Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, Oklahoma’s Long-tailed State Bird

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher,

Oklahoma’s Long-tailed State Bird

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

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SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER in flight

Photo credit: Oklahoma Dep’t of Wildlife Conservation

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.    (Psalm 91:4)

Feathers provide a soft aerodynamic covering for birds, and parent birds are known to use their feather-clad wings to protect their young –  so much so that God Himself compared His own protectiveness to the protective wings of parent birds (see also Matthew 23:37).  What wonderfully lightweight yet sturdy  structures feathers are – it is amazing how God cleverly imagined and invented such airworthy body parts!  One bird with unusually long tail feathers is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, several of which my wife and I saw throughout the day last Saturday, while visiting part of Oklahoma.

Specifically, last Saturday (June 16th AD2018) my wife and I undertook a day trip to Frederick, Oklahoma  –  a small town not far from Wichita Falls, Texas (yet obviously north of the Red River, on the Oklahoma side) –  to visit some American West historical sites and the Tillman County Historical Society’s museum, a/k/a Frederick’s “Pioneer Heritage Townsite Museum”, located next to the Tillman County Courthouse — which courthouse’s lawn features a statue of two of Frederick’s most courageous young adventurers, Louis and Temple Abernathy, sons of U.S. Marshal “Catch-’em-alive” Jack Abernathy.

[ See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Abernathy_and_Temple_Abernathy and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Abernathy and http://www.visitfrederickok.com/placestosee/abernathy_boys.html .]

What amazing epic adventures occurred a little more than a century ago, in that area – and are now are chronicled there, for us now to appreciate!

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SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER perching on barbed wire

                                     Photo credit: Allaboutbirds.org / Cornell University

However, that report must appear elsewhere (D.v.) because this is a birdwatching blogsite, so here I will report on the most remarkable of the birds we observed that day, the SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, which happens to be the official state bird of Oklahoma. Roger Tory Peterson describes this fine-feathered foot-long flycatcher as follows:

“A beautiful bird, pale pearly gray, with an extremely long, scissorlike tail that is usually folded. Sides and wing linings salmon-pink.  Young birds with shorter tails may suggest Western Kingbird.  Hybrids [with other tyrant flycatchers] are known.”

[Quoting Roger Tory Peterson, A FIELD GUIDE TO WESTERN BIRDS (Houghton Mifflin / Peterson Field Guides series, 3rd edition 1990), page 230.]

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SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, perching on branch

Photo credit: Dick Daniels / Carolinabirds.org

Scissortails breed mostly in Oklahoma and Texas (and Kansas), migrating to Mexico and beyond (to Panama) for the winter. Scissortails (like many other kingbirds) prefer open prairies and semi-open areas, such as thinly wooded farms, ranches, towns, and roadsides – often perching upon ranchland barbed wires, tree branches, or atop bushy shrubs, as they monitor their surroundings for flies to snatch.  As their name suggests, scissortail flycatchers are “hawking” aerial predators of flies and other flying insects (such as dragonflies, wasps, robber flies, bees, etc.), although they also enjoy eating earthbound insects (like beetles and grasshoppers), as well as winter berries.

So here is my limerick, to memorialize the time birdwatching in and around Frederick, Oklahoma, historic home of the adventurous Abernathy family:

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHERS, OKLAHOMA’S OFFICIAL BIRD

Perching and alert, scissortail

Pearly grey, its plumage is pale;

Hawking flies in midflight,

Eating bugs with delight

Long-tailed bird that Okies do hail!

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SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER with grasshopper

Photo credit: Birds of North America / Joe Overcash

 

 

 

To Avoid Hunger, Don’t Be a Picky Eater

To Avoid Hunger, Don’t Be a Picky Eater ! – Dr. James J. S. Johnson

And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.   (Luke 10:8)

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GREAT BLUE HERON ( photo: GreatEscapes.com )

Earlier today I was reviewing some pages in Peter Alden’s handy guidebook, NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY FIELD GUIDE TO NEW ENGLAND (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016), and I noticed info (on page 283) on the Great Blue Heron, whose range was described as:

“Apr.-Oct: mainly inland south to MA; nests early, disperses widely by July.  Oct.-Apr.: coast of s n. Eng.” [referring to its range in the New England states].

