Ian’s Bird of the Week – Cinerous/Eurasian Vulture

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Cinereous/Eurasian Vulture ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 10-28-14

This is 2 of 3 in a series on Eurasian vultures photographed during my recent spell in a bird hide at a vulture feeding station in Boumort National Reserve in the Pyrenees in Catalonia not far southwest of Andorra. The first of the series was on the Griffon Vulture (see http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/griffon_vulture/index.htm where I’ve put a dozen photos), this one is on the second species in the feeding order, the Cinereous or Eurasian Black Vulture. Here, incidentally, is the view taken from the hide – with my phone! – shortly after the rangers had left and the first one hundred or so Griffons, and a few Common Ravens, were in the process of arriving.

From Blind at Boumort National Reserve by Ian

From Blind at Boumort National Reserve by Ian

Because of the wide-angled nature of phone cameras, the vultures appeared in real-life to be much closer, close enough for one bird to almost fill the frame of a full-size (35mm sensor) DSLR with a 500mm lens. The second photo shows the luxurious and well-appointed hide (I mentioned the toilet last week) with my camera and 500mm lens set up on my tripod and my binoculars and smaller 100-400mm lens at the ready. I was on my own for the whole day, so I could move freely between the three viewing openings. The one in the middle overlooked the feeding site (above), the one on the left was good for photographing landing vultures using the 100-400mm lens, while the one on the right overlooked a pond, used by the vultures on a hot day. It was cool and overcast when I was there and rained a bit, so the only vulture I saw at the pond was a Griffon having a drink.

Blind at Boumort National Reserve by Ian

Blind at Boumort National Reserve by Ian

It’s impossible to travel lightly with good gear for wildlife photography – the tripod along required taking a larger suitcase than both I and airlines prefer – but on that day in the hide and on an earlier occasion when I was photographing Crab Plovers in Dubai, I was really glad to have to have brought the necessary stuff with me. Anyway, back to the Cinereous Vulture. In the days when birders weren’t inter-continental travellers, it was called the Black Vulture until it was realised that this risked confusion with the completely unrelated Black Vulture of Central and South America and the ‘Eurasian’ label was applied. Now BirdLIfe International call it the Cinereous Vulture, ‘cinereous’ meaning ‘ashy’, like the adult in the third photo, which certainly looks as it has been rummaging around in the remains of a camp fire.

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanThis bird shows the typical vulture ruff, with the cowl-like adornment characteristic of this species. The specific name monachus means ‘hooded’ but the common name Hooded Vulture is already used for another somewhat similar, sub-Saharan species, Necrosyrtes monachus. Juvenile birds are much darker, dark chocolate really, like the slightly scruffy one in the fourth photo. Some field guides say that juvenile birds have pink facial skin – like this one – but I couldn’t find a clear correlation between age and skin colour: some adults had mainly blue, others more pink skin, which made me wonder whether it was influenced by gender. All the Cinereous Vultures here had metallic identifying rings/bands and some, particularly juveniles had coloured bands as well. This is because the species has recently been re-introduced to this area from central Spain, is now breeding and the population is being studied thoroughly.

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanThe Cinereous Vultures took their time and started arrived at the feeding site about an hour after the Griffons. As you can guess from the relative amounts of plumage on the heads and necks of the two species, they have quite different feeding habits. Griffons clearly don’t mind getting up to their elbows in it, so to speak, but the Cinereous Vultures prefer to wait until the dirty work has been done and then pick up their favourite morsels. Their reluctance to get involved in the initial scrum has nothing to do with size or dominance, the Cinereous Vultures are as large or larger than the Griffons and are quite dominant. The bird in the fifth photo has a feeding juvenile Griffon it its sights and is advancing threateningly in a manner that was wonderful to watch, head down, wings spread and ruff and cowl feathers erect with a bouncing walk. The result was something like the witches from Macbeth combined with the loping gait of a kangaroo.

