Tickle Me Tuesday – Nesting Falcon

Barred Forest Falcon (Micrastur ruficollis) ©WikiC

Barred Forest Falcon (Micrastur ruficollis) ©WikiC

That path no bird knows, Nor has the falcon’s eye seen it. (Job 28:7 NKJV)

My brother-in-law sent me this photo recently. Had seen it before, but thought I would share it for a “tickle”.

For those of you who may not be familiar with our automobiles, the Falcon was quite popular, in its time.

Nesting Falcon

 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the LORD. (Psalms 96:12 NKJV)

Other Tickle Me Tuesday’s

Finches at Feeder This Morning

Goldfinches at Feeder

Goldfinches at Feeder

The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22 KJV)

What a great surprise and blessing when I looked out the kitchen window this morning. Spotted an American Goldfinch at my feeder. Haven’t seen any in months. So it was neat to watch them. They kept coming and before long there were at least six. Went to get the camera when the first one showed up and recorded them as they kept coming in.

These photos are through the screen, so forgive the quality, but just wanted to share them with you. I have been battling another round of bronchitis, third one this winter, hence not many birdwatching adventures to report lately. They almost put me in hospital yesterday with possible pneumonia, because of a low oxygen reading. Because of this, I have not been to many of your sites lately to stop by. Your prayers are again appreciated and always welcome.

Goldfinches at Feeder - avoiding the crowd

Goldfinches at Feeder – avoiding the crowd

Wordless Birds


Tickle Me Tuesday – Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owl from Dusky's Wonders

Burrowing Owl from Dusky’s Wonders


One was posted several years back, but it is worth seeing again and getting a “tickle.”

The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous; (Psalms 146:8 NASB)

The burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) is another of the Lord’s creation, It is a small, long-legged owl found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. Burrowing owls can be found in grasslands, rangelands, agricultural areas, deserts, or any other open dry area with low vegetation. They nest and roost in burrows, such as those excavated by prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.). Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are often active during the day, although they tend to avoid the midday heat. But like many other kinds of owls, burrowing owls do most of their hunting from dusk until dawn, when they can use their night vision and hearing to their advantage

Burrowing owls have bright eyes; their beaks can be dark yellow or gray depending on the subspecies. They lack ear tufts and have a flattened facial disc. The owls have prominent white eyebrows and a white “chin” patch which they expand and display during certain behaviors, such as a bobbing of the head when agitated.

Adults have brown heads and wings with white spotting. The chest and abdomen are white with variable brown spotting or barring, also depending on the subspecies. Juvenile owls are similar in appearance, but they lack most of the white spotting above and brown barring below. The juveniles have a buff bar across the upper wing and their breast may be buff-colored rather than white. Burrowing owls of all ages have grayish legs longer than other owls.


If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up. (Psalms 94:18 NKJV)

Duck slipping on Ice from the Telegraph

Duck slipping on Ice from the Telegraph

Kind of goes with the Tickle Me Tuesday – Birds and Ice


Tickle Me Tuesday –





Pacific Golden Plover’s Teamwork

Pacific Golden Plover

Pacific Golden Plover

James J. S. Johnson

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost [psêphizei tôn dapanên], whether he have sufficient to finish it?  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish’.”  (Luke 14:28-30)

Imagine how inconvenient it would be for a bird to emigrate from Alaska, to Hawaii, only to run out of fuel en route, fall out of the sky from exhaustion, only to drown in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere north of Hawaii.  What a shame that would be!  And yet the Golden Plover’s pre-winter migratory mission, each year, would seem doomed from the start for that very reason – yet the little sandpiper-like migrant survives the journey on less fuel than seems possible.  How do they do it?

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) by Ian

“The average weight of the golden plover before it leaves Alaska to fly to Hawaii is 200 grams.  It is a small bird about the size of a pigeon.  It is also a bird that does not swim!  Researchers have concluded that 70 grams of its 200 grams is burnable energy. The rate at which the bird burns fuel when flying is about one gram per hour.  This means right at 70 hours of flight is possible. Now we have a potentially disastrous situation.  The flight to Hawaii takes 88 hours of  continuous, non-stop flight!  The little bird must fly for 3 days and 4 nights without food or rest or stopping at all. Impossible! How does it do this?  The birds fly in a formation that breaks the wind, taking [~1/4] less energy to fly.  New leaders are constantly rotating in and out. Formation flight saves energy and when the birds arrive in Hawaii, they have as much as 6 grams of fuel left over.  God must have built the reserve fuel supply into the plover in case of a strong head wind along the way.   Scientists are not certain how the plovers navigate from Alaska to Hawaii and back, since there is no land under their flight path.   Utilization of earth’s magnetic field seems to be the best solution at this point.  Some have suggested that they use the sun and stars.  And how do the young birds find their way to Hawaii without an experienced adult guide, weeks after their parents have already flown back to Hawaii?  A one degree mistake in navigation over the more than 4,000 kilometer flight and the birds miss Hawaii completely!  But they never miss!”

[Quoting Dr. Jobe Martin, The Evolution of a Creationist, rev. ed. (Rockwall, TX: Biblical Discipleship Publishers, 2004), page 203, emphasis added.]

