Spectacular Journey to Africa by Honey Buzzard

What an amazing story!! This is from the BirdGuides.Com

…..

A young European Honey Buzzard, satellite tagged by the Roy Dennis Foundation at a nest near Forres, Scotland, in mid-August, has already reached the African continent – albeit via a remarkably risky route that included two long sea crossings.

The bird, ‘620’, was tagged on 11 August and remained in the vicinity of her natal woodland until early September. Her first significant flight came on 11 September, when she moved 50 km to the east, aided by a stiff breeze.

“Doth the hawk (or buzzard) fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?” (Job 39:26 KJV)

Young European Honey Buzzards, such as this one, often end up taking more convoluted migrations south in their first autumn than the more experienced adults (Per Schans Christensen).

However, this could have given no clues for the extraordinary events that took place on 12-13 September. Clear skies and a brisk westerly wind on the morning of 12th encouraged the young honey buzzard to continue her eastward journey, although the Aberdeenshire coast seemingly provided no deterrant – she continued out to sea just north of Aberdeen at around 11.20 am, with the next GPS position logging her at an altitude of 477 m some 57 km out to sea, south-east of the Scottish city.

She continued on an easterly trajectory and, as darkness fell, she was only half-way across the North Sea. Flying through the night, the next tag fix at 2.34 am placed her a further 282 km east of the previous evening’s reading. By 6.30 am, she reached the Danish coast safely, having made a 640-km sea crossing in a non-stop 19-hour flight, largely during the hours of darkness – hugely impressive given it was the bird’s first long-distance movement since fledging the nest.

After a couple of days’ recuperation, her southward journey recommenced as she gradually made her way through Denmark, reaching Germany by the evening of 17th. She continued on a south-westerly route, skirting the western border of Germany and entering south-east Belgium on 20th, roosting in the country that evening. The south-westerly trajectory continued over the following five days, and ‘620’ had reached Clermont-Ferrand, France, by the evening of 25th.


Juvenile European Honey Buzzard photographed on migration in Denmark – a route used by many youngsters of this species, including ‘620’ (Morten Scheller Jensen).

At this point, it seemed as if the south-westerly route would continue, taking the bird into Iberia and, most likely, across the Strait of Gibraltar, which is a well-practised spring and autumn migration route for adult European Honey Buzzards. However, ‘620’ had other ideas.

After two days near Clermont-Ferrand, she flew due south to a wood near Montpellier on the afternoon of 27th. Her migration recommenced the next morning and by 8.40 am she was at the coast. But, instead of following this south-west into Spain, strong north-westerly winds encouraged her to fly directly out to sea.

As she moved south over the Mediterranean Sea the wind veered to a north-easterly and, with a brisk tailwind, her flying speed reached 87 km/h as she flew at altitudes of up to 750 m. By 1 pm she had reached Menorca – but did not land there, instead continuing southwards. By 8.30 pm, the wind had dropped and she was flying due west, having travelled almost 750 km over open sea in 12 hours of continuous flight.

Satellite data suggests she rested on a boat for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, before recommencing her journey south. Finally, by 12.50 pm the following day, she reached the Algerian coast, completing a 1,000-km migration over open sea in just over 28 hours – an astonishing feat for such a young bird tackling its first migration. Not done there though, the young honey buzzard continued inland for a further 160 km, roosting in mountains on the northern edge of the Sahara. It then made a further 60-km movement south and roosted in one of the last patches of woodland on the north side of the Sahara on the evening of 29th.


The movements of young European Honey Buzzard ‘620’ between 11 and 29 September, from Scotland to Algeria via Denmark, Germany and France (Roy Dennis Foundation).

This amazing journey shows just how treacherous life can be for migrant birds, especially youngsters in their first autumn, yet also exhibits the impressive feats that they are capable of. But the journey isn’t done there, with the world’s largest desert still left to negotiate. As the Roy Dennis Foundation wrote on its blog on 30 September: “After two very long sea crossings, the young honey buzzard now faces another daunting challenge – her first flight across the Sahara.”

Following 620’s exploits at www.roydennis.org/category/honey-buzzard-620.

“Was it through your know how that the hawk learned to fly, soaring effortlessly on thermal updrafts? Did you command the eagle’s flight, and teach her to build her nest in the heights,” (Job 39:26-27 MSG) [I don’t use this version normally, but I liked these verses, in respect to this story.]

What A Creator!!

