Ian’s Bird of the Week – Squatter Pigeon

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Squatter Pigeon

~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 12-18-14

The series of raptors from Europe is perhaps a hard act to follow, so here is something quite different from much closer to (my) home: the Squatter Pigeon,an attractive ground pigeon not uncommon in the drier areas of northern Queensland. Its range used to extend to northern New South Wales, but it is very rare or extinct there and has declined in southern areas of Queensland. The reasons for its decline are not clear but is thought to be due to grazing pressure and perhaps predation by foxes and feral cats.

Toonpan, a short drive south of Townsville on the Flinders Highway is a good spot for this species. When Ross River Dam was built, part of the highway between Toonpan and Townsville was flooded and a new highway was built on higher ground. The old highway still exists and is a quiet roadway through grassland, popular with birders. The habitat in the second photo – taken from the ebook Where to Find Birds in North Queensland – may look uninspiring, but can be very productive often producing other such specialties such as Australian Bustard, various finches including Black-throated and, in winter on powerlines, Red-backed Kingfishers.

Mt Elliot from Old Flinders Highway, Toonpan, by IanIt’s not clear where the name Squatter Pigeon came from, presumably either from its habit of crouching and freezing when disturbed or because of its association with the cattle stations, the original occupants of which were called squatters. It was originally named by the Dutch zoologist Temminck in 1821 and he seemed very taken with it. Like Bonelli in the previous Bird of the Week, he published in French, calling it the Colombe marquetée and describing how each patch of white on the face was framed with black, producing an effect like ‘a sort of marquetry. He gave it the scientific name Geophaps scripta, meaning ‘ground pigeon with writing’, ‘phaps’ being the Greek for pigeon. Temminck, incidentally, named many species of animals and various others were named in his honour, such a Temminck’s Stint.

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

Sometimes you can see the iridescent feathers on the wing, third photo, a display feature shared with other ground pigeons notably the Bronzewings These feathers are usually hidden in Squatter Pigeons except in display and flight. The body shape is broken up by the white stripe between the breast and the wings, and the black and white facial markings disguise the head and make the eye less conspicuous. Squatter Pigeons nest in a scrape on the ground, so camouflage is important and it is easy to appreciate that a motionless bird crouching on the ground would be quite hard to spot.

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

If you look carefully at both bare facial skin of both the Toonpan bird and the one in the third photo taken much farther west along the Flinders Highway, you’ll see the the skin is mainly pale blue around the eye with some pink at the edges in front and behind the eye. Two races of Squatter Pigeon have been described, with the nominate southern race having completely blue facial skin – fourth photo near Carnarvon Gorge – and a Cape York race peninsulae having reddish facial skin. The two races are not geographically well-defined and there is a broad band of intergradation with mixed blue and pink in the Townsville area.

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

Photos five and six show examples of the Cape York race. Both Marys Farms and the Mitchell River catchment are in the Mount Carbine district south of Cape York proper. The bird in the last photo is perched fairly high in a tree, just to prove that it will sometimes take refuge in trees.

Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta) by Ian

It is the blue-faced southern race that has declined most and is regarded as ‘vulnerable’. The Cape York race and the hybrids in the Townsville district are still reasonably common. The Partridge Pigeon, G. smithii, replaces it in northwestern Australia. It also has races with different coloured faces, red in the Top End of the Northern Territory and yellow in the Kimberley district of northern Western Australia. It has also declined. Although I have seen it in Kakadu National Park I haven’t yet photographed it.

Greetings
Ian

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Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16 KJV)

I like the markings on their faces. They are interesting, yet, it doesn’t keep them from being camouflaged.

The Squatter Pigeons belong to the Columbidae – Pigeons, Doves Family. (Only bird named Squatter in IOC 4.4 list)

