Trumpeter Swans: Trumpeting a Wildlife Conservation Comeback

If a bird’s nest chance to be before you in the way, in any tree, or upon the ground, whether they be young one [i.e., nestling infant birds], or eggs [i.e., not-yet-hatched baby birds], and the mother [’em is the usual Hebrew noun for “mother”] sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young.  But you shall surely send forth the mother, and take the young [literally “children”] for yourself; that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong days.  Deuteronomy 22:6-7

During mid-August (AD2015) my wife and I visited the Columbus Zoo (in Ohio), while vacationing, and I was surprised to see Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) there —  and I realized that the Trumpeter Swan illustrated the importance of Deuteronomy 22:6-7.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©Columbus Zoo

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©Columbus Zoo

Seeing the snowy-white Trumpeter Swans, there, occurred during a telephone call, while we were viewing and identifying various animals, with our enthusiasm-exuding Ohio grandsons (who both call us Mimi and Farfar, the latter name being Norwegian for “father’s father”).  The unexpected telephone call came from a caller in crisis, seeking legal advice, on how to interpret and apply a mix of federal statutes.  It appeared that the call could not wait, till I returned to Texas – such is the lot and responsibility of a vacationing lawyer.

But a bird-watcher has his priorities!  So, as we rounded a bend in the walking trail, and I saw a couple of Trumpeter Swans, I interrupted the phone call with “hold on just a minute”, then I half-screamed to the grandsons: “Look, boys  –  Trumpeter Swans!  Look!  Trumpeter Swans!”

Seeing these massive swans, up close, helps you to appreciate how huge they are.  Trumpeter Swans are the heaviest of all birds that are “native” to North America – and one of the heaviest birds, alive today, that is capable of flight!  Unlike other swans, the Trumpeter Swan has a distinctively black bill, a stark contrast to the all-white hue of its adult plumage.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©USFWS

The Trumpeter is a close cousin of Eurasia’s Whooper Swan [Cygnus cygnus], which I previously commented on, in an earlier blogpost about birdwatching in Iceland  (please check out  http://leesbird.com/2014/12/08/birdwatching-in-iceland-part-i/ .)  The Trumpeter Swans did not “trumpet” while we observed them; however, their name is due to their habit of loudly vocalizing with a musical sound like a trumpet, similar to the vocal sounds of their Cygninae cousins, the Whooper Swans and Bewick Swans.  Swans are shaped somewhat like geese, but swans grow larger and have longer (and proportionately thinner) necks.  The poise and posture of swans, accented by their flexible and long necks, appear more elegant than that of geese, some say, although surely mama geese would disagree.  Why are swan necks so lengthy and versatile?  Imagine being nick-named “Edith Swan-neck” — that is the name by which historians remember the wife and widow of England’s last Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, who lost the Battle of Hastings to William the Conqueror, in AD1066.  [ For more on that providentially historic battle, see http://www.norwegiansocietyoftexas.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/VikingHistory-GeoWash-ancestry-NST-AD2012.pdf  . ]  Geese have 17 to 23 neck vertebrae, yet swans have 24 or more!  Trumpeters also bob their heads a lot, apparently as a form of visual communication with one another.

Back to the very busy (and very tiring) adventure at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.

As we all excitedly discussed the Trumpeter Swans, so close to us then, my mind recalled how these quietly graceful and magnificently dignified swans were once very close to the extinction cliff.   According to one study (by Banko, cited below), in AD1957, the United States then hosted only 488 Trumpeter Swans.  It got even worse!  In AD1932, fewer than 70 Trumpeter Swans were known to exist in all of America, with about half of them dwelling at or near Yellowstone National Park’s northwest section.  Would the Trumpeter Swan go extinct like the Passenger Pigeon and the Dodo bird?

What a loss it would have been, if our earthly home had seen a permanent demise of such noble anatids, especially since they once teemed when America was founded!

Trumpeter Swans were once hunted in huge numbers – thousands were killed for their skins and/or feathers.  Sir John Richardson (a Scottish scientist/surgeon who studied the Trumpeter extensively) once wrote that the Trumpeter Swan was “the most common Swan in the interior of the fur-counties.  …  It is to the trumpeter that the bulk of the Swan-skins imported by the Hudson’s Bay Company belong” [as quoted in Winston E. Banko, “The Trumpeter Swan:  Its History, Habits, and Population in the United States”, North American Fauna, 63:1-214 (April 1960), a data-source used for much of this article].  The Trumpeter Swan was well-known of its migratory habits, ranging from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, according to ornithologist James Audubon:

“The Trumpeter Swans make their appearance on the lower portions of the waters of the Ohio about the end of October. They throw themselves at once into the larger ponds or lakes at no great distance from the river, giving a marked preference to those which are closely surrounded by dense and tall canebrakes, and there remain until the water is closed by ice, when they are forced to proceed southward. During mild winters I have seen Swans of this species in the ponds about Henderson [Kentucky] until the beginning of March, but only a few individuals, which may have stayed there to recover from their wounds. When the cold became intense, most of those which visited the Ohio would remove to the Mississippi, and proceed down that stream as the severity of the weather increased, or return if it diminished. . . . I have traced the winter migrations of this species as far southward as the Texas, where it is abundant at times, . . . At New Orleans . . . the Trumpeters are frequently exposed for sale in the markets, being procured on the ponds of the interior, and on the great lakes leading to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. . . . The waters of the Arkansas and its tributaries are annually supplied with Trumpeter Swans, and the largest individual which I have examined was shot on a lake near the junction of that river with the Mississippi. It measured nearly ten feet in alar extent, and weighed above thirty-eight pounds.”   [Quotation taken from Banko, on page 15.]

