Strangers and Pilgrims

Strangers and Pilgrims ©WikiC

Strangers and Pilgrims ©WikiC

Strangers and Pilgrims by James J. S. Johnson

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  (Hebrews 11:3)

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.  (1st Peter 2:11)

The phrase “strangers and pilgrims” occurs twice in the New Testament (KJV), in Hebrew 11:3 and in 1st Peter 2:11, as quoted above.

The English word “pilgrim” is a translation of the New Testament Greek noun parepidêmos, which refers to a foreigner who immigrates as a settler, taking up residence in a new land, beside the original inhabitants of that place.  A similar thought appears in 1st Peter 1:1, which refers to believers who are “strangers”, dispersed (“scattered”) like seeds in foreign lands belonging to other peoples.

Even today Christians live in and among lands dominated by nonbelievers (Psalm 73:12).  Because we are “in” the world, yet not “of” the world (see John 17:14-17), we live “near” our non-Christians neighbors, yet our Christ-focused lives are noticeably separate from “the world” (e.g., in our beliefs, priorities, moral values, etc.).

A similar word appears in the Old Testament, translated as “pilgrimage” (Hebrew: magûr, derived from the Hebrew verb gûr, meaning to “sojourn” or “migrate”). The noun “pilgrimage” appears in Genesis 47:9 (twice); Exodus 6:4; and Psalm 119:54.  [See Young’s Analytical Concordance, page 752, column 3.]

Like the English Pilgrims of old, our “pilgrimage” is a holy journey, through this earthly lifetime, adventurously walking with our great God, in spiritual fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.  That “pilgrimage” is an ongoing  witness to the watching world (1st Corinthians 4:9)  – because we each live our lives in the presence of observing nonbelievers “near” us, whose lives are spiritually separate from us (Daniel 5:22-23).

During Thanksgiving season, in America, we remember God’s historic providence at Plymouth Plantation, which was celebrated by a thanksgiving feast, a sacred occasion where the Pilgrims (a/k/a “Separatists”) shared their harvest bounty with many local Indian tribesmen, who themselves contributed quite a bit of wild game to the festive event.

Strangers and Pilgrims ©WikiC

The American Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo).

But is there any historical record of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving feast (AD1621) really featuring wild turkey?

Strangers and Pilgrims ©WikiC

Yes.  One of the original Pilgrims, William Bradford, kept a careful chronicle of the important events at Plymouth, and he reported the context of the Pilgrim’s harvest-time during the fall of AD1621:

[During the autumn of AD1621 the Plymouth Pilgrims, with the help of Squanto] found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity.

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty.  For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion.  All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees).  And besides waterfowl there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc.  Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion.  Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

Quoting  William Bradford,  Of Plimouth Plantation  1620-1647  (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989; edited by Samuel Eliot Morison), page 90.

Strangers and Pilgrims ©WikiC

But it was another Pilgrim, Edward’s Winslow, who reported (within a letter dated December 11th of AD1621) on the specific activities at the Pilgrim’s historic Thanksgiving feast that season:

Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling (i.e., hunting wild birds, such as turkeys, quail, etc.), so that we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.  They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week.  At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms [i.e., used their firearms for target practice], many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their [i.e., the Wampanoag tribe’s] greatest king, Massasoit with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted.  And they went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our Governor and upon the Captain [Miles Standish] and others.

Quoting Edward Winslow, in Mourt’s Relation, pages 60 et seq., as quoted by Samuel Eliot Morison in Footnote 8 on page 90 of Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 (noted above).

The first Thanksgiving was spontaneous.  Years later the Pilgrims celebrated other days of thanksgiving, sometimes at the direction of the colonial governor. [See above, William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, at page 132.]

By combining William Bradford’s report of the “wild turkeys” (as the most notable wild-fowl hunted by the Pilgrims) with Edward Winslow’s report of the wild fowl hunting for the first Thanksgiving feast, we can fairly conclude that America’s wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) rightly besides as part of the American Thanksgiving feast tradition.

