Today’s Visitor To The Feeder – House Finch

Male House Finch 3-28-20 by Lee

Well, as we all stay home and keep our distances, what is there to do? Like many of you, it seems that the chores around the house seem to take up more time. Cooking, especially seems more time consuming. An occasional meal out, saves time, but, that isn’t happening. At least around here.

We have pretty well stayed close to home. Drive through McDonald’s was a treat.

Thankfully, the birds have not changed their behavior and keep stopping by for free handouts. Today’s visitors were a pair of House Finches. They just started stopping by recently.

Female House Finch 3-28-20 by Lee

“You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 7:2-3 NKJV)

I also had a “baby dinosaur” stop by. Actually, it is some sort of chameleon or lizard. I have no idea.

Baby Dinosaur - Chamilian or Lizard by Lee 3-28-20

Baby Dinosaur – Chameleon or Lizard by Lee 3-28-20

Baby Dinosaur - Chamilian or Lizard by Lee 3-28-20

Baby Dinosaur – Chameleon or Lizard by Lee 3-28-20

There have be a few other stopping by and giving us something to do. Stay Tuned!

 

Ian’s Bird of the Whatever – Bare-faced Curassow

The Irregular Bird, formerly Bird of the Moment, formerly Bird of the Week, #600: Bare-faced Curassow
[This is how Ian titled his email. He is celebrating his 600 article. That is quite a milestone. Congratulations, Ian, Keep them coming. They are always so interesting.]
Bird number 600 after 18 years is a bit of a landmark, so here is something suitably celebratory: the best dressed award for the South American trip: the Bare-faced Curassow. They also win the worst named award as I have to think every time I write it so I don’t say ‘assed’ but that’s probably a reflection on me, not the species.
The most beautiful bird award went to the Hyacinth Macaw#592; the most interesting went to the Sunbittern#591; the most spectacular went to the Andean Condor#593; the most beautiful mammal award went predictably to the Jaguar which also featured briefly in #592; the most unusual mammal to the Armadillo;  the least elegant went to the Collared Peccary; the most amusing and ugliest went to the Capybara, and the most delightful to the Giant Otter; the most beautiful lizard went to the Green Iguana; and the most beautiful snake went to the Yellow Anaconda.
If you can think of any categories I’ve left out let me know and I’ll see what I can do in the next Irregular Bird. A former colleague of mine, the world expert on the different pelagic behaviour of right- and left-footed thongs/jandals/flipflops recently called it Bird of the Undefined Time, which I like very much and set me thinking, but I’m going to settle on The Irregular Bird.
bare_faced_curassow_203516_pp.jpg
The Curassows also won the best hairstyle award so I’ll deal with that first. The male’s is all black, quite original in a dapper and restrained sort of way, very suitable for evening dress/tuxedo. The female couldn’t resist a two-tone look, also restrained and very dignified. I think the black curly tip on a white base is gorgeous and the little black fringe/bang is the perfect finishing touch. Both have the suitably haughty look of famous models and you might be surprised to find that this male is married to this female: it could be an interesting household with two prima donnas, even before any kids come along.
bare_faced_curassow_203186_pp.jpg
Here’s the male in his dinner jacket/tuxedo on the way to the Rio Claro masked ball. He’s wearing a special yellow face mask which doesn’t cover his eyes. It’s partially for epidemiological reasons but fame is important to him and he wants everyone to recognised him and know that he too was invited to this special event. Very suave and practising his red carpet walk, but he doesn’t really need to as he naturally has the sort of elegant, pouty walk that is widely admired by on the cat-walk.
bare_faced_curassow_202985_pp.jpg
The female is wearing a tan-coloured silk ball gown with a brownish black cape and train. Both of these are hand embroidered with stripes consisting of thousands of large pearls and diamonds. Consequently they’re rather heavy and she hopes she doesn’t trip or fall on the way and is secretly looking forward to discarding them with a flourish in front of the cameras of the paparazzi. She’s walking past the resort swimming pool on the way to the ballroom. Those of you familiar with Australian flora will recognised the trunk of the tree and the leaves on the ground as belonging to a rare species of Eucaplyptus specially imported at great expense from a boutique nursery in Humpty Doo, 40km from Darwin in the Northern Territory, a small town better known by ordinary folk for its barramundi (an over-rated freshwater fish with a wonderful name). The climate there is similar to that in the Pantanal, hot and dry for much of the year with a very wet wet season.
bare_faced_curassow_203196_pp.jpg
Masked balls can lead to unexpected results and this mother Curassow is paying the price. She sadly remembers the party times well, don’t we all, but is quite fond of her two chicks. She’s pleased to have both a daughter (centre foreground) and a son, trying to hide under mother’s skirts in the background on the left. He is already sporting a yellow face mask like his dad, is developing a precocious crest and wearing a black waistcoat, unbuttoned to show off his tan. Curassows are vegans naturally, and these ones are looking for the seeds of some super-food they’ve been told about. They also visit salt-licks as they believe that it’s makes their plumage very lustrous. It also leads to high blood pressure but they are young and don’t worry about such matters.
bare_faced_curassow_202135_pp.jpg
Bare-faced Curassows range through central Brazil, eastern Bolivia, most of Paraguay and northern Argentina. Like the rest of us they are regarded as Vulnerable, suffering from hunting by left-wing elements, and are extinct in Rio de Janeiro as they found the Carnival much too vulgar and moved to the provinces particularly the Pantanal in Mato Grosso, a well-known retreat for the rich and famous.
Like all news now whether official or on social media, subject this article to the scrutiny of your b*llsh*t meter.
Stay safe, practise acceptance (very difficult I know) and keep cheerful,
Ian
PS Here is the only prize winner that hasn’t yet made it to the website. I must rectify that today. They’re king of the Iguanas, very large to 2 metres long, perfect for social distancing, with a noble heritage having been described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 during the reign of Louis XV and when the United States were still British colonies. Like Louis XIV and Bare-faced Curassows, they’re into extravagant balls. This one is lounging on a freshwater beach on a sunny day near the fashionable resort of Porto Jofre in the Southern Pantanal, improving its green tan.
green_iguana_205307-pp.jpg