Birds of the Bible – Buzzard

Wordless Birds

Mute Swans – From AviBirds

Mark, from AviBirds, has given us the privledge of viewing the various videos that they produce. Here is the one about the Mute Swan (Cygnus Olor).

We are fortunate to see the Mute on several of the Lakes over in Lakeland, Florida. Plus, other places around here, but we have birded Lake Morton and Lake Hollingsworth many times over the years. Here are a few of those sightings:

Why you looking at my foot – Mute Swan at Lake Morton

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) (close up) at Lake Morton, Lakeland, FL By Dan’sPix

Mute Swan on Nest at Lake Morton

Mute Swan on Nest at Lake Morton by Dan

“And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,” (Leviticus 11:18 KJV) From the “Do Not Eat List”

Stop by AviBirds for all of their videos, or stay tuned for more postings here.

Birds of the Bible – Swans

Good News

Hawk Stuck In Grill Of Car – Dodo Channel

Dan found this on The DoDo channel and I thought we would share it here:

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. (Hawk in the case) (Psalms 10:14 NIV)

Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Christmas Island Birds

Ian’s Bird of the Incident he’s called it this time in his newsletter. By Ian Montgomery
Well, I’ve finally emerged from various Christmas Island induced rabbit holes and we can have our virtual trip to look at some of the special birds of this remote island. There aren’t any feral rabbits on Christmas Island, so Red Crab burrows might be a better metaphor.
Christmas Island is both remote and very old, making it an interesting place in terms of both biogeography and avian evolution. It is about 350km/220 miles south of the western tip of Java and 1,550km/960 miles northwest of Exmouth in Western Australia. There are no nearby islands – the Cocos Keeling Islands are 980km/610 miles to its west. It first appeared about 60 million years ago as a 5,000m/ high volcanic seamount which then underwent several geological uplifts over the following 10 million years giving it a layered structure with cliffs, both coastal and farther inland, formed by coastal erosion. Coral reefs deposited limestone over the basalt core.
christmas_island_map.jpg
60 million years ago was shortly, geologically speaking, after the extinction event, thought to be a global collision with a large object, about 66 million years ago that marked the end of the Cretaceous period. This caused the extinction of many plants and animals, notably the dinosaurs, and resulted in rapid adaptive radiation of many surviving groups, particularly birds and mammals. At the time Australia was still attached to Antarctica and the other tectonic plates of the former Gondwana were still drifting to their current locations and resulting land masses: South America, Africa, Madagascar and India.
The island has an area of 135 sq km/52 sq mi and the coast is an almost continuous cliff with few bays or beaches, as shown in the photo of the east coast. Although known to European sailors from the 17th century, the cliffs made landing, exploration and settlement difficult and it remained uninhabited and consequently undisturbed until the late 19th Century. The largest bay is Flyingfish Cove near the north of the island where the Settlement is located. The photo below shows a typical stretch of coast looking south from Margaret’s Knoll on the eastern side of the island.
margarets_knoll-ps.jpg
You’ll probably know from previous posts that I’m particularly interested in the evolution and ecology of birds, and by extension their taxonomy and biogeography. Isolated islands both provide fascinating insights into and pose intriguing questions about both evolution and biogeography and I’m going to look at the species on Christmas Island from these angles. We’ll start with the taxonomically most unusual, Abbott’s Booby, which belongs to a monotypic endemic genus, then look at other interesting seabirds and finish with land birds.
abbotts_booby_40307_pp.jpg
Three of the seven global species of Booby breed on Christmas Island: Abbott’s, Brown and Red-footed. Both the Brown and Red-footed are widespread, found throughout tropical waters around the world and members of the genus Sula which comprises all the species of Booby except Abbott’s.  Abbott’s, however, breeds only on Christmas Island and is the only member of the genus Papasula. It was originally included in Sula but structural differences between it and both Gannets and other Boobies led Olson and Warheit 1988 to move it to a new more primitive genus of its own. Subsequent DNA studies have confirmed this and Papasula is thought to have branched off the early Gannet-Booby lineage about 22 million years ago.
abbotts_boby_39566_pp.jpg
We can’t, however, conclude that it evolved in isolation on Christmas Island. The species was first described from a specimen collected by the American naturalist William Louis Abbott in 1892 on an island near Madagascar in the western Indian Ocean, either Assumption Island or the nearby Glorioso Island. Fossil evidence indicates that it was quite widespread in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and there are eyewitness reports of it breeding in the Mascarene Islands near Mauritius (as described in Wikipedia). So its endemic status on Christmas Island is a result of its extinction elsewhere. On Christmas Island the population, currently estimated at about 2,000 pairs, has declined owing to habitat clearance and the species is classified as endangered.
red_footed_booby_40375_pp.jpg
Here, by way of comparison, is the white morph of the Red-footed Booby. There is also a widespread brown morph of this species but all, or almost all of the ones on Christmas Island are of the white morph. You can see photos of the brown or dark morph here: Birdway Red-footed Booby.
