Heaven’s New Jerusalem and Birds – Introduction

Sapphire Flycatcher (Ficedula sapphira) ©WikiC

I am currently attending a ladies Bible study class on Heaven. It is very interesting, and of course, when the mention of the various precious stones, with their beautiful colors came up, birds fluttered to mind. I have been accused of having a “bird brain.” [Always thinking about things in relation to birds.]

A huge question came to mind. Wonder if I could find birds whose names or colors closely reflected the names of those stones? Sounds like a simple premise. Right? Not so fast, as I am finding out.

Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus) by Nikhil Devasar

Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus) by Nikhil Devasar

First some of the verses that we were reading from Revelation Chapter 21:

“10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. (KJV)  [Yes, pearls are not stones]

Things go well with Gold, Jasper, Sapphire, Emerald, Topaz, Jacinth?, and Amethyst. What about chalcedony, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolyte, beryl [maybe], and chrysoprasus?

Ruby-topaz Hummingbird (Chrysolampis mosquitus) ©WikiC

King James Study Bible 21:9–21. These verses describe the beauty and glory of the holy Jerusalem. It is called Christ’s bride (cf. v. 2), a reference perhaps to the church as the city’s principal inhabitant. It is an expression of the glory of God. The wall shows its security and protection. Its gates show accessibility. Saved Israel is also present. It has dimensions of approximately 1,500 miles cubed. The gold and precious stones may be earthly materials glorified (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50–54). They depict the glory, beauty, and eternal quality of the city. Jasper is green, sapphire is blue, chalcedonyis green, emerald is green, sardonyx is red and white, sardius is bloodred, chrysolyte is yellow or gold, beryl is green, topaz is greenish gold or yellow, chrysoprasus is green, jacinth is bluish purple, and amethyst is purple quartz. The effect is a magnificent city of brilliant gold adorned with gems of every color. There appears to be only one street (cf. 22:2), also made of pure, radiant gold.

Amethyst-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus_amethysticollis) ©WikiC

Stones, Precious
“Precious stones are frequently alluded to in Scriptures; they were known and very highly valued in the earliest times. The Tyrians traded in precious stones supplied by Syria. Eze_27:16. The merchants of Sheba and Raamah in south Arabia, and , doubtless, India and Ceylon, supplied the markets of Tyre with various precious stones. The art of engraving on precious stones was known from the very earliest times. Gen_38:18.
The twelve stones of the breastplate were engraved, each one, with the name of one of the tribes. Exo_28:17-21. It is an undecided question whether the diamond was known to the early nations of antiquity. The Authorized Version gives it as the rendering of the Hebrew word, yahalom, but it is probable that the jasper is intended.
Precious stones are used in Scripture, in a figurative sense, to signify value, beauty durability, etc., in those objects with which they are compared. See Son_5:14; Isa_54:11-12; Lam_4:7; Rev_4:3; Rev_21:10; Rev_21:21. [Smith’s Bible Dictionary]

Golden Tanager (Tangara arthus) ©WikiC

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says this of Revelation 21:19-21″

“The decorations of the foundations (with the apostles’ names inscribed on them) include 12 stones involving different colors. The color of the jasper is not indicated. The sapphire was probably blue; the chalcedony comes from Chalcedon, Turkey and is basically blue with stripes of other colors. The emerald is a bright green; the sardonyx is red and white; and the carnelian, called a “sardius” in the NASB, is usually ruby-red in color, though it sometimes has an amber or honey color. In Rev_4:3 the carnelian stone is coupled with the jasper to reflect the glory of God. The chrysolyte is a golden color, probably different from the modern chrysolyte stone which is pale green. The beryl is a sea green; the topaz is a transparent yellow-green; the chrysoprase is also green; the jacinth is violet in color; and the amethyst is purple. The stones together provide a brilliant array of beautiful colors. The gates resemble huge, single pearls, and the street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass (cf. Rev_21:18).
While the beauty of the city may have symbolic meaning, no clue is given as to the precise interpretation. Since it is reasonable to assume that the saints will dwell in the city, it is best to take the city as a literal future dwelling place of the saints and angels.”

Pearl-spotted Owlet (Glaucidium perlatum) Breeding Room by Lee

Pearl-spotted Owlet (Glaucidium perlatum) Breeding Room by Lee

As you can see, it is going to take a while to figure out some of these colors to find possible matching bird colors and names. A friend mentioned that the colors were maybe the same as the ones in the rainbow. Sounds reasonable. When the Lord created the birds, He knew about the rainbow that was going to be given as a promise after the flood. He also knew the colors of the foundations of the New Jerusalem. So, why would he not use those colors in birds when He created them?

“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)

Stay Tuned!