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanIt might look funny to us, but it was very effective and the Griffons, unamused, backed off, like the frustrated-looking one in the sixth photo. Cinereous Vultures have strong bills and can tackle, tendons, muscles and, by the look of the one in this photo, skulls. Maybe cervelles are on the menu. (I once understood cervelles d’agneau on a Parisian menu to be something to do with lamb and was slightly taken aback when brains, rather than a chop, appeared in front of me.)

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanThe Cinereous Vultures were the least volatile of the three species and once having landed, hung around for hours. I didn’t get photos of any in flight, but I didn’t find them easy to separate from the Griffons in flight as they’re silhouettes are rather similar. The Griffons kept landing and talking off and were better targets and more numerous. In total, there may have been 10-20 Cinereous Vultures. Their reintroduction here is part of a more general EU conservation and anti-poisoning program that has seen the population in Spain recover from 290 pairs in 1984 to perhaps 2500 now and they have been reintroduced into southern France. The conservation news isn’t all good, though to say the least, and I’ll return to this topic in the third in this series.

Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) by IanPart of the research effort at Boumort is the study of the movements of these vultures. Adults are thought to be mainly sedentary in Europe, though partially migratory in Asia, where it also occurs. Some banded Spanish birds have turned up in sub-Saharan Africa. Some birds have been fitted with GPS units, and you can see one, complete with solar cell on the back of the juvenile in the last photo.

I mentioned the unrelated Black Vulture of the Americas, one of the New World Vultures. These include the Turkey Vulture, familiar in North America, the Condors and a couple of other species places in a separate family, the Cathartidae http://www.birdway.com.au/cathartidae/index.htm. In fact Birdlife International put them in their own order, the Cathartiformes, indicating that they arose completely independently. The Old World Vultures, on the other hand, are close related to hawks, eagles, etc. and are placed in the same family Acciptridae in the order Acciptriformes. I must admit I was struck by the eagle-like facial appearance of these birds and it appears that the Old World Vultures have developed twice within the Acciptridae. Most belong to a group of typical Old World vultures that includes the Griffon and the Cinereous. Three, however, form a separate group placed taxonomically near the Serpent Eagles. One of these is the subject of the next edition. The vultures kept me waiting in suspense for crowning moment, and I’m trying to make you share the anticipation: I have something really special for the next bird of the week!

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
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, (Deuteronomy 14:12 ESV)

And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:11 ESV)

What a blind! When Ian go out photographing, he goes all the way. I always enjoy his adventures. Vultures are a favorite of mine, but the Lord created them and gave them a job to do. What would the world look like if they didn’t come down and clear up carcasses.

Again, these Vultures are members of the Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles Family. I like that fifth photo with that pose of his. Especially with Halloween just around the corner.

See Ian’s 1st article from Boumort National Reserve

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Accipitridae Family – Birdway (Ian’s site)

Cathartidae Family – Birdway (Ian’s site)

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles

Cathartidae – New World Vultures

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(Edited)

Sunday Inspiration – Broadbills

 

Green Broadbill by Dan at Zoo Miami

Green Broadbill by Dan at Zoo Miami

“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. (Psalms 18:19 ESV)

“I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. (Psalms 31:7-8 ESV)

Broadbills are one of my favorite birds. To me, they are adorable. So far, we have only seen the Green Broadbill and the Long-tailed Broadbill. Both have been at zoos.

Notice their eyes. They always look so alert and expressive.

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“Jesus Loves Me” by Bonnie Standifer

This piece was written and played by Bonnie Standifer. Played at our Orchestra Concert in March of 2013 at Faith Baptist Church. You have never heard it played this way before. Bonnie is a very gifted arranger and pianist. (I’ve used her song before, but it is so fantastic.)

