Ian’s Bird of the Week ~ Pilotbird

Ian’s Bird of the Week ~ Pilotbird ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/31/15

The primary targets in East Gippsland were the Sooty and Masked Owls, but there were several daytime birds on the wanted list too. One of these was the Pilotbird, a smallish – 17cm/7in long – brown, ground-dwelling bird of the mountain ranges and dense coastal scrub of southeastern Australia from just south of Sydney almost to Melbourne. I’d seen one only once before, near Mittagong in New South Wales 16 years ago, but that encounter was only a glimpse and no photography was involved.

Pilotbird (Pycnoptilus floccosus) by Ian

It’s an unobtrusive bird and easy to overlook, unless you know its flutey, far-carrying call, sometimes rendered as ‘guinea-a-week’. My Victorian friends knew a good spot for it in coastal scrub and we found one there with relative ease, returning the following day (first photo) to get better photos. It rummages around in thick undergrowth looking for invertebrates. The second photo has a red dot showing the exactly location, beyond the sinuous brown branch, so you can appreciate that we are lucky to be able to see anything much of it in the photo. It has unusual buff dark-edged feathers on the breast, giving it a scaly appearance. The plumage is apparently dense and silky as reflected in its scientific name: Pycnoptilus means thick-feathered, and floccosus is derived from the Latin floccus and means ‘full of flocks of wool’, which, I must admit, left me not much the wiser.

Pilotbird (Pycnoptilus floccosus) by Ian

Pilotbird (Pycnoptilus floccosus) location by Ian

It’s common name Pilotbird arises from the bird frequently associating with Superb Lyrebirds, taking advantage of the digging habits of the latter (third photo) to snatch up revealed invertebrates. Some sources say the name Pilotbird comes from the similar habit of Pilotfish which associates with large marine predators such as sharks; other say that the Pilotbird by its call led early settlers looking for food to lyrebirds. I prefer the first explanation. Lyrebirds are very vocal in their own right and don’t need another species to advertise their presence. Lyrebirds are perhaps the world best mimics and are known to mimic Pilotbirds, and it would be easy to imagine that this attracted Pilotbirds in the first place and they then learned that this was an easy way to get dinner. We did in fact see several Superb Lyrebirds dashing across the roads of the forests where the owls lived, though the coastal scrub didn’t strike me as good lyrebird habitat.

Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae by Ian

This photo of the lyrebird digging vigorously reminded me both of Scrub-turkeys and Chowchillas (fourth photo) and I wondered whether the Pilotbird had a behavioural counterpart in the forests of Northeastern Queensland. The Pilotbird is usually placed in the Acanthizidae, the family of thornbills and their allies (though it shows some affinities with the bristlebirds Dasyornithidae), so I checked up on the Fernwren (fifth photo) another brown, rummaging Acanthizid endemic to the Wet Tropics.

Chowchilla (Orthonyx spaldingii  by Ian

Sure enough, HBW (Handbook of Birds of the World) reports that the Fernwren “sometimes associates with Orange-footed Scrubfowl (Megapodius reinwardt) and Chowchilla (Orthonyx spaldingii), following in close proximity and catching prey disturbed by their feeding actions”. The Orange-footed Scrubfowl is, of course, a cousin of the Brush-turkey.

Fernwren 9Oreoscopus gutturalis)  by Ian

So maybe this week’s bird of the week should be entitled ‘small brown rummaging birds of the forest floors of eastern Australia’.

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:

For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; (Psalms 31:3 ESV)

Teach me to do Your will; for You are my God; Your Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (Psalms 143:10 MKJV)

What great protection colorations these birds have received from their Creator. I am sure when the birds of prey are in the area, rummaging types of birds are very thankful for their less colorful outfits.

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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

Sunday Inspiration – Honeyeaters

Bridled Honeyeater (Lichenostomus frenatus) by Ian

Bridled Honeyeater (Lichenostomus frenatus) by Ian

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalms 119:103 KJV)

The Meliphagidae – Honeyeaters are another of our beautifully created birds in the Passerine Order to highlight. Thought about changing the sequence because of Palm Sunday, but did Palm Birds previously with Lisa Brock singing from an Easter Musical. The Words of Christ that tell of this week, and they are sweeter than honey to those of us who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.

The Lord did not have to stay on the cross, but because of His Love for us, he stayed there and paid the penalty for our sins. He offers us the gift of Salvation, but we have to admit and acknowledge our sinful condition, and accept that gift. Honey is a gift from the Lord for the Honeyeaters, and they could stand and look at it all day, but they need to partake of it to do them any good. Taste comes when they accept it.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:14-19 KJV)

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“Blood of Jesus Medley” ~ Faith Baptist Church Choir

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Meliphagidae – Honeyeaters
Sunday Inspiration
Beautiful Australian Birds 4 – Honeyeaters
Gospel Message

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Greater Sooty Owl

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

Newsletter ~ 3/19/15

Here is the belated and sought-after bird of the week after a great trip to Victoria. I’ve been unwell since my return a week ago, but things are fine now and the wheels of my life are turning again.