“The Squatter Pigeon (southern) is a medium-sized, ground-dwelling pigeon that measures approximately 30 cm in length and weighs about 190-250 g. The adults are predominantly grey-brown, but have black and white stripes on the face and throat, blue-grey skin around the eyes, dark-brown (and some patches of iridescent green or violet) on the upper surfaces of the wings, blue-grey on the lower breast and belly, white on the lower region, flanks of the belly and extending onto the under surfaces of the wings, and a blackish-brown band along the trailing edge of the tail. They have black bills, dark-brown irises, and dull-purple legs and feet. The sexes are similar in appearance (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Juvenile Squatter Pigeons (southern) can be distinguished from the adults by their duller colouring, the patchy, less distinctive appearance of their black and white facial stripes, and the paler colouring (buff to pale-yellow) of the facial skin (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The southern and northern subspecies of the Squatter Pigeon are virtually identical except the southern subspecies tends to be slightly larger in the body, and the skin around the eyes is predominantly blue-grey compared to yellowy-orange to orange-red in the northern subspecies (Crome 1976b; Ford 1986; Higgins & Davies 1996; Squatter Pigeon Workshop 2011).” (from Australian Government)

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Found a YouTube of Squatter Pigeons

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Sunday Inspiration – Humbleness of The Creator

Birth of Christ (from an e-mail-source unknown)

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”(Philippians 2:5-11 KJV)

The Creator, of all the birds we like to feature here, humbled Himself to come in sinless flesh, to die for us. resurrect Himself, and provide Salvation for us. Don’t let that important point be lost in all the activities of Christmas.

We here, at the blog, trust you have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy seeing some of His Created birds as you listen to the music.

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“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him”. (Matthew 2:1-2 KJV)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” (Psalms 111:10 KJV)

“Wise Men Still Seek Him” – Pastor Jerry, Jessie, Caleb and Choir – FBC

(From our Christmas Program last Sunday night)

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Sunday Inspiration – Christmas Birds

Two-barred Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera)(White-winged) by Raymond Barlow

Two-barred Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera)(White-winged) by Raymond Barlow

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matthew 2:1-2 KJV)

Today I am doing something a little different. Instead of a song, there is a short Christmas message from my pastor. This was given during the Camel Lot Christmas Musical that we had in 2012. It applies for today, as well. Listen to Pastor Nathan Osborne III as you watch some of the Lord Jesus Christ’s creation among the birds.

The birth of the Jesus, His death on the cross and His resurrection are all a part of Christmas.

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Our Pastor at the Christmas Camel Lot Musical – 2012

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(Started adding Christmas colored birds, but then added newer photos from this year.)

Sunday Inspirations

Some Previous Christmas Articles

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Falcated Duck at Zoo Miami

Falcated Duck (Anas falcata) by Dan at ZM

Falcated Duck (Anas falcata) by Dan at ZM

While we were on our latest visit to the Wings of Asia Aviary at Zoo Miami, the Falcated Duck caught my attention. We have seen it before, because there are photos of them, but for some reason, it was just another duck then. The sun caught its iridescent head and I started looking closer this time. Wings of Asia has one male and one female at this time.

These Falcated Duck (Teal) are just one more example of the variety and beauty the Lord gave His creatures when they were created.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3 KJV)

Apparently when the male wears his breeding plumage, that green really shines.

Falcated Duck (Anas falcata) ©WikiC

Falcated Duck (Anas falcata) ©WikiC

I tried to get photos of his beautiful feathers at the back, but my photos aren’t the best, but maybe you can catch some of the great beauty that the Lord gave these Falcated Ducks.

Falcated Duck (Anas falcata) at Wings of Asia by Lee

Falcated Duck (Anas falcata) at Wings of Asia by Lee

Falcated Ducks are mainly from Asia and belong to the Anatidae – Ducks, Geese and Swans Family. By the way, “falcate” means “curved or hooked like a sickle.” (Wordsmith)

Males and females have similar lengths at 19-21.5 in (46 to 53 cm.) Their weight can range from 422 to 770 grams, with males weighing more than their female counterparts. Wingspans range from 31-36 in (79 to 91 cm). The breeding male is unmistakable. Most of the body plumage is finely vermiculated grey, with the long sickle-shaped tertials, which give this species its name, hanging off its back. The large head is dark green with a white throat, and a dark green collar and bronzed crown. The vent region is patterned in yellow, black and white.

Falcated Duck (Anas falcata) Female ©WikiC

Falcated Duck (Anas falcata) Female ©WikiC

The female falcated duck is dark brown, with plumage much like a female wigeon. Its long grey bill is an aid to identification. The eclipse male is like the female, but darker on the back and head. In flight both sexes show a pale grey underwing. The blackish speculum is bordered with a white bar on its inner edge. Young birds are buffer than the female and have short tertials. Juveniles have plumage similar to females of the species.

