow. I wonder if you’re right about a sixth sense. I’ve always tended to have quite a lot of luck with seeing animals in the wild (although I’m not in the countryside very much these days). I just put it down to the fact that I’m quite happy to sit patiently for a while without making any noise. You’ve made me wonder, though, if the creatures can somehow tell that I bear them no hostile intent. It’s a pleasant thought.


  12. davidjrogersftw says:

    Sue, thank you for this subtle and perceptive post. It’s a pleasure to read. I have a bird feeder outside my window, and many varieties come to visit. I think all children, at least here, are excited when, in the spring, they see their first robin of the year. They come home and say, “I saw a robin redbreast today.”


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