Your spiritual support and goodwill have done it again, so it’s another mission accomplished, though in English this time (having been Catalan and Spanish in the past). Actually, most credit should go to my sharp-eared, sharp-eyed, knowledgeable and passionate birding friends. With their hard work, the track record for target species in East Gippsland during our stay was fantastic. We went searching for owls on each of the three nights. The first night, we heard both Greater Sooty and Masked Owls – and the sharpest-eyed of the group saw a Masked Owl in flight. On the second night, at a different site we heard another Sooty Owl and eventually caught sight of it flying among the tall trees of the forest. It then flew over us and perched on a dead limb in the open high above us.

STI-Tyto Greater Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa) by Ian

I got only this photo, discarding a second out of focus one. For the technically minded, I used manual focussing – it was too distant and the light and contrast too faint for auto focus – and guessed an exposure of 1/80sec at f5.6 and 1600 ISO using the 100-400mm zoom. As the passionate/obsessive birder would understand, it was worth travelling to Victoria for this one photo and, having taken it, misión completa (I have liked it in Spanish since finding the Resplendent Quetzel in Costa Rica in 2010) I was free to relax and enjoy whatever other gems came our way. In fact, one such, this Yellow-bellied Glider. sailed over our heads and landed in a nearby tree while we were trying to locate the calling Sooty Owl.

Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis) by Ian

These are fantastic, long-tailed, wrist-winged relatives of possums (the Striped Possum of Northeastern Queensland is in the same family, the Petauridae) and the Yellow-bellied can glide up to 150m/400ft. It is rabbit-sized with a huge bushy tail that it presumably uses as a rudder in flight. They’re called wrist-winged, to distinguish them from elbow-winged like the Great Glider, and if you look carefully in the photo you can see the black edge of the membrane attaching to the little finger of the left hand. This proved to be diagnostic as we were unsure of both its identify and of whether the large possum-like animal on the tree was the same creature as the pale form that glided over us.

They are reasonably common in suitable old growth forest in eastern Australia, though the northern race regina has a very restricted range in northeastern Queensland and is threatened by logging. Quite coincidentally, I received a request yesterday to support a petition to prevent the transferring of Tumoulin Forest Reserve near Ravenshoe to State Forest so that logging can resume. The petition is aimed directly at protecting the Yellow-bellied Glider, and if you think, like I do, that downgrading the status of nature reserves is disgraceful, then we should support it: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/851/727/614/protect-rare-possum-habitat-from-senseless-logging/.

Later that evening, we returned to the Masked Owl site. We could hear one or two Masked Owls but they were wary, keeping their distance in the forest and moving away when spotlights were shone in their direction. We did, however, see one in flight and, having already photographed the Sooty Owl, I was satisfied with that, even though we did try again for photographs without success on the third night. We did, however, find this Sugar Glider, a small relative of the Yellow-bellied. It seemed to be keeping a low profile, very sensible given the presence of calling owls. Later still, we came across a juvenile Southern Boobook which flew up in front of us into a small tree beside the road. It didn’t dally for a photo, but that made it a three-owl evening which we all thought was special.

Sugar Glider (Petaurus briviceps) by Ian

I’ve barely mentioned Sooty Owls, as so much else happened that evening. There are two Australian forms: the Lesser Sooty in the wet tropics of northeastern Queensland and the Greater Sooty in eastern Australia from Eungella National Park near Mackay in Queensland to the Dandenong and Strzelecki Ranges in Victoria, both reasonably common in suitable habitat of wet, gully, forest but rarely seen. Another race, supposedly of the Greater Sooty, occurs throughout New Guinea. Currently the Lesser and Greater are treated as separate species by most authorities, though Christidis and Boles lumped them in 2008. Having one species with a disjoint range in New Guinea and eastern Australia and a closely-related separate one in between should make any student of biogeography laugh out loud, but that’s the way it is. Sooty Owls feed mainly on arboreal mammals, though they will take other prey such as birds.

Ian at work photographing Owl

Ian at work photographing Owl

On the following day we returned to the Sooty Owl site and here is a photograph of me photographing it, the red spot showing where the bird in the photo was perched. I was surprised at how far up it was and felt very fortunate to have got the one reasonable photo. This forest also produced for us Tawny Frogmouth, Australian Owlet-Nightjar, Brush-tailed Possums, a bandicoot, a wombat and Black or Swamp Wallabies leaving us in no doubt about the value of old growth forests (reminder http://www.thepetitionsite.com/851/727/614/protect-rare-possum-habitat-from-senseless-logging/).

