The Zebra Finches appears to have a pattern of singing that goes against what evolutionists suppose is to be the normal behavior of Finches.
“A male finch sings to females while courting, but then quiets down after finding his mate. According to evolution, finches have no reason to continue to communicate at that point, since they’ve already ensured that their genes will be passed on to a new generation. Thus, researchers were surprised to find that wild zebra finches sing to each other only after becoming a couple.”
Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) by Ian
He also discusses how these songs are thought to have happened through natural selection, but….
“For male finches to sing their songs, they have to have a fully-formed system of pulmonary tubing, valves, musculature, and integrated skeletal structures. Then, the larynx (many birds have two) has to be located near the mouth and properly “wired” to the correct areas of the brain. All of that would still be useless, however, without the instinctive knowledge required to compose a song, or without the females’ ears being tuned to their specific tones. To consider this seamless array of parts as a product of just nature is imaginative–not scientific.”
Wow! Looking over the previous articles that have been written through the years on our blog, I thought it would be nice to read through some of our many posts.
To build a house, you need a foundation. To build a blog, you need a foundation. So, our foundation from the beginning for Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus, has always been this:
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11 NKJV)
He created our world, universe, us, and all His Avian Wonders, which we like to write about. We love to write about His birds and how we can learn from them. We’ve done our best, with a few stumbles here and there, but we have tried to honor Him through it all. He has been gracious to send me extra writers, photographers, and friends along this journey.
My thanks to Him, these extra hands to assist, my husband, and all of you who have visited us along the way.
Now, what has been written about the Foundations? Let’s take a look:
Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare [yaggîdû = hiphîl imperfect 3rd person masculine plural of nâgad, “to appear”, “to be clear”] his praise in the islands.
Recently, when reviewing a bird-book that presented seabirds of the Hebrides, I noticed a duck’s name that I was unfamiliar with, the “Long-tailed Duck” [see Peter Holden & Stuart Housden, RSPB Handbook of Scottish Birds, 2nd edition (Bedfordshire, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing / Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, 2016), page 39]. However, I recalled that I’d seen similar-looking ducks, in near-freezing wetland pond-water, from a train-car of the White Pass and Yukon Railway, traveling from Skagway (Alaska) into British Columbia, about 20 years ago, probably during early September, when these ducks visit migratory stopover sites.
So, what does a Long-tailed Duck look like? For starters, the male (a/k/a drake) has a conspicuously long tail—that makes sense.
Smaller than Mallard, but tail of male may add 13 cm [about 5 inches]. Small, neat sea duck with a small, round head, steep forehead, all-dark wings in flight and white belly. In winter, male is mainly white with a dark brown “Y” mark on its back, brown breast-band and a large, dark cheek patch. In summer, it has a streaked brown back, dark head and neck, and pale greyish-white face patch. Adult male has greatly elongated central tail feathers. Female in winter shows a white collar, white face with dark lower cheeks and dark crown. … In summer, female has a darker face than in winter. Females have short tails. Juvenile is like female in summer, but with a less contrasting face pattern. Flight feathers are moulted between July and September; during part of this time birds are flightless for a few weeks. Has a unique moult, as some back feathers are moulted four times a year and some head and neck feathers three times a year.
[Peter Holden & Stuart Housden,”Long-tailed Duck”, RSPB Handbook of Scottish Birds, 2nd ed. (Bloomsbury / Royal Society for Protection of Birds, 2016), page 39.]
Does that physical description sound familiar? Do the photographs look familiar?
After some research I realized that certain cold-weather diving ducks, called “Oldsquaw” ducks in older guidebooks [e.g., James Kavanagh, The Nature of Alaska (Blaine, WA: Waterford Press, 1997), page 56], are now called “Long-tailed Duck” in newer guidebooks [e.g., Robert H. Armstrong, Guide to the Birds of Alaska, 6th edition (Portland, OR: Alaska Northwest Books, 2019), page 54]. But why?