Pacific Golden Plover Map

That’s amazing!  Due to their instinctive behavior to “take turns” as “point man”, the migrating plovers use only ¾ of the food energy they would need to use if flying solo.  Birds display God’s providential programming in their anatomies and physiologies!  Why is that?  Because God carefully planned them before He created their original ancestors on Day 5 of Creation Week (Genesis 1:21).  God planned their genetics, their bio-diversity potentials and limits, their developmental biologies, and all of the bio-engineering needed to accomplish all the contingent details, —  and God has been actively participating in and regulating their lives and world ever since.

As humans we often need to plan out projects before we undertake them; we need to “count the cost” before embarking on an expensive and risky undertaking.  Yet God has already done this for the Pacific Golden Plover, to ensure its successful migrations twice a year.   And notice how God designed teamwork to be part of His plan – and that teamwork involves bearing one another’s burdens.

Bear  ye  one  another’s  burdens,  and  so fulfil  the  law  of  Christ.        (Galatians 6:2)

Collaborating with teammates is usually a good idea, — so long as your colleagues are aimed at the same goal as you (see Amos 3:3.)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson has served as a lecturer (on ecology, geography, and history of Alaska) aboard 4 cruise ships visiting Alaska and the Inside Passage (Norwegian Wind, Norwegian Sky, Radiance of the Seas, and Rhapsody of the Seas).  During those trips he tried valiantly to (and did) eat lots of finfish, such as Pacific salmon and halibut, and shellfish, such as Dungeness crabs – but no Golden Plover.


I asked Dr. Jim to post this article because of the devotional emphasis he used. We have used the Plover before, see Incredible Pacific Golden Plover, which is all about the science and creation aspect of this remarkable Plover. Just wanted to review for you an amazing bird our Creator has created for us to learn about and from.


Incredible Pacific Golden Plover

Charadriidae – Plovers

Wordless Birds



This just happened accorrding to Evolutionist   Wood Duck by Dan

This just happened according to evolution.
Wood Duck by Dan

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7

How smart are Americans when it comes to science? That’s what the National Science Foundation attempts to find out every two years. The results of their 2014 survey – which included more than 2,200 adults – gave Americans a rather poor grade. But are Americans really less knowledgeable about science or is the NSF’s survey biased against the many Bible-believing Christians in America?  Let’s take a look.

National Science Foundation building in Arlington, VA.While the survey included such questions as “Does the Earth go around the Sun or does the Sun go around the Earth?”, the survey also included questions like: “True or false: the universe began with a huge explosion.” And true or false: “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.” For people who believe what the Bible has to say, their answers were scored as “wrong” by the NSF survey.

Interestingly, more than 60 percent of Americans gave the so-called “wrong” answers to these questions. They simply do not accept the Big Bang theory despite what they were taught in school. And more than 50 percent of Americans disagreed with the NSF when it comes to evolution. According to the Atlantic Online, “This seems to indicate that many Americans are familiar with the theories of evolution and the Big Bang; they simply don’t believe they’re true.”

What the unbelieving world views as right is often wrong in light of what God tells us in the Bible. For Christians, the Bible is the ultimate authority – not what we’re told by Bible-denying evolutionists.

Heavenly Father, I pray that You will strengthen me whenever I am pressured by the world to choose wrong over right. Make me be willing to be thought a fool in the world’s eyes. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/02/what-americans-dont-know-about-science/283864/. “What Americans Don’t Know About Science”. Atlantic online. 2/15/14 Photo: National Science Foundation building in Arlington, VA.

©Creation Moments 2015


Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus) by Marc at Africaddict

There is a Creator! Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus) by Marc at Africaddict

Good News


Tickle Me Tuesday – Manakins

Red-capped Manakin (Dixiphia mentalis) ©Flickr Columbiabirding

Red-capped Manakin (Dixiphia mentalis) ©Flickr Columbiabirding

And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (Genesis 1:22-23 NKJV)

In Sunday Inspiration – Give Thanks, the Manakins were highlighted. Here is one in action:

They are only doing what God commanded them to do; multiply. Oh my, what they go through to attact their mate. It can tickle you.


Sunday Inspiration – Give Thanks

Pipridae – Manakins Family

Wordless Birds

The Chicken From Hell – (Re-post)


“All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” 1 Corinthians 15:39

Evolutionists tell us a 66-million-year-old feathered dinosaur resembling a giant demonic bird was discovered in the fossil-rich Hell Creek formation of South and North Dakota. Not surprisingly, this newly discovered dinosaur species was dubbed the “chicken from hell”.

Chicken From Hell - Illustration: Anzu wyeliei

Chicken From Hell – Illustration: Anzu wyeliei


It was “as close as you can get to a bird without being a bird,” said vertebrate paleontologist Matt Lamanna. In addition to its long limbs, the research team found that the 11-foot-long, 500-pound dinosaur sported a stubby tail, likely framed by a fan of tail feathers.”What’s this? A tail likely framed by a fan of tail feathers? Not even National Geographic could stop themselves from telling the truth when they admitted: “Though the team didn’t find direct evidence of feathers, the species was so closely related to birds that it was very likely covered in feathers that looked identical to those of modern birds.”

The illustration accompanying the article shows the dinosaur’s forelimbs and tail covered with large feathers. Indeed, National Geographic and others have been doing this for years as they attempt to show that modern-day birds are the evolutionary descendents of dinosaurs. No real evidence required!

The Bible, on the other hand, is supported by a large amount of evidence, including archaeological discoveries, the fulfillment of Bible prophecies and much more. Christians also have the internal witness of the Holy Spirit that convinces us that God’s Word is true and that His Son is the Truth who alone provides salvation from sin.