Frigatebirds are very well represented on Christmas Island. Three of the five global species nest on the island: Lesser, Great and the endemic Christmas (Island) Frigatebird. The other two species are the Magnificent (Birdway: Magnificent Frigatebird) of Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans and the Ascension, endemic to Ascension Island in the Atlantic. The Lesser (Birdway: Lesser Frigatebird) has colonised Christmas Island in small numbers relatively recently while the Great (Birdway: Great Frigatebird) is an endemic subspecies (listeri) with a population of about 3,300 pairs.. The Christmas Frigatebird is globally the rarest with a population of about 1,200 pairs. The population has declined since human settlement and the species is now classified as critically endangered, both because of its small, declining population and the fact that its breeding range is limited to a single location.
Unlike Abbott’s Booby, it’s probably fairly safe to assume that it evolved on the island and differs from the other species of Frigatebird mainly in the patterning of the plumage. The male has a diagnostic white belly, while the female has a white breast and belly extending further down the belly than in other species.
chris_is_frigatebird_40587_pp.jpg
Frigatebirds feed both by snatching prey such as squid and flying fish from on or near the surface of the water and by harrying Boobies, Tropicbirds and Terns until they drop their food. In the photo above, this female has just regurgitated a no doubt tasty mixture for its chick including a flying fish, the “wings” of which you can see sticking out on both sides of the chick’s mouth.
While we’re on the subject of tropical seabirds, Christmas Island has two of the three global species of Tropicbirds: the White-tailed and Red-tailed Tropicbird. Most of the local White-tailed Tropicbird population has black and apricot rather than the typical black and white plumage and has been ascribed to a separate subspecies fulvus. It is known locally as the Golden Bosunbird. However, 7% of the local population has the normal black and white plumage and apricot coloured birds occur in small numbers elsewhere, so it may be better to consider the differences just as colour morphs.
whitetail_tropicbird_39817_pp.jpg
For me, the Golden Bosunbird was the most beautiful bird on the island and I spent hours watching them in flight from this lookout near the settlement overlooking Tai Jin House, below, the former resident of the governor in more colonial times.
tai_jin_house-ps.jpg
The Red-tailed Tropicbird, or locally Silver Bosunbird, is quite beautiful too. In pristine condition, the birds have long red tail streamers, but these frequently get broken off when the birds are nesting. They do a spectacular fluttering display flight travelling downwards and often slightly backwards near the cliffs where they nest.
redtailed_tropicbird_40016_pp.jpg
Both of these Tropicbirds are quite widespread. The White-tailed occurs in tropical parts of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans while the Red-tailed ranges from the western Indian Ocean to the central Pacific.
Special birds on Christmas Island are not restricted to sea birds: it has some unusual land birds as well. Here is the splendid and abundant Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon.
xmas_is_imp_pigeon_40723_pp.jpg
The dorsal plumage is this lustrous green which reminds me of Connemara marble. The breast is plum-coloured, the vent rufous and the eyes are a spectacular golden. It’s endemic to the island and its closest relative is the Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon (D. rosacea), widespread in the Indonesian islands of the Java Sea.
xmas_is_imp_pigeon_40171_pp.jpg
A much more elusive member of this family is endemic race natalis of the Common or Asian Emerald Dove. This used to be treated as the same species as the Emerald Dove that occurs in Australia but the latter has been split into two species: the Common or Asian and the Pacific. As a result, Christmas Island is the only place in Australia where the Common or Asian species occurs.
common_emerald_dove_40178_pp.jpg
Also elusive is the only resident owl, the endemic Christmas Island Boobook. With a length of 26-29cm/10-11.4in, it is generally smaller than the rather variable Australian Bookbook of the mainland: 27-36cm/10.6-13.8in. We went out one night near the golf course with David James, one of the leaders of the first Christmas Island Bird Week, who was armed with a recording of the call. The recording was of poor quality but to our delight and surprise we got a response and a family of three appeared at close quarters. The species is regarded as vulnerable with a population of maybe 500 pairs and there are concerns that the introduction of yellow crazy ants is affecting the availability of the invertebrate prey that is its main source of food.
christmas_boobook_39728_pp.jpg
Christmas Island also has an endemic diurnal predator, the Christmas Island Goshawk. Its taxonomy has proved a challenge for various taxonomists and it has generally been treated as a race of the Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus). In fact there are significant differences in structure, appearance and behaviour, so there is probably justification for treating it as a separate species. It is the rarest of the endemic birds with a population of probably less than 250 individuals. Unlike the Brown Goshawk, the birds are relatively tame and approachable.
variable_goshawk_39610_pp.jpg
Christmas Island has only two endemic Passerines, the endemic race of the Island Thrush that was the subject of the last Irregular Bird and the Christmas Island White-eye. White-eyes are famous for finding their way to and settling on remote islands so there are nearly one hundred species ranging from Africa through the warmer parts of Asia to Australasia and the islands of the Pacific. This one is posing on a coral tree near Tai Jin House.
xmas_is_white_eye_39318_pp.jpg
So, there you are. Plenty of rabbit or red crab burrows to be explored by budding taxonomists and biogeographers. Talking about Red Crabs, itt wasn’t the right time of the year for the Red Crab spawning event and I don’t remember seeing any as they keep out of sight at other times of the year. We did encounter some Robber or Coconut Crabs, however. This species  is the largest terrestrial arthropod, weighing up to 4kg/8.8lbs and measuring up to 1m/39in in span from leg tip to leg tip. Their range comprises islands of the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific.
robber_crab_39595_pp.jpg
Greetings and stay safe,
Ian

