Birds can be a hoot to watch—especially when they get territorial. Last spring and summer I had a robin playing king of the jungle around my bird feeder, and this winter a northern mockingbird has staked his claim. I’m not sure what will happen if the robin comes back this spring, but he better be totin’ his pistols. I predict a stand-off.

I’ve noticed that certain birds are more territorial than others. Many are content to let fellow winged-brothers and sisters—even of other species—feed right alongside them, but those with territorial tendencies get downright selfish when it comes to their food supply. They, in fact, turn into quite the bullies.

Even when they’re not actively eating, these winged bullies stand guard near their chosen smorgasboard, especially during the popular early morning and early evening feeding hours. They keep a sharp eye out and are ever ready to swoop in and chase away any equal-in-size or smaller birds daring to come dine in the area they’ve claimed as their own. Funny how they allow larger birds a little leeway, though. I guess even bullies know when they’re outmanned, huh?

Even though these bullies are sometimes amusing to watch, they actually make me a little angry. The ornery things chase off some of my favorite birds to photograph—colorful ones, less aggressive ones, innocent ones just wanting to grab a meal in my backyard. So frustrating to see cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, and the like fighting for their fair share and then eventually flying off to less dangerous territory.

Birds are not so different from us. Sometimes we get territorial. Granted, that can be a good thing at times—like when we’re protecting or guarding (in a healthy way) our children, our marriages, the truth, or the guiding purpose behind an endeavor or ministry. But other times, it can become quite a negative thing. We can turn into bullies.

Consider with me for a moment—do we, like the bully birds, act selfish and territorial at times about our work, certain projects, ministries, or positions we hold? Are we ever-ready to swoop in and chase away anyone who gets too close to our baby, so to speak? Do we hold on too tightly? Do we end up depriving others of something that could benefit or bless them?

Let’s determine not to get territorial in a bad way. We certainly won’t win friends or influence people in a positive way—spiritually, mentally, or emotionally—if we’re always looking out for number one and unwilling to share whatever God’s given us. Let’s trust him with what he’s given us. Let’s be open—to others, to new ideas, to change, to sharing. Let’s not be selfish. Let’s not be bullies.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

*What are you tempted to be too territorial about?

*My photo

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out Feb. 3rd. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!


  1. My time! I guard my time fiercely! (and my dark chocolate) I heard Lucy Swindoll speak about that once – she said, “Don’t EVER come to see me without first calling. If you do, DON’T come inside. If you do come inside, DON’T sit down.” Made me laugh out loud because I completely related to the preciousness of every minute and hour and day.

    And at our house, it is the hummingbirds who are the fiercest!

    • I totally relate about being territorial with your time, Jana. I’m the same way. By the way, I don’t have a hummingbird feeder so haven’t seem them in action. They always say big things come in small packages! :)

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