Father, I thank You that Your Word doesn’t need to be supported by the imaginative speculations of fallible men. I know that the Bible is true from the first word to the last! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140319-dinosaurs-feathers-animals-science-new-species/#close-modal3/19/14. National Geographic Daily News, 3/19/14. Illustration: Anzu wyeliei. Courtesy of Mark Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History.<

©Creation Moments 2015


O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: (1 Timothy 6:20 KJV)

Evolutionists just refuse to even consider creation, so they make up more concoctions of feather-brained ideas.


Sunday Inspiration – There Is A Redeemer

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: (Job 19:25 KJV)

Last week’s Sunday Inspiration – Give Thanks introduced many of you to the Cotinga Family and the Manakin Family. Now you can check out some more of the Lord’s created avian wonders that are in the Tityridae – Tityras, Becards (45), Menuridae – Lyrebirds (2), and Atrichornithidae – Scrubbirds (2).

Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata) ©WikiC

Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata) ©WikiC

Tityridae is a family of suboscine passerine birds found in forest and woodland in the Neotropics. The approximately 45 species in this family were formerly spread over the families Tyrannidae, Pipridae and Cotingidae (see Taxonomy). As yet, no widely accepted common name exists for the family, although tityras and allies and tityras, mourners and allies have been used. They are small to medium-sized birds. Under current classification, the family ranges in size from the buff-throated purpletuft, at 9.5 cm (3.75 in) and 10 grams (0.35 oz), to the masked tityra, at up to 22 cm (8.7 in) and 88 grams (3.1 oz). Most have relatively short tails and large heads.

Superb Lyrebird #2

Superb Lyrebird by Ian

A Lyrebird is either of two species of ground-dwelling Australian birds, that form the family Menuridae. They are most notable for their superb ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their environment. As well as their extraordinary mimicking ability, lyrebirds are notable because of the striking beauty of the male bird’s huge tail when it is fanned out in display; and also because of their courtship display. Lyrebirds have unique plumes of neutral-coloured tailfeathers and are among Australia’s best-known native birds.

The lyrebirds are large passerine birds, amongst the largest in the order. They are ground living birds with strong legs and feet and short rounded wings. They are generally poor fliers and rarely take to the air except for periods of downhill gliding. The superb lyrebird is the larger of the two species. Females are 74–84 cm long, and the males are a larger 80–98 cm long—making them the third-largest passerine bird after the thick-billed raven and the common raven. Albert’s lyrebird is slightly smaller at a maximum of 90 cm (male) and 84 cm (female) (around 30–35 inches) They have smaller, less spectacular lyrate feathers than the superb lyrebird, but are otherwise similar.

Rufous Scrubbird (Atrichornis rufescens) ©Kleran Palmer Flickr

Rufous Scrubbird (Atrichornis rufescens) ©Kleran Palmer Flickr

Scrubbirds are shy, secretive, ground-dwelling birds of the family Atrichornithidae. There are just two species. The rufous scrubbird is rare and very restricted in its range, and the noisy scrubbird is so rare that until 1961 it was thought to be extinct. Both are native to Australia. The scrubbird family is ancient and is understood to be most closely related to the lyrebirds, and probably also the bowerbirds and treecreepers.

Birds of both species are about the same size as a common starling and cryptically coloured in drab browns and blacks. They occupy dense undergrowth and are adept at scuttling mouse-like under cover to avoid notice. They run fast, but their flight is feeble.
The males’ calls, however, are powerful: ringing and metallic, with a ventriloquial quality, so loud as to be heard from a long distance in heavy scrub and almost painful at close range. Females build a domed nest close to the ground and take sole responsibility for raising the young.

Also recently, this site was updated to the I.O.C. Version 5.1.

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Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalms 19:14 KJV)

Watch and listen to a piano solo, “There is a Redeemer,” played by Nell Reese (I think) at Faith Baptist Church last Sunday.

And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. (Psalms 78:35 KJV)



Woodpecker With A Weasel On It’s Back

Green Woodpecker with Weasel On It's Back ©Martin Le-May

Green Woodpecker with Weasel On It’s Back ©Martin Le-May

You have to see this:

Amateur photographer Martin Le-May, from Essex, has recorded the extraordinary image of a weasel riding on the back of a green woodpecker as it flies through the air.



Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” (Luke 19:2-5 NKJV)

Maybe the Weasel, like Zacchaeus, thought Jesus was going to come by and he wanted to get a better look.
Picadae – Woodpeckers

Wordless Birds


Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida III


Pond-side Birdwatching-Webel Backyard

Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida,

from Chaplain Bob’s Backyard: Part 3

 by James J. S. Johnson

Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me. (Isaiah 38:14)

But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity. (Ezekiel 7:16)

O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole’s mouth.  (Jeremiah 48:28)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) by Daves BirdingPix

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) by Daves BirdingPix

Doves (a kind of birds that include pigeons) are among the most commonly observed birds in the world.  Doves display great variety (mourning dove, turtle dove, zebra dove, Inca dove, white-winged dove, etc.), the most popular variety being the pigeon (whose more formal name is “rock dove”).   Doves illustrate 2 different nesting habits (both being mentioned in Deuteronomy 22:6-7):  some nest in trees or other high places; others nest on the ground. Pigeons are often seen, due to their conspicuous habit of domesticating urban habitats (such as city buildings and bridges), nesting in high places (as indicated by , feeding, and flying in plain view of human spectators – often learning to accept food from humans, or to scavenge human garbage.  However, other doves (such as mourning doves) nest on the ground, a more vulnerable lifestyle.  Doves that nest on the ground, however, tend to be more reclusive (hiding in bushes and other thick vegetation), so they are more often heard than seen.  For example, in this birding report, brief mention will be made of a cooing mourning dove – that was heard, but not seen.