Lee’s Addition:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” (Genesis 2:1-2 NASB)

Very interesting how these birds have developed and interbred over the centuries. With isolation, much interbreeding within the species has helped influence these varieties within the families and orders.

See More of Ian’s posts at:

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Who Paints the Leaves?

Creation Moment’s – Tool Users That Are Something To Crow About

New Caledonian Crow (Corvus moneduloides) by Ian Montgomery

Genesis 4:22

And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.”

Many creatures have been found that use sticks, leaves and other items as tools. Chimpanzee parents teach their youngsters to poke sticks in termite holes to get termites. However, no animal has shown an instinctive tendency to make and use tools, until now.

Caledonian crows are among the known tool-users. A pair of captive New Caledonian crows were having trouble incubating their four eggs. So researchers decided to incubate and raise the young crows themselves. Upon hatching, the young crows were separated into two pairs. One pair received lessons on how to use twigs to poke food out of slots. The other pair received no lessons, nor were they allowed to see their siblings using tools. When they were given sticks and leaves, they spontaneously began using the twigs to poke food out of a slot. One of them also tore a leaf into a food poker. After evaluating all the behavioral data, researchers concluded that while crows have a natural tendency to make and use tools, they also learn how to make improved tools from their elders.

Tool making is not what separates man from animals, although we can make tools far superior to those made by animals. The Bible tells us that the earliest man was made in the image of God and that the earliest generations of man were already making iron tools.

Prayer: Father, thank You for making me for a relationship with You and making a relationship possible through Christ. Amen.

Author: Paul A. Bartz

Ref: Science News, 1/15/05, p. 38, S. Milius, “Crow Tools.” Image: New Caledonian crow (PD)

© 2020 Creation Moments. (Used with permission)


Lee’s Addition:

We have had several previous articles about the tool usage of birds:

Birds of the Bible – Uniquely Created Tools

Interesting Things – Fleas, Birds and Tools

The Best Toolmakers in the World by Emma Foster

The Crow and the Screwdriver – by Emma Foster

*

Hope for Hard Times

 

Bobble-Body or Gaze Stablization

A friend placed this video on my Facebook. Another friend commented that instead of a bobble-head, it seems to have a bobble-body. That appears to be a very appropriate name for this Kingfisher’s actions.

Kingfisher, which aired on the BBC’s Winterwatch

Audubon’s comments had this remark about this birds video:

“Here’s an experiment: While reading this sentence, shake your head back and forth, and then nod up and down. Notice how the words on your screen remain in focus? Congratulations, you just experienced “gaze stabilization.

It’s this natural ability that allows us to maintain a clear line of vision even when our bodies are in motion.”

Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) ©WikiC

“Gaze stabilization found in nature has inspired modern technologies, such as those used to stabilize images in cameras and drones. “Any cameras that films movies have image stabilization,” Dickman says.” Read this whole artcle at For Birds, a Steady Head Is the Key to Incredible Focus

Gazing, or keeping our eyes focused on things, is mention frequently in Scripture.

“Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you.” (Job 35:5 NIV)

Stephen Gazed: “But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56 NKJV)

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) by Ian

“He has regarded the prayer of the destitute And has not despised their prayer. This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. For He looked down from His holy height; From heaven the LORD gazed upon the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoner, To set free those who were doomed to death,” (Psalms 102:17-20 NASB)

“At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he leaped up and began to walk.” (Acts 14:8-10 NASB)

Where are we gazing?

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB)

What will you do with Jesus?

Which One Do I Feed First?

I have been a subscriber to Alois Absenger. He is a great photographer in Southeast Styria, I believe. I could not resist sharing his latest photo.

Which One Do I Feed First?

11 Mouths to feed ©Alois Absenger

11 Mouths to feed ©Alois Absenger

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26 NASB)

Check out his site at: https://aloisabsenger.wordpress.com/2020/06/19/11-hungrige-kohlmeisen/

Various Birds From Creation Moments

Creation Moments has articles frequently about birds. I seem to get behind in checking my mail, so they sort of “pile up.” Today’s post is excerpts, with links to some of those posts.

Dueling Bird Songs

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) - ©WikiC

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) – ©WikiC

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;…” Song of Solomon 2:12

“There is a lot more to bird song than meets the ear. Digital recording and computer technology have enabled researchers to study, in detail, various song-birds’ reactions to neighboring birds’ songs.

“In most species, singing is the male’s job. There is much more going on when he sings than simply establishing territory or attracting a mate. Researchers refer to one characteristic of bird song as “song matching.” While a male bird doesn’t like another male in his territory, he is more tolerant of a related male in a neighboring territory than of a complete stranger. A male will challenge a stranger by repeating the stranger’s song……”

Continued at Dueling Bird Songs


Hooded Crow. Warren Photographic

Are European Crows Evolving?

“And God created … every winged fowl after his kind…” Genesis 1:21

“A recent report on the Science Alert website discussed the evolution of two species of crow in Europe. The two species concerned are the carrion crow, which is black, and the grey-hooded crow. These crows are very different in appearance. They both populate continental Europe, with the grey-hoods in the East and the carrion crows in the West. Their boundary appears to be approximately where Germany’s Elbe River is. At this overlap point, it is possible for birds of the two species to interbreed. The hybrid birds are themselves fertile, which, while unusual for hybrids, is by no means unknown…..”

Continued at Are European Crows Evolving?


An Old Dead Bird And An Egg

Fossil-Avimaia Schweitzerae With Unlaid Egg ©WikiC

Fossil-Avimaia Schweitzerae With Unlaid Egg ©WikiC

“And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.” Genesis 1:22

“I like to keep ducks because I love their eggs. Last summer, one of my ducks became ill, with eggs trapped inside her. Despite my best efforts, she died. Scientists believe the same thing may have happened to a specimen of Avimaia. This fossil, dated by evolutionists at 110 million years old, had evidence of an unlaid egg inside it.” ..

“These deep-time ages do not make sense in the light of the creatures’ appearances. For example, the fact that the avimaia fossil has this unlaid egg within it suggests that the process of egg laying has not changed for these birds, which even evolutionists are having to admit must have co-existed with the very type of dinosaurs which supposedly evolved into them……”

Continued at AN OLD DEAD BIRD AND AN EGG

You can find more of these type articles in the Interesting Things and When I Consider

Who Paints The Leaves?

Hoatzin Bird: Evidence Against Evolutionary Ideas – Answers

Hoatzin(Opisthocomushoazin) by Kent Nickel

Hoatzin(Opisthocomushoazin) by Kent Nickel

Hoatzin Bird: Evidence Against Evolutionary Ideas from Answers in Genesis, by Harry F. Sanders, III

Answers in Genesis has a very interesting article about the Hoatzin Bird on line. See Hoatzin Bird: Evidence Against Evolutionary Ideas, by Harry F. Sanders, III.