Ian Montgomery,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

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

Lee’s Addition:

See my comments above, plus we have posted quite a few of those 600 articles here. Ian gave me permission years ago to use these newsletters. Thank, Ian. And for the great photos of birds you have shared with us.
“Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 8:17 NKJV)
“I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.” (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

Ian’s Bird of the Week, Moment, Whenever

Ian Montgomery Offers Free eBooks During Pandemic

Diary of a Bird Photographer, Vol 2 by Ian Montgomery

Just received an email from Ian Montgomery, Ian’s Bird of the Week, who is offering free downloads of his three eBooks. This is only being offered for a short time.

Here is his email:

Given the strange times we live in now, I’m thinking of all the other people isolated at home and looking for things to do. I’ve decided to make all my eBooks free for the time being.
Two of these are Diary of a Bird Photographer, Volumes 1 and 2, which are compilations of the Bird of the Week/Moment from #1 to #341, and #342 to #585, respectively, i.e. from 2002 to 2009 and 2010 to 2018.
The third is guide Where to Find Birds in North-east Queensland. This is a guide to the more than 400 species of birds that occur in this region and the 200 or so locations in which to look for them, and there are about 700 bird photos, and 200 of locations.
All the books is comprehensively indexed so you can jump around all over the place. If your stuck at home, and even if you’re not, you can take a virtual bird tour of NE Queensland at zero cost in Where to Find Birds in North-east Queensland – much better than having to worry about to getting home after your trip. Maybe you could use it to teach your kids about the joys of bird watching.
Given the current pandemic, Ian has decided to give his ebooks free to anyone interested in nature. If you already now about ebook formats such as pdfs, epub and mobi, then go straight to the Birdway Store on the Payhip website where I’ve made the books available for download.
If you’re a bit vague about ebook formats, go first to the Quick Guide to eBooks, check it out to see which one is best or you and then got to the Birdway Store on the Payhip website which you can do from that page.
None of the books is copyright protected, so you can distribute them as you wish.
birdway_store_on_payhip_400_free.jpg
Happy reading and happy virtual travelling,
Stay safe,
Ian


Ian Montgomery,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

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

Lee’s Addition:

I followed his links and was able to download all three ebooks.
Thanks, Ian, for giving us something to do while we are staying close/in our homes.
“Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?” (Job 38:36 NKJV)