But Thanksgiving is not just about being thankful for harvested food  –  we should also be thankful as “pilgrims and strangers” who are now living “in” the world, yet not “of” the world, because our true citizenship is actually in Heaven (Philippians 3:20), where our Lord Jesus Christ, Who Himself is our greatest Blessing, is seated at the right hand of God our Heavenly Father  –  until the day He returns, as King, to the world that He created.   Maranatha!

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More Thanksgiving post coming.

More James J. S. Johnson’s Articles

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Sunday Inspiration – Worthy of Thanksgiving

Dr Jim, Golden Eagle and Dan at Lake Morton

Dr Jim, Golden Eagle and Dan at Lake Morton

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. (1 Chronicles 16:8-9 KJV)

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 KJV)

As we enter into the Thanksgiving Holiday week, with visits with family and friends, meals to prepare and eat, parades and games to watch, don’t forget to be thankful for our Creator of all this. He is Worthy of our Thanksgiving and Worship.

I am thankful for all the fantastic friends we have met through this blog (you, the readers). I am also thankful for those that contribute to the blog, like James J. S. Johnson (Dr. Jim) and Golden Eagle (Baron Brown) with which we recently went on a birdwatching adventure. Thankful for our other contributors as well.

Finally cleaned up the photos from that adventure and many are in the slideshow. Definitely thankful for all the birds the Lord gave us. He is “Worthy of Worship”

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“Worthy of Worship” ~ Faith Baptist Orchestra

WORTHY OF WORSHIP
(York/Blankenship)

Worthy of Worship, worthy of praise,
Worthy of honor and glory,
Worthy of all the glad songs we can sing,
Worthy of all of the offerings we bring.

You are worthy, Father, Creator.
You are worthy, Savior, Sustainer.
You are worthy, worthy and wonderful;
Worthy of worship and praise.

Worthy of reverence, worthy of fear,
Worthy of love and devotion;
Worthy of bowing and bending of knees,
Worthy of all this, and added to these…

You are worthy, Father, Creator.
You are worthy, Savior, Sustainer.
You are worthy, worthy and wonderful;
Worthy of worship and praise.

Almighty Father, Master, and Lord,
King of all kings and Redeemer,
Wonderful Counselor, Comforter, Friend,
Savior and Source of our life without end.

You are worthy, Father, Creator.
You are worthy, Savior, Sustainer.
You are worthy, worthy and wonderful;
Worthy of worship and praise.

Trust you have a great Thanksgiving week.

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Sunday Inspirations

Family: Building a Home God’s Way

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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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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanIan’s Bird of the Week – Northern Goshawk  by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 11/17/14

I got so absorbed in recounting my experiences in Catalonia, that I forgot to mention that I’ve been home in North Queensland for several weeks.

The piece about the effects of diclofenac prompted some interesting responses. It was pointed out that it causes kidney not liver failure in vultures, my apologies, and that a safe and effective substitute in both humans and livestock is the anti-inflammatory meloxicam. It’s sold here as Mobic, which I take sometimes when I wayward spinal disc misbehaves. I also received a link to this article by the Vulture Conservation Foundation which has managed to get the EU to do an investigation into the effects of diclofenac: http://www.4vultures.org/our-work/campaigning-to-ban-diclofenac-in-europe/.

On the second day of our stay in raptor country in the Pyrenees with Birding in Spain we – my sister Gillian joined me for this one – were taken by Steve West to a hide at a Northern Goshawk feeding station before sunrise – goshawks are earlier risers than I am normally and are shy. Here the goshawks are fed regularly on chicken carcasses and fresh pigeon, the product of a culling programme by the local council. It was a misty, chilly, gloomy morning – sunrise was the time of day rather than an event – and the first bird to arrive, the adult female in photos 1 and 2, was barely visible. The second photo was taken at 1/3 of a second exposure at 1600 ISO and my tripod, inconvenient for travel, proved its worth yet again.