Jackdaws and Valentines

Western Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula) ©WikiC

Western Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula) ©WikiC

Another blogger, who also enjoys writing about birds, shared this very interesting connection between Jackdaws and Valentine Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day by Grey Feather Photography

Clair starts off with:

“Did you know jackdaws are one of the few birds which truly mate for life?

Jackdaws form pairs as young birds and will then remain together for all of their lives in a partnership sometimes referred to…”

Click here to read the rest of this very interesting article, Happy Valentines Day


“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:25 KJV)

Creation Moment’s – Let Birds Fly Across The Expanse

LET BIRDS FLY ACROSS THE EXPANSE

Genesis 1:20

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”

On the fifth day of the Creation Week, God created swarms of sea creatures. He also created flying creatures. In Genesis 1:20, God says: “Let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” The birds were not, in fact, in the firmament. When the KJV translates the phrase as “in the open firmament”, the word open reminds us that the birds are simply seen against the background of the firmament, and are not in it. We heard in the previous Creation Moment that God created whole swarms of sea creatures. It could also be assumed that He created a very large variety of flying creatures.

This brings us to the fact that many translations tell us that God made birds. The KJV refers to fowl. The use of a word other than bird in the KJV is significant. The Hebrew word is ôph (עוֹף). There is another Hebrew word that means birds. It is tsippor(צִפּוֹר). In fact, the word ôph is much wider in meaning than birds and includes all flying creatures. For instance, in Leviticus 11:13-19, the bat is included at the end of a list of birds. But the collective word used in Leviticus 11:13 is ôph, not tsippor. So ôph does not really mean birds – it means flying creatures. Hence, the creation of flying creatures in Genesis 1:20 includes not only birds, but also bats, and, by implication, flying insects also – and pterosaurs – the flying dinosaurs.

Once again, we notice the efficiency and economy of the words used in Genesis 1, which gives far more information than at first we think.  

Prayer: Your wonderful book, the Bible, astonishes us again and again as it explains to us how and why You created this world. Thank You for the wide variety of creatures that You put in the world. Amen.

Ref: Sarfati, J. (2015), The Genesis Account, (Powder Springs, GA: CMI), pp. 223-225. Image: Adobe Stock Images, licensed to author.

©Creation Moments 2019, Used with permission.


A very interesting study of the creation of the “fowls/birds.” Would make for a good BIrds of the Bible article, but they beat me to it. :)

Eleventh Anniversary – What Next?

Snowy Egret Viera Wetlands – 12-31-2018 by Lee

The last three post, which were about this Eleventh Anniversary of Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus, are listed below. But what about the future of this adventure with Birds, the Bible, and Birdwatching? Do I stop, slow-down, or continue? All three of those choices have crossed my mind.

What would you, my readers, want me to do? What do I want to do? What would the Lord have me do?

Could I be like Paul and say, “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;” (Philippians 1:25 KJV)?

Or like Paul told Timothy, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;”(2 Timothy 3:14 KJV)?

Not sure how much joy or learning has been imparted, but the effort has been there. I trust the past 11 years has had useful information and been a blessing to most of you. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these articles, along with my other writers, and been blessed by the Lord for these efforts.

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) at South Lake Howard Nature Park by Lee

Because of the issues with the last two back surgeries, my birdwatching adventures have slowed way down. That is part of the dilemma. The use of a walker or cane prevents some adventures. There are always zoos and places with boardwalks. So, hopefully the Lord still has some of His birds for me to watch and maybe get their photos. Doing articles about those listed below are much easier because they only require an “at home adventure.” :)

Oh! What Do I Do?  – Flamingo at Gatorland – 3-8-16 by Lee

Here are my questions to readers:

Do you mind if the “out in the field” birdwatching isn’t written about as much?

Would you like to see some of the original “Birds of the Bible” articles updated? [That can be handled easily.]

Which series would you like to see more articles about?

It would be nice and very helpful if you could leave some remarks. Maybe you even have an idea for a new series.

Please leave a comment if you can. If you are not a blogger, you can leave remarks at Lee@leesbird.com

Dr Jim (JJSJ) and Golden Eagle Feeding – Lake Morton by Lee

Previous Articles about this Eleventh Anniversary:

 

 

Eleventh Anniversary of Blogging About Birds – Part III

Firey-throated and Volcano Hummingbird ©Raymond Barlow

I trust the last two posts have been informative and a blessing. Eleventh Anniversary and Eleventh Anniversary II. It still amazes me how the Lord would choose to use us in even a small way. If you have followed Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures very long, you know I believe that all these beautiful birds are a gift from the Lord’s Creative hand. They did not evolve from some blob or a dinosaur. The Bible has given us too many proofs of this, unless you have chosen not to believe His Word. I have no problem believing the following verses:

“And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his 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 fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.” (Genesis 1:21-23 KJV)

Watching Birds at MacDill AFB Shore

Nor believing that Adam named those first critters, including the birds:

“Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:19-20 NKJV)

Of course today, the I.O.C. gets together with many ornithologist from around the world to name birds. Adam didn’t need a committee at that time. He was the only human present. Eve came after the naming. [They, IOC, have increased their numbers by over 400 newly named birds since the Birds of the World section was added.]