The Anas falcata are known to have very striking and beautiful sickle feathers. This is in comparison with many other birds like swams and geese.

Medium dabbling duck with long black and white tertial feathers extending over black rump. Body white, black, gray in finely-scaled pattern. The crested iridescent head is green and purple-brown. White throat has black ring; black tail and black-green speculum are edged in white.

Breeds and winters in southeastern Asia but strongly migratory. Birds seen in North America beyond Alaska may be escaped captives from private collections or wild birds. Favors wetlands, lakes, ponds, rivers, estuaries, and marshes. Near-threatened in the wild. Most U.S. sightings occur between Pacific and Californian coasts, Baja peninsula, Mexico, India, and Canada. (From internet sources including WhatBird and Wikipedia)

Here’s a short clip I took of him washing his feathers at Zoo Miami.

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In 2011 a Falcated Duck family showed up at the Colusa Natiional Wildlife Refuge. Rare visitors from their normal range. It brought the photographers to catch the rare glimpse of these beautiful birds. Watch this video to see them in action,

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Falcated Duck – Audubon

Falcated Duck – WhatBird

Falcated Duck – Wikipedia

Falcated Duck Make Rare Appearance

Birds of the World – Anatidae – Ducks, Geese and Swans

Wordless Birds

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Sunday Inspiration – Resting

Caribbean Dove (Leptotila jamaicensis) ©WikiC

Caribbean Dove (Leptotila jamaicensis) ©WikiC

But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. (Genesis 8:9 KJV)

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; (Isaiah 32:17-18 KJV)

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. (Psalms 16:9 KJV)

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) by J Fenton

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) by J Fenton

And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. (Psalms 55:6 KJV)

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. (Psalms 116:7 KJV)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29 KJV)

Are we resting like we should, knowing that God Is In Control?

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“God’s Still In Control” ~ ©Hyssongs

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More Sunday Inspirations

Hope for Hard Times

Is There a God?

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Angels…….. as explained by Children

Gorgeted Sunangel (Heliangelus strophianus) by Ian

Gorgeted Sunangel (Heliangelus strophianus) by Ian

Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. (Psalms 148:2 KJV)

Angels…….. as explained by Children.

I only know the names of two angels, Hark and Harold. – Gregory, age 5

Everybody’s got it all wrong. Angels don’t wear halos anymore. I forget why, but scientists are working on it – Olive, age 9

It’s not easy to become an angel! First, you die. Then you go to Heaven, and then there’s still the flight training to go through. And then you got to agree to wear those angel clothes. -Matthew, age 9

Angels work for God and watch over kids when God Has to go do something else. – Mitchell, age 7

My guardian angel helps me with math, but he’s not much good for science. – Henry, age 8

Angels don’t eat, but they drink milk from Holy Cows!!! – Jack, age 6

Tourmaline Sunangel (Heliangelus exortis) ©WikiC

Tourmaline Sunangel (Heliangelus exortis) ©WikiC

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18:10 KJV)

Angels talk all the way while they’re flying you up To heaven. The main subject is where you went wrong before you got dead. – Daniel, age 9

When an angel gets mad, he takes a deep breath and counts to ten. And when he lets out his breath again, somewhere there’s a tornado. – Reagan, age 10

Angels have a lot to do and they keep very busy. If you lose a tooth, an angel comes in through your window and leaves money under your pillow. Then when it gets cold, angels go south for the winter. – Sara, age 6

Orange-throated Sunangel ©WikiCl

Orange-throated Sunangel ©WikiCl

Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. (Psalms 103:20 KJV)

Angels live in cloud houses made by God and his Son, who’s a very good carpenter. – Jared, age 8

All angels are girls because they gotta wear Dresses and boys didn’t go for it. – Antonio, age 9

My angel is my grandma who died last year. She got A big head start on helping me while she was still down here on earth. – Ashley ~ age 9

Gorgeted Sunangel (Heliangelus strophianus) by Ian

Gorgeted Sunangel (Heliangelus strophianus) by Ian

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. (Psalms 91:11 KJV)

Some of the angels are in charge of helping heal Sick animals and pets. And if They don’t make the animals get better, they help the child get over it. – Vicki , age 8