Surely this is an odd duck. In fact, its typical call is an odd quacking-warbling-hooting honk, sounding like a duck trying to yodel through a semi-muted horn.
The duck’s fancy scientific name, Clangula hyemalis, has not changed lately.
But political pressure intrudes into the mostly-apolitical ornithology neighborhood. It seems that the earlier common name for this duck, “Oldsquaw”, is now deemed unacceptable, because it might offend someone who stumbles on the terms “old” and “squaw”, as imagining disrespectful stereotypes of elderly tribeswomen. Although “P.C.” (i.e., political coërcion) pressures should not dictate taxonomy for ornithologists, there you have it—since the International Ornithologists’ Union has acted, so now all Oldsquaws are re-named “Long-tailed Ducks”! What a world!
Ironically, to eschew the prior common name (“Oldsquaw”) implies that folks often disrespect old squaws, i.e., elderly womenfolk of the Native American tribes. But why should someone be ashamed of being “old”? It is a blessing to be given many years of earthly life (Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 16:31 & 20:29b; Job 12:12). Likewise, why should an Indian woman—or any woman—be ashamed of being a “squaw” (i.e., a woman)? It is a blessing and a privilege to be whomever God creates someone to be. After all, God did not need to create anyone who would live long enough to become an old “squaw”, or an old “brave”, for that matter. It is God’s generous and providential grace that we are whomever we are—because God could have made us all Long-tailed Ducks, or Coots, or Gooney Birds, or Grackles!
While God appreciates the “simple”, yet unique, snowflakes that are ignored by busy humans, God treasures our personal lives (created in His image) infinitely more, as though we were His precious jewels (Malachi 3:17). In fact, God providentially planned our lives to be exactly what they are, and if we belong to Him, God artistically “works together for good” the component details of our lives (Romans 8:28). Surely, we should thank our Lord Jesus Christ for being our very personal Creator. So, the next time you see a grackle, think thankfully for a moment, “That could have been me!” And be grateful to your Creator, Who made you a unique, one-of-a-kind creation.
Meanwhile, back to the Oldsquaw’s cold-weather life in and near northern ocean seawaters. The Long-tailed Duck is a sea-duck, spending most of its winter days at sea (not very close to shoreland), diving for food, though using arctic tundra, taiga (i.e., boreal forest), and subarctic coastlands for breeding, and for latter-month molting and migratory stopovers. It’s a diving duck, sometimes diving to depths of 200 feet, using their feet to propel themselves downward, staying underwater moreso (i.e., longer) than other diving ducks. And oxygen-rich coldwaters contain lots of nutritious food for the Long-tailed Duck.
Dives to search mainly for crustaceans and molluscs, especially Blue Mussels, cockles, clams and crabs. Also eats sandpipers, small fish such as gobies and some plant material.
[Peter Holden & Stuart Housden,”Long-tailed Duck”, RSPB Handbook of Scottish Birds, 2nd ed. (Bloomsbury / Royal Society for Protection of Birds, 2016), page 39.]
Wonderful birds are there to be seen, in the Outer Hebrides (“Western Isles”). If you get the opportunity, go see them! Meanwhile, appreciate that they are there, living their daily lives—filling their part of the earth—and glorifying their Creator.
Goal: To encourage your understanding and help you form a mental picture of the fowls or birds of the air found in scripture.
God has created the fowls and birds and they are mentioned throughout the Bible. When you read the name of a bird, does a mental picture come to view or do you just keep reading without a thought to what you just read? Sure, you know some of them, like the Eagle or a Sparrow, but how about a Bittern, Ossifrage, Hoopoe, or Lapwing? Not just their names are important, but how about the illustrations that use birds to teach lessons? God’s care, strength, provision and other lessons are taught with birds as the examples.
“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;” Job 12:7
So, let’s get started with:
The Birds of the Bible
“Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.’ So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.” Gen 1: 20-23
Here we see that God created the birds on day five of creation and that “it was good.”