Black-capped Foliage-gleaner (Philydor atricapillus) by Dario Sanches

Black-capped Foliage-gleaner (Philydor atricapillus) by Dario Sanches

Back to the reviewing of the past eleven years. From the beginning, the Lord’s Word about the birds has been the main part as I tried to find the various birds mentioned in the Bible. From there is has grown in various ways, but always, God’s Words are mentioned. Almost all of our writers, that thankfully add to this blog, believe that these fantastic birds are from God’s Hand.

The Seventh Anniversary in 2015 revealed that there had been 1.3 million visits and there were over 1,100 followers. Wow! By then Golden Eagle, Dr. James J. S. Johnson and Emma Foster were writing articles. Enough to have their own page in the menu [left side].

Must have skipped the 8th and 9th anniversaries, but much was going on. The Birds of the Bible for Kids blog was being re-fired up and most of the articles were move back over to there.

Dust Storm in Texas in 1935 ©WikiC

The Tenth anniversary had me Really Kicking Up A Dust Storm, sometime during those years, somehow, this site was hacked. Many of the photos used in post were GONE. The “pipe dream” of having a photo of every bird in the world blew up. This really involved much work to fix all the broken links that caused. Now in the Birds of the World, the list of the birds are there, but with some photos at the end of the page. [This was the only way to fix hundreds of broken links.]

If you have a blog or are thinking about starting one, they are enjoyable, but there can be issues that can “spoil the vines. “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” (Song of Solomon 2:15 KJV) Do we throw in the towel, or do we continue? So far, we have continued. Else we wouldn’t be celebrating 11 years of blogging.

Hummingbird at Trumpet Vine ©Harold A Davis

The Lord has been very gracious. We have made many friends over the years because of this blog. I feel like I know some of you personally, even though we probably won’t meet until we arrive in heaven. Thanks for all the friendships that have developed over these many years. The Lord truly has been blessing.

Tomorrow, I hope to add at least one more post to this anniversary remembrances.

Wordless Birds – With Hummingbirds

 

 

Eleventh Anniversary of Blogging About Birds – Part II

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) by Dan

“Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,” (1 Chronicles 16:12 NKJV)

Yesterday, the Eleventh Anniversary of Blogging About Birds article mentioned our early beginnings for this blog. Today, I’d like to continue with what the Lord has enabled us to do. Over the years, there have been Anniversary articles written. Each one tried to update the latest events, but also, to look back and thank the Lord for His blessings. The Lord wants us to “Remember.” His blessings.

“Remember to magnify His work, Of which men have sung.” (Job 36:24 NKJV)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Dan

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Dan

Here are six of those years:

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.” (Psalms 143:5 NKJV)

Actually, yesterday, I used a quotes from Jim Elliot, but was actually thinking of a quote I used in the Happy One Year Anniversary! article. This is what happens as you age. :) Both men were great missionaries and showed tremendous insight in their quotes.

“Our pastor just reminded us of a quote by William Carey, an English Missionary to India:

“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”

That article was reposted in 2017. Looking Back – Happy One Year Anniversary! – Repost

In 2010, the 2nd Anniversary rolled around and some quest writers were added. Also, Ian Montgomery started allowing his Bird of the Week articles to be posted. Also, the Plus section, Birds of the World, and Birds in Hymns started up. This is all covered in Second Anniversary of Blog

It appears that I forgot to produce a Third or Fourth year anniversary article. Plenty was going on. The number of visitors to this blog, for which I am thankful for everyone who visits every time, was up to 250,000 on Apr. 9, 2011. 500,000 visits by Mar. 1, 2012, and about 850,000 by the time the Fifth Anniversary rolled around. Formed by Him started around the beginning of 2012. Also, many very talented photographers allowed me the permission to use their photos. There has been a list of them in the right column for years.

White-throated Sparrow by Ray Barlow

In 2013, I remembered to produce a Fifth Blog Anniversary post. There I mentioned the second blog site, Birds of the Bible for Kids. That website was started to get back to the roots of the whole purpose of blogging. That is, introducing young people to the Birds that are mentioned in the Bible. Like this main blog, it also has had growing pains. It was started, then I killed it and moved all the articles over here. Then last year, I decided to restart it back up. Much of the ups and downs of doing the “kids blog” has been due to my health issues. Right now it is up and running, not full speed, but then, neither am I running at full speed. Though I am much improved from last summer’s back surgery. Let’s hope and pray that the young people’s blog starts producing more articles.

