“E” is for Eagles and Eiders: “E” Birds”, Part 1

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

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Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
Fair Use photo credit: Mike Haworth

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. (Obadiah 1:3-4)

E” is for Eagles, Eiders, Egrets, Emus, Earthcreepers, Eagle-owls, Euphonias, Elaenias, Eremomelas, Elepaios, and/or Emerald hummingbirds — plus whatever other birds there are, that have names that begin with the letter E.

This present study (i.e., “‘E’ Birds, Part 1”) will focus on Eagles and Eiders.
But first, because this blogpost-article calmly continues an alphabet-based series on birds, we look at Psalm 119:33-40, — thereafter we review two categories of birds that start with the letter “E”, namely, Eagles and Eiders.

verreauxseagle-soaring-sky-mike-haworth

Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
Fair Use photo credit: Mike Haworth

THE ALPHABET HELPS TO TEACH US ABOUT GOD’S TRUTH
Using alphabet letters, to order a sequence of information, has Biblical precedent, as is noted in the four earlier articles in this series of “alphabet birds” — i.e., A birds; B birds; and C birds; and D birds.

The perfect example is the “acrostic” pattern of Psalm 119, the longest psalm (having 176 verses!), which psalm has 22 sections (comprised of 8 verses per section), representing the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. (Compare that to the English alphabet, which has 26 alphabet letters, and/or to the Norwegian alphabet, which has 29 alphabet letters.) The sentences in each section start with the same Hebrew letter: Verses 1-8 start with ALEPH, Verses 9-16 with BETH, Verse 17-24 with GIMEL, and so forth.

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Fair Use Image Credit:  4.bp.blogspot.com

In this serial study’s lesson, the fifth octet of verses in Psalm 119 (i.e., Psalm 119:33-40), each sentence starts with HÊ (pronounced “hay”, like what horses eat), the Hebrew consonant equivalent to the English “H”.

The word based upon this letter is HÊ’, (also pronounced “hay”, like what horses eat), which is routinely translated as a “Behold!” (or “Lo!”) in the Old Testament (see YOUNG’S ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE, Index-Lexicon to the Old Testament, page 18, column 4), such as in Ezekiel 16:43 & Genesis 47:23.

Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things, behold! — therefore, I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations. (Ezekiel 16:43)

Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: Lo! — here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. (Genesis 47:23)

The Aramaic equivalent, HÂ’ (pronounced “Ha!”) appears in Daniel 3:25, when King Nebuchadnezzar was shocked to see what surprisingly happened in the fiery furnace, after Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were unjustly thrust therein.

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In King James English, one alerted others by exclaiming, “behold!” – meaning something like our modern expressions “Hey! Look!” and/or “Hey! Watch out!” In other words, ironically, the modern English exclamation “Hey!” means about the same thing as the ancient Hebrew exclamation “HÊ’!” – which is pronounced the same as is the English “Hey!”

Exclamations — like “Hey!” — alert us, to pay attention to something, to behold something, to watch out for something, that is very important. In the New Testament, the Greek equivalent is an imperative form of a verb meaning “look”, i.e., the New Testament’s equivalents (of “Behold!” or “Lo!”) likewise call someone to “Look!”

he-hebrew-letter-window

Fair Use image Credit: Pinterest

So, because HÊ’ is the fifth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, each verse (in Psalm 119:33-40) literally starts with that letter as the first letter in the first word (although the first Hebrew word may be differently placed in the English translation’s sentence):

33 Teach-me [hôrênî], O LORD, the way of Thy statutes; and I shall keep [a form of nâtsar] it unto the end.

34 Give-me-understanding [habînēnî], and I shall keep [a form of nâtsar] Thy law; yea, I shall observe [a form of shâmar] it with my whole heart.