Alden also noted the habitat of the Great Blue Heron:  “Marshes, watersides” [and you usually find Great Blues near water — see  Lee Dusing’s “Gatorland’s Taxi Service”, posted at https://leesbird.com/tag/great-blue-heron/ ].  This makes sense — herons are wading birds, frequenting the margins of lakes, ponds, and other well-watered wetlands.

However, don’t be shocked when you find them not-so-close to bodies of freshwater, because Great Blue Herons are good at flying — and they are opportunistic eaters (e.g., crayfish, finfish, frogs, small birds, bugs, small rodents, snakes, etc.), so they are not limited to pondshores (or seashores) for their dietary opportunities.  [See, accord, “Great Blue Heron Couples, Contented with Stereotypical Domestic Roles” , posted at  https://leesbird.com/2018/05/31/great-blue-heron-couples-contented-with-stereotypical-domestic-roles/ ].

Why am I not surprised, today, when I think about the opportunistic travels undertaken by Great Blue Herons?  Because this morning, during my morning commute along Interstate 635  (a major highway in Dallas, with the eastbound and westbound lanes divided by an expansive grassy median)  I witnessed a Great Blue Heron picking around in the median’s weedy grasses, hunting for something to eat  —  with no body of water anywhere in sight!   Picky eaters, like Florida Kites (which focus their diet on Everglade apple snails) often go hungry  —  but not Great Blue Herons, because their diet is anything but “picky”.    (Seems like Great Blue Herons don’t like to go hungry.)

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GREAT BLUE HERON (photo: Audubon Society of Portland)


GREAT BLUE HERON COUPLES, CONTENTED WITH STEREOTYPICAL DOMESTIC ROLES

GREAT  BLUE  HERON  COUPLES,   CONTENTED  WITH  STEREOTYPICAL  DOMESTIC  ROLES

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace  of  life,  that  your  prayers  be  not  hindered.  (1st Peter 3:7)

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GREAT BLUE HERONS, nest-building together   (photo credit: American Expedition)

Great Blue Heronwhat a big, beautiful bird! These are the largest-sized and heaviest of North America’s herons – standing about 4 feet tall and weighing over 5 pounds (about 2½ kilograms). Because both sexes look alike, generally speaking, it is difficult to discern which is a male (versus a female).  However, when a pair is seen, expect the male have a slighter larger bill than his female.  (That’s a nice way of saying that males have noticeably bigger mouths than their females.)

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GREAT BLUE HERON couple, on nest   (photo credit: The Carolina Bird Club)

Previous blogposts have mentioned this wading bird’s bold usage of alligator “taxis” [see Lee Dusing’s “Gatorland’s Taxi Service”, posted at https://leesbird.com/tag/great-blue-heron/ ], as well as its opportunistic dietary preferences (e.g., fish, frogs, rodents, small birds, bugs, etc.), so those facts are not repeated here [See “Great Blue Heron:  Patient, Prompt, and (Rarely) Pugnacious”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2014/06/30/great-blue-heron-patient-prompt-and-rarely-pugnacious/ ].

However, it is worth mentioning that the Great Blue Heron is unafraid of stereotypical male/female courtship and domestic roles  —  something that some “modern” folks get nervous about:

GREAT BLUE HERONS.  From exchanging twigs to flying in circles, great blue herons participate in a wide range of behaviors during courtship.  To construct the big, bulky nest, the male does most of the gathering of materials, picking up sticks from the ground … [or from other places in its “territory”].  The female does most of the work of putting the nest material in place [i.e., she takes care of the home’s interior decorating].  Pairs often reuse old nests [and have been doing this long before “recycling” became a fad], but if they build a new one, it can take three days to two weeks [although it probably takes longer if they are government contractors].