Adult females are more strongly barred and much larger than males (to protect succulent-looking nestlings). This one is partially spreading its wings and tail near the food in a posture that looks like a rudimentary ‘mantling’ display. This is usually used by hawks as a threat display to discourage other ones from interfering with their prey. In this case, I suspect it was signalling the presence of food to the juvenile goshawk, third photo, who appeared shortly afterwards. First year juvenile Northern Goshawks are brown with buff, almost cinnamon underparts and are streaked rather than barred. Similar juvenile plumages occur in other close relatives in the Accipiter genus such as the Brown Goshawk (A. fasciatus) and Collared Sparrowhawk (A. cirrocephalus), both common in Australia; see http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/brown_goshawk/source/brown_goshawk_32464.htm and http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/collared_sparrowhawk/source/collared_sparrowhawk_62859.htm for examples of their juvenile plumage. Note, incidentally the ‘beetle-brow’ characteristic also of the Brown Goshawk that gives the larger goshawks their fierce expression.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanThe adult female moved aside and let the juvenile have the pigeon prey and the juvenile then adopted the possessive mantling display with spread wings and tail and fluffed-out feathers of the mantle, just below the neck.

Mother, I presume, tackled a piece of chicken carcass and carried it down onto the ground closer to the hide, but partially obscured by dried grass and other vegetation.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanThe sixth photo shows the juvenile somewhat later with the remains of the pigeon. This was a very large bird too, as you can perhaps judge from its appearance, so I concluded that it was female too. ‘Huge’ is perhaps a better description, as the Northern Goshawk is easily the world’s largest of the nearly 50 or so species of Accipiter – (typical hawks comprising larger goshawks and smaller sparrowhawks, though ‘hawk’ is also used in North America to name other raptors such as those in the genus Buteo aka ‘Buzzard’ in British English). The female is up to 65cm/26in in length with a wingspan of up to 120cm/47in and a weight of up to 2.0kg/4.5lb, comparable in size with many Buzzards. All the Accipiter hawks tackle relatively large prey, mainly birds and some mammals. They hunt by surprise and pursuit and have rounded wings, long tails and fast reflexes for great manoeuvrability in forests. I suspect that Linnaeus used the specific moniker ‘gentilis’ in the sense of ‘noble’ rather than ‘gentle’. ‘Goshawk’ comes from the Old English ‘göshafoc’ meaning goose hawk, no mere chicken hawk.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanThis was another species that had aroused my interest in my field guide as an Irish teenager, and hadn’t seen before this trip. It’s a very rare vagrant in Ireland and was then only an occasional breeder in Britain though widespread if uncommon elsewhere in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Since then it has become re-established in Britain with a breeding population of 300-400 pairs.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanBoth birds lightened their load, as many raptors do, before taking flight, as the juvenile is doing in the seventh photo. There’s a photo on the website of the female doing the same thing: http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/northern_goshawk/source/northern_goshawk_161882.htm. Even nobles have to perform basic functions: don’t stand behind or below a well-fed raptor :-).

Greetings
Ian

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


Lee’s Addition:

“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, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; (Leviticus 11:13-16 NKJV)

What a beautiful family of birds. Ian always has such great photos and adventures to share with us. Thanks, Ian.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Birds of the Bible – Peregrine Falcon and Goshawk

Ian’s Accipitridae Family

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles

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Sunday Inspiration – Variety

The photos this week are from the Pin It (Pinterest) website. Thought sharing some of their great variety of bird photos would be enjoyable to watch. The ones selected do not even begin to show the photos they have in the various topics.

As mentioned in the latest article by Emma Foster, the Lord gives varying gifts, just as the Lord created the birds with such variety. May we use our varied talents to serve our Fantastic Lord and Creator.

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8 NASB)

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“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV)

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“The Love Of God” – ©The Hyssongs

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Sunday Inspirations

Assurance: The Certainty of Salvation

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Sunday Inspiration – Veteran’s Day

Bald Eagle flying by Dave's BirdingPix

Bald Eagle flying by Dave’s BirdingPix

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. (Deuteronomy 32:7 KJV)

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4 KJV)

Lord Bless all of you as we remember our the military this Veteran’s Day. Many have served and given their all, others are now serving or have served faithfully. We Honor you and Thank You for your service for our country. Other have served their country’s military also. We should remember them also and I am sure they have a similar day. Our’s just happens to be November 11.

