Birds Of The Bible – Clinging Birds

Pileated Woodpecker by Lee

Pileated Woodpecker at Circle B by Lee

But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day. (Joshua 23:8 NASB)

While finishing the last two chapters of Joshua, I came across the verse above. I immediately pictured a Woodpecker “clinging” to a tree. Then the following picture also came to mind. What can we learn about our “clinging birds” and us “clinging to the Lord”?

Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica) by Nikhil Devasar

Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica) by Nikhil Devasar

Woodpeckers were created with an ability to cling to trees with the help of the way the toes are arranged on their feet. They also use their stiffened tail feathers to keep them on the tree.”Woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks all possess zygodactyl feet. Zygodactyl feet consist of four toes, the first (hallux) and the fourth facing backward and the second and third facing forward. This foot arrangement is good for grasping the limbs and trunks of trees. Members of this family can walk vertically up a tree trunk, which is beneficial for activities such as foraging for food or nest excavation. In addition to the strong claws and feet, woodpeckers have short strong legs. This is typical of birds that regularly forage on trunks. The tails of all woodpeckers except the piculets and wrynecks are stiffened, and when the bird perches on vertical surfaces, the tail and feet work together to support it.” (Wikipedia)

Bird Feet ©WikiC

Bird Feet ©WikiC

The following video from explorationfilm has information about the feet and tail of Woodpeckers at the beginning. The rest of the video is very interesting also.

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Other birds also, like the Barbets can do some clinging also. “Nine families of largely arboreal birds make up the order Piciformes, the best-known of them being the Picidae, which includes the woodpeckers and close relatives. The Piciformes contain about 67 living genera with a little over 400 species, of which the Picidae (woodpeckers and relatives) make up about half.

In general, the Piciformes are insectivorous, although the barbets and toucans mostly eat fruit and the honeyguides are unique among birds in being able to digest beeswax (although insects make up the bulk of their diet). Nearly all Piciformes have parrot-like zygodactyl feet—two toes forward and two back, an arrangement that has obvious advantages for birds that spend much of their time on tree trunks. An exception are a few species of three-toed woodpeckers. The jacamars aside, Piciformes do not have down feathers at any age, only true feathers. They range in size from the Rufous Piculet at 8 centimetres in length, and weighing 7 grams, to the Toco Toucan, at 63 centimetres long, and weighing 680 grams. All nest in cavities and have altricial young.” (Wikipedia)

Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla) ©WikiC

Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla) ©WikiC

Another group of birds that “cling” are the Tree Creepers. Treecreepers measure from 12 to 18 centimetres in length. Their bills are gently down-curved and rather long, used for probing bark for insects and spiders. They often climb up tree trunks in a helical path, hopping with their feet together; their toes are long and tipped with strongly curved claws for gripping. The longer tails of the Certhia treecreepers are stiffened to use as a prop while climbing, but those of the Spotted Creeper are shorter and not stiffened. Their songs and calls are thin and high-pitched.

Most species of treecreeper occur in the Palearctic and Indomalaya ecozones, from Western Europe to Japan and India. One species occurs in North America from Alaska to Nicaragua and another has a discontinuous distribution in sub-Saharan Africa and India. All species of treecreeper are found in forest and woodland habitats. The more northerly species are partly migratory, and those found in warmer climates are thought to be resident, although information is lacking for many species.

Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) ©WikiC

Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) ©WikiC

One more well-known bird that clings to trees is the Nuthatch. Not only does he cling, but goes up and down the trees head first. Nuthatches are compact birds with short legs, compressed wings, and square 12-feathered tails. They have long, sturdy, pointed bills and strong toes with long claws.

We know birds can cling, how about us? When I searched the KJV on my e-Sword, the word “cling” did not show up in any verses. Switching to the NASB, which I had been reading, “cling” was found in fourteen (14) verses. Here are some of them:

You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. “He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen. (Deuteronomy 10:20-21 NASB)

Blond-crested Woodpecker (Celeus flavescens) ©WikiC

Blond-crested Woodpecker (Celeus flavescens) ©WikiC

You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:4 NASB)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) Red-shafted ©WikiC

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) Red-shafted ©WikiC

I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame! I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart. (Psalms 119:30-32 NASB)

White-barred Piculet (Picumnus cirratus) ©©LeeKip

White-barred Piculet (Picumnus cirratus) ©©LeeKip

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
(Romans 12:9-10 NASB)

These are all great ways we can CLING to the Lord.

The word cling is translated several ways in our original verse:

But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day. (Joshua 23:8 NASB)

KJV – But cleave unto the LORD your God
AKJV – But hold to the LORD your God
BBE – But be true to the Lord your God
Bishops – But sticke fast vnto the Lorde your God,
CEV – Be as faithful to the LORD
ERV – You must continue to follow the LORD your God
GW – But you must be loyal to the LORD your God
MSG – Hold tight to GOD, your God
NET – But you must be loyal to the LORD your God

KJV+ – But cleave H1692
H1692
דּבק
dâbaq
daw-bak’
A primitive root; properly to impinge, that is, cling or adhere; figuratively to catch by pursuit: – abide, fast, cleave (fast together), follow close (hard, after), be joined (together), keep (fast), overtake, pursue hard, stick, take.

They are all good words and may we learn to “cling” to our Lord, just as the birds “cling” to the trees.

“But ask the animals — they will teach you — and the birds in the air — they will tell you; (Job 12:7 CJB)

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. (Psalms 34:8 KJV)

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See also:

Birds of the Bible

PICIFORMES – Woodpeckers and Allies

Picidae (woodpeckers and relatives)

Certhiidae – Treecreepers

Sittidae – Nuthatches

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5 thoughts on “Birds Of The Bible – Clinging Birds

  1. What a beautiful Sunday morning lesson this has been, Lee. I started my day feeling really down and a little irritated at the Lord (Silly me — I always have to repent for that. You’d think I’d have learned by now.) Anyway, by the time I’d read this lesson, I was in a much better mood. Thanks.

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  2. As I take photos of the many “clinger” birds, I will now look at them in a new light. We have so many baby birds flying around here you almost get knocked down. Watching the young pileated woodpeckers has been a joy. I just love my birdwatching and love your spiritual insights into the birds God has blessed us with. Thanks and God bless.

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  3. Pingback: Flowers, nuthatch, treecreeper at the cemetery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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