[Quoting, with editorial inserts, from Kaitlin Stainbrook, “Love at First Flight”, BIRDS & BLOOMS, February-March 2018 issue, page 34.]

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GREAT BLUE HERON nest    (photo credit: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland)

Where do they build nests? Inside trees and bushes, yes, but also in tall marshy weeds, or even on the ground.  Great Blue Herons are known to collect tree twigs from nearby trees, including some branch fragments that are too long to be useful as part of a nest, so many sticks are likely to fall to the ground before a pair of great blues get their nest built “just right”.  Other nest-building materials include a “lining” of pine needles, moss, grasses, cattail reeds, and/or leaf material.

In other words, these herons are as eclectic in nest-building as they are in sourcing their food.

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GREAT BLUE HERONS, nest-building
(photo credit: Great Blue Heron RV Rentals & Sales Inc.)

A quick limerick follows.

       GREAT BLUE HERON NEST-BUILDERS KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

What’s right oft gets lost, in the throng

       As fads drop what’s right, for what’s wrong;

                        As home tasks come and go

                        Their right roles herons know;

       May that difference forev’r live long !

So Great Blue Herons know the difference between male and female roles.

What a Biblical concept! As the French would say:  vive la difference!


 

Shoreline Action: Birds, Turtles, and a Gator

Shoreline Action: Birds, Turtles, and a Gator

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Again He turneth the wilderness into pools of water, and the dry land into water springs.   (Psalm 107:35, Geneva Bible)

Water is a universal magnet for birds and other animals, so “pools” (or “ponds” or “lakes”) attract wildlife.  So having a pond (or a “lake”) in one’s backyard is good for birdwatching — as well as for watching other kinds of wildlife.

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JJSJ’s first bird-book (from 2nd grade)

During the latter part of this month, for a couple days (May 20th through 22nd), I once again had the memorable privilege of birdwatching in St. Petersburg, at the hospitable home of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel.    [Regarding this favorite backyard birdwatching site, see “Appreciating White Ibises (and Other Birds in Florida)”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/12/06/appreciating-white-ibises-as-well-as-dozens-of-other-birds-in-florida/ .]   On Monday (May 21st), on or near that lacustrine shoreline, in addition to feeding some large turtles and a hungry alligator  (about 4 feet long! — who stayed on the other side of a metal fence), we saw a lot of birds  – osprey (a/k/a “fish hawk”), great blue heron, Louisiana heron (a/k/a “tri-colored heron”), white ibis, wood stork, mallard, Muscovy duck, snowy egret , great white egret, boat-tailed grackles, anhinga (a/k/a “snake-bird”), etc.  –  and we heard the eerie calls of limpkins (a/k/a “crying bird”). Onshore we also saw birds in the trees, including blue jay and some variety of sparrows, as well as frenetic grey squirrels.    [Regarding Florida’s shellfish-snacking limpkins, see Lee Dusing’s “The Disappearing Limpkin”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2017/11/04/the-disappearing-limpkin/ .]

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COMMON MOORHEN (a/k/a Florida Gallinule, a/k/a Marsh Hen) — photo credit: Shantanu Kuveskar / Wikipedia

In error, then, I thought I saw a Purple Gallinules family, but Bob correctly identified these candy-corn-billed rail-fowl as Common Moorhen (a/k/a “marsh hen” and “Florida gallinule”), and Bob’s bird-book confirmed Bob’s identification.  Meanwhile, at one point, amidst a lot of tossing pieces of bread unto the birds and turtles (and alligator), Marcia tossed some less-than-fresh tuna fish salad upon the shore  –  and the tuna was quickly gobbled up by a Louisiana Heron! (Louisiana herons are birds that I don’t often see – I first saw one at Aransas Bay, in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, on March 11th of AD1996, and I have rarely seen any since then.)  It rained quite a bit, later (on Monday and Tuesday), so I was very glad that we did our backyard birdwatching when we did  — here is a limerick to remember that time by!