I forgot again on the Sixth anniversary of the blog, but WordPress reminded me. Never Give Up

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.” (Psalms 37:23-25 NKJV)

Enough for now. I trust you are enjoying seeing how the Lord leads in our lives. Who ever thought that six years into doing a blog would have lead me to that point. I’ll tell you more in the next part.

Whatever your talent or abilities, if you know the Lord as your Savior, let Him use you. This is just a little blog in the midst of millions, yet the Lord has been using it. That is what I read from your remarks. Thank you for visiting over the years.

Using Whatever Talent the Lord Has Given You written Sept 16, 2010

Eleventh Anniversary of Blogging About Birds

Wood Stork by Lee

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;” Job 12:7

The idea for the Birds of the Bible lessons began when we were members of Bethany Baptist Church in Avon Park, Florida. I used to carry a laptop into a junior Sunday School class, and for five minutes each week, present a different bird mentioned in the Bible.

Then, we moved up to Winter Haven and began attending Faith Baptist Church, where we are still members. For two years there was no outlet for me to present my birds. When Stephen, the assistant to the pastor, at that time, became aware of what I did, he offered me a chance to post on The Fountain. [The church’s blog] I have written about this before, but am still surprised at how the Lord has allowed me to continue this adventure for so long. On February 15th, 2019, it will be eleven years since this began.

The Fountain was/is on the Blogger platform where I cut my “blogging teeth.” They stopped using the blog in 2013, but have kept all their post. So, all my beginning blogs are still there, along with my learning process. Lee’s Birdwatching Adventure was begun so I could learn how to layout articles for the church blog.

My first blog in February, 2008: Birds of the Bible – Introduction (by Lee Dusing)

American White Pelicans at Lake Hollingsworth

On July 05, 2008, Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus was created on the WordPress platform, where it still is today. All those original articles were moved over to the new blog and removed from the old one. What they look like on the church’s blog is how they looked originally.

When all this began, it never crossed my mind that the Lord would allow it to grow to where it is today.  Our pastor is always challenging us to give the Lord whatever talent or ability we have. Let Him decide how it is to be used, and be willing to let Him use us.

“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 1:21-23 NKJV)

Thank you Lord for letting me love you and your created critters, especially the birds of the air. Another saying our pastor uses is from Missionary Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” There has been many hours given, and I won’t know until heaven to find out what rewards these efforts may have earned.

Looking through Jim Elliot’s quotes on that link, I found these also:

“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God. ― Jim Elliot

“God always gives his best to those who leave the choice with him.” ― Jim Elliot

“Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth!”― Jim Elliot

“Lord, make my way prosperous not that I achieve high station, but that my life be an exhibit to the value of knowing God.”― Jim Elliot

“I couldn’t have asked for more than God in deliberate grace has surprised me with!”― Jim Elliot

I am so thankful for the various writers that have contributed to this blog over the years. Two have already gone on to heaven, A J Mithra, and April Lorier. Currently, Ian Montgomery, Dr. James J. S. Johnson, Emma Foster, Golden Eagle, and others are contributing to the blog.

Again, all of these efforts would be of no avail, if you, the reader, had not stopped by to read these articles. Thank you for all your visits over the years. We trust you will continue to stop in to see what new Birdwatching Adventures we have written about.

One of my most favorite videos was on the Eagles post, which isn’t currently working on the Fountain post, The Birds of the Bible ~ Eagles

but here it is:

“Now my days are swifter than a runner; They flee away, they see no good. They pass by like swift ships, Like an eagle swooping on its prey.” (Job 9:25-26 NKJV)

Here are some of the first Birds of the Bible articles on The Fountain:

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

Looking through the Blog Archive [right side] on the Fountain, you will find others also.

Woodstock’s Mating Dance

Woodstock and Mating Dance ©Peanuts

Well, it’s mating time here in Florida for many of our Herons and Egrets. Not that Woodstock is in their family, but he made his efforts.

Great Egret by Dan at Gatorland

We haven’t been to Gatorland yet this year, but reports are coming in for the mating of some and the hatching of other birds over there.

Gatorland 4-2-15 by Lee

Thought you might enjoy seeing some of the previous year’s photos of mating rituals. Maybe Woodstock can improve his technique from seeing them.

Tricolored Heron on Rail at Gatorland

The birds even brighten up their faces (lore) for mating. Wonder what Woodstock’s beak would look like?

Snowy Egret at Gatorland by Lee

Snowy Egret at Gatorland

Tricolored Heron at Gatorland

Tricolored Heron at Gatorland

Great Egret at Gatorland by Lee

SNOWY EGRETS, showing off for the Dusings (Lee Dusing photo, at Gatorland, Forida)

Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.” (Psalms 104:17 KJV)

When they get through all that displaying, eventually, we should start seeing some of these around there.