35 Make-me-to-go [hadrîkēnî] in the path of Thy commandments; because therein do I delight [a form of ].

36 Incline [haṭ] my heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

37 Turn-away [ha‘abēd] mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken Thou me in Thy way.

38 Stablish [haqēm] Thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to Thy fear.

39 Turn-away [ha‘abēd] my reproach which I fear: for Thy judgments are good.

40 Behold [hinnēh] ! — I have longed after Thy precepts; quicken me in Thy righteousness.

As noted before, Psalm 119 is all about God’s revelation of truth – especially truth about Himself – to mankind (in a comprehensive “A to Z” panorama). The most important revelation of truth that God has given to us, and the most authoritative form of truth that we have, is the Holy Bible – the Scriptures (2nd Peter 1:16-21). Here, the octet of verses in Psalm 119:33-40 is dominated by references to the Scriptures, using the terms “Thy statutes” (verse 33), “Thy law” (verse 34), “Thy commandments” (verse 35), “Thy testimonies” (verse 36), “Thy way” (verse 37), Thy Word” (verse 38), “Thy judgments” (verse 39), and “Thy precepts” (verse 40).

Notice how the “theme” of the Hebrew noun hê’ appears frequently in this section of Psalm 119 – because when you behold a “window” of valuable/relevant information, provided by God, you “watch out!” —  i.e., you look and see what is important for you to learn about, that helps you with your God-designed destiny.

Accordingly, the Hebrew letter HÊ’ alerts our attention to vitally important information – such as the sobering cause-and-effect logic of God’s punishment of wickedness (Ezekiel 16:43), or the providential opportunity to live and thrive in a well-provided-for situation (Genesis 47:23), or the astounding sight of a miracle happening inside a burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25).

But what about the running theme of alertness in Psalm 119:33-40? Behold!

In Psalm 119:33, the psalmist requests teaching from the LORD, in order that the psalmist “keep” God’s way completely. A person cannot practice God’s truth, in daily living, with first learning what God’s truth is — this is practical logic that Ezra exemplified in his life (Ezra 7:10).

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Israel’s armored cavalry “chariot” [Merkava 3], firing projectile (public domain)

Two Hebrew verbs appear in Verse 33, “teach” (a causative active imperative form of YÂRÂH, which refers to the action of projecting, i.e., casting a projectile such as an arrow or spear) and “keep” (a simple active imperfect form of NÂTSAR, which refers to guarding, preserving, conserving, protecting). The idea here is that the psalmist is alert to his need to vigorously dive into – like an arrow being forcibly shot into God’s assigned missions in life – which involve the spiritual pathway of God’s statutes, in order for the psalmist to guard those statutes (in daily living) “to the end”. This is not a relaxed scenario! If God’s Word was like a swimming pool, the psalmist is asking God to “throw him into the deep end”, so that the psalmist is confronted with challenges needful for “finishing strong” in his spiritual journey!

Psalm 119:34 is similar in meaning to Verse 33, because the psalmist again is seeking to “keep” (NÂTSAR) God’s Word, which this time is called God’s “law” (TÔRÂH), so that the psalmist can be careful in attending to (SHÂMAR) God’s law with his “whole heart”, like a watchman on a city wall. To do this, the psalmist asks God to give him “understanding” (a causative active imperative form of the Hebrew verb BÎN — literally exhorting God to cause the psalmist to understand what is needful, to achieve the goal of carefully living by God’s Word, with his “whole heart”. This too is no relaxed scenario – very serious understanding, discernment, judgment is needed. So this verse shows the psalmist being watchful, living life with “eyes open”, to know what is really going on in life.

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Fair Use Credit: JohnFanPhotography.com

 In Psalm 119:35, the psalmist requests God to “lead” [a causative active imperative form of DÂRAK] him in the proper pathway, namely, the pathway of proper living – this verse resembles a later verse, Psalm 119:105, that likens life’s spiritual journey as needing the enlightenment of God’s Word, “a lamp to my feet” and “a light unto my path”. Notice the psalmist’s purpose for this — he has “delighted” [a simple active perfect form of CHÂPHĒTS] in God’s commandments. The verb CHÂPHĒTS (which appears as “delighted” in Psalm 119:35) denotes the action of being delighted, favoring, enjoying, being pleased with – i.e., having a positive attitude toward someone or something. Remember the Westminster Confession? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

This reminds me of something my granddaughter Sydney said, when she was about 5 years old, when her mom told her that “we love God”. “Yeah”, Sydney agreed, “and we like God, too!” (Accordingly, we like and enjoy His Word, too!)

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Sydney (photo at about age 2), who loves God, and who likes Him too!