“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.” Gen 2:19-20a
Adam was given the privilege of giving all the “critters” their names. Were there as many varieties of birds then as now? There have been changes within the species (kinds), but not evolution (changing from one kind to another kind).
Depending on which copy of the Bible you use, here are some of the names of birds mentioned in the Bible. These will be introduced in following blogs. Not necessarily in the following order. Bittern; Chicken; Cormorant; Crane; Cuckoo; Dove; Eagle; Falcon; Glede; Hawk; Hen; Heron; Hoopoe; Kite; Lapwing; Night Hawk; Osprey; Ossifrage; Ostrich; Owl; Partridge; Peacock; Pelican; Pigeon; Quail; Raven; Sparrow; Stork; Swallow; Swan; Vulture
House Sparrows visiting NA Parrot Show Outside
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)
Now it is 2022, and time to revisit these wonderful Birds of the Bible. Because of the Covid situation, we haven’t really been birdwatching much in almost two years. Yet, that doesn’t mean it’s time the “throw in the towel”, or the blog, in this case. So, we plan on writing more Birds of the Bible articles about the different Avian Wonders found in the Bible. Trying to bring in fresh material as we review the previous birds that we have written about. We will even ask some of our current writers like Dr. J. J. S. Johnson (Dr. Jim) and William Wise to join in. Will also try to update the all the links to these articles.
Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare [lit., “cause to be clarified”] His praise in the islands.
What could be more Scottish than “Scotch Crow” (Corvus cornix)? The Scotch Crow is better known, especially on the Eurasian landmass, as the Hooded Crow (a/k/a “Hoodie Crow” by some Britons, and “Grey Crow” by some Scandinavians and Irish). As the following paragraphs will document, the opportunity-grabbing Scotch Crow (a/k/a Hooded Crow) is as resourceful as a Scotsman (or Scotswoman).
The black-and-grey Hooded Crow, like other corvids (i.e., members of the raven/crow superfamily), is a generalist—like the scavenging Carrion Crow (Corvus corone, its “southern cousin”, with which Hoodies sometimes hybridize), it eats almost anything available, dead or alive—carrion (which includes a huge variety of remains form other predators’ hunting successes, as well as roadkill), seeds, nuts, food scraps discarded by humans (esp. junk food), insects gathered on pieces of meat, grains (including corn), other plant materials (including fruits), small birds, bird eggs (such as eggs of seagulls or cormorants), crustaceans (such as Green Crabs, gooseneck barnacles), gastropod mollusks (such as European limpet, Blue-rayed Limpet, European periwinkle, rough periwinkle, Atlantic dogwinkle rock snail, thick-lipped dogwhelk mudsnail, European mudsnail, top snail), bivalve mollusks (such as Blue Mussel, Warty Venus hard-shell clam, Palourde clam, cockles), purple sea urchins, small mammals (such as Norwegian rat, mice, frogs, Eurasian pygmy shrew, juvenile rabbit), spiders, insects (e.g., fly larvae and adults), fish, snakes, etc.
In sum, Hooded Crows—such as those who make a living on coasts of the British Isles—are resourceful generalists. These coast-living crows are not picky eaters!
In fact, Hooded Crows who habituate coastal territories, such as beaches of the British Isles, have been studied to see what their diet looks like.
In one such research investigation, the diet of Hooded Crows was scrutinized (and quantified) near Lough Hyne Marine Reserve, a saltwater-fed coastal lake of West Cork (County Cork, Ireland). With informative details and quantified data, these corvid diet research results were reported in a Copenhagen-based science journal (“The Diet of Coastal Breeding Hooded Crows Corvus cornix cornix”, ECOGRAPHY, 15:337-346 (Oct.-Dec. 1992), by Simon D. Berrow, Tom C. Kelly, & Alan A. Myers).