Bird of the Moment – Red-legged Seriema

Of the birds that we wanted to see in Brazil, this one, the Red-legged Seriema proved the most difficult. Like the Greater Rhea (#598), this is mainly a bird of dry, grassy habitats such as the Cerrado rather than the flood-prone Pantanal. So we hoped to find it at our last lodge, Piuval Lodge in the northern end of the Pantanal just south of Poconé. Even there, we resorted to the help of a local guide, attached to the Lodge, who found one within five minutes of departing from the Lodge. This was the only one we saw, despite further trips through the reserve there.
red_legged_seriema_206336_pp.jpg
Seriemas are unusual birds. There are only two remaining species, this one and the Black-legged Seriema (Chunga burmeisteri) South American, remnants apparently of a much larger clan known from a few fossils. The Red-legged has quite a wide range through Brazil south of the Amazon basin, Paraguay, eastern Bolivia, eastern Uruguay and north-eastern Argentina. The range of the Black-legged partially overlaps that of the Red-legged but maiinly farther west, still east of the Andes, from southern Bolivia through western Paraguay to central northern Argentina. Despite their remnant status, both are reasonably common in suitable open habitat and classified as of ‘Least Concern’.
red_legged_seriema_206348_pp.jpg
The Red-legged is the larger species, with a length of 75-90cm and weighing 1.5-2.3kg. Both are mainly terrestrial, though they are capable of short bursts of flight, and will often perch in bushes and small trees, where they build their nests. Both species are predatory, feeding on small reptiles such as snakes and lizards, and large insects, but will also feed on seeds. Both are very vocal and join in the morning chorus, though we had listened in vain for the distinctive song of the Red-legged. This is a ‘calm series of nasal, well-separated, and accentuated “hah-hah” notes, lilting up and then down again’, according to Ber van Perlo in his Birds of Brazil, though the recording in his app sounds like a very distressed and lonely puppy, and ‘calm’ is not an adjective I’d have chosen.
hackett_fig_4.jpg
Naturally, as you’ve guessed by now, one of the reasons I was keen to see and photograph it was to fill a taxonomic hole in the species on the Birdway website. Until the advent of DNA analysis, the correct placement of the Seriemas was put in the too-hard basket, which in those days for land birds was in its own family, Cariamidae, in the Crane order, Gruiformes. Cranes were known to be of an ancient lineage, so Gruiformes was a bit of a taxonomic dumping ground for such problem groups, ‘GRU’ in the diagram above. That all changed in 2008 with this landmark DNA study by Hackett et al. which revolutionised the understanding of the relationships among major groups of birds.
Perhaps most strikingly, the Parrots were shown to be a sister clade to the Passerines, or perching birds, and the Falcons and Caracaras were separated from the other diurnal predators, such as Hawks, Eagles and Vultures. I’ve highlighted the relevant relationships in the diagram above. Interestingly the Seriemas were an early offshoot of the group that gave rise to the Falcons, Parrots and Passerines. Other studies since have supported these findings and the Seriemas have been elevated to their own order the Cariamiformes. The Passerine order contains half of all extant bird species, 5,000 or so out of 10,000, so the Seriemas have great status in the overall scheme of things with an order to themselves.
secretarybird_janelle_morano.jpg
I couldn’t help to see a certain resemblance to Bustards in size, form and habit, but perhaps the Secretarybird of Africa is the closest analogue. I’ve seen this species in pre-digital days in Zimbabwe but I haven’t photographed it, so I’ve taken the liberty of including this splendid photo by Janelle Morano which is published in the Cornell online Birds of the World and the related Macaulay Library: Secretarybird.
If you return to the Hackett diagram you’ll see that the Secretarybird is a relative of the hawks and eagles: it is the sole member of one family – Sagitariidae – of the four that make up the order Accipitriformes, the others being the Cathartidae (new world vultures) the Pandionidae (ospreys) and Accipitridae (all the other hawks and eagles). Given the similarities and the relationships to different groups of diurnal predators, the Seriemas and Secretarybird would seem to be a very elegant example of convergent evolution.
So far, I’ve resisted the temptation of mentioning IT, the current crisis. I will however say that I wasn’t intending to be prophetic when I said that the New Year had got off to a bumpy start with the Australian bushfires, and later that the taxonomic puzzle of the Ratites was Gaia’s revenge on Homo not so sapiens. Maybe Gaia has turned to self-defence in the way she knows best. I’m largely isolating at home, given the warnings to older people, so I hope to do more work on the website and have more birds of the moment.
Greetings and stay safe,
Ian