Baby Great Egret at Gatorland 3-6-18

Now! To find the time to get over to Gatorland. It’s only about 50 miles away.

A few other Gatorland blogs:

Gatorland’s Taxi Service

Great Egret Preening at Gatorland

Baby Snowy Egrets at Gatorland

Gatorland From Dan’s Camera

Sharing The Gospel

Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Australian Grebe

Now this really is a bird of the moment given the recent floods in Townsville generally and Bluewater in particular where I live. On Tuesday morning I went down to the area below the flood bank to check out the damage from the third flash flood that had occurred the night before. Compared with neighbours who have had their houses and businesses flooded I have got off very lightly but nonetheless the mess made by the floods is a bit sad: carefully nurtured native trees torn up or flattened and lots of flotsam such as trees, branches, tangled fence wires and other debris.

Townsville flooding by Ian

Between floods there has been a persistent knee-deep pond at the bottom of the flood bank below the house (above) and to my delight I found this Australasian Grebe had taken up residence, a good place to be as small fish normally get trapped in this area after floods. It was still there when I returned from the house with my camera.

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) by Ian

In the second grebe photo, it has just surfaced after a dive and you can see the way grebe legs are attached at the very rear of the body. Very good for swimming and diving, the original outboard motor, but fairly useless for walking on land. Unsurprisingly grebes stay almost permanently on water and build floating nests.

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) by Ian

The grebe didn’t seem very pleased to see me, third grebe photo, so I left it in peace and when I went down the back again on Wednesday it had moved on and the water levels were dropping.

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) by Ian

The colours don’t show very well in the current gloomy overcast weather but my visitor was in breeding plumage: generally dark grey with a rufous patch behind the cheeks extending onto the sides of the neck. The fourth grebe photo shows a different bird in breeding plumage just before sunset which, if anything, exaggerates the colours but we are allowed a little artistic license.

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) by Ian

The fifth grebe photo show one in non-breeding garb. Not only has the plumage changed but the bill is pale too and the patches on the gape look smaller and have lost their yellowish hue. Both sexes are similar in appearance in breeding and non-breeding plumage.

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) by Ian

The Australasian Grebe has a prolonged breed season, August to April, and breeds opportunistically in response to good aquatic conditions. In the tropics they may breed at any time of the year. When breeding they prefer wetlands with well vegetated shores for cover. At other times they occur on a wide variety of mainly fresh permanent or semi-permanent wetlands and, as I’ve just discovered, on temporary floodwaters. They have benefitted from the building of small reservoirs and dams on farmland.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian

 

I haven’t got a photo of a nesting Australasian Grebe but above, sixth grebe photo, is one of the very closely related Little Grebe of Eurasian and Africa, which featured as bird of the moment in 2012.

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) by Ian

The seventh grebe photo shows a family of Australasian Grebes. The young birds, typically for grebes, are beautifully patterned and in the eighth grebe photo you can see the striped head and neck and red gape patches. Gape patch colours are clearly important in the life of grebes. Presumably red means ‘feed me’ and you can guess what yellow means.

Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) by Ian

Grebes may lose out in the walking stakes and prefer diving to flying when disturbed. They, however, are remarkably strong fliers and can move long distances, usually at night. There is some uncertainty about seasonal movements of the Australasian Grebe in Australia but birds appear to move to the coast from arid regions during drought. It is widespread in Australia, though rare in Tasmania and also occurs in New Guinea, Timor, Java, the Solomons, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The species colonised New Zealand in the 1970s.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) by Ian

For a long time it was treated as a race of the very similar Little Grebe (above) but the ranges of the two species overlap without interbreeding in New Guinea. The Little Grebe occurs across Eurasia from Ireland through Europe, South and Southeast Asia to Japan and south to Java and Northern New Guinea. It also occurs widely across sub-Saharan Africa to South Africa and east to Madagascar.

We are fortunate to appreciate the gifts that nature gives us. I went into town on the same day my welcome visitor arrived and was treated to the sight of a large flock of Royal Spoonbills feeding in a flooded park at Bushland Beach and a Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring over the highway near Black River on the way home.

Greetings

Ian


Lee’s Addition:

“If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young;” (Deuteronomy 22:6 NKJV)

Well this newest addition from Ian surprised me. Maybe he is going to get back into the “Bird of the Week” routine like he used to produce. I have always enjoyed these newsletters from Ian. Very thankful that he gave me permission years ago to re-post them here.

I have always enjoyed Grebes here. Of course, ours do not look like the ones he gets to see. Ian said, “Unsurprisingly grebes stay almost permanently on water and build floating nests.” One would have to wade out to the nest in the verses I chose.