A few people have requested location information about the owls, but I have been sworn to secrecy by my friends as they don’t want them being disturbed too much or subjected to tapes of owl calls. So please understand my reticence.

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: iTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; (Leviticus 11:17 NKJV)

What an adventure. Some birds just don’t want to be found. Thanks again, Ian, for sharing another trip with us. Glad you are feeling better.

Sooty Owls belong to the Tytonidae – Barn OIwls family which has 19 speciesIan’s Owls can be found at

http://birdway.com.au/tytonidae/index.htm and

http://birdway.com.au/strigidae/index.htm.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Birdway 

Tytonidae – Barn Owl Family

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Thank You

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) at Lake Parker By Dan'sPix

Mallard Back up on Feet. By Dan’sPix

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 NKJV)

Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts. I never dreamed that when I went to the hospital last Thursday, 19th, that they would keep me a week.

Finally got released last evening. This was the worst case of bronchitis I have had to deal with. Was on oxygen the whole week. Many of you were praying for me and those prayers were felt. Our Lord is great.

Not only did I get “rest,” (who rest in the hospital?) but multiple opportunities came available to encourage others around me. We were originally suppose be at a Bible Conference this week in South Carolina, but had decided to stay home and watch some of it on Livestream. With Hospital internet and electronic gadgets, I saw more of the conference than if we had driven up. The Lord knew ahead of time all about what would happen here.

Did get in a few bird sighting out my window. Fish Crows, Ospreys and a Mockingbird flew by to make part of my day.

Will try to get some articles rolling again. Had two waiting to be worked up before I went to hospital, but just didn’t feel up to doing them. Will get Ian’s Bird of the Week out soon and have one waiting from James J S Johnson.

Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers. I still have more healing to do, but way on the mend.

Lee

Update – In Hospital

Duck slipping on Ice from the Telegraph

Oops! – (from the Telegraph)

Just an upstate. Was admitted to the hospital yesterday and they are going to keep me a few more days. The bronchitis is sever, but praise the Lord there is no pneumonia!

Thanks for those who have prayed for me, because they were felt, Especially when multiple needle attempts were made. I stayed calm while they made them.

Will be a few days with no blogs as sending from IPad not as easy, harder to do with photos. Please keep me in you prayers and thanks in advance.

(Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; (Romans 12:12)

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

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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.

Bonus:

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

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Tickle Me Tuesday –

Gideon

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Sunday Inspiration – Australian Birds

Here are three more families of Passerine birds. Today’s three families live mostly in the Austro-Papuan (Australia, New Guinea, Paupa) vicinity.

Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) in bower by Ian

Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) in bower by Ian

My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10 NKJV)

The Ptilonorhynchidae – Bowerbirds are renowned for their unique courtship behaviour, where males build a structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly coloured objects in an attempt to attract a mate.

Their diet consists mainly of fruit but may also include insects (especially for nestlings), flowers, nectar and leaves in some species. The satin and spotted bowerbirds are sometimes considered agricultural pests due to their habit of feeding on introduced fruit and vegetable crops and have occasionally been killed by affected orchardists.

White-browed Treecreeper (Climacteris affinis) by Ian

White-browed Treecreeper (Climacteris affinis) by Ian

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9 NKJV)

The Climacteridae – Australasian Treecreepers are separate from the European Treecreeper family, which will be highlighted later. As their name implies, treecreepers forage for insects and other small creatures living on and under the bark of trees, mostly eucalypts, though several species also hunt on the ground, through leaf-litter, and on fallen timber. Unlike the Holarctic treecreepers they do not use their tail for support when climbing tree trunks, only their feet.

Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) ©WikiC

Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti) ©WikiC

Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. (Psalms 148:5 NKJV)

The Maluridae – Australasian Wrens are a family of small, insectivorous passerine birds endemic to Australia and New Guinea. Commonly known as wrens, they are unrelated to the true wrens of the Northern Hemisphere. The family includes 14 species of fairywren, 3 emu-wrens, and 10 grasswrens.

Malurids are small to medium birds, inhabiting a wide range of environments, from rainforest to desert, although most species inhabit grassland or scrub. The grasswrens are well camouflaged with black and brown patterns, but other species often have brilliantly coloured plumage, especially in the males. They are insectivorous, typically foraging in underbrush. They build domed nests in areas of dense vegetation, and it is not unusual for the young to remain in the nest and assist in raising chicks from later clutches.

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“How Can I Keep From Singing” ~ Pastor Jerry Smith, Jessie and Caleb Padgett and Reagan Osborne

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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.

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Sunday Inspiration – Give Thanks

Pipridae – Manakins Family

Wordless Birds

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)

Also:

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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.

http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/weasel-photographed-riding-on-a-woodpeckers-back/

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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.
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Picadae – Woodpeckers

Wordless Birds

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