Ian Montgomery,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

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

Lee’s Addition:

Ian has shared one of the birds we have seen at the Lowry Park Zoo many times. Always enjoy seeing them.
And, Ian like many of us around the world, is sticking close to home. Maybe it will be a good time to clean up some of our photos, and write about them, just as he is doing.
Stay tuned!
“I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.” (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

Jesus And Birds – His Baptism

“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17 KJV)

White Dove – Transparent Background PD

Matt. 3:1617. In the process of His baptism, Jesus went up . . . out of the water, the prepositions suggesting that He was completely in the water and came up out from it, again indicating immersion. The descending of the Spirit of God fulfilled the predicted sign to John in order to indicate the true Messiah (cf. John 1:33Is. 11:2). The dove was a symbol of innocence and purity (cf. 10:16) and served as an ideal symbolic representation of the Holy Spirit. The voice from heaven is that of the Father (see also 17:5John 12:28 where He speaks at the Transfiguration and just prior to the Crucifixion), giving His verbal approval to the ministry of His beloved Son. There can be no doubt that all three persons of the Trinity are actively involved here as distinct persons of the Godhead. The Father speaks, the Spirit descends, and the Son is baptized. (King James Study Bible Notes)

Matt. 3:16 Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus not to overcome sin (for he was sinless), but to equip him (see note on Jdg 3:10) for his work as the divine-human Messiah. (Case for Christ Study Bible)

Matt. 3:16 the Spirit of God descending: This was God’s official recognition of Jesus as the Messiah. (NKJV Study Bible)

Here are the other three passages from the Gospel writers:

“And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9-11 KJV)

Dove PD By Malone

“Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22 KJV)

White Dove – Transparent Background PD

“And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34 KJV)

Dove Landing PD

John 1:34 I saw. John gives his final, definitive answer to the Pharisees who were challenging his right to baptize in water. God Himself had sent him to do so (John 1:33), so that when Jesus also would come for baptism (Luke 3:21-22) to “fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15), God could identify Him by sending the Holy Spirit upon Him in the form of a dove (John 1:32-33), in order that “He should be made manifest to Israel” (John 1:31). (New Defender’s Study Bible Notes)

I trust you are enjoying and learning from these post of Jesus and the Birds. Stay Tuned for More. (I’m just letting the Word speak for itself.)


See:

 

Jesus And Birds – His Dedication

European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) ©WikiC

European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) ©WikiC

The first time, listed in the Gospels, when Jesus, in His Humanity, is near a bird, was at His dedication. According to the Jewish law, the first born son was to be dedicated at the temple. This was to take place 40 days after he was born. This was so that Mary, his earthly mother, to be purified and Jesus could be dedicated..

“Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “EVERY MALE WHO OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD” ), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.” (Luke 2:22-24 NKJV)

Bible Gateway’s – MacArthur Study Bible (NKJV) note

2:22 her purification. A woman who bore a son was ceremonially unclean for 40 days (twice that if she bore a daughter—Lev. 12:2–5). After that she was to offer a yearling lamb and a dove or pigeon (Lev. 12:6). If poor, she could offer two doves or pigeons (Lev. 12:8). Mary’s offering indicates that she and Joseph were poor (v. 24). to Jerusalem. A journey of about 6 mi. from Bethlehem. to present Him to the Lord. The dedication of the firstborn son was also required by Moses’ law (v. 23, cf. Ex. 13:212–15).

At forty days old, we could assume that Jesus was not really aware of the doves or pigeons that were used for this offering. Assumptions are not always 100% correct. We are not going to delve into that discussion here. Nor will we try to assume whether other birds were near Jesus at the manger. We are just going to use what the Word says.

Common Rock Pigeon Pair ©ARKive

The reason the turtledove or pigeons were used, was because of the finances of his mother and Joseph, his step-father.

2:24 turtledoves. See Leviticus 12:8. Joseph, despite his royal lineage, was only a young carpenter, too poor to bring a lamb for his offering.” (Defender’s Bible)

“The fact that they offered two pigeons instead of a lamb and a pigeon is an indication that Joseph and Mary were not wealthy. Levitical law required a woman, after the birth of a son, to purify herself for 40 days before going to the temple to offer a sacrifice for her purification. The law stated that she was to offer a lamb and a dove, but if she could not afford these, she could offer two pigeons or doves” (Leviticus 12:2–8). (Halley’s Bible Handbook Notes)

As we journey on with Jesus and Birds, He will be telling about them by way of parables and others means. Stay tuned!