The birds chosen this week have either a military item as part of their name or there has been an airplane named after that type of bird.

Happy Veteran Day! Lord Bless You.

 

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“Military Service Medley” – Faith Baptist Orchestra 7-3-11

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Sunday Inspiration

Military Aircraft of the United States with Bird or Bird-Like Names

Sharing The Gospel

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Lammergeier (Missió Complerta!)

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Newsletter ~ 11/7/14

Now, at last, here is the one that I wanted to photograph above all else when in the Pyrenees: the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture.

As with other species that have featured in the bird of the week such as the Black Woodpecker and Cream-coloured Courser, my interest or perhaps obsession was stimulated by my Petersen et al. Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe in the early 1960s. Unlike the woodpecker and the coursers, the European vultures were represented not on the coloured plates but in monochrome drawings. If anything, that made them more mysterious and elusive though two of them came spectacularly to life in 1963 when I saw Griffon and Egyptian Vultures during a family holiday in the Pyrenees. The Lammergeier, the mythical bone-breaker seemed destined to remain just that, as I knew it was very rare in Europe, extinct in the Alps, and found only over the highest mountain ranges. Even the name seemed straight out of Wagner’s Ring Cycle along with the Valkyries.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

I had been warned by the reserve rangers that the Lammergeiers would appear, if at all, in the afternoon after the Griffons had had their fill and I also knew that they were shy, would initially cruise over the area without landing and could easily be put off by the movement of a large telephoto lens. So the suspense was great, and it was a thrill when the first immature bird landed some distance away just before midday. They kept on the fringes and it wasn’t until about 2:30pm they came close enough for decent photos. The bird in the second and third photo is an older immature bird – they take six or seven years to mature – and the feathers of the breast and legs are getting paler. It also has the red eye-ring of the adult.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

In flight, fourth photo, they look quite different to other vultures with their back-swept rather pointed wings and long paddle-shaped tail. The thick plumage on the crown and neck sets them apart from typical vultures too, and when perched they hold their bodies in a horizontal eagle-like stance, presumably to keep their tails off the ground.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Their shape plus the whitish head of the adult is quite distinctive so it was an exciting moment when I saw the first one soaring in the distance over the mountain range that overlooked the feeding station. Much later, they started checking out the feeding area without landing. I was too wary of alerting them by movement so I took the fourth photo of an adult in flight much later.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Eventually, just before 3pm, the first adult landed, though like the juveniles, the adults stayed on the fringes as well and it wasn’t until 4:30pm that they came closer pick over the remains of the food carcasses and the real photography began.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

The black bird on the left of the fifth photo is a Common Raven and it seems to be imitating the stance of the larger bird and saying ‘I’m a champion too’. It’s much closer to the camera which makes it look larger than it actually is. Thirteen seconds later the Lammergeier took flight right over the Raven’s head – it had to duck – as if to say ‘we’ll see who’s boss’, and the relative proportions are more obvious. The wing-span – to 280cm/110in – is similar to that of Griffon and Cinereous Vultures, but the tail makes it much longer – to 125cm/49in. Females are heavier than males, to 7kg/15lb, but both sexes are lighter than the other vultures.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

The Lammergeiers wait until the others have finished because their food of choice is bones and bone marrow. In fact these make up 85% of the diet making them unique among birds and probably also vertebrates. The one in the sixth photo has found the favourite morsel, the digits of a cloven-hoof herbivore such as sheep and goats. Smaller bones ones are swallowed whole, larger ones – up to 4kg in weight – are dropped onto regularly used rocky areas called ossuaries to smash the bones. The usual pattern of the birds here was to scout around for suitable food, carry it off and then return perhaps 20 minutes later. They’re called ‘quebrando huesos’ (breaking bones) in Spanish. They’ll also take live prey such as tortoises, which get the same treatment. Legend has it that the Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed around 456 BC by an eagle – clearly a Lammergeier – dropping a tortoise on his bald head, mistaking it for a rock.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