Remembering Time (and Critters) at the Shore

Ducks afloat, hawks in the sky

Herons ashore, jays fly by;

Turtles near, some beyond

Gobble bread in the pond;

Busy critters catch my eye!


Happy birdwatching!

Viking Pillows were Stuffed for Comfort: Thanks to Ducks, Geese, Eagle-Owls, Cormorants, Seagulls, and Crows!

Viking Pillows were Stuffed for Comfort: Thanks to Ducks, Geese, Eagle-Owls, Cormorants, Seagulls, and Crows!

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

And he [i.e., Jacob] lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. (Genesis 28:11)

Pillows, if they are good soft-yet-somewhat-firm head supports, facilitate restful sleeping – this is a fact repeatedly emphasized by MyPillow.com (manufacturer of really good pillows!). Besides serving as head-rests for sleeping upon, pillows can also be used as cushions on chairs or sofas, for soft-yet-somewhat-firm back support. Pillows can be used decoratively, too, to provide visual motifs or color coordination, so pillows can provide both physical comfort and visual décor. But, mostly, for centuries, pillows have been used to give comfortable head-rest.  Don’t you, like me, like to relax your weary head on a good pillow?

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Eider Down Nest (in Iceland) with Eggs / photo credit: Ice Ice Baby

For softness pillows are stuffed, with a variety of materials — feather, foam, down, etc.  During Viking times pillows were often stuffed with down and/or feathers of sea-ducks, such as eiders.  However, feathers (and/or down) from other birds were also used, often, such as form geese, seagulls, cormorants, owls (including the largest owl of Scandinavia, the Eagle-Owl), and even crows!  In other words, the Vikings stuffed their pillows with whatever was available!

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MyPillow.com / Mike Lindell

“When I invented MyPillow®, my dream was to help as many people get a good night’s sleep as possible. I personally guarantee MyPillow® will be the most comfortable pillow you’ll ever own.” [Mike Lindell, Inventor of MyPillow®]

In fact, pillows have been mentioned as having been involved in some very important events reported in the Holy Bible, with the first mention of the word “pillow” appearing in Genesis 29:11 (and soon thereafter in Genesis 28:18).

In Genesis 28:11, “pillow” is used to describe how the patriarch Jacob used a stone under his head, as a support for resting his head (like a supportive “pillar”) while sleeping, during a scary night when Jacob, in deadly danger, was fleeing north, from Beersheba (in southern Israel) toward Haran (in Turkey, near the Syrian border – in earlier times Haran, n/k/a Harran, was part of Syria/”Aram”).

And he [i.e., Jacob] lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.   And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. [NOTE: according to John 1:1:51, that vision of the heavenly ladder was a prophetic foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who Himself is, as 1st Timothy 2:5 notes, the only Mediator between God and mankind.] And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;  And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.  And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful [i.e., scary-awesome] is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.  And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.   And he called the name of that place Bethel [i.e., “house of God”]; but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and [if God] will keep me in this way that I go, and [if God] will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on,  so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God;  and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.   (Genesis 29:11-22)

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Jacob using stone for pillow (In Touch Ministries image)

Interestingly, the Bible’s first use of the verb “anoint” (mâshach, the root verb of the Hebrew noun mâshîach = “Messiah”/“Christ”/“Anointed one”; see Psalm 2:2) occurs in Genesis 31:13 (where the English verb “anoint” translates for the Hebrew verb mâshach), recalling when Jacob poured oil on his stone “pillow”.   Specifically, Genesis 31:13 refers back to the events of Genesis chapter 28, especially Genesis 28:18, which reports that Jacob “poured oil” on the stone (or stones) that Jacob’s head used for a pillow during that scary-awesome night.

The next reference to a “pillow”, in Scripture, appears in 1st Samuel chapter 19, where Israel’s future king David, in deadly danger, put “a pillow of goats’ hair” (1st Samuel 19:13 & 19:16) in his bed, as a decoy, in order to fake that his body was in bed, sick or sleeping.  When Saul ordered that David be seized from his “sickbed” – so that Saul could kill David – Saul’s men discovered that David had duped them, having already fled (with Michal’s help) out of his room’s window.