For notes and helps, I am using several resources beside God’s Word, the Bible. I use Bible Gateway as a source for many different Bible versions and study helps. Many are free, but a paid option is also available. [That is what I use – $3.99 month)

I also have many different Bibles I own and use, of which my favorite is the Defender’s Bible by Henry Morris. (older version) This can also be used online at Defender’s Bible from I.C.R.

Jesus and Birds – Introduction

Birds of the Bible

Birds and Jesus – Kids and younger reader version

Jesus and Birds – Introduction

Doves in Israel

Doves in Israel ©©

The Birds of the Bible was the original reason this blog came into being. That is what started this journey, to introduce you to the birds that are listed in the Bible. Many, if not most of those birds have been written about various times. We still continue to add to those articles.

While looking through my books, I came across “A Harmony of the Gospels For Students of the Life of Christ,” written by A. T. Robertson. Humm! A question hit me, How many times were there when Jesus and a bird or birds were mentioned at the time? Many of you can think of most of those occasions. Or can you? Do I remember all those times?

After doing a search, not exhaustive, there were at least 16 incidents where Jesus and a bird/birds were mentioned at the same event. Stay tuned and come along as I work these into post for us to learn more about the Creator of Our Avian Wonders. Yes, He was that Creator come to earth to pay the price of His Sacrifice on the Cross for our salvation.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3 KJV)

Birds of the Bible

Birds and Jesus – Kids and younger reader version

 

Strange Kiwis from Creation Moments

North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) ©Smithsonian Natl Zoo

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1:16

As a youngster, I remember once hearing that the England cricket team was getting ready to play a series of matches (a test series) against the Kiwis. Now, I had seen a kiwi in a zoo, so I was puzzled as to how this small, chicken-sized bird could play a ball game against grown men. Of course, in that context, the word kiwi was being used as a demonym for New Zealand people. This is because the five extant species of kiwi all live in New Zealand.

What a remarkable creature the kiwi is! At first sight, it appears to have no wings. Its tiny wings are so short, that they do not appear through the plumage. The kiwi has a long beak – except that it doesn’t, by official beak measurements! Birds’ beaks are usually measured from the nostrils to the tip, and the kiwi’s nostrils are, unusually, near the tip instead of being near the head, as with most birds. Although the kiwi is the size of a chicken, its eggs are six times as big as a chicken’s! In fact, the kiwi’s egg is the largest, in proportion to body size, of any bird in the world.

Why does the kiwi have so many odd behaviors? We cannot know for sure – maybe it had something to do with living in a place that had no mammals. But it looks like it was designed to behave exactly the way that it does by the God who made everything so well.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the wide variety of Your creation. Thank You that the world around us truly displays Your creative power. Amen. 

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref:  Flightless Birds, accessed 2/28/2019. Image: Public Domain.

© 2020 Creation Moments All rights reserved.


The article mentioned that there are five Kiwi species. Here are photos of them:

Southern Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis) ©WikiC

Southern Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis)

North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) ©Smithsonian Natl Zoo

North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli)

Okarito Kiwi (Apteryx rowi) Chick ©West_Coast_Wildlife_Centre

Okarito Kiwi (Apteryx rowi)

Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii) ©Flickr Jim the Photo

Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii)

Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii) by Jeff©©

Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii)

To find out more, see:

Apterygidae – Kiwis

Sunday Inspiration – Ostrich, Rhea, Cassowary, Emu & Kiwi

Birds That Can’t Fly – Creation Moments

Birds Are Wonderful: J, K, and L !

 

Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Greater Rhea

Back to South America this time for a flightless Ratite, the Greater Rhea (Birdway: Greater Rhea), a species I was very keen to photograph. Later we’ll consider the other southern continents in the context of the eclectic collection of species that make up the other (mostly) flightless Ratites such as the Ostrich and the Emu.