Ian’s Bird of the Week series

Save the Parrots

Bird of the Moment: Satin and Leaden Flycatchers

Satin Flycatcher (Myiagra cyanoleuca) Male ©Ian Montgomery

Bird of the Moment: Satin and Leaden Flycatchers by Ian Montgomery

One day last October, I was doing the dishes in the upstairs kitchen and checking, as one does, bird activity in the two bird baths below when this unusual one arrived. I keep my binoculars on the kitchen window sill for moments like this and I was astonished to see that it was a male Satin Flycatcher, very rare in North Queensland.

Happily it stayed around long enough for me to grab the camera and get a few photo both at the bird bath and, second photo, in a nearby shrub before it flew away. Satin Flycatchers are notoriously difficult to distinguish from their close relatives Leaden Flycatchers but in the right light and at the right angle – i.e. from above – the overall satiny blue sheen is unmistakable.

Leaden Flycatcher last featured as bird of the week/moment in 2003 with this one photo below, so now is a good opportunity to review it and the question of distinguishing the two species. Graeme Chapman wrote an article – ‘Mixed Up Myiagras’ – on identifying Monarch Flycatchers in the June 2003 issue of Wingspan, the Birds Australia magazine and I’m going to quote extensively from that.

The key field mark for distinguishing Leaden and Satin Flycatchers is the shape of the demarcation between the dark throat patch and the white breast and belly. In the male Leaden Flycatcher (above) the line curves upwards where the dark throat patch meets the wing producing a right angle or slightly acute angle in the white part. In the Satin Flycatcher, see the next two photos, the demarcation curves downward at the sides where it disappears below the wing and there is no sharp angle, rather a curve through a decidedly obtuse angle.

This is perhaps easier to see in the photo below, where the bird is obligingly lifting its wing as it preens.

To add to the problem, male Leaden Flycatchers have a bluish sheen on the throat patch and to a lesser extent on the head. Given the refractive, iridescent nature of such colours in feathers (optical structure rather than pigment) the actual colour produced depends on light conditions and angle. The Leaden Flycatcher in the photo below looks quite bluish (thought the back and wings are greyer) and could easily be mistaken for a Satin. Here the angle of the white area comes to the rescue and this bird is definitely a Leaden.

I haven’t mentioned females or juveniles yet: they’re even harder than the males. Females and juveniles of both species have reddish buff breasts but these are very variable in intensity and lack the clear demarcation with the white breast that comes to the aid of identifying males. In general, female Satins are darker overall than Leadens and have a bluish sheen on the head. But be warned, the heads of female Leadens can be slightly bluish too as in the photo below. I regret that I haven’t got a photo of a female Satin.

If all else fails, habitat, location and time of year are important. Satin Flycatchers breed in moist forests; in Tasmania (from which Leadens are absent) and Victoria this includes both inland and coastal forests but in New South Wales the Satin occurs only in damp wooded gullies in the high country along the Great Dividing Range. Given the problems of identification, there is uncertainty whether they breed in Southeast Queensland and Graeme Chapman couldn’t confirm breeding there.

John Young reported finding breeding pairs in Northern Queensland in highland rainforest (two pairs near Paluma, December 1984, and one pair at Wallaman Falls, November 1991) but it isn’t known whether this is part of its normal breeding range or even the same race as he reported the birds as being larger and darker than southern ones and the eggs being 20% larger.

Leaden Flycatchers occur in a wide variety of wooded habitats and may be found breeding in the same areas as Satin Flycatchers.

Leaden Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula) Female in nest by Ian

Timing is important as the Satin Flycatcher is a migrant and winters mainly in New Guinea. The late Andrée Griffin lived in Paluma, about 40km from my place as the flycatcher flies, for many years and kept careful records of birds. She reported to Graeme Chapman that Satin Flycatchers arrived there each year on their way south at the beginning of October and were seen for about a fortnight. That date coincides well with my record of 12 October and Len Ezzy, a local birder, recorded one a week later at the Townsville Town Common. In 2016, I thought I saw a female Satin Flycatcher having a bathe in my pool on 22 September, but she didn’t hang around while I got the camera.

Flooded Creek by Ian – Townsville, Australia

For those of you who have heard the news about flooding in Townsville in general and Bluewater in particular on Wednesday, I’m happy to report that my house is high up enough above the creek to have been spared so far, unlike some unfortunate residents farther down the creek. Upper Bluewater has had over 900mm of rain in the last three days and it is hard to imagine it ever exceeding that. This is what Bluewater Creek looked like from just outside my house shortly after the flood peaked on Wednesday. The creek is normally invisible from here in a gorge about 200 metres away where the distant trees are.

Greetings – Ian


Ian’s Birds of the Moment come in quite unannounced. Never know when to expect something from “down under.” Yet, everytime, Ian has a very interesting bird/birds to introduce us to. Thank you, Ian for stopping by with another set of beautiful avian wonders.