Conservation efforts have seen the Pyrenean population grow from 75 pairs in 1993 to 125 pairs in 2008 and the species has been successfully re-introduced to the Alps. It also occurs in eastern Africa, South Africa and Central Asia. Estimates of the global population range from 2000 to 10,000 individuals. Until recently, it was not considered globally threatened until recent declines outside Europe and it is now classified as near threatened. The greatest concern is the veterinary use of the anti-inflammatory and pain-killing drug Diclosfenac. Highly toxic to vultures, causing liver failure, it has been solely responsible for the 99% decline in vulture populations in India, where it is now banned.

Horrifyingly, this drug has recently been approved for veterinary use in Spain and Italy. This insanity jeopardises the wonderful conservation efforts being carried out. BirdLife International has rallied to the cause, see http://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/vultures-africa-and-europe-could-face-extinction-within-our-lifetime-warn, and funds are being raised here https://www.justgiving.com/stop-vulture-poisoning-now/.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) or Lammergeier by Ian

I’m going to donate. If we think that because there are no vultures in Australia, it’s someone else’s problem, it’s not unfortunately quite so simple. There is recent evidence that Diclosfenac is toxic to Aquila eagles too. That includes the Wedge-tailed Eagle and this drug is approved for veterinary use here (e.g. ‘Voltaren’ for horses) and widely prescribed for human use. Studies have shown that it increases the risk of strokes in humans http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-09-14/study-links-voltaren-to-strokes/2260424. Photographing Lammergeiers is a personal missió complerta (Catalan for misión completa). A much more important mission accomplished will be the global banning of this completely unnecessary and dangerous drug – there are safe alternatives.

Greetings
Ian

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


Lee’s Addition:

“But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, (Deu 14:12 NKJV)
“And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; (Lev 11:14 KJV)

Wow! What great photos of the Bearded Vulture/a.k.a. Lammergeier. Ian uses the one name, but I.O.C. uses the Bearded names. What ever you call it, it is a neat looking bird, especially being a vulture.

This bird is one of the Birds of the Bible and we have written about them before, but Ian’s photos, will help visualize it it even more.

“The Lammergeier, the mythical bone-breaker” listed by Ian reminded me of this article: Birds of the Bible – Name Study ~ Ossifrage that uses the term “bone-breaker”

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Working On The New Update to I.O.C.

Sulawesi Hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus) LPZoo 3-8-12 by Lee

Sulawesi Hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus)LPZoo by Lee

They have come out with the latest Update and I am again working on updating the blog. This time they added only 13 new species, deleted 2, and made 3 changes to names. But, as lately, they threw another family up in the air to rearrange it. This time it was the Hornbill-Bucerotidae family. It was really reshuffled and they changed some of the genus around.

Here are the new additions:

  • Aztec Rail (Rallus tenuirostris) – Was Subspecies of King Rail
  • Mangrove Rail (Rallus longirostris) – The Old Clapper Rail
  • Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans) – New Clapper Rail
  • Ridgway’s Rail (Rallus obsoletus) – Formerly California Clapper
  • Sooty Barbet (Caloramphus hayii)- Was Subspecies
  • Blue-eared Barbet (Megalaima duvaucelii) – Removed M. d. australis Subspecies
  • Palkachupa Cotinga (Phibalura boliviana) – Was Subspecies of Swallow-tailed Cotinga
  • Riparian Antbird (Cercomacra fuscicauda)- Was Subspecies
  • Bougainville Whistler (Pachycephala richardsi) – Was Subspecies
  • Black-eared Warbler (Basileuterus melanotis) – Was Subspecies
  • Tacarcuna Warbler (Basileuterus tacarcunae) – Was Subspecies
  • Yungas Warbler (Basileuterus punctipectus)- Was Subspecies
  • Roraiman Warbler (Myiothlypis roraimae)- Was Subspecies
  • Pale Baywing (Agelaioides fringillarius)- Was Subspecies

Deleted:

  • Norfolk Ground Dove
  • White-throated Whistler

Hard to find data yet on these because sites are being updated, just as this one is. Will update when all the 4.4 Version is complete.