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The Greater Rhea, the largest and most widespread of the three Rhea species in South America, wasn’t numerous in the Pantanal and seemed to be confined mainly to the drier parts of the northern part. However, they weren’t hard to see and we usually saw them in pairs. They were much bigger than I’d expected, like smallish Emus. I’d seen a photo long ago of Rheas running through the pampas of Argentine at speed and appearing, I though then, closer to the size of bustards. Greater Rheas are 127-140cm/50-58in in length and weight 20-25kg/44-55lb, compared with Emus at 150-190cm and 30-55kg, and Australian Bustards at 90-120cm and 3-8kg.
greater_rhea_203432_pp.jpg
Considering they’re not closely related, I was surprised at how like Emus they looked, though with more delicate features and larger fluffier feathers, more like feather boas than the shaggy, old sheep fleece look of Emus (see the fourth photo). The Greater Rhea is quite widespread through central South America east of the Andes with a range comprising Brazil south of the Amazon Basin, eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and a big chunk of northern and eastern Argentina.
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There are two or three species of Rhea. In southern Argentina and neighbouring areas of eastern Chile, the Greater Rhea is replaced by the Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata) 90-100cm and 15-25kg. Maybe the photo that I had seen long ago was, on second thoughts, of members of this species. The third candidate, the Puna Rhea (Rhea pennata tarapacensis or Rhea tarapacensis), is similar to the Lesser Rhea, also 90-100cm and 15-25kg, perhaps conspecific. It replaces the Lesser and Greater Rheas in northwestern Argentina, northeastern Chile, southwestern Bolivia and a small area of southeastern Peru. Both the Lesser and Puna Rheas have brown feathers on the back with white edges which give them an attractive scalloped appearance.
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Back in Australia, the Emu (Birdway: Emu) has a widespread distribution through mainly on the mainland. Only the mainland race survives, other forms, usually now considered races rather than full species, having been hunted to extinction since European settlement in Tasmania, King and Kangaroos Island. The mainland race has been successfully introduced to both Kangaroo Island and Maria Island off the east coast of Tasmania.
emu_158127_pp.jpg
Australia and New Guinea have three species of the rather different but related and also flightless Cassowary, with the Southern Cassowary (Birdway: Southern Cassowary) being the only one occurring in Australia.The Cassowary photo shows a watchful father taking his confident child for a walk along the beach as a change from the usual habitat of tropical rainforest in northern and northeastern Queensland. Interestingly in most species of Ratite, the males alone incubate the eggs and take care of the young, with the only exceptions being the Ostriches and some species of Kiwi, where the sexes share parental duties.
southern_cassowary_155630_pp.jpg
The largest surviving Ratites are the Ostriches, Common and Somali, widespread throughout Africa and formerly also in Arabia, Syria and Iraq. The larger males can reach 2.75m/9ft in length and a hefty 156kg/344lb in weight. Common Ostriches are bred widely for their meat and plumage, and feral populations exist in South Australia and beyond their original range in southern Africa.
common_ostrich_165277_pp.jpg
Early theories of the evolution of these fairly similar species is that they evolved from a small flying ancestor on Gondwanaland that survived the Cretacious-Paleogene mass extinction about 66 million years ago and took advantage of the space left by the extinction of herbivorous dinosaurs by becoming large and flightless before the evolution of large mammalian predators. Parrots, incidentally, share a similar mainly southern distribution and appear to have originated in Gondwanaland, though their subsequent radiation through continental drift was naturally aided by being able to fly.
common_ostrich_s6114_pp.jpg
Needless to say, the story is more complicated than that. Extinct giant members of the group included the Elephant bird of Madagascar and the Moas of New Zealand and there are early ratite-like fossils from the Northern Hemisphere. Existing members include the fowl-like Tinamous of Central and South America which can fly, if reluctantly. The name Ratite comes from the Latin ratis, meaning raft, referring to the flat, keel-less sternum of the flightless species but Tinamous have a keeled sternum. They were formerly excluded from the Ratites but recent genetic studies have confirmed their membership. A better skeletal feature is the unusual, perhaps primitive, palate shared by all of them, which gives the name Palaeognathae, or paleognaths meaning ‘old jaw’ in Greek to distinguish them from the other clade the Neognathae, ‘new jaw’, comprising all other extant species of birds.
paleognath_cladogram.png
This “cladogram” shows the current understanding of the evolution of the Palaeognathae. The apparent close relationship between the Tinamous of South America and the Moas of New Zealand and the Kiwis of New Zealand and the Elephant birds of Madagascar is truly a biogeographers worst nightmare, worse than the unresolved mystery of the related flightless Kagu of New Caledonia (Birdway: Kagu) and the Sunbittern of South America (Birdway: Sunbittern), which we’ve considered before (Bird of the Moment #591). Other complications are the two- rather than three-toed feet of Ostriches and the dagger-like inside toe of Cassowaries.
One solution is to propose that flightlessness evolved in parallel perhaps five times in different parts of the world as this is easier to contemplate that the independent re-development of flight in Tinamous from a flightless ancestor. Loss of flight has occurred fairly readily in other groups such as the Dodo and flightless rails, particularly on islands without mammalian predators. Fossils of early flying paleognaths in North America and flightless ratites in Europe and the lack of early fossils in the southern hemisphere support a Laurian rather than Gondwanaland origin of the group. This would be similar to the Marsupials which reached Gondwanaland and thence Australia via South America leaving the American Marsupials such as the Opossums in their wake.
So, I’ll leave it with you. If you wish to pursue it, I suggest you study these excellent Wikipedia articles: Palaeognathae and Ratites, from which I got much of information here including the cladogram. I like the idea of unsolved mysteries offered by the natural world to put the all-seeing and all-knowing Homo sapiens in its place, maybe a subtle Gaia’s revenge.
Greetings
Ian