The regular collection of prey items from these [coastal food-acquisition] sites … was integrated with pellet and stomach analysis to determine diet. Intertidal organisms [e.g., beach shellfish] occurred in over 80% of pellets and 43% of stomachs and occupied over 77% of the total weight of foods identified in pellets. All prey items recovered from drop sites originated from the intertidal habitat, involved either large-sized species or larger individuals of smaller-sized species, and were only dropped during October to February. Twenty-five intertidal species were identified but only a few of these species contributed to the bulk of the diet. Hooded crows were shown to consume a wide range of intertidal species throughout the year, though the species composition in the diet was seasonally influenced. Depletion and weight loss of intertidal molluscs through the winter was shown to have a minimal effect on selection suggesting that prey switching was driven by the bird’s nutritional requirements.
[Quoting Simon Berrow, Tom Kelly, & Alan Myers, at page 337]
Interestingly, the Hooded Crows somehow know that they need protein rich foods for their nestling young, plus they need calcium-rich food when their bodies are preparing for the breeding season. These reproductive-linked-to-phenological requirements of corvids is alluded to by Dr. Simon Berrow’s research team.
Vertebrate remains and insects were the most frequently occurring prey items in six food boluses fed by crows to their nestling [young] and together accounted for 90% by volume. Dipteran [i.e., fly] larvae and adults occurred in half of the boluses with Lepidopteran [i.e., moth/butterfly] larvae and Araneae [spiders] also present.
[Quoting Berrow, Kelly, & Myers, at page 340]
. . .
The nutritional requirements of a predator [such as Hooded Crow] have been shown to influence prey selection. Ravens in Scotland tended to feed only on prey items obtained from the seashore during the breeding season which was attributed to their requirement for calcium. …. In the winter, crows tend to have an energy rich diet, but during the breeding season more protein is requiredfor provisioning the nestlings. Insects are considered a good source of protein for crows with dependent young and calcium for bone development may be obtained from crabs. Although small gastropod molluscs are abundant at Lough Hyne they are only consumed by crows during the spring and summer, which may also be a reflection of the birds’ calcium requirement.
[Quoting Berrow, Kelly, & Myers, at page 345]
Now that’s something to crow about!
Like all corvids, the crow is also extremely intelligent. Specimens of Corvus cornix [hooded crow] living on European coasts have developed a simple yet surprising nutrition strategy. To feed on molluscs, they drop the shells from heights … [so] that they shatter on the first attempt, so that they can feed on the animal hidden inside. Furthermore, they deliberately ignore smaller shells and focus on those that guarantee a larger meal.
[Quoting Federico Fiorillo, “The Hooded Crow—Not So Pretty, But Very Smart”, AviBirds.com (accessed AD2021-12-29)]
In other words, Scotch Crows—like the Scotch people—are opportunistic, versatile, adaptable, flexible, resourceful. Whatever is available will be used to achieve whatever is needed. Very Scottish! And the Scotch Crows (a/k/a Hooded Crows) of the Western Isles are no exception—they will find and eat what they need! 😊
So, what could be more Scottish than a “Scotch Crow”? Wonderful birds are there to be seen, in the Outer Hebrides (“Western Isles”). If you get the opportunity, go see them! Meanwhile, appreciate that they are there, living their daily lives—filling their part of the earth—glorifying their Creator. As Isaiah (42:12) said, these birds cause God’s glory, especially in the islands, to be clearly seen (Romans 1:20).
Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.
Watching coastal birds is a favorite pastime in the Outer Hebrides, according to Outer Hebrides Tourism. Having visited some of the Inner Hebrides, with marvelous birdwatching opportunities (including puffins!), I am not surprised.