During AD1862 George Barnston, a Scottish-born Hudson’s Bay Company official in Canada, noticed the Trumpeter Swan’s remarkable migration habit, as it is seen in America’s Northwest:

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) and Canadian Geese ©WikiC

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) and Canadian Geese ©WikiC

“In the winter months all the northern regions are deserted by the swans, and from November to April large flocks are to be seen on the expanses of the large rivers of the Oregon territory and California, between the Cascade Range and the Pacific where the climate is particularly mild, and their favourite food abounds in the lakes and placid waters. Collected sometimes in great numbers, their silvery strings embellish the landscape, and form a part of the life and majesty of the scene.”   [Quotation taken from Banko, on page 17.]

Records indicate that Trumpeter Swans were still present in “the states of Washington, Oregon, and California in the Pacific flyway ; Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Icansas, and Texas in the Central flyway ; Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Louisiana in the Mississippi flyway ; and Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina in the Atlantic flyway to demonstrate that the trumpeter still appeared as a migrant or winter resident in those states during the last half of the 19th century”, according to Banko (at page 20).  Banko further reported, in AD1960, that the marketable feathers of swans historically superceded the marketing of their skins (especially by the Hudson’s Bay Company), and soon the population numbers of North American swans were plummeting as swan feathers gained popularity as a glamorous ingredient in fancy hats for ladies, with less flamboyant quills being marketed as ink-pens.   Even the famous Audubon, in AD1828, observed that American Indians engaged in swan hunts, in order to gain the prized plumage of these wondrous waterfowl, many of which feathers would ultimately be exported for resale to ladies of fashion in Europe!  (Banko once served as Refuge Manager, Branch of Wildlife Refuges, for the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish & Wildlife Service).

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©WikiC naturespicsonline

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©WikiC naturespicsonline

As transatlantic trade in fancy feathers burgeoned, the marketing of Trumpeter Swan plumage (as well as plumage of other large birds, such as flamingo, egret, heron, and many others), for fashionable female headgear, was driving the North American population of Trumpeter Swans toward regional extirpations and appeared aimed at a continental extinction, — unless regulatory brakes were somehow applied, with ameliorative conservation efforts to restore the population.

Many conservation efforts combined, to rescue the Trumpeter Swan’s perilous predicament,   four of which were:  (1) the Lacey Act of 1900, that banned trafficking in illegal wildlife; (2) the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, that implemented the migratory bird protection “convention” treaty, of AD1916, between America and Great Britain (f/b/o Canada); (3) President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 7023 (4-22-AD1935); and (4) the conservation-funding statute called the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration [Pittman-Robertson] Act of 1937.  For more on this last federal wildlife conservation-funding law, please review “Crayfish, Caribou, and Scientific Evidence in the Wild”, posted at http://www.icr.org/article/8775 ).

Saving America’s Trumpeter Swan from near-extinction is largely due – humanly speaking – to the establishment of the Red Rock Lakes Migratory Waterfowl Refuge (n/k/a “Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge”), part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem  —  located mostly within a 60-mile radius that includes portions of southwestern Montana, eastern Idaho, and northwestern Wyoming, including Yellowstone National Park, which itself includes a “Trumpeter Lake”.   The Trumpeters have enjoyed dwelling in the Red Rock Lakes neighborhood for generations —  for example, an aerial photograph during January AD1956 shows 80 of them on Culver Pond (east Culver Spring area, where warm spring waters, often found in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, keep the pond from freezing), on a day when the outside air was -20 degrees Fahrenheit!  (See page 59 of Banko’s report, cited above.) This federal wildlife refuge was established by FDR’s presidential executive order (#7023), in AD1935, largely in reaction to the nadir-number of Trumpeter Swan count of less than 70 during AD1932.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by Daves BirdingPix

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by Daves BirdingPix

According to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge’s official website (q.v., at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Red_Rock_Lakes/about.html), this refuge now includes 51,386 acres, plus conservation easements totaling 23,806 acres, all of which blends into a marvelous mix of snowmelt-watered mountains, montane forests, flowing freshwater, and marshy meadows:

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has often been called the most beautiful national wildlife refuge in the United States. The rugged Centennial Mountains, rising to more than 10,000 feet, provide a dramatic backdrop for this extremely remote Refuge in Southwest Montana’s Centennial Valley. Red Rock Lakes NWR encompasses primarily high mountain, wetland-riparian habitat–the largest in the Greater Yellowstone Area– and is located near the headwaters of the Missouri River. Several creeks flow into the refuge, creating the impressive Upper Red Rock Lake, River Marsh, and Lower Red Rock Lake. The snows of winter replenish the refuge’s lakes and wetlands that provide secluded habitat for many wetland birds, including the trumpeter swan, white-faced ibis, and black-crowned night herons. The Refuge also includes wet meadows, willow riparian, grasslands, and forest habitats. This [ecological] diversity provides habitat for other species such as sandhill cranes, long-billed curlews, peregrine falcons, eagles, hawks, moose, badgers, bears, wolves, pronghorns and native fish such as Arctic grayling and westslope cutthroat trout.”    [Quoting from http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Red_Rock_Lakes/about.html ]

Trumpeter Swans are also seen afloat in lakes of Wyoming’s neighboring park, Grand Teton National Park, a scenic mountain-dominated park accented by the Snake River and Jackson Lake, and historically enjoyed, annually (in the summer), by many bankruptcy barristers (and their families), as they simultaneously attended the Norton Bankruptcy Law Institutes at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  The Trumpeter pairs are often seen as isolated pairs, each “owning” its own lake, yet these swans also congregate in gregarious flocks, especially in the Red Rock Lakes area.

[Canadians, especially in British Columbia and Alberta, have also been intensively involved in serious efforts to conserve Canada’s population of Trumpeter Swans, for more than 65 years – but this birding report mostly notices and focuses on the Trumpeter conservation efforts in the United States.]

Has FDR’s Executive Order 7023 been followed by conservation and restoration success, for the Trumpeter Swan?   The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website reports a happy “yes”:

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by Kent Nickel

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by Kent Nickel

In 1932, fewer than 70 trumpeters were known to exist worldwide, at a location near Yellowstone National Park.  This led to the establishment of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in 1935.  Red Rock Lakes is located in Montana’s Centennial Valley and is part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.  Nearly half of the known trumpeter swans in 1932 were found in this area.  Warm springs provide year-round open waters where swans find food and cover even in the coldest weather.  Today, estimates show about 46,225 trumpeter swans reside in North America, including some 26,790 in the Pacific Coast population (Alaska, Yukon, and NW British Columbia) which winter on the Pacific Coast; 8,950 in Canada; about 9,809 in the Midwest; and about 487 in the tri-state area of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana (including the Red Rock Lakes refuge flock).”   [Quoting from http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Red_Rock_Lakes/about.html ]

Sounds like a winner to me  —   from less than 70 to more than 46,000!

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) cygnets ©USFWS

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) cygnets ©USFWS

However, if only the wildlife conservation principle of Deuteronomy 22:6-7 (i.e., you can take the eggs and nestlings, but not the adult mother birds) had been practiced in North America, during the past 2 or 3 centuries, the continent’s Trumpeter Swan population would never have gotten so close to extinction.  Moses not only mandated restrictions on excessively hunting avian wildlife (Deuteronomy 22:6-7), Moses also banned imprudent deforestation (Deuteronomy 20:19-20).   Of course, creation conservation laws are always balanced to value human life over nonhuman life forms (Matthew 6:26-30; Psalm 8; Jonah 4:8-11).  Yet the promulgated priority of stewardly usage of God’s creation – because all of creation is God’s property, ultimately, not ours! — traces all the way back to Creation Week, because even Adam was put into Eden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15), and Noah managed the greatest biodiversity protection project ever (Genesis chapters 6-9).

Humans have been eating domesticated birds, such as chicken and turkey, ever since Noah’s family disembarked the Ark (Genesis 9:3).  People who raise domesticated fowl (such as chickens) are careful to preserve enough breeders so that they don’t eat up all of their fowl.  [This illustrates the old adage about balancing give and take: if your input exceeds your output, your upkeep is your downfall!]  Accordingly, chicken farmers avoid eating all of their chickens  — it’s important to protect the reproductive success of your chickens if you want poultry eggs and/or chicken meat to eat, on a continuing basis!  But what about wild birds?  The private ownership principle that guides common sense, in raising chickens and other domesticated fowl, doesn’t work so well with wild birds (especially migratory birds), because they are not privately “owned” – so they are a “public” resource vulnerable to irresponsible “tragedy-of-the-commons” depletion.

And most swans are wild, so greedy over-hunting can endanger their population success.

Providentially, the eating of wild birds, such as wild swans, was restricted under Mosaic law, for good reason  —  wild bird populations can be extinguished if one generation of hunters gets too greedy.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) on nest ©USFWS

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) on nest ©USFWS

If a bird’s nest chance to be before you in the way, in any tree, or upon the ground, whether they be young one [i.e., nestling infant birds], or eggs [i.e., not-yet-hatched baby birds], and the mother [’em is the usual Hebrew noun for “mother”] sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young.  But you shall surely send forth the mother, and take the young [literally “children”] for yourself; that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong days.  Deuteronomy 22:6-7

This is a simple law of predator-prey dynamics:  if the predator population (i.e., the “eaters”) consume too many of the prey population (i.e., the “eatees”), the result is bad for both populations, because the prey population experiences negative population growth, a trend that can lead to its reproductive failure (and extirpation) if the excessive predation continues unabated.