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Sunday Inspirations

Formed By Him – Broadbills

Eurylaimidae – Broadbills

Broadbill - Wikipedia

Gideon

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Griffon Vulture

Boumort National Reserve

Boumort National Reserve

The first photo shows part of Boumort National Reserve in the foothills of the Pyrenees in Catalonia about 40km southwest of Andorra. A reserve since 1991, It has an area of 13,000 hectares and is of special importance as one of the only places in Europe where all four European species of vultures breed. Three occur naturally, while the fourth, the Eurasian Black or Cinereous Vulture has been reintroduced, after becoming extinct in the Pyrenees in recent decades. I made arrangements to visit it through Steve West of Birding in Spain, including getting the necessary permit to photograph these birds, accommodation and transport.

As part of the conservation effort, the vultures are fed three times a week and I was taken to the feeding site by two rangers who had collected carcasses and meat off-cuts from farmers in the vicinity. The site is equipped with a spacious and comfortable hide, complete with toilet, and I was left there alone for the day after they had spread out the meat and carcasses in front of the hide. When we arrived there were already between one and two hundred vultures, almost all Griffons, soaring high above. I had been briefed beforehand that the first arrivals would be Griffons, with Eurasian Blacks arriving later in the morning when the crowds thinned, while the iconic Lammergeier could be expected, probably, in small numbers in the middle of the afternoon. The fourth species, the Egyptian Vulture is a summer visitor and had already departed for Africa.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

Sure enough, as soon as the rangers left, large numbers of Griffons glided in and squabbled noisily over the food. Griffons feed mainly on muscles and viscera and attacked the carcasses and pieces of meat with great gusto. The bird in the second photo showing its skill at balancing on a rock on one foot and waving the other is an adult, recognisable by its white ruff, horn-coloured bill and pale wing coverts. The one in the third photo is a juvenile, with grey bill, coffee-coloured ruff and darker wings. Juveniles generally had a covering of short plumage on the head and neck, while the adults often had relatively bare necks.

The breeding range of the Griffon Vulture extends from Portugal in the west to northeastern India and southwestern Kazakhstan in the east. Spain is its main stronghold in the west with about 8,000 pairs and the species is not considered under threat.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

These birds are huge and it was wonderful to observe them up close. The black bird in the fourth photo sneaking a mouthful from under the watchful eye of a Griffon is a Common Raven. This is the largest passerine in the world, with a length of up to 67cm/26in and wingspan of up to 130cm/51in, larger than a Common Buzzard, but completely dwarfed by the vulture. Griffons are up to 110cm/43in in length, with a wingspan of up to 280cm/110in and weighting up to 11kg/24lbs.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

In the air, they glide effortlessly and powerfully and the enormous wings make the body appear quite small by comparison. They come into land looking like parachutists under square canopies but with the ponderous, unwavering stability of a large aircraft like a B747 or an A380. Look how elegantly and precisely the toes are arranged with all the poise of an Olympic diver, fifth photo.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

It really was an extraordinary experience watching the spectacle of these amazing birds, even if their table manners left much to be desired. The large amount of food disappeared at a great rate and the crowds started to disperse, leaving the scene, one hoped, for the later, rarer and more picky species. To be continued…

Greetings
Ian


Lee’s Addition:

Another neat adventure for Ian. Not sure I would want to be left all day by myself. Then again, Ian, is quite an adventurous birdwatcher and photographer. Patience is something he definitely has.

Thanks again, Ian, for sharing your adventure. I have a feeling you will soon tell us about some of those other Vultures that came to feed.

“There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: (Job 28:7 KJV)

The Griffon Vulture is a Bird of the Bible as Vultures are mentioned. One version of the Bible lists a Griffon.

“Of birds these are they which you must not eat, and which are to be avoided by you: The eagle, and the griffon, and the osprey.” (Leviticus 11:13 DRB)

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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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Sunday Inspiration – Vacation 2014

Peacock at Magnolia Plantation by Dan

Peacock at Magnolia Plantation by Dan

 

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night,  (Psalms 92:1-2 NKJV)

Even though our vacation didn’t go according to “our” schedule, the Lord gave us some great blessings. He, the Lord, had a way of placing the right people in our path to help us. Only He could orchestrate those encounters. May we never forget to give the Lord credit for his blessings to us.