Ian Montgomery,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

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

Lee’s Addition:

I enclosed all of Ian’s newsletter, BUT!! As my readers know, this blog is written from a Christian Perspective, and we include articles about birds from various authors. I am a Creationist and do not believe in evolution.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 NKJV)
“Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 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 1:20-23 NKJV)
So, these Ratites most likely developed along the lines that Ian described, which is why I am posting this. Yet, I disagree with the timeline. Most likely the flood greatly affected those first members of the families.
“Then God spoke to Noah, saying, “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.” (Genesis 8:15-19 NKJV)
Let the Word speak for itself, and realize that these birds did branch out as described, but minus the lengthy timeline. Ian did a great job of explaining all of the very interesting ratites.

World Bird Names Changes Version 10.1

Erckel’s Francolin (Pternistis erckelii) Now – Erckel’s Spurfowl ©WikiC

The I.O.C. updated their World Bird List to the 10.1 version and here are some of those changes. First are the Name changes:

One of the big English name updates seems to be the Francolins changing to Spurfowls.
PREVIOUS IOC LISTS SCIENTIFIC NAME – New IOC LIST V10.1
Mount Cameroon Francolin Pternistis camerunensis Now – Mount Cameroon Spurfowl
Handsome Francolin Pternistis nobilis Now – Handsome Spurfowl
Swierstra’s Francolin Pternistis swierstrai Now – Swierstra’s Spurfowl
Erckel’s Francolin Pternistis erckelii Now – Erckel’s Spurfowl
Djibouti Francolin Pternistis ochropectus Now – Djibouti Spurfowl
Chestnut-naped Francolin Pternistis castaneicollis Now – Chestnut-naped Spurfowl
Black-fronted Francolin Pternistis atrifrons Now – Black-fronted Spurfowl
Jackson’s Francolin Pternistis jacksoni Now – Jackson’s Spurfowl
Scaly Francolin Pternistis squamatus Now – Scaly Spurfowl
Ahanta Francolin Pternistis ahantensis Now – Ahanta Spurfowl
Grey-striped Francolin Pternistis griseostriatus Now – Grey-striped Spurfowl
Hildebrandt’s Francolin Pternistis hildebrandti Now – Hildebrandt’s Spurfowl
Heuglin’s Francolin Pternistis icterorhynchus Now – Heuglin’s Spurfowl
Double-spurred Francolin Pternistis bicalcaratus Now – Double-spurred Spurfowl
Harwood’s Francolin Pternistis harwoodi Now – Harwood’s Spurfowl
Clapperton’s Francolin Pternistis clappertoni Now – Clapperton’s Spurfowl

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Now – Eurasian Whimbrel

Another change is with Melidectes becoming Honeyeaters.
Sooty Melidectes Melidectes fuscus Now – Sooty Honeyeater
Long-bearded Melidectes Melidectes princeps Now – Long-bearded Honeyeater
Short-bearded Melidectes Melidectes nouhuysi Now – Short-bearded Honeyeater
Gilliard’s Melidectes Melidectes whitemanensis Now – Gilliard’s Honeyeater