Each generation of humans, therefore, needs to exercise wise stewardship of Earth’s food resources, so that adequate food resources will be available of posterity (i.e., later generations).  When greed leads to over-hunting, the foreseeable consequence is bad for both the birds (whose population declines, generationally) and the humans (whose food resources decline, generationally).

Sad to say, mankind’s track record for respecting and heeding God’s Word, as it teaches us to be godly stewards of His creation (and to use it in ways that glorify Him, its rightful and only true Owner), all-too-often misses the mark (Romans 3:23).

What slow learners we all-too-often are!   [For Genesis-based ecology perspectives, for this fallen “groaning” world, see http://www.icr.org/article/misreading-earths-groanings-why-evolutionists/ and  http://www.icr.org/article/7486/ and  http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-science-practical-not-just/  and  http://www.icr.org/article/why-we-want-go-home/ .]

Meanwhile, may God have mercy on the people of America, by restoring to us a serious and reverent respect for the “whole counsel of God”, that He has given us in the Holy Bible, His holy Word.  Only then, as we heartily heed His Word, will we properly appreciate and rightly treat His creation, including the Trumpeter Swan.  And, only then, will we properly revere and appreciate Him as our Creator (and Redeemer).  And living life responsibly on His earth, with that kind of reverence, would be far better than the fanciest feather in anyone’s cap!

by James J. S. Johnson

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More articles by James J. S. Johnson

Orni-Theology

Good News

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Are Dinosaurs Extinct? (Re-post)

Here is an interesting Creation Moments Minute from Creation Moments:

I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. (Job 30:29 KJV)

We see these quite frequently in the Zoos. Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa has one we have watched, but he usually just lays there and looks around. The one in the video surprised me that they can run that fast.

This one was taken at the Palm Beach Zoo in Florida last year.

Kamodo Dragon Palm Beach Zoo by Lee

Kamodo Dragon Palm Beach Zoo by Lee

The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. (Isaiah 43:20 KJV)

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Birds of the Bible – Jeremiah 19:7

Bird of Prey by Phil Kwong Galleries

Bird of Prey by Phil Kwong Galleries

“And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of those who seek their lives; their corpses I will give as meat for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth.” (Jeremiah 19:7 NKJV)

I’m currently traveling through Jeremiah in my personal reading of the Bible. Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet and it is easy to see why he was called that. Parts of the Scripture are hard to read, not that the words are hard, but because of that which is happening.

When birds are mentioned, of course, those verses catch my attention. What, where, and why are they being mentioned? Normally if you just pick out a verse those questions would pop into your head. Because of reading through Jeremiah, those thoughts were already answered.

Jeremiah was sent to inform the Israelites of the judgment coming because of their sins. He was told: “Thus says the LORD: “Go and get a potter’s earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests. And go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom.” So he did as commanded.

When they got to the valley, he was told to proclaim there the words that I will tell you.

and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle. “Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind), therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that this place shall no more be called Tophet or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of those who seek their lives; their corpses I will give as meat for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. (Jeremiah 19:3-7 NKJV)

That is hard, but God is Just. God is Longsuffering. God is Love. God is all these at the same time. People like to say because God loves he would never condemn or judge someone. Not true. He destroyed the whole world with a universal flood because of sin, yet he saved eight souls and the critters. He destroyed Sodom because of sexual sin of those who perverted it, yet he saved three. There are other examples throughout the Bible.

Here we have a nation, His chosen people, had grown cold in their worship of Him and turned to other gods and even sacrificed their children. Sound like our nations today? People do not believe in God, but would rather believe in evolution, have abortions, pervert God’s gift of intimate relations in marriage. On and on, the churches are accepting all kinds of things that God said ” which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind.” Will we come to that judgment also?

Burrowing Owl from Dusky's Wonders

Burrowing Owl from Dusky’s Wonders

I love watching the Birds of the Air, but am sorry that they have to become Birds of Prey because of people’s denial of the God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) ©WikiC

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) ©WikiC

We are encouraged to return to the Lord God’s Word.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (18) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (19) And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (21) But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:16-21 NKJV)

Like I said earlier, some things are hard to read and share, but it is there in the Word and the Word is True.

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Birds of the Bible

Gospel Message

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Birds of the Bible – Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Lee

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Lee

Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19 NKJV)

After posting the photos of the Cactus Wrens (The Chase Begins…), I realized that you weren’t told much about these birds. After researching them; I decided they deserve to be a Birds of the Bible bird.

Why? Not because they are named specifically, but because of the way the Lord Jesus created these wrens to live in the desert environment and to survive there.

Cactus Wren Desert Mus-Tucson by Lee 37

Cactus Wren Desert Mus-Tucson by Lee 37

For one thing, they sort of blend in with their surroundings which helps protect them, camouflage. Hanging out in those spiked plants give them another great advantage.