The verses below remind us that the Lord provides for his critters and birds. In this case, the “hills” might have been a bit over filled.

“By them [streams] the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. He waters the hills from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.” (Psalms 104:12-13 NKJV)

Ian’s Birds of the Week [Month, Moment]

Hope for Hard Times

Flag that Green Heron Nest!

Flag that Bird Nest!  (Reporting on Green Herons and their Boat-tailed Grackle Neighbors)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

As a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man that wanders from his place.  (Proverbs 27:8)GreenHeron-nest-1hatchling-3eggs.JeffreyPippen

GREEN HERON nest:  1 hatchling, 3 unhatched eggs, parent AWOL!

(Jeffrey Pippins photograph)

Along a tidal creek at Port Lavaca, on the southeastern coast of Texas, on the west side of Lavaca Bay (where Hurricane Harvey storm-surged during August AD2017, with tidal flooding up to 6 feet deep), a “colonial” population of nesting Green Herons (Butorides virescens) was studied by Nate L. Trimble, for his M.S. thesis (AD2016, at Texas State University), with much of that study (co-authored by the M.S. committee chairman, M. Clay Green) being reported in last year’s issue of the BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY.

GreenHeron-with-fish.NedHaight-ChesapeakeBayProgram

GREEN HERON with fish (Ned Haight / Chesapeake Bay Program)

Most of that study focused on the nesting success (i.e., successful egg-laying, incubation, hatching, and fledging) of Green Heron babies, but one detail caught my eye (and is noted below), reminding me how birds think for themselves, sometimes in ways that ornithologists don’t expect.

But first, the context:  the journal article’s abstract provides a contextual overview of the Green Heron study:

Green Herons (Butorides virescens) are small herons found throughout much of the United States and southwards into Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.  The species generally forages solitarily and often nests singly [i.e., in single pairs], with a breeding pair defending a breeding territory but sometimes form loose breeding colonies [i.e., neighborhood populations] presumably as a function of habitat availability and/or predator pressure.

We monitored a breeding colony of at least 35 Green Heron pairs along a tidal creek in Port Lavaca, Texas.  Our study sought to examine the nesting ecology of colonial Green Herons and to investigate [mathematical] relationships between nest density, nearest neighbor distance and nest success. …

[Quoting Nate L. Trimble & M. Clay Green, “The Influence of Nearest Neighbor Spacing on Nesting Success of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) in Texas”, BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 51(1-2):32-41 (December 2018), at page 32.]

GreenHeron-EastTexas.YouTube

GREEN HERON, Eat Texas shoreline (YouTube)

The habitat of these studied Green Herons, according to Trimble & Green is as follows:

The location of the breeding colony [of Green Herons] near Port Lavaca, is a treeless tidal wetland with the shrub Marsh Elder (Iva frutescens) lining the banks of a small tidal [saltmarsh] creek offshoot of the much wider Garcitas Creek near Port Lavaca [Texas].  These shrubs are utilized by the Green Herons for placement of their nests.  Iva frutescens at this location ranges from 1-2 m[eters] in height and is the tallest foliage and the only woody vegetation in the immediate vicinity of the colony.  This shrub has a relatively high tolerance to salinity, but a relatively low tolerance to flooding, causing it to grow in narrow bands in upper regions of salt marshes.  …  The shrub Iva frutescens was also utilized as nesting substrate for other birds in the vicinity of the Green Heron colony at Garcitas Creek, including … [Red-winged Blackbirds, Boat-tailed Grackles].

[Quoting Nate L. Trimble & M. Clay Green, “The Influence of Nearest Neighbor Spacing on Nesting Success of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) in Texas”, BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 51(1-2):32-41 (December 2018), at page 34.]

GreenHeron-nest-AD2017.MoDeptConservation

GREEN HERON chick in nest, AD2017 (Missouri Dep’t of Conservation)

The Green Heron colony territory was visited by Boat-tailed Grackle (which are “conspecific” with the Great-tailed Grackle,  —  i.e., both grackle varieties hybridize, proving that they both descend from and belong to a common reproductive “kind” that God created on Day #5 of Creation Week), some of which preyed upon the Green Heron nest eggs, according to Trimble & Green [id., page 34].

GreenHeron-flying.AllAboutBirds-CornellLabOrnithology

GREEN HERON flying (All About Birds / Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

In order to collect quantifiable data, the researchers needed to repeatedly observe the nest sites, to see if eggs were successfully laid and incubated, and to see if any of the hatchlings were successfully fledged.

GreenHeron-TX-breeding-plumage.ChristopherCunningham

GREEN HERON   (Christopher R. Cunningham, Texas)

In order to facilitate the data collection process (which covered the timeframes of April-August of AD2014 and April-July AD2015), the researchers needed to repeatedly monitor the heron nests, using boats, due to the logistics of accessing nests, amidst dense vegetation growing alongside the monitored creek area.