In Psalm 119:36, the psalmist asks God to “incline” his heart toward God’s “testimonies”. The word translated “incline” is a causative active imperative form of the Hebrew verb NÂṬÂH, which refers to the action of stretching or spreading out (e.g., spreading/stretching out a tent in Genesis 33:19 & Exodus 33:7, and arching a spear in Joshua 8:18 & 8:26), so the psalmist is beseeching God to stretch his heart toward God’s testimonies. This is no lackadaisical request! Of course, the testimonies of God’s witnesses were not of slight importance – the fate of families, communities, and even and nations would depend upon how such testimonies were received (or not received) — see, e.g., Deuteronomy 8:9 & 32:46; 2nd Kings 17:13-15; Nehemiah 9:26-34; Psalm 78:56; Isaiah 8:20; Amos 3:13; John 3:32 & 4:44; Acts 1:8; 1st Corinthians 15:15; Ephesians 4:17; 1st Thessalonians 4:6; Hebrews 12:1; 1st Peter 1:11; 1st John 4:14; Rev 22:16 & 22:20. In other words, watch out! — God’s testimony, provided by God’s witnesses, is never to be trifled with. The psalmist wants the opposite of shying away from God’s testimonies; the psalmist wants to stretch toward God’s testimonies.

In fact, the psalmist is actually pleading with God, asking God to make the psalmist to stretch him toward God’s testimonies, as opposed to the psalmist being inclined (i.e., “stretched”) toward seeking worldly “gain”. This cannot be a passive enterprise – in order for us to stretch toward God, and toward what honors God (i.e., what Colossians 3:2 calls “the things above”), we must affirmatively pull our hearts away from the worldly “treasures” that all-too-often compete with God, as our heart’s affection.

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Fair Use Credit: Felicia Starks

In Psalm 119:37, the psalmist asks God to turn the psalmist’s eyes from visons of vanities, as the psalmist recognizes that real life is experienced only in the ways of God. The verb translated “turn away” (in Psalm 119:37) is a causative active imperative form of the Hebrew verb ‘ÂBAR (literally, “to pass through”). Thus, the psalmist is imploring God to make the psalmist to “pass through” (or “pass over”) the lying sights of worldly temptation and folly. In other words, the psalmist does not expect divine deliverance, from worldly vanities, to come in the form of escape so much as to come in the form of a successful endurance (see 1st Corinthians 10:13). To achieve this result, the psalmist (and we) must pay alert attention to what is reliable and true — and (likewise) refuse to be distracted by what is ultimately illusory and false.

[Regarding the inherent distractiveness of deceit, seeStaying on Track, Despite Deceptive Distractions.

In Psalm 119:38, the psalmist asks God to make what He says to “arise” (using a causative active imperative form of the Hebrew verb QÛM) – i.e., whatever God’s promises He must establish. As mere mortals we cannot, by ourselves, establish God’s will on earth. God must make His own Word happen — and He is ready, willing, and able to do just that (see Isaiah 14:24 & 14:27)! Yet notice who the intended beneficiaries of God promises are: “those who fear Thee”, i.e., those with reverential awe of God, those who worshipfully fear His power and holiness – and that should describe us. Obviously this is not a lackadaisical matter – this is something we must pay close and sober attention to, especially if we hope to be on the “good side” of God’s promises.

In Psalm 119:39, the psalmist begins with the same Hebrew verb that Verse 37 began with, ‘ÂBAR (literally, “to pass through”), this time asking God to cause the psalmist’s self-dreaded “reproach” to pass through, i.e., the psalmist is fearful of his own fallibility and faultiness, and rightfully so – as we all should be. The psalmist’s prayer is a prayer of dependence — God needs to protect us form ourselves. The old saying is true: we are our own worst enemies. Accordingly, we need for God to take/pull us through our own shameful sinfulness, overruling our inherent sin-nature (which we inherited form Adam our first forefather), so that we can freely live for Him. But only God’s truth can free us from our sinful selves; only the Scriptures give us the truth that sets us free (see John 8:31-32). Thus, God’s Word is liberating. As the psalmist here says, God’s ordinances are “good” – they are the real daily nutrition that our lives must have, spiritually speaking (Matthew 4:4) — see Real Freedom Only Comes from Real Truth”, posted at  (from the April AD2013 issue of ACTS & FACTS).