We were able to still see Patriots Point and Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, Merritt Island NWR, Brevard Zoo and the Viera Wetlands and the nearby Click Ponds. The slide show has some photos from those places.

** Some how I forgot to finish this Sunday Inspiration. We took our vacation several months ago. The song Sean is playing, “It Is Well With My Soul” seems to be even more appropriate today. I have been dealing with a walking and now pain issue. I start two days a week of physical therapy next week for almost two months. As I told the therapist Friday, “even though I am dealing with all this, I am trying to maintain a good attitude.” How can I do that? Because, It Is Well With My Soul.” I know the forgiveness for my sins because of the Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for my sins and yours. Have you asked for His forgiveness? Please keep me in your prayers and Sean, also. He needs it more as he is dealing with Lymphoma.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17 KJV)

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“It Is Well With My Soul” by Sean Fielder

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More Sunday Inspirations

Gideon

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Norman Joins The Baseball Team

Wood Stork up close by Lee at Lake Morton

Wood Stork up close by Lee at Lake Morton

Norman Joins The Baseball Team

by Emma Foster

There once was a stork named Norman. Every morning from a high spot in a tree he would watch the children from a nearby neighborhood walk down the street to the bus stop. The bus stop was right next to the zoo, which was where Norman lived.

His favorite part of the day, though, was when some of the kids came to the baseball field to practice. The field was right next to the zoo, and Norman enjoyed the game of baseball so much he decided to join the team.

The coaches were a little shocked at first to see that a stork was trying out for the team, but they decided to give Norman a chance. Norman was given his very own baseball bat, and he stepped up to the plate.

The first time Norman swung at the ball he missed, and a fifth grade boy yelled, “Strike one!” Norman hit the ball the second time, and flew to first base. It was then that Norman learned that you weren’t supposed to fly in baseball, and you had to make sure your baseball bat didn’t go flying as well.

Norman didn’t make it to first base anyway. One of the boys grabbed the ball off the ground and threw it to another boy at first base. The coach said that Norman was out, but Norman was still welcome on the team.

The first game was that Saturday. It was the last inning and Norman was up to bat. The bases were loaded.

The other team’s pitcher threw the ball, Norman swung the bat, and the ball sailed up into the sky. It was a home run! Norman and his team won the game, and Norman was allowed to stay on the baseball team.

The End


Woodstork & Lee by Dan at Lake Morton

Woodstork & Lee by Dan at Lake Morton

Lee’s Addition:

Where the birds make their nests; The stork has her home in the fir trees. (Psalms 104:17 NKJV)

Thanks, Emma, for another delightful story, this time about Norman.

Emma is a teenager now, and I suggested she write us another story. This is her latest. See her other ones in the Guest Author section.

Norman might be that friendly Stork that hangs out at Lake Morton I encountered recently. Didn’t see a baseball cap though.

Emma Foster’s Previous Stories:

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ABC's of the Gospel

  

  ABC’s of the Gospel

 

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Sunday Inspiration – At Calvary

Grace's Warbler (Setophaga graciae) ©WikiC

Grace’s Warbler (Setophaga graciae) ©WikiC

And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. (Luke 23:33 NKJV)

Today’s birds were chosen because of the words of the Hymn, “At Calvary.” Because of Jesus’ Love at Calvary, through His Grace, Mercy, and Love, “Now my raptured soul can only sing Of Calvary.”

(Some of the birds have “merci or merce” in their scientific name.)

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. (2 John 1:3 NKJV)

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“At Calvary” – (Trio – Margaret H, Sue W, Pastor Jerry) and Faith Baptist Choir 9-28-14

Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
On Calvary.

Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty,
At Calvary.

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned
To Calvary.

Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing
Of Calvary.

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary!

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More Sunday Inspirations

The Gospel Message

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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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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Greater Flamingo

PHO-Phof Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Greater Flamingo ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 10-9-14

Here’s another species from Dubai, the Greater Flamingo. It’s well-known there, occurs in the Ra’s al-Khor wildlife sanctuary near the centre of town and is suitably iconic for a place where flamboyance is preferred to subtlety :-). We didn’t go to this sanctuary but found about 50 Flamingos feeding in the shallows near one of the Crab Plover sites that we checked at Khor al-Beida north of the city.