Cactus Wren at nest ©WikiC by BigWheel55

Cactus Wren at nest ©WikiC by BigWheel55

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)

One of the favorite places they like to make their nest is in the Cholla cactus. It is very spiny and keeps predators at bay. We saw several nests. An interesting thing about their nest show wisdom given them by the Creator. “Cactus wrens build nests that are the size and shape of a football with an opening at one end. They will construct this nest out of grasses and other annual plants, but can also include scraps of cloth and other woven fibers that they find. They will build this nest (and many others) usually in cholla, but also in palo verde, acacias, saguaros, or the hanging pot in your backyard.” (Fact Sheet)

Cholla Cactus by Lee

Cholla Cactus by Lee

Nest in a Cholla Cactus at Desert Museum by Lee

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?’ (Job 35:11 NKJV)

The nest always have a roof over them. “Domed with tunnel-shaped entrance, made of coarse grass or plant fibers. Lined with feathers.” They also make a perch or doorstep at the opening. They need the dome or roof to shield the hatchlings and themselves from the heat and sun of the day. At night, the feathers and other linings help preserve the body heat. As you may know, desert have large temperature swings each day. Sounds like wise advise for humans in a desert also.

They do have some predators. “Coachwhips and other whipsnakes are able to navigate their way through the cactus and often will take eggs or nestlings. Adult birds can be food for coyotes, hawks, fox, bobcats or domestic cats.” (Wikipedia)

“It is a bird of arid regions, and is often found around yucca, mesquite or saguaro; it nests in cactus plants, sometimes in a hole in a saguaro, sometimes where its nest will be protected by the prickly cactus spines of a cholla or leaves of a yucca.” (Wiki)

The thing that does reveal were they are is when they sing:

It is not the fanciest song, but they sound happy when they sing. I can’t sing well, but I enjoy singing. The Bible says were are to make a joyful noise.

“The Cactus Wren is the largest North American wren, at 18–23 cm (7.1–9.1 in) long. Unlike the smaller wrens, the cactus wren is easily seen. It has the loud voice characteristic of wrens. The cactus wren is much less shy than most of the family. Its marked white eyestripe, brown head, barred wings and tail, and spotted tail feathers make it easy to identify. Like most birds in its genus, it has a slightly curved bill. There is little sexual dimorphism.

The cactus wren primarily eats insects, including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and wasps. Occasionally, it will take seeds, fruits, small reptiles and frogs. Foraging begins late in the morning and is versatile; the cactus wren will search under leaves and ground litter and overturn objects in search of insects, as well as feeding in the foliage and branches of larger vegetation. Increasing temperatures cause a shift in foraging behavior to shady and cooler microclimates, and activity slows during hot afternoon temperatures. Almost all water is obtained from food, and free-standing water is rarely used even when found” (Wikipedia) Another source mentioned that when the Gila Woodpecker pecks the cactus, it causes it to seep liquid. The Cactus Wren drinks this also for fluid. That is another great provision provided by their Creator.

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Lee

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Lee

The Cactus Wren has the honor of being the State Bird of Arizona.

INTERESTING FACTS: The cactus wren is very protective of its nesting area. They have been known to attack squirrels, other birds, and even people who have gotten too close to their nests. They are not as shy as other wrens and, in fact, have been known to fly into open windows of cars or homes out of curiosity. (50States.com)

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My Western Greater Roadrunners

Roadrunner in Ft Stockton TX by Lee

Roadrunner in Ft Stockton TX by Lee

And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, (Lev 11:16)

While on our vacation to the West (USA) I wanted to see the Greater Runner. It was one of the top birds on my “to see” list. Disappointed by not finding one in the wild, we were not totally disappointed. Surprised, but not disappointed. I actually saw some years ago, but wanted to photograph a wild one.

When we stopped in Fort Stockton, Texas, we visited the original Camp Stockton and then went to see the “22 foot” Roadrunner. No kidding, it is 22 feet long and 11 feet tall. Of course it was not a live roadrunner. I have since learned that his name is “Paisano Pete.”

(Bonus) Apparently Fort Stockton likes “big birds” because we found a large chicken also.

Large Chicken in Ft Stockton TX by Lee

Large Chicken in Ft Stockton TX by Lee

An actual “roadrunner, also known as a chaparral bird and a chaparral cock, is a fast-running ground cuckoo that has a long tail and a crest. It is found in the southwestern United States and Mexico, usually in the desert. Some have been clocked at 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).”

“The subfamily Neomorphinae, the New World ground cuckoos, includes eleven species of birds, while the genus Geococcyx has just two, the greater roadrunner and the lesser roadrunner. The Greater Roadrunner, (Geococcyx californianus), inhabits Mexico and the southwestern United States. The Lesser Roadrunner, (Geococcyx velox), inhabits Mexico and Central America.” (Wikipedia)

Well, “Paisano Pete” definitely would not count as a real bird, so I had to keep looking. We saw some in a Zoo or two, but when we got to the Living Desert Zoo in California, we were able to really see two of them. They were in an aviary where we saw them up close and not through a cage wire. These are the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus). One was warming itself by exposing its feathers on the back and the other was trying to kill a dead mouse and chase a Turkey Vulture around. Got within two feet of one of them.