What I don’t get about angels is why, when someone Is in love, they shoot arrows at them. – Sarah , age 7

How Could I Not Send This To All Of You ….. So Awesome!!!
…. And As they Say ……… No One Says it Better Than A Child

(From an e-mail)

Amethyst-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus_amethysticollis) ©WikiC

Amethyst-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus_amethysticollis) ©WikiC

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:10 KJV)

Haliangelus Subfamily of Sunangels 

Wordless Birds

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Birds of Asia – Cotton Pygmy Goose

Cotton Pygmy Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) at Wings of Asia by Lee

Cotton Pygmy Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) at Wings of Asia by Lee

 And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. (1 Kings 4:33 KJV)

Let me introduce you to another interesting avian friend from His Creator’s Hand. This is the Cotton Pygmy Goose or Cotton Teal (Nettapus coromandelianus) which is a small perching duck that breeds in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, southeast Asia and south to northern Australia.

Small individuals of this species are the smallest waterfowl on earth, at as little as 5.6 oz (160 g) and 10 in (26 cm). White predominates in this bird’s plumage. Bill short, deep at base, and goose-like.

Cotton Pygmy Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) PB Zoo by Lee

Male in breeding plumage is glossy blackish green crown, with white head, neck, and underparts; a prominent black collar and white wing-bar. Rounded head and short legs. In flight, the wings are green with a white band, making the male conspicuous even amongst the huge flying flocks of the lesser whistling duck, which share the habitat. Female paler, without either black collar and only a narrow or nonexistent strip of white wing-bar. In non-breeding plumage (eclipse) male resembles female except for his white wing-bar. Flocks on water bodies (jheels), etc.

The call is a peculiar clucking, uttered in flight

It is largely resident, apart from dispersion in the wet season, but Chinese birds make long-distance migrations to winter further south. It nests in tree holes, laying 8–15 eggs. The nesting season is July to September (SW. monsoon). Its nest is a natural hollow in a tree-trunk standing in or near water, sometimes lined with grass, rubbish and feathers. The eggs, are ivory white.

Cotton Pygmy Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) at Wings of Asia by Lee

Cotton Pygmy Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) at Wings of Asia by Lee

This is an abundant species in Asia, although the slightly larger Australian race appears to be declining in numbers.

Found on all still freshwater lakes (jheels), rain-filled ditches, inundated paddy fields, irrigation tanks, etc. Becomes very tame on village tanks wherever it is unmolested and has become inured to human proximity. Swift on the wing, and can dive creditably on occasion.[citation needed] Found in ponds and lakes in southern Pakistan . However numbers are declining and it is definitely endangered.

Its food is chiefly seeds and vegetable matter, especially water lilies; also insects, crustaceans, etc. (From Wikipedia with editing)

I enjoyed watching this female Pygmy Goose floating and took a short video of her.

I just made a page for  Zoo Miami and the Wings of Asia under the Birdwatching Trips. There are most of the articles that have been written about our visits to the Zoo, but especially to the Wings of Asia Aviary. That is where we spend most of our time. This last trip was our fourth visit down to Miami to see those amazing birds.

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Cotton Pygmy Goose – Wikipedia

Cotton Pygmy Goose – Ducks of the World

Birds of the World

Birdwatching Trips

Zoo Miami and the Wings of Asia

Wordless Birds

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Ruddy and Raja Shelducks at Wings of Asia

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) at Wings of Asia by Dan

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) at Wings of Asia by Dan

We enjoyed our latest birdwatching adventure to Zoo Miami. Caught video of the Ruddy Shelducks discussing something. So this time we will share the two species of Shelducks at the Wings of Asia aviary. The Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) and the Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) are members of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae – Ducks, Geese and Swans. They are in the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae. There are seven species in the Tadorninae subfamily. Wings of Asia has the Ruddy and Raja Shelducks.

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. (Psalms 104:1 KJV)

The Lord has provided for the Shelducks, as He does for all His critters. They are designed for the conditions they live in, in this case swimming, feeding and migrating, with beaks, feet, wings, and coloration to help them survive.

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) at ZM

Ruddy –  There are very small resident populations of this species in north west Africa and Ethiopia, but the main breeding area of this species is from southeast Europe across central Asia to Southeast Asia. These birds are mostly migratory, wintering in the Indian Subcontinent.