As reported previously, at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures, it was a wonderful morning in St. Petersburg, where 3 of us  (my dear friends in Christ, Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel, and I)  were watching the duck-populated pond and its bird-visited shores, with coffee and feet propped up, in the Webels’ backyard —  under a huge beach umbrella, shielded from occasional droppings (!) from ibises and ospreys (who were perched in branches hanging over where we were) sitting with binoculars, coffee mugs, healthy breakfast foods, and a bird-book.  Mostly we were bird-watching, that morning, but also we were bird-listening!

Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck

MUSCOVY   (a/k/a “MUSCOVY DUCK” or “BARBARY DUCK”:  Cairina moschata).

RTP @ 52-53 & 302-303

The Muscovy Duck is a strange looking fowl.  (And its name refers to “musk”, so it must have a characteristic smell, too!)  It is a duck, yet it is large – the size of a goose.  Yet even stranger are the colorful growths of red flesh upon its face:  the Muscovy looks like someone spilled some red bumpy-lumpy oatmeal on the sides of its bill, and on some of them the “red oatmeal” stuck to the face even around the eyes.  This fleshy growth is wattle-like “caruncle”, something like what turkey faces display.  Some people dislike the Muscovy Duck simply because its knobby (i.e., carunculated) face looks grotesque or diseased or “corrupted”!  But Mallards don’t seem to disdain these beauty contest flunkies; often a Muscovy (or two) is seen amidst a group of Mallards, and it seems that maybe they sometimes hybridize.  The coloring of a Muscovy Duck might be mostly white, or mostly black (with iridescent green tinting), or a quilt-patched mixture of black and white, with large white “patches” or “bars” on the wings.   (See Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to the Birds Eastern Birds:  A Completely New Guide to All the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, abbreviated as “Eastern Birds” [Peterson Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin, 1980], at pages 52-53 & 302-303.)   The Muscovy’s awkward gait, when waddling about, sometimes looks a clumsy-looking, but these strange ducks are hearty survivors.  Regardless of where they came from (some say Latin America), these ducks are here to stay.   A domesticated form of the Muscovy is bred as the Pato Criollo (i.e., Creole Duck), though it seems that many of these have figured out how to escape their intended culinary destinies, becoming semi-wild as escapees. Muscovy Ducks have been observed and studied for centuries.  The Muscovy Duck was noted by two of the earliest (and most godly) eco-science geniuses, Konrad Gessner and John Ray, both being Bible-believing creationists.  To appreciate just an introductory sample of their trail-blazing creation research, analysis, and scholarship, see:  http://www.icr.org/article/christianity-cause-modern-science/  (mentioning John Ray),   http://www.icr.org/article/graffiti-judgment/  (mentioning, in Footnote #3, both Konrad Gessner and John Ray),  and  http://www.icr.org/article/fossil-political-correctness-sixteenth-century (mentioning Konrad Gessner as a Bible-believing Christian ecologist).

Feeding White Ibises at Lake Morton

Feeding White Ibises at Lake Morton

WHITE  IBIS   (Eudocimus albus).

The White Ibis is a white-plumed wading bird, with a reddish/orange-scarlet/pinkish/salmon-colored “decurved” (i.e., downward-curved) bill — shown here (with Dan Dusing, Baron Brown, and me  —  in a lakeshore photograph taken by ornithologist Lee Dusing) being fed bread crumbs.  The White Ibis is a gregarious bird, nesting in colonies and often seen foraging as a group.  Its homes are found in coastal mudflats, lakes and lakeshores, ponds and pondshores, and marshy areas.  (Obviously this group of ibises have been fed bread crumbs before – they are quite ready for a tasty snack!)  During the breeding season the White Ibis also has skinny pink legs (about the same color as its prominent bill, but at non-breeding times these legs are duller in color),  —  and this bird knows how to scurry about on those legs! The decurved bill, of course, is an excellent tool for probing around in shoreline mud or sand, for little things to eat, such as small crustaceans (like mudcrabs), frogs, or bugs.  (Obviously God gets the credit, for designing the ibis bill to accomplish what it does for the ibis, as well as for supplying ibis populations with the food sources they need to carry on the business of life.)  If the White Ibis bill snaps your fingers, as you feed him (or her) a bread-crumb, don’t worry!  –  the ibis’s bill is so light and gentle that its peck doesn’t hurt at all.  The White Ibis is found all over Florida, year-round, as well as on the Gulf Coast and America’s East Coast as far north as North Carolina.   (See Peterson’s Eastern Birds” [noted above, in entry for Muscovy Duck], at page M105.)  Why do fishermen especially appreciate the White Ibis?   The ibises eat a lot of shoreline crustaceans (like crabs and crayfish), which in turn eat fish eggs.  So if the crustacean populations grow too much, eating lots of fish eggs, the fish populations decline – bad news for fishermen.  Without consciously realizing it, therefore, the White Ibis is protecting the reproductive success of coastal fish populations — on which human fishermen (and their customers) rely.   (See the National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to North American Birds – Eastern Region [Alfred A, Knopf, 1994 revised edition], co-authored by John Bull & John Farrand, Jr., at page 376.)