This spot was right beside a Sheik’s well guarded palace. Tommy warned that using a large telephoto lens there could attract unwelcome attention from the guards, so these photos were taken through the window of his 4WD. The birds in the first and second photos are adults with the pink colour of the legs and bill and the red plumage in the wings well-developed.

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) by IanThe bird in the third photo is an older juvenile. The bill is still grey, the legs are just beginning to show a pink flush and there is little red showing in the wings. The full adult plumage is acquired after about three years.

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) by Ian
Flamingos are a taxonomically isolated group with 6 species in a single family – Phoneicopteridae – in their own order the Phoenicopteriformes. Four of the species occur in South and Central America, with 2 Old World Species The Greater and Lesser Flamingos. The Greater Flamingo occurs in Africa, the Middle East, southern Europe and in Asia as far east as India. There is one Australian record from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in 1988, so it has the honour of being on the Australian list.

Greetings from Strasbourg where we are having a pleasant few days in this lovely city staying with Gillian daughter Jeannine and her husband Carlos. Tomorrow we go to Barcelona by TGV en route to a couple of birding spots in the foothills of the Pyrenees where I hope to get some raptor photos to share with you. THE target species is the Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier, so I need your spiritual support and enthusiasm!

Ian


Lee’s Addition:

Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19 ESV)

Love those Flamingo, no matter what kind. There is just something about that beak and the pose they portray. Thanks again, Ian, for sharing your latest find among the avian in Dubai.

American Flamingo Beak cropped

American Flamingo Beak by Lee

Of the Flaming Family on Ian’s Birdway site, this must have been his first Flamingo. At least that is all he shows for the Phoenicopteridae Family.
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Ian’s Birds of the Week

Ian’s Phoneicopteridae Family

Flamingos – Phoenicopteridae Family

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Busy Hummingbirds, Oblivious to Spectators

Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti) by Michael Woodruff

Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti) by Michael Woodruff

Busy Hummingbirds, Oblivious to Spectators

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan

Orni-Theology

As the cooling days of September fall from the calendar, like the abscission of colorful autumn leaves, the shelf-life of flower nectar nears its expiry date.  For just a few more days, the nectar pantries of bright-hued flowers are “open for business”, ready to feed the voracious appetites of neighborhood hummingbirds  —  those petite, iridescence-sparkled, blurry-winged wonders with super-sized metabolic fuel needs.  Floral nectar is a sweet resource!  Yet, as winter approaches, such fly-by “fast-food” opportunities cannot be taken for granted, especially if one is an energy-craving hummingbird.

 

Steely-vented Hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei) by Reinier Munguia

Steely-vented Hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei) by Reinier Munguia

Hummingbirds are famous for their (males’) jewel-like throats, their hovering and multi-directional flying, and their ability to change directions   —  stop, go, up, down, left, right, backward, forward, — using high-speed wings that whip figure-eight patterns faster than human eyes can follow, producing a humming sound (that explains their name) that almost sounds like a contented cat purring.   Hummingbirds, due to their speedy, darting movements, and their iridescent green colors, attract the eye.  So you see them  –  zip!  –  then you don’t.  Zip!  –  then you see them again.   The summer range of hummingbirds (such as the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris) is broad enough that most of us have seen hummingbirds, though it is unlikely that we ever see one relaxing!  No time to relax  —  their needle-like bills must sip up nectar where and when it is available!

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula) by Ian

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula) by Ian

The business of a hummingbird’s life is so intense, so metabolically demanding, that slurping up available nectar is a lifestyle priority, requiring dietary focus and persistence:  “Get nectar, get more nectar, get even more nectar!  Hurry, hurry, hurry!”  Sugar substitutes are unacceptable for hummingbirds – they must have real sugar to thrive.  See Elizabeth Mitchell, Our Creator’s Sweet Design for Hummingbird Taste, with a link (in its Footnote #1) to video footage of hummingbird sugar consumption.  (Obviously hummingbirds are a living exhibit that refutes “natural selection” mythology  —  see Frank Sherwin, Hummingbirds at ICR”, Acts & Facts, 35(9), September 2006 issue.