Facts:

  • They are sometimes called Brahminy Ducks.
  • Can be seen in many Zoos in America.
  • In Tibet and Mongolia, Ruddy Shelduck is considered sacred by the Buddhists. It is also a sacred animal in Slavic mythology.

Although becoming quite rare in southeast Europe and southern Spain, the ruddy shelduck is still common across much of its Asian range. It may be this population which gives rise to vagrants as far west as Iceland, Great Britain and Ireland. However, since the European population is declining, it is likely that most occurrences in western Europe in recent decades are escapes or feral birds. Although this bird is observed in the wild from time to time in eastern North America, no evidence of a genuine vagrant has been found.

This is a bird of open country, and it will breed on cliffs, in burrows, tree holes or crevices distant from water, laying 6-16 creamy-white eggs, incubated for 30 days. The both shelduck is usually found in pairs or small groups and rarely forms large flocks. However, moulting and wintering gatherings on chosen lakes or slow rivers can be very large.

The ruddy shelduck is a distinctive species, 22.8-27.5 in (58-70) cm long with a 43-53 in (110–135 cm) wingspan. It has orange-brown body plumage and a paler head. The wings are white with black flight feathers. It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck. The sexes of this striking species are similar, but the male has a black ring at the bottom of the neck in the breeding season summer, and the female often has a white face patch. The call is a loud wild honking.

Not sure what these Ruddy’s were debating about, but it seems the single one lost the discussion and left.

The ruddy shelduck is a common winter visitor in India. This bird is found in large wetlands, rivers with mud flats and shingle banks. Found in large congregation on lakes and reservoirs. It breeds in high altitude lakes and swamps in Jammu & Kashmir. Arrives in north India by October and departs by April. The genus name Tadorna comes from Celtic roots and means “pied waterfowl”, essentially the same as the English “shelduck”.

Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) at Wing of Asia by Dan

Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) at Wing of Asia by Dan

Raja Shelduck – The Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah), is a species of shelduck found mostly in New Guinea and Australia, and also on some of the Moluccas. It is known alternatively as the raja shelduck (IOC Name), black-backed shelduck, or in Australia as the Burdekin duck.

The Raja Shelduck forms long-term pair-bonds, and is usually encountered in lone pairs or small flocks. During the wet season the males commonly become very irritable, and have been observed attacking their mates.

The diet consists mainly of mollusks, insects, sedge materials and algae. Pairs start searching for nesting sites during the months of January and February. They nest close to their primary food source, often in the hollow limbs of trees, which makes habitat destruction a particular issue.

Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) by Dan at Zoo Miami

Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) by Dan at Zoo Miami

The radjah shelduck does not use nesting materials except for some self-supplied down feathers. Egg-laying is usually done by May or June, but depends on the extent of the wet season. The clutches range from 6 to 12 eggs. Incubation time is about 30 days. (Wikipedia edited)

Here are photos of both Shelducks. Some of the photos are from other trips and some from Ian. (PBZ is Palm Beach Zoo)

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An Old Friend In a New Home – Chapter 6

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) by Dan

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) by Dan

An Old Friend In a New Home

The Phoebe and the Least Flycatcher

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

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CHAPTER 6. An Old Friend In a New Home.

Every day brought newcomers to the Old Orchard, and early in the morning there were so many voices to be heard that perhaps it is no wonder if for some time Peter Rabbit failed to miss that of one of his very good friends. Most unexpectedly he was reminded of this as very early one morning he scampered, lipperty-lipperty-lip, across a little bridge over the Laughing Brook.

“Dear me! Dear me! Dear me!” cried rather a plaintive voice. Peter stopped so suddenly that he all but fell heels over head. Sitting on the top of a tall, dead, mullein stalk was a very soberly dressed but rather trim little fellow, a very little larger than Bully the English Sparrow. Above, his coat was of a dull olive-brown, while underneath he was of a grayish-white, with faint tinges of yellow in places. His head was dark, and his bill black. The feathers on his head were lifted just enough to make the tiniest kind of crest. His wings and tail were dusky, little bars of white showing very faintly on his wings, while the outer edges of his tail were distinctly white. He sat with his tail hanging straight down, as if he hadn’t strength enough to hold it up.