Great Egret at Gatorland by Dan

GREAT  WHITE  EGRET   (Ardea alba  or  Casmerodius albus).

The Great White Egret (a/k/a “Great Egret”) is a large long-legged heron-like wading bird, white in plumage, with a yellow bill and black legs.  (See Bull & Farrand’s Eastern Region [noted above, in entry for White Ibis], at page 368.)  This truly “great” egret is often seen standing, like a statute, on the shoreline of a pond, waiting for movement that would betray the availability, in the shallow water or the shoreline weeds, of a quick meal  –  perhaps a fish, a frog, or even a snake.   Donald and Lillian Stokes describe its eating habits as follows:  “Primarily feeds by walking slowly, head erect, then striking prey.  Forages in shallow water for small fish and amphibians [like frogs], but also on land for insects, reptiles [like snakes], and small mammals.  May feed solitarily and defend feeding areas by displaying aggressively and supplanting intruders.  Also feeds in large groups when food is concentrated.  Has been known to steal fish from other birds.” (Quoting Donald W. Stokes & Lillian Q. Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region [Little, Brown & Co., 1996], page 34.)  During summer this egret also frequents marshy grasslands, tidal mudflats, salt marsh beaches, and other wet habitats – all over America’s lower 48 states.  During winter this fair-weather fowl routinely migrates to America’s East (northward to Delaware), Gulf Coast, and West Coast.  It makes guttural-hoarse croaking noises, as well as loud squawking noises, but it is usually seen before it is heard – due to its large size and strikingly white color.  Its flight is majestic and gracious  —  a marvel to watch, with or without binoculars.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) by J Fenton

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) by J Fenton

COMMON  TERN   (Sterna hirundo).

The Common Tern is one of the many coastline-dwelling birds that get lumped into the term “seagull”.  The Common Tern has been described as “White with black cap and pale gray back and wings.  Bill red with black tip; tail deeply forked.  Similar to Forster’s Tern, but lacks frosty wing tip.  Also similar to Arctic and Roseate Terns.”  (Quoting Bull & Farrand’s Eastern Region [noted above, in entry for White Ibis], at page 519.)  This seagull likes to nest in colonies, often on sandy beaches or on small islands, near lakes, bays, or ocean tidewaters.  Unsurprisingly, the males are the more aggressive sex, although a male intruder may be rebuffed by a male-and-female pair  —  so don’t mess with a Common Tern couple!  (See “Common Tern”, by Donald W. Stokes & Lillian Q. Stokes, in Bird Behavior, Volume III [Little, Brown & Co., 1989], page 71.)

Mourning Dove by Reinier Munguia

Mourning Dove by Reinier Munguia

MOURNING  DOVE   (heard cooing  —   Zenaida macroura).

Many books could be written about the Mourning Dove, and about its many cousins – such as the “pigeon” (Rock Dove) – that inhabit so many rural, suburban, and urban places around the world (as noted above, at the beginning of this birding report).  But a better description and appreciation for this bird must wait another day, because this report is already too long!  So, for now, this report closes with a passing mention that “mourning” was heard that morning – the plaintive cooing of the (well-named) Mourning Dove.  But no need for sadness  –  because it will soon be (God willing) another day for pondside birdwatching in Florida!

On the morning of February 9th, AD2015, from the pond-side backyard of Bob & Marcia Webel (while enjoying breakfast and Christian fellowship with the Webels), I saw 14 birds:  Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican, Mallard, Double-Crested Cormorant, Black Vulture, Wood Stork, Lesser Scaup, Osprey, Snowy Egret, and Florida Gallinule,  as reported previously,  —  and, as reported hereinabove, Muscovy Duck, Great Egret, White Ibis, and Common Tern, plus the cooing of a nearby Mourning Dove was clearly recognizable.  What a morning!

James J. S. Johnson loves duck ponds, having formerly taught Environmental Limnology and Water Quality Monitoring for Dallas Christian College, as well as other courses on ecology and ornithology.  Limnology terms are not universal:  what some call a “pond” others call a “lake”.  [NOTE:  Some use the temperature of the bottom water as the lentic nomenclature determinant:  if the bottom water is the same temperature, year-round (i.e., regardless of whether it is winter or summer), it’s deep enough to be a “lake” – otherwise limnologists call it a “pond”.]   Regardless of this semantic custom, the “pond” viewed in the foregoing bird-watching report is called “Lake Coronado” in Florida’s Pinellas County.  J

Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida I

Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida II

Other Articles by James J. S. Johnson


Tickle Me Tuesday – Birds and Ice

Geese on Ice ©Pixabay

Geese on Ice ©Pixabay

He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? (Psalms 147:17KJV)”From the breath of God ice is made, And the expanse of the waters is frozen. (Job 37:10 NASB)

Still laughing as I am typing this blog. Remembered a video several years back of birds landing on ice. I found it and two more. Trust you enjoy them and get a good chuckle for the day.

Landing on Ice

Penguin slips and falls – makes a funny sound

Penguins on an iceberg (funny)


On a more serious note, I found this article about how birds can die from the ice. It can trap them or cause them to not be able to take off.

Not Spring-like Yet – Ducks and the Ice, Oh My!