What an enormous appetite for such a miniature bird!  The calories consumed and burned by hummingbirds, on a boy weight ratio, are comparable to a human eating more than a 1000 hamburgers every day, as body fuel needed for a day’s normal activities!  (See Denis Dreves, The Hummingbird:  God’s Tiny Miracle, subtitled “If you operated at this bird’s energy level, you would burst into flames!”.

It is no surprise, therefore, that a hungry hummingbird hovered by brilliant vermillion flowers, in a garden spot I casually visited, as he (or she) slurped up nectar from one flower, then another flower, then another, — without any (apparent) concern for my physical presence or proximity, only a few steps from him (or her).  Why was the buzzing hummer oblivious of me, the birdwatcher so close by?

The hungry hummer was too preoccupied with the pressing business of life, to notice me, a quiet spectator.  What a privilege it was, to watch – for a long time, actually – this sparkling-in-the-sunlight hummingbird, darting among the bright flowers.

Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis) by Raymond Barlow

Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis) by Raymond Barlow

Yet are not our own lives, at least somewhat, like that busy hummingbird?  Are we not – day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, moment by moment – preoccupied with the ever-pressing business of life, darting here-and-there, from this task to the next one, such that we often ignore the spectators, those watching eyes who observe and appreciate our lives – those who (hopefully) see God’s beauty and wisdom imaged in our own attitudes and actions?

Yes, we have audiences we should not be oblivious of.  As we live the moments of our fast-paced lives we should not forget three audiences, who watch us much more than we consciously realize.

First, there are many curious humans who watch our busy lives, especially those who are younger than us.  What kind of role-models are we?  Hopefully our Christian lives are like the Thessalonian believers whom Paul commended as examples to all of the believers in Macedonia and Greece (1st Thessalonians 1:7).  Who is watching us? Who is listening?  Who is evaluating the message(s) of our lives, comparing our “walk” to our “talk”?  Do our lives “shine” as God’s testifying “lights” (Matthew 5:16), such that our good deeds prompt spectators to glorify God our Heavenly Father?

Black-chinnedHummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) by S Slayton

Black-chinnedHummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) by S Slayton

Second, there are non-human spectators watching our lives:  angels!   Angels learn from watching the “spectacle” of human lives (1st Corinthians 4:9 & 11:10).  Indeed, the effect of God’s gospel of grace, in the earthly lives of redeemed humans, is something that angels can only learn about as spectators (1st Peter 1:12, since redemption is never experienced by angels.

Yet the most important audience we have, always, is the Lord Himself  (Jehovah-jireh, the God Who is and sees).  Our primary audience, always, is our omniscient and omnipresent Creator-God.  It is our wonderful Maker Who watches every sparrow’s avian lifespan, and we are of much greater value to God than the lives of many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31; Luke 12:7).  As the Lord Jesus Christ’s vicarious death and resurrection has peremptorily proved, for all time and eternity, we are God’s favorite creatures.  God is caringly concerned with every detail of our busy lives (from creation to ultimate redemption), so let us not be oblivious to our most important Audience.  Do we live our earthly lives as ingrates, ignoring Him and His Word?  Or do we live life appreciative of Him and His Word, grateful that He created us and provided us with redemption in Christ?

Accordingly, with these three audiences in mind, as spectators of our busy lives, let us consider the prophet Ezekiel’s serious question (Ezekiel 33:10):  “how should we then live?”

By James J. S. Johnson

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More Orni-Theology

Changed From the Inside Out

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Pelican Learns to Fly – YouTube

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) by Ray

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) by Ray

 

What an interesting video. Just had to share it.