The rest of these changes:
Striated Prinia Prinia crinigera Now – Himalayan Prinia
Brown Prinia Prinia polychroa Now – Deignan’s Prinia
Red-winged Warbler Prinia erythroptera Now – Red-winged Prinia
Red-fronted Warbler Prinia rufifrons Now – Red-fronted Prinia
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica Now – Western Black-eared Wheatear


The group here are the  New Species that were added. The birds that have ADD AFTER were subspecies that were raised to species levels. The ADD NEW were new splits from the bird listed. There is one DELETE

ENGLISH NAME  SCIENTIFIC NAME CHANGE  CODE  LIST AFTER SPECIES

Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius hudsonicus ADD AFTER (Eurasian) Whimbrel
West African Crested Tern Thalasseus albididorsalis – Split from Royal Tern, T. maximus. – ADD AFTER Lesser Crested Tern
Sunda Owlet Glaucidium sylvaticum – Split from Collared Owlet – ADD AFTER Collared Owlet
Maghreb Owl Strix mauritanica  – Split from and ADD AFTER Tawny Owl
Butterfly Coquette Lophornis verreauxii ADD AFTER Festive Coquette
Alor Myzomela Myzomela prawiradilagae ADD NEW  After Crimson-hooded Myzomela
Cryptic Honeyeater Microptilotis imitatrix ADD AFTER Graceful Honeyeater
Spectacled Flowerpecker Dicaeum dayakorum ADD NEW Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker
Swinhoe’s Prinia Prinia striata ADD AFTER Himalayan [Striated] Prinia
Burmese Prinia Prinia cooki ADD AFTER Deignan’s [Brown] Prinia
Annam Prinia Prinia rocki ADD AFTER Burmese Prinia
Numfor Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus maforensis ADD AFTER Island Leaf Warbler
Biak Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus misoriensis ADD AFTER Numfor Leaf Warbler
Deignan’s Babbler Stachyridopsis rodolphei  DELETE
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe melanoleuca ADD AFTER [Western] Black-eared Wheatear

Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica) ©WikiC


There is one more set of changes which I’ll cover in a later post. These are enough for you to have to change your picture names, if you do that. I’ve tried to do that over the years, but have missed a few here and there. :)

There are now:

  • 10,770 extant species and 158 extinct species of birds of the world (Version 10.1), with subspecies (20,005) and annotations.
  • Classification of 40 Orders, 250 Families, 2322 Genera

Thankfully, the Lord never changes:

“But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me, And many such things are with Him.
(Job 23:13-14 NKJV)

These were from the last IOC Update – Version 9.2

Who Paints The Leaves?

Anniversary Number 12

Hooded Merganser Diving Duck, Georgia, by William Wise

Here we go again with another anniversary of the blog. Around February 13th or so, was the 12 anniversary of Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus. During this year, we hit the two million visitor mark. Wow!

Eastern Phoebe on Beautyberry

Eastern Phoebe on Beautyberry 12-19-19

Looking at all the articles written about the 11th anniversary, I’ll let this one be simple. I just reread all the comments and encouragement that you sent last year. Those were and are again so appreciated. Now, the blog has slowed down some, but we are still blogging. Because of health and our new house, most of my birding adventures seem to be out my back door. I love the avian visitors!

This year, William Wise has joined us with some very interesting articles and photos. Welcome Aboard, William!! Dr. Jim has continued to contribute articles, which are always enjoyable. Ian Montgomery is still sending posts, and Emma Forster continues to enlighten us with her stories. Me, I’ve written less, but we are still at it.

Raven in Pumpkin by Linda Marcille

The Lord is always faithful and keeps us interested in His Creation.

Stay tuned to see what this new year of blogging will discover about our Avian Wonders from the Lord.

(9)  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
(10)  And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago;
(11)  but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.
(12)  For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. (2 Corinthians 8:9-12 NKJV)

Who Won?

via Begegnung

A photographer, Alois Absenger, who lives in Southeast Styria, Germany, is one I have been following for quite a few years. He has great photos of many different topics, but captures critters often. This one caught my interest. Visit his site for splendid captures with his camera. Alois Absenger

PT8H0005-Absenger A

These verses help illustrate this:

Blessed be the LORD, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers (fox); The snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 124:6-8 NKJV)

“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3 NKJV)

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38 NKJV)

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NKJV)

“Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6 NKJV)

“Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” (Revelation 3:3 NKJV)

Thanks, Alois, for allowing me to use your photos occasionally.

Alois Absenger