More Tickle Me Tuesdays:

Tickle Me Tuesday – For the Birds

Tickle Me Tuesday – Bird of Paradise

Tickle Me Tuesday – Top Funny Bird Video

Tickle Me Tuesday,” Challenge by Sandra Connor

Wordless Birds




Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida II

Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida,

from Chaplain Bob’s Backyard: Part 2

 by James J. S. Johnson

Moscovy Duck

Muscovy ducklings in the rain   (photo credit: J Pat Carter / AP)

For He [i.e., God] maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapor thereof, which the clouds do drop and distil [literally, pour down and drop down] upon man abundantly.  (Job 36:27-28)

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:10-11)

[photo above: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02298/ducklings_2298053k.jpg ]

A pond is not a pond unless it has standing [“lentic”] water, — yet a pond will eventually dry up (and thus cease to be a “pond”) if cloud-dumped rains fail to refill its standing waters!  (The same is true of running [“lotic”] waters – see 1st Kings 17:7.)  Why?  Because rain-provided water is always escaping ponds by evaporation.  (That’s why swimming pool owners must continually add more water to their pools.)

Accordingly, every pond needs rain (or snow that melts into rain-like liquid water), sooner or later, to be a pond!  Obviously, steady rainfall impedes birdwatching, so ideal birdwatching is done when it is not raining.  Even so, all bird-watchers should appreciate the rains that God sends, from time to time!  In fact, rain is a major part of God’s program for how our world and its diverse lifeforms function:  birds need rain, other animals need rain, people need rain, plants need rain, even microörganisms needs rain, — and all of that water is continually recycled throughout the earth!  In fact, Earth itself is mostly water!

As the prophet Isaiah noted [above]—and as every Gideon knows — God’s providentially sustained hydrologic cycle is comparable to how, all over the world, God carefully manages and orchestrates the specific influence and productivity of His written Word.  For more Scriptures relevant to Earth’s water cycle, see also Deuteronomy 8:7 & 32:2; Job 26:8; Ecclesiastes 1:7 & 11:3; Amos 5:8 & 9:6; Psalm 19:1-2 (noting that solar heat affects the sky) & 65:9-10 & 72:6 & 104:10-18 & 135:7; Isaiah 30:23; Jeremiah 10:13 & 14:22 & 51:16; Zechariah 10:1; — and especially Luke 12:54.

This birding report follows “Part 1” of this mini-series.   As noted in Part 1, I happily observed the busy birds at the pond that borders the backyard of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel (of St. Petersburg, Florida) on the morning of February 9th (AD2015), a Monday, when we saw 14 birds and heard (but did not see) a mourning dove.  As noted before, those birds were busy  —  quacking, splashing, swimming, perching on shoreline tree branches, dabbling, diving, and with several of them sporadically flying here and there.

Already, 5 of those lacustrine birds were described in Part 1 (Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican, Mallard, Double-Crested Cormorant, and Black Vulture).  This Part 2 will feature 5 more:  Wood Stork, Lesser Scaup, Osprey, Snowy Egret, and Common Moorhen.  (Hopefully, the remaining 5 birds will be mentioned in an anticipated “Part 3” of this series.)

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) By Dan'sPix

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) By Dan’sPix

WOOD STORK   (Mycteria americana).

The Wood Stork (in some places nicknamed “Flinthead”, and f/k/a “wood ibis”) is a huge, long-legged wading bird, built somewhat like a large egret, heron, ibis, or spoonbill.  This bird is tall!  — with adults growing from 3 to almost 4 feet high!  The Wood Stork sports a long, flexible, blackish-grey, featherless neck.  Its ibis-like head is likewise featherless and not likely to be called beautiful (except by its mother).  Its powerful and prodigious bill is stout and slightly curved, well-fitted for probing in mud or muddy water, and for gobbling up fish, frogs, snakes, bugs, and worms located in wetland mud.  Storks sometimes eat small birds, small mammals, and even baby alligators!  The feathers of the Wood Stork are mostly white, except for the tail-feathers and black edge of its wings, which trail behind when the stork is flying.  Its feet are noticeably reddish in color.

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) sitting by Dan

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) sitting by Dan

The Wood Stork is typically mute (i.e., no vocal calls), communicating in other ways, such as by “bill-clattering”.  Being very large – and therefore heavy — birds, Wood Storks try to conserve their food-provided energy when flying.  Like other heavy birds (e.g., eagles, vultures, hawks), storks locate and “ride” thermal air currents, soaring and gliding when they can.  A true wetland bird, the Wood Stork is comfortable in a variety of wet habitats (such as ponds, marshy pastures, and swampy woodlands).  Storks construct huge nests for their families, typically as part of a stork colony (which may include literally thousands of stork pairs), often adding size to them year after year – some being built to about 6 feet in diameter and about 10 feet in depth!  Usually storks are monogamous (i.e., a male and female stay paired till one dies) although, for reasons not understood, sometimes pairs can get separated during a migration.  The dependability of the stork, in its migratory movements, is reflected in its Hebrew name (chasidah) which means “faithful” — see Jeremiah 8:7, explained in “A Lesson from the Stork” (posted at  http://www.icr.org/article/lesson-from-stork ).  Although they often migrate – spending summer in the southeastern states, these storks are known to reside in Florida (and parts of Georgia) year-round.  (See range map in Donald W. Stokes & Lillian Q. Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region [Little, Brown & Co., 1996], page 47, — as well as National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to North American Birds – Eastern Region [Alfred A, Knopf, 1994 revised edition], co-authored by John Bull & John Farrand, Jr., at page 379-380.)

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) by Ray

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) by Ray

LESSER  SCAUP   (a/k/a “LITTLE BLUEBILL”:  Aythya affinis).