In Psalm 119:40, the psalmist starts the verse with the exclamation “Behold!” (Hebrew: HĪNĒH), which repeats the tone of this octet of verses. The last word in this verse is an intensive active imperative form of the Hebrew verb CHAYAH (meaning “to live” or “to have life”). Thus, the psalmist is beseeching God to give him life “in Thy [i.e., God’s] righteousness”, because the psalmist “has longed for” (simple active perfect form of the verb TÂ’AB) a life that harmonizes with God’s ordinances/judgments. In other words, the psalmist connects real living to God’s gift of His own righteousness, that fits the worthy goal of living according to God’s judgments. This is no careless approach to daily living! This requires careful dependence upon God — only He can give us a good life.
In sum, Scripture-based living is not easy – it requires watchfulness, alertness, caution, sobriety, and complete dependence upon God’s Word-based guidance.

Thus we see the theme, woven throughout the octet of HÊ’ verses (Psalm 119:33-40), is that we need to be alert while living life on earth (i.e., “Watch out! Beware! Hey! Pay attention!”) — and that God’s Word is what equips us to be properly alerted to what is really happening in and around us.

After that lesson (from Psalm 119:33-40), about the value of careful attentiveness, it is appropriate to consider some EAGLES, those huge raptors that illustrate super-keen eyesight, telescopic eyes that they routinely use for the serious business of catching prey on land, in air, and even at the water’s surface.

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EAGLES

Regarding Eagles, see Lee Dusing’s Sunday Inspiration: Eagles, as well as her “Bible Birds: Eagles”.

The best known eagle, for Americans, is the USA’s national bird, the BALD EAGLE. Frequenting saltwater shorelines, these hawk-like fish-eating raptors are well-populated in coastal Alaska, as is reported in Alaska’s Bald Eagle, which is quoted below.

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                   Photo credit: SkagwayExcursion.com

BALD EAGLE pair (Alaska)

Bald eagles may enjoy abundant fishing opportunities, in Alaska and in other coastwater and riverine areas, but life has not been easy for these carnivores, due to the accumulation of poisons in food chains they depend upon.

Driven to near extinction due to DDT [via its byproduct DDE] poisoning and illegal killing. Now making a comeback in North America. Returns to same nest each year, adding more sticks, enlarging it to massive proportions, at times up to 1,000 pounds (450 kg). In the midair mating ritual, one eagle will flip upside down and lock talons with another. Both tumble, then break apart to continue flight. Thought to mate for life, but will switch mates if not successful reproducing. Juvenile attains the white head and tail at about 4-5 years of age.

[Quoting Stan Tekiela, BIRDS OF TEXAS FIELD GUIDE (Adventure Publications, 2004), page 81.]

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GOLDEN EAGLE  (photo credit: WildEchoTours.com)

The other major variety of eagle, in North America, is the GOLDEN EAGLE, which lives off of prey it seizes from the ground, or from the air.

Large and powerful bird of prey that has no trouble taking larger prey such as jackrabbits. Hunts by perching or soaring and watching for movement [on the ground below]. Inhabits mountainous terrain, requiring large territories to provide large supply of food. Thought to mate for life, renewing pair bond late in winter with spectacular high-flying courtship displays. Usually nests on cliff faces, rarely in trees. Uses well-established nest that has been used for generations. Not uncommon for it to add thing to nest such as antlers, bones and barbed wire.

[Quoting Stan Tekiela, BIRDS OF TEXAS FIELD GUIDE (Adventure Publications, 2004), page 239.]

Golden Eagles are actually well distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere, not just in North America, as the range map (below) indicates.

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Golden Eagle Range Map (Wikipedia)

But would you expect there to be many more examples of “eagles” than just the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalos) and the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysactos)?