Also: Sorry there has not been as many articles lately, but have been dealing with several health issues. The Bronchitis is almost over, now have stitches from skin cancer removal. Physical Therapy is helping. Praise the Lord, it could be a lot worse. It is just that everything came close together. Also, Praise the Lord for the way He created the human body.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. (Psalms 139:14 NKJV)

Birds of the World

Hornbill-Bucerotidae Family

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Barn Swallows, a Nostalgic Reminder of Home

Barn Swallow (same)

Barn Swallow (same)

Barn Swallows, a Nostalgic Reminder of Home

by James J. S. Johnson

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  (James 4:14-15).

Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan

Orni-Theology

As daylight slid slowly into nighttime darkness, one warm summer evening in Sweden, I thought I recognized the sleek silhouettes of swallows, flitting and zooming here and there, like aerial fighter pilots, catching hapless insects in the air.  It was too dark, and they were too fast, to positively confirm them as Barn Swallows, but surely that’s what they were.  Little hatchlings, waiting hungrily in mud-nests nearby, likewise appreciated the aerial insect-grabbing of their caring parents.  The day would come, in time, when the hungry nestlings would do the same for their progeny.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) baby by Neal Addy Gallery

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) baby by Neal Addy Gallery

In Europe one of the common summer migrants is the Swallow (Hirunda rustica), known in America as the Barn Swallow, due to their habit of nesting colonies near the roofs of barns, stables, and other wooden buildings.  Barn swallows are easily recognized by their long tail streamers, narrow and pointed wings, iridescent blue-black upper feather coat, contrasting with a white underside sporting a rusty orange forehead and chin-throat bib.  (The sexes are similar except that the female has shorter tail streamers.)   Like other swallows, the barn swallow is mostly insectivorous, catching bugs on the fly, as it darts and arcs with graceful flight patterns, powered by deep wing-beats.  [See Jürgen Nicolai, Detlef  Singer, & Konrad Wothe, Birds of Britain and Europe (Harper Collins, AD1994; translated by Ian Dawson), page 170.]

One of the most nostalgic folk songs of Scandinavia (especially Sweden) is Hälsa dem därhemma  (“Greet those at Home” – audio and bilingual lyrics at http://treasures2.weebly.com/haumllsa-dem-daumlrhemma.html ), a song about a young sailor aboard a ship, as night falls, homesick for his family and homeland, who sees a flight of migratory swallows.  In song the homesick sailor asks the little swallows (“lilla svala”) to give greetings to “those at home”, including his father, mother, and little brother – and even the green fields that the sailor left behind.  To those of us who have heard it sung, many times and in many places, the emotional recall of days (and homes) gone by pull at our hearts and memories, as we too can think of loved ones we have left behind, one way or another, as we have traveled our life journeys in this busy world.

If swallows could transmit greetings, from us to loved ones now out of reach, what greetings would that be?  The New Testament epistle of James reminds us that we have no control on the day that unfolds us, much less on the many tomorrows that approach our horizons.  But the future is not “up for grabs” – it belongs to God.  It is good to know that our great God sovereignly rules the world — and us therein.

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  (James 4:14-15).

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) baby by Neal Addy Gallery

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) baby by Neal Addy Gallery

Life has many changes.  Homes come and go.  People come and go  —  even loved ones.

But God is always there and He changes not (Malachi 3:6).  And He prepares a place for us, as a permanent and perfect Home, for that day appointed for our Earth-leaving, which is the day of our true Home-going/Home-coming.  And yet, we are already Home, now, if we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, because God Himself is our permanent home.  What a wonderful privilege it is to be created by Him, redeemed by Him, and to belong to Him (and to His loved ones) now and forever.

It’s okay to be homesick,  —  and to appreciate the migratory swallows that go “home” each year,  — but our true home awaits us, in Christ, and there are many mansions there (John 14:2-3).  Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.  ><> JJSJ

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Orni-Theology

Hirundinidae – Swallows, Martins

Birds of the Bible – Swallows

Gospel Message

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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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