The Lesser Scaup looks a lot like the Greater Scaup, but there are two ways to distinguish these look-almost-alike ducks:  (1) different shapes of their respective heads and bills; and (2) different winter ranges of territory where they live.  Donald and Lillian Stokes note the following traits:  “Head and bill shapes are most useful characteristics distinguishing [the Lesser Scaup] from the Greater Scaup … [on the] Lesser Scaup the head comes to a peak at the top or near the back [of the head]; [the Lesser Scaup] bill is slightly shorter and narrower [than that of the Greater Scaup].”  (Quoting Stokes & Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], page 75.)  Regarding the respective ranges of scaups, the typical winter range territories of the Lesser Scaup includes the East Coast, Gulf Coast, West Coast, and non-mountainous regions of states (including most of Texas) that include the greater Mississippi River Valley’s tributary drainage basin.

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) by Ray

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) by Ray

The Greater Scaup, however, has a winter range that usually includes only the northern portions of the West Coast and East Coast, plus regions near the Great Lakes.  (Compare the sparser ranges indicated in Stokes & Stokes, Eastern Region, at page 75, with the range maps in Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to the Birds Eastern Birds:  A Completely New Guide to All the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, abbreviated as “Eastern Birds” [Peterson Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin, 1980], at maps M43 & M444, with field notes at pages 58 & 72.)   In other words, if it’s a scaup on a Florida pond, it’s probably a Lesser Scaup!  The male of this duck has an easy-to recognize color pattern:  its bill is pale blue, its head, breast, and tail are dark-blackish; its flanks are white, and its back is mottled grey. In bright sunlight the male’s head has a purplish iridescence.   The female is mostly dark grey-brownish and black, with a noticeable white patch-like spots on both sides of her dark bill. (As with ducks generally, the easiest way to spot a female Lesser Scaup is to watch for a dark duck that pairs with a male Lesser Scaup!)   These ducks are divers – they dive into pond-water to catch and consume submergent plant seeds, insects, snails, and small crustaceans.  These duck are seen on ponds, lakes, rivers, and marshlands (including “prairie potholes” and estuarial saltmarshes).  Lesser Scaups, like ducks generally, are social creatures – sometimes they aggregate in hundreds or even thousands!  In many places, due to the availability of needed resources – which may be indicted by the size of a lake or pond, less than a hundred (maybe only a dozen) will group together.   Bird-books sometimes allege irresponsible and irrational opinions about how scaups supposedly “evolved” (e.g., Bull & Farrand, Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], at page 403), without any forensic evidence for such science fiction. The real truth is that all Lesser Scaups (like all other ducks) ultimately descend from ducks that disembarked Noah’s Ark, about 4500 years ago, which Flood survivors were themselves s directly descended form ducks that God made on Day #5 of Creation Week (see Genesis 1:21).

Osprey at Circle B by Lee

Osprey at Circle B by Lee

OSPREY    (a/k/a “FISH HAWK”:  Pandion haiaetus).

The Osprey is rightly nicknamed the “fish hawk” – they love to catch and eat fish! And, to the delight of bird-watchers, ospreys are not afraid to display their fish-eating lifestyle to nearby humans. Donald and Lillian Stokes make this interesting observation about osprey behavior:  “Among our birds of prey the osprey is one of the most amenable to living near humans.  Its main requirements are open water [such as a Florida pond!] where it can hunt for fish and a platform or strong tree where it can build its nest.  Ospreys have occasionally built nests [or use habitual perching sites] right next to homes [such as a large tree in the Webels’ backyard, bordering the pond], in parking lots, and in public parks.  Although they do not prefer being near humans [especially busy humans who move around a lot, causing distraction], they do seem to tolerate human presence, an ability that is a big asset for the survival of any species.” (Quoting “Osprey”, by Donald W. Stokes & Lillian Q. Stokes, in Bird Behavior, Volume III (Little, Brown & Co., 1989), page 159.]  The Osprey has a range that includes river systems in America’s Great West (e.g., Wyoming’s Snake River), a well as coastlines on the West Coast, Gulf Coast, and East Coast.  (See Stokes & Stokes, Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], at page 94.)  This “fish hawk” is relatively slender, for a hawk, but obviously stouter than a falcon.

Osprey Catching Fish - Viera Wetlands

Osprey Catching Fish – Viera Wetlands by Dan

The Osprey is long-winged, white underneath (except the outer feathers of its wings, and its tail, which are brown), with a mottled brown pattern above; its head is mostly white, with a dark side-streak that passes “through” each eye and on the side of the hawk’s face.  The talons of this fish-grabber are opened for prey, when the Osprey dives into water, tightly clutching any fish it succeeds in seizing after it splashes into the water.  Sometimes a dead Osprey is seen hanging onto a riverine fish.  How did that happen?  Occasionally a strong fish flees when attacked by an Osprey, diving deeper with the Osprey still attached, as the desperate fish tries to avoid its avian pursuer.  If the Osprey’s talons are embedded in the diving fish’s flesh, the fish may cause the Osprey to die by drowning, if the Osprey cannot shake loose its talons in time to escape.   (Fishing always has its hazards, as any fisherman knows!) If the Osprey is successful, it quickly re-surfaces and flies off with its fish, adjusting its hold on the fish so that the fish’s face is pointed forward – for safe eating.  Ospreys are sloppy eaters.  If Ospreys eat chunks of their catch while perched in tree branches that spread over where you are sitting, watch out!  Fish scraps may fall on your head – or something worse (!) might drop onto your head.  Therefore, a wide beach umbrella (like one that Bob and Marcia Webel have, and use in their backyard, while bird-watching) is a good “shield” to have when Ospreys are eating above you.