Observations were taken from a 3.5 m[eter] boat with an outboard motor [which may have frightened the birds, possibly skewing the reported observations].  All nest were marked with flagging.

[Quoting Nate L. Trimble & M. Clay Green, “The Influence of Nearest Neighbor Spacing on Nesting Success of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) in Texas”, BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 51(1-2):32-41 (December 2018), at page 35.]

Green Heron

GREEN HERON, spread wings (Peggy Coleman photo)

Plastic flags, with numbers, are often used by ornithologists, to identify specific nests being investigation (which prevents accidental re-sampling of the same sites), although some ornithologists prefer to use quiet boats, poled in coastal waters, in order to avoid frightening the birds they are studying.  [See, e.g., William Post & Carol A. Seals, “Bird Density and Productivity in an Impounded Cattail Marsh”, JOURNAL OF FIELD ORNITHOLOGY, 62(2):195-199 (spring 1991), at page 196.  See also, e.g., William Post & Carol A. Seals, “Nesting Associations of Least Bitterns and Boat-tailed Grackles”, THE CONDOR, 95:139-144 (1993), at page 139.]

Flagging?  Surely this would be a difficulty-free aspect in this habitat investigation.

However, birds will be birds – and God has gifted each birds with an animal “soul” (Hebrew: NEPHESH) with which it can think for itself!  And so the researchers encountered a complication that they likely never planned for   —  birds with agendas of their own!  This is casually noted in the report’s coverage of research challenges.

We were also unable to measure nearest neighbor estimates for some nests in 2015 because the flags were lost either to flooding or by grackles taking the flagging for nest material.  There were four nests in which the nest and flag disappeared and could not be included in the analysis.

[Quoting Nate L. Trimble & M. Clay Green, “The Influence of Nearest Neighbor Spacing on Nesting Success of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) in Texas”, BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 51(1-2):32-41 (December 2018), at page 40.]

But why would these researchers suspect that grackles may have pilfered their nest-monitoring flags

Grackles are famous for their eclectic approach to nest-building, sometimes incorporating cloth scraps, paper shreds (including toilet paper!), reeds, woody stems, horsehair, cattail material, bark strips, weds, plastic (including pieces of plastic bags), ribbons, flagging tape, feathers, mud, leaves, twigs, grass, string, bovine manure, and even corn husks!   [See, accord, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Great-tailed Grackle”, posted at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great-tailed_Grackle/lifehistory .  See also, accord, Animal Diversity Web, “Quiscalus quiscalus Common Grackle”, posted at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Quiscalus_quiscula/ .]

BirdNest-with-flagging

bird nest incorporating plastic flagging    (photographer unknown)

Apparently, even saltmarsh-dwelling grackles like to have nests with a little “interior decorating” bling, such as the colorful accent provided by ornithologists’ plastic ribbon-like flags.


 

 

 

 

 

Orni-Theology and Woodstock’s High-rise Nest

Woodstock’s High-rise Nest

Woodstock is not the only bird to live in a nest complex. Birds in this area, central Florida, have at least one bird, the Monk Parakeet, or Quaker Parakeet that makes an “apartment” nest.

Monk Parakeet and Nest

Monk Parakeet and Nest – Near South Lake Howard Nature Park

We used to own two Monk Parakeets, so I was familiar with them when we moved here. In South Florida, where we lived in the past, they were wild there also. In fact, Bandi, our first Monk parakeet had been shot out of the tree next door by teenagers. Some neighbor kids brought her to me and long story short, her wing had to be amputated. So, she never went back to the wild.

Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) Hoppy & Bandi

Hoppy in front, Bandi in back – Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)

Hoppy, our second one, had a broken leg, which our vet fixed up. That is the bandage on his leg. Back to the High-rise.

Sociable Weaver nest (Philetairus socius) © Ingo Arndt-NPL

The Sociable Weaver (Philetairus socius) is a great example of building a “Highrise.” [from 16 Most Amazing Bird Nest ]

Weaverbirds Nests are Like Huts has a great photo of an elaborate “homestead.” Also, it is a very interesting article about how they make the nest.

Sociable Weaver nest (Philetairus socius) ©Dillon Marsh

Then again, maybe Woodstock would like to visit the Montezuma Orpendola and select one of the higher nest apartments.

Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma) Nest Complex ©WikiC

There are many more examples of how the Lord, in His Wisdom, has given the birds the knowledge to build these nest and also, to know that “community” can aid in their protection.

The book of Ecclesiastes has great words of wisdom from Solomon when he refers to one person, versus two or more:

“There is one alone, without companion: He has neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his labors, Nor is his eye satisfied with riches. But he never asks, “For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?” This also is vanity and a grave misfortune. Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 NKJV)