I would like to share a few quotes from the article, trusting that you will follow the link to read the full article. The Hoatzin is one of those birds that the evolutionist can’t figure out what to do with. It is not a typical bird that can be neatly tucked into a family or an order. Evolutionist try so hard to convince us that dinosaurs evolved into birds, that they are really puzzled about this unique Avian Wonder from Our Creator.

“The hoatzin is a very unique bird, something of a conglomeration of traits typical of birds, reptiles, and even mammals. As a bird, it shares characteristics typical of birds such as being warm-blooded, having feathers, and so on. It is roughly the size of a turkey, with a colorful, crested head and long tail feathers. However, its most interesting and unique features are distinctly un-birdlike.”

The Hoatzin history is traced through Africa mainly, and then found in France, Brazil, and Columbia. Yet, all they find is a single bone or two in each place, and come up with their conclusions.

“The enigmatic Opisthocomus (hoatzin) still cannot be confidently placed, but some putative sister relationships can be rejected.”10 The hoatzins unique traits and obvious discontinuity from other birds have completely impeded any evolutionary attempt to classify it. Evolutionary scientists have no explanation for the origin of the hoatzin, despite numerous attempts to create a phylogenetic tree that will fit them.”

Hoatzin ( Opisthocomus hoazin) by Ian

“Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.” (Psalms 148:5 KJV)

One of the paragraph headings tells the whole story, at least as I see it. “Designed to Do What It Does Do” It eats leaves only, has a claw on wing when born, has a unique stomach and digestive system,

“Even ignoring the devastating blow hoatzin deals to Archaeopteryx as a transitional form, it causes evolutionists other significant problems, as evidenced by the trouble it gives to their cladistic models. They simply cannot determine what its ancestor was. However, if they would pause long enough to consider Genesis 1, they might recognize that hoatzin likely is its own created kind and thus its ancestor was a hoatzin.29

[Above quotes from the article Hoatzin Bird: Evidence Against Evolutionary Ideas]

From Wikipedia: “The hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin), also known as the reptile birdskunk birdstinkbird, or Canje pheasant, is a species of tropical bird found in swamps, riparian forests, and mangroves of the Amazon and the Orinoco basins in South America. It is notable for having chicks that have claws on two of their wing digits.

It is the only member of the genus Opisthocomus (Ancient Greek: “long hair behind”, referring to its large crest). This is the only extant genus in the family Opisthocomidae. The taxonomic position of this family has been greatly debated by specialists, and is still far from clear.”

Hoatzin

Interesting Birds – Hoatzin

Hoatzin – The Stinker

Opisthocomidae – Hoatzin

Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Island Thrush

When preparing editions of the Irregular Bird, I enjoy researching the natural history of the species in question. However, as anyone who goes on such a quest on the internet would know, this often proves to be a bit of a rabbit hole leading in unpredictable directions and taking up lots of time.