Roadrunner Warming up at Living Desert Zoo CA

Roadrunner Warming up at Living Desert Zoo CA

 

Roadrunner with mouse at Living Desert Zoo CA by Lee

Roadrunner with mouse at Living Desert Zoo CA by Lee

 

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Fort Stockton, Texas: Paisano Pete: Giant Roadrunner

Paisano Pete

Living Desert Zoo and Garden

Fort Stockton, Texas – Wikipedia

Greater Roadrunner – Wikipedia

Birds of the Bible – Cuckoo

Cuckoos – Cuculidae Family

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The Purple Thief – (Re-post)

THE PURPLE THIEF

Creation Moments

  “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.” (Psalm 111:4)

Birds and insects that take nectar from a flower without picking up any pollen are known as nectar robbers. Now, you’d probably think that nectar robbers would be harmful to plants and trees, but the desert teak tree couldn’t survive without a nectar robber – the purple sunbird.

Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) ©J M Garg

Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) ©J M Garg

In order to reproduce, this tree needs birds to pollinate its flowers. But since a tree cannot reproduce with its own pollen, it needs birds to fly from flower to flower and from one tree to another. Anything that encourages the pollinating birds to fly farther away helps out the teak trees.

That’s where the purple thief comes in. Researchers at the University of Delhi discovered that the sunbird visits the flowers one hour before the pollinating birds arrive. The purple sunbird has a long, sharp beak that pierces the base of the flower to feed, so it doesn’t pick up any pollen. It does, however, empty the flower of about 60 percent of its nectar, leaving relatively little for the pollinators. This means that the pollinators will have to travel to more flowers and trees to get enough food, spreading pollen wherever they stop for a meal.

The researchers noted that “the robber plays a constructive and crucial role in the reproductive performance of [a] threatened tree species.” How right they are. And this unusual but crucial dining arrangement shows once again what an ingenious God we serve!

Prayer:

Lord, only You could come up with such an ingenious way to help the desert teak tree to reproduce! Surely such an arrangement could not have come about through blind chance! Amen.

Notes:

“These trees don’t mind getting robbed”, Science News, 7­-25­-14. Photo: Purple sunbird. Courtesy of J.M.Garg. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution­Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


Lee’s Addition:

Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) by TAJA

Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) by TAJA

Sunbirds belong to the Nectariniidae – Sunbirds Family which currently has 143 species. They are amazing colored by their Creator and well designed for the plants they pull the nectar from.

From Sunday Inspiration – Sunbirds, “These are very small passerine birds. Most sunbirds feed largely on nectar, but also take insects and spiders, especially when feeding young. Flower tubes that bar access to nectar because of their shape, are simply punctured at the base near the nectaries. Fruit is also part of the diet of some species. Their flight is fast and direct on their short wings.

The family is distributed throughout Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and just reaches northern Australia.

See:

Nectariniidae – Sunbirds Family

Sunday Inspiration – Sunbirds

Sunbird – Wikipedia

Who Paints the Leaves

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Merry Christmas from Golden Eagle

Song Sparrow by Ray

Song Sparrow by Ray

Merry Christmas from Golden Eagle

“His EYE is on the sparrow and I know He (Jesus) watches me!” This is the Golden Eagle and I just landed in a muddy pond. My wings are wet, my feathers are ruffled, and my left talon is crushed. What am I to do? Look up to God because He is looking down on me! Boys and girls did you know that we are open books to God? Why He knows everything about us and then some!

Golden Eagle ©PD

Golden Eagle ©PD

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3) This is the time of year when that list is pulled out. You know that list of boys and girls, that naughty and nice list? They say that eyes from the North Pole are watching us. Well, I don’t know about that. I have circled the North Pole way up in the atmosphere and all I could see was a bunch of my fellow penguins. I could be wrong; they might live down in Antarctica. The point is Jesus IS watching from His throne in the Heavens!

Royal Penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli) by Ian 6

Royal Penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli) by Ian

FOR PROMOTION COMETH NEITHER FROM THE EAST, NOR FROM THE WEST, NOR FROM THE SOUTH. (Psalm 75:6) Guys, that means it comes from the NORTH! That’s where God’s throne is in Heaven. The New Jerusalem, the golden city with the pearly gates.

Light of Christ ©©

We need to live in the white light of Jesus Christ. We need to live like Abraham Lincoln. Remember, “Honest Abe” from school? Be honest with God and honest with yourself. Read Romans chapter 2. In Romans Paul talks about our consciences. We know when we do something wrong like telling a lie. We know that’s wrong, we do not need someone to tell us that is wrong. Why?

“Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” (Romans 2:15)

God shines a spot-light into our souls, our hearts, our innermost being. “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” (Proverbs 16:2)

Spotlight ©©

Spotlight ©©

“Jesus did not commit himself unto them…FOR HE KNEW WHAT WAS IN MAN.” Jesus knows each and everything about you. There are no secrets with God. You cannot hide anything from Him, so live your life in His very Presence every day!

The Bible says, “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” (Ecclesiastes 10:20) The expression, “a little birdie told me” probably comes from this Bible verse. The reason a bird can tell things is because God knows everything! He reads our thoughts, He knows our motives, and He is keeping track of everything we say or do!

Bring all your thoughts to Jesus by reading His book, THE BIBLE. Begin to think like God thinks. Turn your eyes on Jesus and experience what God has for you!

And bring “INTO CAPTIVITY EVERY THOUGHT TO THE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST.” (II Corinthians 10:5)

Reading the Bible

Reading the Bible

Read your Bibles and OBEY them! If you do, you will come out on top. Because God will “bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

And you know about those gifts? Jesus will share His whole Creation with you in the future and you will have many gracious GIFTS from the Lord Jesus Christ. This Christmas give Jesus the gift of your heart and life by accepting HIS FREE GIFT OF SALVATION AND ETERNAL LIFE!

Merry Christmas from the Golden Eagle!

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Golden Eagle

Kids, You Are Special

ABC’s Of The Gospel

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Fly With An Open Bible

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) Flying ©WikiC

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) Flying ©WikiC

Fly With An Open Bible by Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle ©PD

Golden Eagle ©PD

Boys and girls of all ages this is GOLDEN EAGLE circling in for a landing on this beautiful world that Jesus Christ created. To learn anything, to understand anything, we must have an open Bible! The other day, I heard of a 24 year-old lady that had never read the Word of God. She had no idea that the rainbow had any meaning whatsoever. Do you know the meaning behind the rainbow?  Get your Bible out and open it to Genesis chapter 9. There you will find the meaning to the rainbow.

You humans should thank God that you can read and appreciate beauty. Although I write these things once in a while, you do know that birds cannot really write and read. However, God created you to do those things and so much more.

“Blessed (happy) is the man…his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” Psalm 1:1-3

The Word of God will bring you true success. It is no accident that you are presently reading this article. I have chosen to write this and you have chosen to read it. However, even though we both have a free will and can do what we want to do, Jesus Christ is in control of every single thing that happens in the entire Universe. He is in control of everything that you and I do, say, and think! Why even a sparrow doesn’t fall out of a tree without the Heavenly Father.

The Key to True Knowledge

The Key to True Knowledge

The question for you to answer is this: ARE YOU SAVED? You are either saved or lost. This has nothing to do with are you good or bad because the Bible says that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) You’re made in the “image of God” and you will live forever somewhere according to the Bible. You can go to Heaven if you trust Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. When Jesus died on the cross, He shed His blood and paid for your sins as your substitute. He stood in our place and took the punishment from God the Father so that you could be forgiven! You must personally accept Jesus by faith. You know, no one can eat your breakfast for you. You individually eat your breakfast and then your body makes use of the food to give you energy for the day. You must personally receive Jesus into your life!

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name…” (John 1:12)

Golden Eagle has learned a few things as I have soared over this planet. You must study things with an open Bible. The Bible tells us where the first humans came from! You know that scientist have landed a washing machine size robot on a comet the other day. That thing has been flying around for 10 years and just arrived at its destination! That shows us how big this universe is. The comet is over 300 million miles away from Earth. The people who sent that robot to the comet are trying to find out the answer to the question: WHERE DID WE COME FROM. And that is a great question. But, they will never find the answer until they open their Bibles and begin to read the first few chapters in the book of Genesis. God created Adam on the sixth day of Creation week. He took the elements in the earth, the dust of the earth and “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)

When you study Science or History or God or whatever, you need to open your Bible and see what God has to say!

The Earth rotates around the sun. We should rotate around Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The sun gives light to the earth and Jesus is the Light of the world. Tonight, you will fall asleep and in the morning you will wake up. That is God’s way of trying to teach us that sleep is like death, but you wake up in the morning and that is like the resurrection day!

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) by Margaret Sloan

Monarch Butterfly by Margaret Sloan

A worm goes into a cocoon and comes out a beautiful butterfly! Metamorphosis, a change teaches us that Jesus Christ will give us a new body in the future if we are saved! Humans sweat because of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden! The Earth is covered with water because of Noah’s flood. In fact, four-fifths of the Earth is covered with water if you count the oceans, the seas, the rivers, the streams, and the lakes!

Every snowflake is different, every blade of grass is different, every bird is different! And each one of you are unique and different. That is how God has made you! We could talk about this forever! In fact, God’s people in Heaven will talk about this and learn about God and His Universe forever. You will have a real body and be in a real Heaven with real GOLDEN STREETS!