Chebec the Least Flycatcher, Dear Me the Phoebe - Burgess Bird Book ©©

Chebec the Least Flycatcher, Dear Me the Phoebe – Burgess Bird Book ©©

“Hello, Dear Me!” cried Peter joyously. “What are you doing way down here? I haven’t seen you since you first arrived, just after Winsome Bluebird got here.” Peter started to say that he had wondered what had become of Dear Me, but checked himself, for Peter is very honest and he realized now that in the excitement of greeting so many friends he hadn’t missed Dear Me at all.

Dear Me the Phoebe did not reply at once, but darted out into the air, and Peter heard a sharp click of that little black bill. Making a short circle, Dear Me alighted on the mullein stalk again.

“Did you catch a fly then?” asked Peter.

“Dear me! Dear me! Of course I did,” was the prompt reply. And with each word there was a jerk of that long hanging tail. Peter almost wondered if in some way Dear Me’s tongue and tail were connected. “I suppose,” said he, “that it is the habit of catching flies and bugs in the air that has given your family the name of Flycatchers.”

Dear Me nodded and almost at once started into the air again. Once more Peter heard the click of that little black bill, then Dear Me was back on his perch. Peter asked again what he was doing down there.

“Mrs. Phoebe and I are living down here,” replied Dear Me. “We’ve made our home down here and we like it very much.”

Peter looked all around, this way, that way, every way, with the funniest expression on his face. He didn’t see anything of Mrs. Phoebe and he didn’t see any place in which he could imagine Mr. and Mrs. Phoebe building a nest. “What are you looking for?” asked Dear Me.

“For Mrs. Phoebe and your home,” declared Peter quite frankly. “I didn’t suppose you and Mrs. Phoebe ever built a nest on the ground, and I don’t see any other place around here for one.”

Dear Me chuckled. “I wouldn’t tell any one but you, Peter,” said he, “but I’ve known you so long that I’m going to let you into a little secret. Mrs. Phoebe and our home are under the very bridge you are sitting on.”

“I don’t believe it!” cried Peter.

But Dear Me knew from the way Peter said it that he really didn’t mean that. “Look and see for yourself,” said Dear Me.

So Peter lay flat on his stomach and tried to stretch his head over the edge of the bridge so as to see under it. But his neck wasn’t long enough, or else he was afraid to lean over as far as he might have. Finally he gave up and at Mr. Phoebe’s suggestion crept down the bank to the very edge of the Laughing Brook. Dear Me darted out to catch another fly, then flew right in under the bridge and alighted on a little ledge of stone just beneath the floor. There, sure enough, was a nest, and Peter could see Mrs. Phoebe’s bill and the top of her head above the edge of it. It was a nest with a foundation of mud covered with moss and lined with feathers.

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) Nest ©WikiC

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) Nest ©WikiC

“That’s perfectly splendid!” cried Peter, as Dear Me resumed his perch on the old mullein stalk. “How did you ever come to think of such a place? And why did you leave the shed up at Farmer Brown’s where you have build your home for the last two or three years?”

“Oh,” replied Dear Me, “we Phoebes always have been fond of building under bridges. You see a place like this is quite safe. Then, too, we like to be near water. Always there are many insects flying around where there is water, so it is an easy matter to get plenty to eat. I left the shed at Farmer Brown’s because that pesky cat up there discovered our nest last year, and we had a dreadful time keeping our babies out of her clutches. She hasn’t found us down here, and she wouldn’t be able to trouble us if she should find us.”

“I suppose,” said Peter, “that as usual you were the first of your family to arrive.”

“Certainly. Of course,” replied Dear Me. “We always are the first. Mrs. Phoebe and I don’t go as far south in winter as the other members of the family do. They go clear down into the Tropics, but we manage to pick up a pretty good living without going as far as that. So we get back here before the rest of them, and usually have begun housekeeping by the time they arrive. My cousin, Chebec the Least Flycatcher, should be here by this time. Haven’t you heard anything of him up in the Old Orchard?”

“No,” replied Peter, “but to tell the truth I haven’t looked for him. I’m on my way to the Old Orchard now, and I certainly shall keep my ears and eyes open for Chebec. I’ll tell you if I find him. Good-by.”