The greatest moment for pillows, in world history, is reported in Mark 4:38, which records how the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, while in a boat sailing across the Sea of Galilee,  used a “pillow” (proskephalaion = “for/before [the] head”) while sleeping through a furious storm that threatened the safety of the ship and its occupants.

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Rembrandt, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee (public domain)

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He [i.e., the Lord Jesus]  was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow [proskephalaio]; and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish?  And He arose, and He rebuked the wind, and He said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?   (Mark 4:37-41)

So pillows have sometimes provided rest during events of historic importance!

Mostly, however, pillows serve in less historic contexts. But to all of us when our weary heads need rest, a good pillow (or combination of pillows) is helpful for a night’s sleep – or just a nap.

And the same was true for Vikings – they used pillows stuffed with feathers.  Archaeologists have studied Viking pillows, and it seems that Vikings were characteristically resourceful; for stuffing pillows Vikings used whatever down or feathers were available, including feathers from Eagle-Owls (see photograph below), ducks, cormorants, sea gulls, geese, or even crows!

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Eider nests by Iceland coastline / Ice Ice Baby

For technical studies on Viking pillows, especially identification of feathers and down used therein, see Carla J. Dove & Stephen Wickler, “Identification of Bird Species Used to Make a Viking Feather Pillow”, ARCTIC, 69(1):29-36 (March 2016). Dove & Wickler report:

“Given the apparent exclusive use of bird feathers from sea-dwelling birds in the Øksnes pillow stuffing, a brief review of the important role played by these birds in the Iron Age is useful.  Gull and other seabird population densities are known to be among the largest in the world in Norway because of productive waters and adequate nesting sites (Barrett et al., 2006). Large-scale bird distributions are known to have been similar through recent historical times, so it is expected that bird densities were at least the same during the Viking Age as in modern times, making it fairly easy to obtain gull species for human use.  Given the vast population densities of gulls and other seabirds in northern Norway, it may not seem unusual that gull and Great Cormorant feathers were used in the making of this pillow; until now, however, these feathers have never been reported or documented as species used in Viking Age pillow making.  Thirteenth-century Norse sagas report the collecting of eider duck and goose down as a profitable trade item from Greenland and other North Atlantic regions.  The Norse “cultivated” down for clothing and duvets by constructing small bird-sized boxes with upright rock slabs. Eiders preferred these cozy shelters to wind-blown boulders and lined them with fluffy down plucked from their breasts, making it possible to reap several “harvests” from each nest during the laying season. Traditional exploitation of seabirds for food and feathers is well documented in the islands of the North Atlantic and coastal Norway (Shrubb, 2013). Feathers were traditionally regarded as more valuable than meat for some seabird species, such as puffins, fulmars, and gannets, in the North Atlantic (Shrubb, 2013).  The right to collect feathers, down, and eggs on so-called bird islands (fuglevær) in northern Norway has been taxed since the Iron Age, and feathers and down were commonly used for tax payments. The earliest known record of this practice is the AD 890 account to King Alfred of England by the northern Norwegian Viking chieftain Ohthere, who reported payment of taxes by the Sámi with feathers and down (Bately and Englert, 2007).  Seabirds were important in Viking life for both fresh and preserved food, and feathers and down were used for bedding and clothing.  . . .  The most frequently occurring species are European Shag, eiders, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Auk (now extinct), puffins, and guillemots. Cormorant species are particularly abundant in a number of the faunal assemblages.  In an Iron Age settlement mound not far from Øksnes, at Bleik on the island of Andøya, with occupation from ca. AD 200 to 900, birds represented 30% of the identifiable bone midden (Jørgensen, 1984). Sea-dwelling birds accounted for nearly all of the 25 bird species identified, with gulls and the Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) being the most common.   Five of the eight gull species within the genus Larus that occur in northern Norway were represented (Jørgensen, 1984). . . . .   In contrast to the documented occurrence of feathers and down in high-status graves, the pillow with feather stuffing from Øksnes is more suggestive of an everyday item, potentially owned by the deceased, that had been used for some time before being placed in the grave. The use of a common, coarsely woven wool textile for a pillow cover, and pillow fill in which gull feathers were predominant, along with a lesser quantity of Great Cormorant and sea duck feathers, may be indicators of a mundane domestic context rather than the luxury goods typical of a high-status grave.”