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) Notice Yellow Feet by Lee at Circle B

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) Notice Yellow Feet by Lee at Circle B

SNOWY  EGRET   (Egretta thula).

This beautiful white-feathered egret looks like a small version of the Great Egret (a/k/a Great White Egret), except it has its trademark “golden slippers” – i.e., its long skinny black legs end with feet that are conspicuously bright-yellow (unlike the black feet of a Great White Egret).  Also, the slender Snowy Egret has a thin black bill, in contrast to the thicker golden-yellow bill of the stouter  Great White Egret.   (See Roger Tory Peterson, Eastern Birds [noted above, in entry on the Lesser Scaup], pages 102-103 & map M93 & M444.)   Sometimes the Snowy Egret’s feathers, at the back of its head, “hang loose” (i.e., these feathers won’t lay down close to the bird’s head/neck), looking somewhat like a comb-over that won’t “sit down”).   Its feet stir up opportunities to find food:  “When feeding [it] rushes about, shuffling [its] feet to stir up food.”  (Quoting Peterson, Eastern Birds, at page 102.)

Snowy Egret Circle B 8-3-12 by Lee

Snowy Egret Circle B by Lee

Like other egrets, the Snowy Egret habituates the marshy edges of lakes and ponds, as well as other marshy areas, eating fish and almost anything else it can grab with its bill. The summer range of this elegant egret is broad – it can be found at and near many lakes, ponds, estuarial marshlands, and even wet pasturelands throughout America’s lower 48 states.  During winter it can be found all over Florida , as well as all along the Gulf Coast, along the East Coast as far north as North Carolina, plus parts of California (See Stokes & Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds –  Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], at page 35.)  notwithstanding taxonomic “splitting”, this is basically the same bird that Europeans call the “Little Egret” (Egretta garzetta), which winters in northern Africa.  (See, accord, Chris Kightley, Steve Madge, & Dave Nurney, Pocket Guide to Birds of Britain and North-West Europe [British Trust for Ornithology/Yale University Press, 1998], page 19.)

CommonMoorhen (Gallinula chloropus) by Reinier Munguia

CommonMoorhen (Gallinula chloropus) by Reinier Munguia



FLORIDA  GALLINULE   (a/k/a “COMMON MOORHEN” & “COMMON GALLINULE”:   Gallinula chloropus).

This gallinule (i.e., chicken-sized marsh-fowl) is almost all black, with a characteristic and conspicuous yellow-tipped scarlet-red bill.  (Actually the scarlet part of the bill can fade to a less vibrant reddish hue during winter.)  Due to the specific color pattern and shape of this gallinule’s bill, ornithologist Lee Dusing aptly calls this the “candy corn” bird.  (Some of us remember “candy corn” as a trick-or-treat candy.)  This waterfowl makes a variety of noises, including chicken-like clucking noises (befitting its nickname “moorhen”).  The Florida Gallinule is quite similar to the American Coot (which, though a similarly shaped black gallinule, is distinguishable by its all-white bill) and the Purple Gallinule (which is distinguishable due to its male’s iridescent peacock-blue, indigo, and slightly purplish breast and neck feathers, and its glossy green back feathers).  The long “fingers” (i.e., toes) on their feet enable this gallinule to spread out their modest body weight so that they can “walk” on lily pads and similar vegetation that floats in marshy lentic waters.  This gallinule (or “moorhen”) habituates lakes, ponds, and marshy wet places, often near cattails, summering in states east of and within the Mississippi River Valley, plus a few coastal place on the West Coast.  (See Stokes & Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], page 139; Bull & Farrand, Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], at page 459.)  Its diet includes marshy vegetation (especially seeds), snails, land bugs, and water bugs.  This rail-like bird is entertaining to watch, routinely bobs its head while swimming across a pond.  Like coots they confidently swim in open-water contexts where they are easily observable to appreciative bird-watchers (like me).

Wow!  That’s another 5 of the 15 birds that the Webels and I observed, that morning, from the Webels’ pond-side backyard.   Stay tuned!  God willing, the remaining 5 birds will be given their proper recognition, at this excellent bird-site!


On the morning of February 9th, AD2015, from the pond-side backyard of Bob & Marcia Webel (while enjoying breakfast and Christian fellowship with the Webels), I saw 14 birds:  Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican, Mallard, Double-Crested Cormorant, and Black Vulture  –  as reported previously – plus Wood Stork, Lesser Scaup, Osprey, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, Common Tern, and Florida Gallinule,   — as reported above  —  as well as Muscovy Duck, Great Egret, White Ibis, and Common Tern, plus the cooing of a nearby Mourning Dove was clearly recognizable.  It is hoped (God willing) that one more report will supplement this one, so the remaining 5 birds will be properly recognized for their lacustrine appearances on that Monday morning.

James J. S. Johnson loves duck ponds, having formerly taught Environmental Limnology and Water Quality Monitoring for Dallas Christian College, as well as other courses on ecology and ornithology.  The hydrologic cycle Scriptures (quoted at the beginning of this bird-watching report) are especially appreciated by Jim, as a Certified Water Quality Monitor, certified by and serving the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, providing reports on Furneaux Creek to the Trinity River Authority of Texas.  Like us all, birds need clean water!  Accordingly, backyard pond habitats are for bird-watching!


Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida I

Other Articles by James J. S. Johnson