“Dear me! Dear me! Good-by Peter. Dear me!” replied Mr. Phoebe as Peter started off for the Old Orchard.

Perhaps it was because Peter was thinking of him that almost the first voice he heard when he reached the Old Orchard was that of Chebec, repeating his own name over and over as if he loved the sound of it. It didn’t take Peter long to find him. He was sitting out on the up of one of the upper branches of an apple-tree where he could watch for flies and other winged insects. He looked so much like Mr. Phoebe, save that he was smaller, that any one would have know they were cousins. “Chebec! Chebec! Chebec!” he repeated over and over, and with every note jerked his tail. Now and then he would dart out into the air and snap up something so small that Peter, looking up from the ground, couldn’t see it at all.

Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) by Raymond Barlow

Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) by Raymond Barlow

“Hello, Chebec!” cried Peter. “I’m glad to see you back again. Are you going to build in the Old Orchard this year?”

“Of course I am,” replied Chebec promptly. “Mrs. Chebec and I have built here for the last two or three years, and we wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. Mrs. Chebec is looking for a place now. I suppose I ought to be helping her, but I learned a long time ago, Peter Rabbit, that in matters of this kind it is just as well not to have any opinion at all. When Mrs. Chebec has picked out just the place she wants, I’ll help her build the nest. It certainly is good to be back here in the Old Orchard and planning a home once more. We’ve made a terribly long journey, and I for one am glad it’s over.”

“I just saw your cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Phoebe, and they already have a nest and eggs,” said Peter.

“The Phoebes are a funny lot,” replied Chebec. “They are the only members of the family that can stand cold weather. What pleasure they get out of it I don’t understand. They are queer anyway, for they never build their nests in trees as the rest of us do.”

“Are you the smallest in the family?” asked Peter, for it had suddenly struck him that Chebec was a very little fellow indeed.

Chebec nodded. “I’m the smallest,” said he. “That’s why they call me Least Flycatcher. I may be least in size, but I can tell you one thing, Peter Rabbit, and that is that I can catch just as many bugs and flies as any of them.” Suiting action to the word, he darted out into the air. His little bill snapped and with a quick turn he was back on his former perch, jerking his tail and uttering his sharp little cry of, “Chebec! Chebec! Chebec!” until Peter began to wonder which he was the most fond of, catching flies, or the sound of his own voice.

Presently they both heard Mrs. Chebec calling from somewhere in the middle of the Old Orchard. “Excuse me, Peter,” said Chebec, “I must go at once. Mrs. Chebec says she has found just the place for our nest, and now we’ve got a busy time ahead of us. We are very particular how we build a nest.”

“Do you start it with mud the way Welcome Robin and your cousins, the Phoebes, do?” asked Peter.

 

“Mud!” cried Chebec scornfully. “Mud! I should say not! I would have you understand, Peter, that we are very particular about what we use in our nest. We use only the finest of rootlets, strips of soft bark, fibers of plants, the brown cotton that grows on ferns, and perhaps a little hair when we can find it. We make a dainty nest, if I do say it, and we fasten it securely in the fork made by two or three upright little branches. Now I must go because Mrs. Chebec is getting impatient. Come see me when I’m not so busy Peter.”


Lee’s Addition:

The family that the Phoebe and the Least Flycatcher belong to is the Tyrant Flycatchers – Tyrannidae Family. It is a very large family, but most do not live here in North America.

How does the story describe Dear Me the Phoebe?

  • What does he like to eat?
  • Where is his nest?
  • What is the nest made out of?
  • Why did he get back before the others in his family?

The Least Flycatcher is called Chebec. Do you know why?

  • Why did he get back later than Dear Me?
  • How is Chebec’s nest different from Dear Me’s?
  • Chebec is the largest or smallest member of the Flycatcher family?

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Listen to the story read.

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The birds of the air have their resting-places by them (trees), and make their song among the branches. (Psalms 104:12 BBE)

Links:

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Links:

Bully the English Sparrow, Chippy the Chipping Sparrow - Burgess Bird Book ©©

 

  Next Chapter (The Watchman of the Old Orchard. Coming Soon)

 

Burgess-Bird-Book-for-Children

 

 

  Burgess-Bird-Book-for-Children

 

Savannah Sparrow by Ray Barlow

  

 

  Wordless Birds

 

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Sunday Inspiration – Hide Thou Me

Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) by Daves BirdingPix

Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) by Daves BirdingPix

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Psalms 27:5 ESV)

Considering yesterday’s blog, the song, “Hide Thou Me” came to mind. This song was used before, but it is so appropriate. Today’s Inspiration features the birds in the Frogmouth and Potoo families. You will see how the Lord has provided for them to HIDE through their behavior and coloration He has given them.