Quoting from Carla J. Dove & Stephen Wickler, “Identification of Bird Species Used to Make a Viking Feather Pillow”, ARCTIC, 69(1):29-36 (March 2016).

[ See also Norwegian University of Science & Technology (institutionally co-authored), “What Vikings Really Put in Their Pillows”, PHYS-ORG (February 27, 2018), posted at https://phys.org/news/2018-02-vikings-pillows.html#jCp  —  as well as Birds of a Feather — A Story of Vikings and Pillows”, ZME Science Newsletter, 28 February AD2018, by Mihai Andrei, posted at https://www.zmescience.com/science/bird-viking-feathers-28022018/  ]

So, what’s in your pillow?


 

LOONY AS A LOON

LOONY AS A LOON

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

“Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic . . .”  (Matthew 17:15a)

Like people who are called “lunatics”, some birds act like they are just loony —  but one migratory bird has a name that admits it – the Common Loon, a/k/a the Great Northern Diver.  Its characteristic wailing call is eerie; you could say it sounds lamentably loony.

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COMMON LOON (John Picken photo)

And, as its other common name (Great Northern Diver) indicates, it is a quintessential diving bird, as USF&W biologist Kathy Reshetiloff notes:

Loons are the submarines of the bird world. Webbed feet gracefully propel this bird underwater, giving the impression of submerged flight, as the loon stalks its prey.  Diving, sometimes as deep as 200 feet, the loon snatches a fish in its dagger-like bill and returns to the surface to eat.  With their [long] sleek bodies, thick necks and short tails, loons float low in the water and can easily ride out fierce storms.  Feet located toward the rear of the body make the loons agile in water but awkward on land.  They only come ashore to breed or wounded.

Loons breed in freshwater ponds and slow rivers of the Arctic and subarctic reaches of North America. They use aquatic vegetation to fashion their nests near shorelines.  Though secretive and wary of humans, the loon’s high-pitched wails, wild [almost maniacal or drunk-sounding] laughter and mournful yodels pierce the northern air, revealing the bird’s position.

Because of their dependence on water, loons must migrate to ice-free areas during fall and winter. In flight, a loon’s neck curves slightly downward, giving it a hunchbacked appearance.  They are swift and powerful fliers, usually migrating singly or in small groups.

Loons begin their southern migration before nearby waters freeze, sometimes as early as August. On the East Coast, loons winter from New England to the Gulf Coast, including the Chesapeake Bay.  They begin arriving in the mid-Atlantic region from mid to late October.  By autumn, most common loons are found along the shoreline from the mid-Bay region south to Virginia.

[Quoting Kathy Reshetiloff, “Listen for the Haunting Call of Loons on Bay’s Frigid Winter Waters”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 27(10):40 (January-February 2018).]

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COMMON LOON range map (Wikipedia)

And God made two great lights; the greater light [i.e., the sun] to rule the day, and the lesser light [i.e., the moon] to rule the night: he made the stars also.   (Genesis 1:16)

But it’s not just Great Northern Divers that are loony — the entire world is “ruled” at night by the moon, according to Genesis 1:16-18, because the moon “rules” the night.

Moon-rules-Earth.PPT-gravitational-tides

(adapted from National Geographic Education poster)

To appreciate how that works, see my article “The Moon Rules”, ACTS & FACTS, 44(9):21 (September 2015), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/moon-rules/ .   See likewise, regarding how the moon continually (and forcibly) “rules” Earth and its inhabitants, “God Purposefully Made the Moon”, ROCK DOVE BLOG (1-10-AD2018), posted at God Purposefully Made The Moon.