I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. (Psalms 102:6 NKJV)

They are mentioned 3 times in Scripture. Isaiah 34:11 and Zephaniah 2:14 and the previous verse.

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“Abandoned by his flock, Bigbird the pelican stumbled ashore after a storm and was taken in by the staff of Greystoke Mahale in Tanzania. Watch as Bigbird learns to fly for the first time.”

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Bible Birds – Pelicans

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(Found on Kid’s blog)

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Cream-coloured Courser

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Cream-coloured Courser ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 9/27/14

A couple of weeks ago, I said that my two target birds in Dubai were Crab Plover – which featured last week – and Cream-coloured Courser. The latter had aroused my curiosity 50 years ago when I saw it on this page of the Field Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe. Tommy Pedersen (http://www.uaebirding.com) had said that the Coursers were “possible”, so there were no guarantees.

Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor) by Ian

Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor) by Ian

When we set off with Tommy, we had a few hours to fill in before the tide was optimal for the Crab Plovers, so we went first to the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Centre, then to the Al Asifa Endurance Stables to look for the Coursers. They were present at both, with over 30 at the Polo Centre and another 16 at the Stables. In fact, the first photo I took in Dubai was of a very distant Courser.

Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor) by Ian

They were worth waiting 50 years for, and I think the illustration in the field guide didn’t do them justice. They’re called Coursers because they run rather than fly, second photo, the name being derived from the Latin verb currere, to run, and the generic name Cursorius means runner. The ‘sport’ of coursing – chasing hares, etc., on horse-back is derived from the same source, so there was a delightful irony in finding them at the two main equestrian locations in Dubai.​

Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor) by Ian

When pressed they do take flight, third photo. In doing so, they show their striking dark wing tips and underwings and reveal similarity to pratincoles, the other members of the family Glareolidae. There is a photo of an Australian Pratincole in flight here if you want to compare them. The three taking off in the third photo seemed to be a family party as the bird in the centre is immature with patchy brown markings on the neck and only very pale stripes through the eye.

Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor) by Ian

​Their preferred habitat is desert and semi-desert with or without sparse vegetation. Their breeding range includes much of North Africa and the Middle East. Many North African birds migrate across the Sahari to winter in the southern Sahara and at least part of the Middle East population migrates to Pakistan and NW India. They feed on insects and other invertebrates on the ground and will take locusts in flight. I couldn’t help but be struck by their resemblance both in colour and habitat to the Inland Dotterel of central Australia.

Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor) by Ian

As promised a couple of weeks ago, I’ve started putting together a page on electronic books to provide assistance in choosing among different platforms. So far, I’ve finished the General Introduction. I still need to add more details on the actual process of purchasing ebooks from different vendors​ and I’ll let you know when that is available.

I’m still in Ireland. So far, I’ve been mainly catching up with family and friends. Next Tuesday we are going looking for Red Kites in Avoca, Co. Wicklow, so keep your fingers crossed for some photos! The Red Kite is one of the more successful Irish raptor reintroduction programs and there are now breeding populations in both the Republic, mainly Co. Wicklow south of Dublin, and in Co. Down in Northern Ireland. I do have a photo of one taken in Spain – but it would be good to get some genuine Irish ones, the real McCoy.

Greetings
Ian


Lee’s Addition:

He asked for water, she gave milk; She brought out cream in a lordly bowl. (Judges 5:25 NKJV)
He will not see the streams, The rivers flowing with honey and cream. (Job 20:17 NKJV)
When my steps were bathed with cream, And the rock poured out rivers of oil for me! (Job 29:6 NKJV)

Wow! I really like that color. It seems so rich. There are such neat birds in the Glareolidae family anyway. That last photo of the bird in flight looks like the Lord dipped its wings in paint. I am glad Ian was able to get these new photos and shared them with us.

Coloured or Colored? Again we have a difference in spelling. Ian uses one naming authority and here we use the I.O.C.’s naming. Same bird, same scientific name – Cursorius cursor. And the same beautiful bird from its Creator.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Glareolidae Family

Glareolidae – Coursers, Pratincoles

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