island_thrush_39679_pp.jpg
Such was the case this time round as I had decided, given our current travel-free situation, to take us on a trip to Christmas Island with photos of about ten of the most interesting species. This led me down endless rabbit holes and the weeks ticked by. One of these that I found particularly interesting, biogeographically and taxonomically, was the Island Thrush and, unlike most of the others, it hasn’t featured previously as an Irregular Bird, or Bird of the Week as it was in 2006.
island_thrush_39685_pp.jpg
This rather smart thrush is one of the typical thrushes comprising the genus Turdus, the members of which are widespread throughout Eurasia, Africa and the Americas and includes such well-known species as the Common Blackbird, the Song and Mistle Thrushes of Eurasia and the American Robin. The Island Thrush is about the same size as the Common Blackbird, to which it is closely related and is also a fine songster with a similar flutey song (listen to it here https://www.xeno-canto.org/204160).
island_thrush_39675_pp.jpg
This particular subspecies erythropleurus (meaning red-sided, or literally red-ribbed) is endemic to Christmas Island and was originally described as a full species Turdus erythropleurus by Sharpe in 1887. Subsequently it was found to be a race of the Island Thrush which is widespread but local through Southeast Asia from Sumatra and the Philippines and tropical Australasia and Oceania as far east as Samoa. Christmas Island is indicated by the brown arrow on the map below.
Island_thrush_distribution.jpg
The first race of the species was described by Latham in 1801. He called it the Grey-headed Blackbird, Turdus poliocephalus (polios is Greek for grey). It occurred only on Norfolk Island (horizontal black arrow on the map) and is now extinct, while another ‘species’ the Vinous-tinted Blackbird Turdus vinitinctus, also now extinct, was described on Lord Howe Island (vertical black arrow). The Christmas Island race is the sole surviving one on Australia territory.
mathews_1928_p27.jpg
You may be struck by the different plumages of the various races, so it isn’t surprising that they were originally treated as different species. The colour plate above was created by the Danish artist Henrik Gronvold, and published in this book, below, an appendix to the Birds of Australia, by Gregory Mathews in 1928. 
mathews_1928.jpg
In fact, all the various populations of the Island Thrush differ greatly from each other in appearance. Below, stolen from Guy Dutson’s Birds of Melanesia, are two other races, one completely black (efatensis on Efate, an island of Vanuatu) and the other with a white head (albifrons on Erromango, another island of Vanuatu). In some race, the sexes are similar, in others they are different and the plumages of the juveniles are quite variable too. In fact the Island Thrush’s main claim to fame is that it is globally the most variable species of bird with nearly 50 subspecies. DNA studies show that the subspecies  appear to be all closely related with one exception: the northernmost one on Taiwan, niveiceps, is considered a candidate for elevation to species rank.
birds_of_melanesia_dutson_7653.jpg
The variability and wide range of the Island Thrush is paradoxical from the point of view of biogeography. On the one hand, varability and divergent subspecies indicates isolation with a lack of genetic flow among populations, i.e. the birds don’t move between islands. On the other hand, the wide range suggests that the Island Thrush is or was very good at getting from one place to another. This apparent contradiction is another mystery waiting to be solved.
turdus_poliocephalus_vinitinctus.jpg
John Gould also illustrated the Vinous-tinted Blackbird on Lord Howe. Like the Grey-headed nominate race of Norfolk Island, the sexes were similar so the browner bird in the plate presumably represents a juvenile. In the background are the two high mountains on Lord Howe, Mount LIdgbird (left) and the flat-topped Mount Gower. This species was quite common until a shipwreck introduced rats to the island in 1918 with fatal consequences for this ground-nesting bird.
mt_lidgbird_mt_gower_lord_howe_3184_900-ps.jpg
Here are the two mountains on Lord Howe in 2013, photographed from the other side of the island from the John Gould illustration. So, we did sort of do a trip even if we ended up on Lord Howe instead of Christmas Island. I will prepare the rest of the photos for a trip to Christmas Island and try not to get too diverted by avian rabbit holes.
 
Spending a lot of time in isolation has given me the opportunity to work on the website not only adding birds and mammals from the trip to Brazil and Chile last year (about 120 species at last count), but also digging up neglected photos of other wildlife from earlier trips. If you are interested in checking these out, you can do so via the thumbnails on the Recently Added Photos page: http://www.birdway.com.au/recent_additions.php.
 
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:

I am always grateful when I get the surprise Birds of the “Moment” from Ian. When he used to do the Bird of the Week, they were very regular. Now, I love being surprised by Ian. [He is becoming almost as “off-schedule” as I am.] At any rate, what a beautiful and neat looking Thrush. Thanks, Ian for sharing another avian wonder with us.

“Even the stork in the sky Knows her seasons; And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush Observe the time of their migration; But My people do not know The ordinance of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:7 NASB)

Birds of the Bible – Thrushes

Ian’s Birds of the Week/Moment

Laughing Is Good For The Soul

Kookaburra Lowry Park Zoo 12-31-15 by Lee

Laughing Kookaburra Lowry Park Zoo 12-31-15 by Lee

A friend sent me a message with a Kookaburra video. and was wondering if this is a Kookaburra. In response, I reminded her of these previous articles here. We all need to laugh and let off some of our pent up boredom, fustration, idleness, loneliness, or just Need A Good Laugh for our soul’s Well-being.

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. (Proverbs 15:13 KJV)

Meet Merlin, from the Orlando Sea World:

Here are some of the articles from the past with these good-natured birds:

Kookaburra – Chattery Birds With A Merry Heart – 2010

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Laughing Kookaburra -2011

Kookaburra Encounter – 2014

Tickle Me Tuesday Revived – Laughing Kookaburras – 2019

Kingfishers And Kookaburras – From Creation Moments – 2020

Kookaburra at Brevard Zoo by Dan

Laughing Kookabura Brevard Zoo

Laughing Kookabura Brevard Zoo

Lee and Kookaburra at Brevard Zoo by Dan

Have a great day, and may you keep a smile on your face and in your heart.

 

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