The varieties of Eagles – besides North America’s Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle – are many [see Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks, Eagle ], such as: Indian Black Eagle [found in tropical Africa], Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Chaco Eagle, Crested Eagle, Crowned Eagle, Gurney’s Eagle, Harpy Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Little Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Martial Eagle, Papuan Eagle, Philippine Eagle, Pygmy Eagle, Grey Sea Eagle [a/k/a Ørn and White-tailed Sea-Eagle], Sanford’s Sea Eagle, Steller’s Sea Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Andaman Serpent Eagle, Congo Serpent Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Madagascan Serpent Eagle, Mountain Serpent Eagle, Great Nicobar Serpent Eagle, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Solitary Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Madagascan Fish Eagle, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Lesser Fish Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Flores Hawk-Eagle, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Legge’s Hawk-Eagle, Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Javan Hawk-Eagle, Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle, Philippine Hawk-Eagle, Pinsker’s Hawk-Eagle, Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle, Black Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, Ayre’s Hawk-Eagle, Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle, Booted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Indian Spotted Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle [a/k/a African Black Eagle], Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, and Steppe Eagle!

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Grey Sea Eagle, a/k/a Ørn and White-tailed Sea-Eagle

Fair Use Credit: Sindri Skulason

 Consider the following information about eagles, a raptor often mentioned in Holy Scripture:

Eagles are such heavy birds that they don’t build their houses, called “nests”, near the ground. Eagles build their nests high up in trees or on top of rocky mountains or cliffs, so that they can jump out into the air and glide on rising warm air currents. Some air currents are made of warm rising air, so an eagle can jump into such warm air and “ride” it up like an elevator, then the eagle can glide from one air current to another , until it wants to fly down. These rising air currents are called “thermals”. The eagle that soars on a thermal is mostly at rest, because he is trusting the thermal to carry him along for a “ride” in the air. The eagle soaring on such a thermal air current is a reminder of how we should trust and depend upon God to carry us through life’s adventures, as we travel from one day to the next. By “riding” on upwardly spiraling thermal air currents eagles can save their energy, because too much wing-flapping can waste an eagle’s energy and cause it to get too tired to fly. Like eagles, we can waste a lot of energy if we fail to depend on God, because worrying and distrusting God wastes a lot of mental energy and emotions! (See Isaiah 40:31, quoted below.)

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

By conserving (carefully using, not wasting) his energy, the bald eagle can flap his wings only when he needs to, and he can rise to very high places in the air, which also means that the eagles can reach high places on top of mountains or cliffs that other animals cannot reach. So an eagles’ nest (called an “eyrie”) can be far away from egg-eating animals that might bother parent eagles and try to eat their eggs before they have a chance to hatch into baby eaglets (the baby eaglets are called “hatchlings” when they first hatch). Bald eagles, like other kinds of eagles, often live in rocky places in high places, so it is not surprising that people (including Biblical authors) compare highness with flying and nesting behaviors of eagles.

One example of highness being compared to the nesting habits of eagles is found in the Bible, in the Book of Obadiah (at Obadiah 1:3-4), where the eagle is described as a creature that lives in high places, much closer to the stars than do most other animals (or people).

Another Old Testament book in the Bible, the Book of Job, refers (at Job 39:27) to the eagle as mounting up into the air by God’s command (because God programs eagles to fly up into the air the way that they do), and as nesting in high places (because God programs eagles to do this also).

“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, ‘Who shall bring me down to the ground?’ Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.” (Obadiah 1:3-4)

“Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?” (Job 39:27)

Eagles are good parents, training their sons and daughters to live like eagles (see Deuteronomy 32:11). Eagles can fly, like dive-bombing airplanes, at great speeds (see 2nd Samuel 1:23 and Lamentations 4:19). Their strength is renewed from time to time, as their feather-cover adjusts to their growing bodies (see Isaiah 40:31 and Psalms 103:5). Eagles are known for their gracefulness and dignity (see Proverbs 30:19). In fact, eagles fly very high in the air as a matter of habit – above most other birds (see Proverbs 23:5).