Saw this on one of our follower’s blog, Third Eye View:

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. ~Albert Einstein

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And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31 KJV)

We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. (Psalms 78:4 KJV)

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But the LORD has been my defense, And my God the rock of my refuge. (Psalms 94:22 NKJV)

“Hide Thou Me” – ©Rejoice! by the Hyssongs

Hide thou me
Ohh rock of ages
Hide thou me
Ohh rock of ages

Hide thou me
No other refuge
Can save but thee
Through this old world

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Sunday Inspirations

Here I Am

Podargidae – Frogmouths Family

Nyctibiidae – Potoos Family

Gospel Message

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Here I Am

Tawny Frogmouth at Wings of Asia by Dan

Tawny Frogmouth at Wings of Asia by Dan

“Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily. (Psalms 102:2 KJV)

Dan and I just returned from a three-day birdwatching adventure. With almost 1,000 photos and videos to sort, name, and clean-up, I’ll have plenty to post.

The Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is becoming a favorite of mine, because they are so hard to find. The Lord has given them such camouflage and an ability to freeze when threatened, they are a challenge. We were fortunate this time while visiting the Wings of Asia aviary at Zoo Miami. By following the feeder, that enjoys the birds as much as just working there, he helped us find the new Tawny Frogmouth. They now have two of them. This new one is more active and alert. Could it be that the feeder had a cup with 4 mice in it?

Tawny Frogmouth at Wings of Asia by Dan

Tawny Frogmouth at Wings of Asia by Dan

We actually saw Tawny with his eyes open and I even got a short video of him opening that mouth that gives them their name.

I have written about this bird before, Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia – Wow! – I, seeing this one, forces me to write again. They belong to the Podargidae – Frogmouths Family which has 16 species of Frogmouths.

Masters of Camouflage Related to Oilbirds, Whip-poor-wills, and Nighthawks, the Tawny Frogmouth’s excellent camouflage covering makes it look like dried leaves. When frightened, the bird freezes in plosition and, with its cryptic colorations, looks like broken bramches.” (Amazing Bird Facts and Trivia, p 135) Isn’t the Lord’s Wisdom fantastic?

Tawny Frogmouth at Wings of Asia by Dan

Tawny Frogmouth at Wings of Asia by Dan

Another book, (National Geographic, Bird Coloration, p 150-151). says this: “Some birds hide not by being hard to discern, but by appearing not to be birds. The birds that best mimic inanimate objects are found in two groups of distantly related nightjars, the potoos in the Neotropics and the frogmouths in tropical Asia and Australia. Species in both of these groups hunt flying insects at night and rest during the day. Potoos and frogmouths use a strategy to hide during the day that differs … They hide conspicuously in view. The strategy…is to look exactly like an extension of a branch on which the bird sit.”

“Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me. (Psalms 143:9 KJV)

Tawny Frogmouth at Wings of Asia by Dan

Tawny Frogmouth at Wings of Asia by Dan

“They are named for their large flattened hooked bills and huge frog-like gape, which they use to capture insects. Their flight is weak. Their longer bristles which may exist to protect the eyes from insect prey.  Tawny frogmouths are large, big-headed birds that can measure from 13 to 21 in (34 to 53 cm) long….stocky and compact with rounded wings and short legs. They have wide, heavy olive-grey to blackish bills that are hooked at the tip and topped with distinctive tufts of bristles. Their eyes are large, yellow, and frontally placed, a trait shared by owls” (Wikipedia)

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This video is of two segments. The keeper tried to get him to come down and then we came back a second time. Several photographers were waiting to get a photo of him coming down, but I guess this calls for another excuse to visit the Wings of Asia.

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Podargidae – Frogmouths Family

Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia – Wow! – I

Wings of Asia Aviary

Zoo Miami

Sunday Inspiration – Hide Thou Me

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