“AND THE BUILDING OF THE WALL OF IT WAS OF JASPER: AND THE CITY WAS PURE GOLD, LIKE UNTO CLEAR GLASS…AND THE STREET OF THE CITY WAS PURE GOLD, AS IT WERE TRANSPARENT GLASS. (Revelation 21)

The question you need to ask yourself is this: will you be in Heaven with Jesus Christ in that day? And remember we are only one heartbeat away from eternity. Why not ask Jesus to save you this very moment? “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Thanks for flying with me. And thanks for having an open Bible! Read some of God’s Word today! I would love to fly to the comet later today, but I know I will not be able to get beyond the atmosphere, so I might just head back to my roost for the night and gaze into the starry heavens. You never know what you might see! Have a great one…

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Golden Eagle

Wordless Birds

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Bible Birds – Swan Introduction

Bible Birds – Swan Introduction

Swan (Cygnus olor)II at Bok Tower By Dan'sPix

Swan (Cygnus olor)II at Bok Tower By Dan’sPix

“And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,” (Leviticus 11:18 KJV)

“The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,” (Deuteronomy 14:16 KJV)

Swans are mentioned in these two verses in the KJV Bible. Some other versions list it as another bird. For now, let us learn about the beautiful Swans that the Lord created.

Both of the Swan verses above are found in the “do not eat” list that the Lord gave to the “children of the LORD your God.” Who would want to eat such great looking birds?

Swans are in the Anatidae Family which includes Ducks, Geese and Swans. There are seven species which include these:

Coscoroba Swan (Coscoroba coscoroba) ©AGrosset – Zoo Miami’s by Lee
Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) by Dan – Video by Nick – Article
Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus) by Bob-Nan
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) by Dan
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by DavesBP
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) by DavesBP
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) by Ian

Some Interesting Facts:

  • The Trumpeter Swan has the most contour feathers of any bird. (25,216) That doesn’t count the downy feathers.
  • Swans can fly as fast as 60 miles per hour!
  • A male swan is called a cob, and a female swan is called a pen.
  • A baby swan is called a cygnet.
  • The largest species, including the mute swan, trumpeter swan, and whooper swan, can reach length of over 1.5 m (60 inches) and weigh over 15 kg (33 pounds). Their wingspans can be almost 3 m (10 ft).

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Bible Birds – Swan

Birds of the Bible – Swan

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Black Swan

Anatidae – Ducks, Geese and Swans Family

Wordless Birds

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Bible Birds – Vulture Introduction

Vulture Introduction

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) WikiC

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) WikiC

And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, (Leviticus 11:13 NKJV)

The Bible list Vulture or Vultures in 5 – 11 different verses (depending on version)

There are sixteen (16) Vultures in the Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles Family. These are the “Old World” Vultures (found in Asia, Africa and Europe). When the Bible mentions a Vulture, it would have be one of these, most likely.

Bearded Vulture
Cape Vulture
Cinereous Vulture
Egyptian Vulture
Griffon Vulture
Himalayan Vulture
Hooded Vulture
Indian Vulture
Lappet-faced Vulture
Palm-nut Vulture
Red-headed Vulture
Rüppell’s Vulture
Slender-billed Vulture
White-backed Vulture
White-headed Vulture
White-rumped Vulture

There are seven (7) “New World” Vultures (found in the Americas) that belong to the Cathartidae – New World Vultures Family.

Andean Condor
Black Vulture
California Condor
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture
King Vulture
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Turkey Vulture

Sometime Vultures are called Buzzards and sometimes Buzzards are called Vultures. They are similar, and in the same family. New World vultures (found in the Americas) and Old World vultures  aren’t actually closely related. Buzzards are also mentioned in the Bible. See Bible Birds – Buzzard

Color Key to Birds - Vulture

Turkey Vulture – Color Key To North American Birds

Generally large birds with hooked bill; strong, heavy feet, and long, curved nails; wings large; tail rather long, usually square.

From various internet Amazing Bird Facts:

  • New World vultures and Old World vultures aren’t actually closely related.
  • Slowest Wingbeat of any bird: vultures at 1/sec
  • Highest flying bird: Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture at 11,274 m (7 mi) or 37,000 ft, at this height human beings would die from lack of air. It flew into a plane.
  • New World vultures may be more closely related to storks than to other raptors.
  • A group of vultures is called a committee, venue or volt. In flight, a flock of vultures is a kettle, and when the birds are feeding together at a carcass, the group is called a wake.
  • It is a myth that vultures will circle dying animals waiting to feed.
  • The Andean condor, found in South America, has the largest wingspan of any vulture in the world, with a spread of 10-11 feet when the bird extends its wings.
Condor-Turkey-King Vulture Sign at Brevard Zoo by Lee

Condor-Turkey-King Vulture Sign at Brevard Zoo by Lee

Click on Photo to make full screen

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More Bible Birds

Bible Birds – Vulture

Birds of the Bible – Vulture

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles Family

Cathartidae – New World Vultures Family

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Wise Advice From The Birds – Via Email

Received this in an email. (From an older friend) The birds and sayings are thought-provoking.

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Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. (Psalms 71:9 KJV)

Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven? (Job 35:11 KJV)

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:5 KJV)

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psalms 32:8 KJV)

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Wordless Birds

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