[Quoting from James J. S. Johnson, “Alaska’s Bald Eagle”].

ag of Mexico ©WikiC

Flag of MEXICO  (displaying Golden Eagle)

Eagles are favorite birds on national flags and in official coat-of-arms emblems. For a just a few examples, consider these “flagged” eagles:

Consider – for just a few representative examples – the eagles that appear on the flags – some present, some past — of these national and state/provincial flags: Albania; American Samoa; Austria (armorial flag); Brandenburg, Germany; Ecuador (armorial banner); Egypt; Geneva, Switzerland; Germany (armorial flag ); Iowa; Italian president’s flag (AD1880-AD1946); Jordan (armorial banner); Mexico; North Dakota; Oregon (front side of state flag); Pennsylvania; Poland (armorial flag); Prussia (armorial banner, AD1819-AD1850); (Moldova; Mount Athos (autonomous Greek protectorate); Russian Czar’s banner (18th century A.D.); Serbia (during AD1882-AD1918); Silesia (until absorption by Prussia in AD1742 – parts of Silesia now lay within Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic); United States Coast Guard and Marine Corps; Utah; Virgin Islands (of the USA); Zambia; etc.

[Quoting from James J. S. Johnson, “’Flag that Bird!’ (Part 1)

goldeneagle-swooping-down-netns-wildlifezone

Golden Eagle in flight
(Fair Use Credit: NETNS Wildlife Zone)

No wonder so many countries choose to include an eagle in their official coat-of-arms — these birds are truly regal!

Now for another category of “E” birds, the eiders.

stellerseider-wikipedia

Steller’s Eider in icy seawater (Wikipedia)

EIDERS

Eiders are large sea-ducks, the largest wild ducks in North America and Europe – with the exception of the Muscovy Duck (which, in parts of Texas and Florida, occurs in the wild). Examples of eiders include the Common Eider (Somateria mollissima), King Eider (Someteria spectabilis), and Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri), and Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri), all four of which varieties are found in Alaskan waters. Eiders in the wild (including Steller’s Eider, misleadingly classified as a “different genus” of eider) are known to hybridize, so (obviously) all eiders descend from the same created kind.

Regarding downy-feather-famous Eiders, see, Lee Dusing’s “The Eider: The Cushion Makers (Nuggets Plus)”.  Eiders are true mariners, “sea ducks”, a term that includes mergansers, oldsquaw (a/k/a “long-tailed duck”), bufflehead, goldeneyes, and (of course) eiders.

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King Eider male near Barrow, Alaska (by Gregg Thompson)

Ornithologist Steve Madge describes eiders as cold-water ducks of the North. ”

Large sea-ducks of northern coastal waters. Adult males distinctive [in physical appearance], but other plumages similar; immatures take two or more years to reach maturity, males having confusing variety of piebald plumages [i.e., the usual colored feathering is modified by partial leucism, so that the usual black plumage is whitish, yet feathers of rainbow colors are not whitewashed]. Head-and-bill shape important [for identification], especially extent of feathering onto bill-base.

[Quoting Steve Madge & Hilary Burn, WATERFOWL: AN IDENTIFICATION GUIDE TO THE DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS OF THE WORLD (Houghton Mifflin, 1988), page 104.]

spectacled-eider-male-jimburns

Spectacled Eider male (photo by Jim Burns)

The Eider’s down feathers are especially well-designed for efficiently insulating the body heat of these North-dwelling ducks, so it is no surprise that eider feathers are prized as down for pillow-making. As, as the Nordic Store (Iceland) advises, “Eiderdown is the softest and lightest down in the world … extremely rare, in great demand and highly prized (accounting for its high price)”. [Quoting Nordic Store, with an (apparently) informative YouTube video, narrated in Icelandic, at Eiderdown Duvets and Pillows  — showing beautiful eiders at sea and on land, in colonial activities.]

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God willing, the next contribution to this alphabetic series will be some more “E” birds – perhaps Egrets, Emus, and Earthcreepers!

Meanwhile, in accordance with Psalm 119:33-40, use God’s Word as you attentively and alertly live life, daily, with its opportunities to follow Christ. (Hey!) Carefully interpret whatever you see, by the wisdom of God’s Word, as you keep your eyes open, like the observant eagle!

><>  JJSJ profjjsj@verizon.net

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2 thoughts on ““E” is for Eagles and Eiders: “E” Birds”, Part 1

    • Thanks! Eagles have been a favorite for years, especially in Wyoming and Alaska. Yet Eiders too are amazing to behold — I saw my first one in British Columbia around AD2000. Of course, I love the Hebrew Bible (and Hebrew language) too.

      Liked by 1 person

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