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GREAT NORTHERN DIVER (a/k/a LOON) by J. J. Audubon

Behold! Carolina Chickadee in Louisiana Pine Tree!

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Carolina Chickadee in pine tree (photo credit: FeederWatch.org )

 

The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth.  The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.   (Daniel 4:11-12)

Birds love trees!

Trees provide suitable platforms for nests.  Sometimes trees serve as substrates for crawling bugs that are eaten by attentive birds. Trees provide shelter form boisterous winds or excessively hot sunlight.  Trees often provide fruits or nuts that birds eat. Trees can provide protective cover to birds who hide in their branch-supported foliage. Trees provide perching sites, for resting or for monitoring the neighborhood for predator or prey.  Among other uses, trees are made to birds!

One perky illustration of these forest ecology facts is the Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis).

Carolina-Chickadee.RangeMap-Wikipedia

Carolina Chickadee range map (Wikipedia)

On Thursday, March 22nd (AD2018) I saw a “lifer”  —  a Carolina Chickadee perched upon a branch of a pine tree, in the Thomas, Louisiana (in the Franklinton/Pine area), not too many miles south of Brookhaven, Mississippi (home of some of the best Cajun/Creole cuisine I’ve ever eaten – at “Mardi Gras Gril”, a family-owned-and-operated restaurant).  The Carolina Chickadee looks a lot like it northern cousin, the beige-accented Black-capped Chickadee; however, the Carolina Chickadee has no beige plumage – its feathers are a patchwork of black, grey, and white.

Carolina-Chickadee.AlbertoLopezTorres-photo
Carolina Chickadee (Alberto Lopez Torres)

So here is my limerick about seeing the chickadee in the pine tree.

 

        VIEWING A CAROLINA CHICKADEE IN LOUISIANA

Behold!  The Carolina Chickadee  —

        Was perched within a pine tree;

               ‘Twas ready, to grab, bugs to eat,

               For insects, in air, was its meat  —

        Behold!  The Carolina Chickadee!

(Also, that day, I observed Eastern Bluebird, Barn Swallow, Swamp Sparrow, Mockingbird, Black Vulture, White Egret, Brown Thrasher, and more —  and heard a Mourning Dove’s mournful cooing.)

Louisiana is not just a “Sportsman’s Paradise”, it is a near-paradise for birdwatching (and catching frogs!)  —  but, if you are in or near in blackwater swamps,  watch out for snakes and alligators!   (Meanwhile, expect to have some good Cajun cuisine!)

JJSJ-eating-crawdads-in-Mississippi

JJSJ eating crawdads, Mardi Grad Gril (Brookhaven, Mississippi)

Lee’s Eight Words – The Fowls Of The Heaven Have Their Habitation

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THE FOWLS OF THE HEAVEN

HAVE THEIR HABITATION

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“By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12

Singing-birds – ©Beliefnet.com

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Lee’s Seven Words – Satisfied With The Fruit Of Thy Works

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Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula) Females Feeding by Raymond Barlow

SATISFIED WITH THE FRUIT

OF THY WORKS

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“He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Thy works.” Psalm 104:13

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Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula) Females Feeding by Raymond Barlow

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Lee’s Six Words – That Thou Givest Them They Gather

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Western Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica) ©WikiC

THAT THOU GIVEST THEM

THEY GATHER

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That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.” Psalm 104:28

Western Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica) ©WikiC

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Lee’s Five Words – These Wait All Upon Thee

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American Robin (Turdus migratorius) in nest ready to eat ©WikiC

THESE WAIT ALL UPON THEE

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These wait all upon Thee; that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season.”  Psalm 104:27

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) in nest ready to eat ©WikiC

[Note: God uses parent birds as His preprogrammed agents, to feed baby birds!]

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Lee’s Four Words – They Gather Themselves Together

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Spot-billed Pelicans, Black-headed Ibises & Painted Storks nesting at Garapadu ©WikiC

THEY GATHER THEMSELVES TOGETHER

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“The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.  Psalm 104:22

Wikipedia

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