The Outer Hebrides archipelago is a unique island chain perched on the North Western edge of Europe. Here the landscape ranges from white sand beaches and flower covered machair grasslands to barren hilltops, fjord like sea lochs and vast peatlands. Wildlife is abundant and birds of prey are a particularly visible feature of the open landscapes . . . Spring and autumn are the best times to spot migrating birds in the Outer Hebrides with large numbers of seabirds passing up and down the coasts of our islands on their way to and from northern breeding grounds and wintering grounds to the south. These are both exciting birding seasons in the Outer Hebrides when almost anything can turn-up but the highlights of spring and autumn birding in the Western Isles include the passage of Skuas offshore and the flocks of geese and whooper swans passing overhead. Visit in the spring and summer to see the Outer Hebrides seabird breeding colonies of terns and gulls, which be found scattered along the coastline on headlands, beaches, islands and sand dunes. Although most breeding colonies are found offshore they will travel long distances to feed and birdwatchers can often see seabirds in the Western Isles from the shore. Spot Gannets in the Outer Hebrides as they make their spectacular dives after fish and keep eyes open for Black Guillemot, Guillemot, [Atlantic] Puffin, Razorbill and Fulmars, as all are common island birds.
Quoting from “Bird of Prey Trail Locations” and “Wildlife: Coastal Birds”, VisitOuterHebrides.co.UK — emphasis added by JJSJ
Some of the coastal birds that frequent the Outer Hebrides include shorebirds (such as Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Dotterel, Dunlin, Jack Snipe, Little Stint, Oystercatcher, Pectoral Sandpiper, Purple Sandpiper, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Sanderling, Turnstone, Heron), seagulls (such as Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull), as well as various ducks (such as Eider, Goldeneye, Black-throated Diver, Great-northern Diver, Red-throated Diver, Red-breasted Merganser, Shelduck, Shoveler, Long-tailed Duck), plus Shag and Cormorant, Atlantic puffin, Northern Gannet, geese (Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Greylag Goose), Mute Swan, plus a mix of passerine songbirds (such as Barred Warbler, Blackcap, Bluethroat, Brambling, Chiffchaff, Common Crossbill, Common Whitethroat Warbler, Corn Bunting, Dunnock, Hawfinch, House Martin, House Sparrow, Meadow Pipit, Pechora Pipit, Pied Flycatcher, Redwing, Rose-colored Starling, Stonechat, Yellow-browed Warbler), the Ring Ouzel, the ever-versatile Woodpigeon, and more!
The Hebrides, formerly known as the “Western Isles”, are wildlife-watching venues.
With the islands enjoying one of the last untouched natural landscapes in Europe, wildlife in the Western Isles is some of the finest in the world, with Outer Hebrides animals and plants all at home in their surrounding without fear of poaching, pollution or disturbance. Wildlife watching in the Outer Hebrides offers a glimpse into a time almost forgotten by the rest of the world, where the white -tailed eagle soars over the rugged coastline as red deer roam proudly over the peaty moorlands and [river] otters swim in many sea lochs. Much of the wildlife in the Western Isles is unique and protected, meaning that visitors enjoying Scottish island nature breaks here can enjoy pursuits as diverse as spotting minke whale in the sea around the Outer Hebrides and eagle watching in the sky.
[The Outer Hebrides] are a popular destination for birdwatching in Scotland, as birding in the Western Isles offers opportunities to see everything from birds of prey to seabirds and waders. Look out for the Bird of Prey Trail which spans the Outer Hebrides with location markers for the best places to see birds of prey. As well as this, the Western Isles are the summer home to two thirds of the elusive British corncrake population from April to September.
[Quoting VisitOuterHebrides.co.UK, “Closer to Wildlife” — emphasis added by JJSJ]
In the above quotation the White-tailed Eagle (a/k/a “Sea Eagle”) is mentioned; this raptor is Great Britain’s (and thus also Scotland’s) largest bird of prey. It habituates almost all of Scotland, including the Inner and Outer Hebrides.
The White-tailed eagle is one of the largest living birds of prey. It is sometimes considered the fourth largest eagle in the world and is on average the fourth heaviest eagle in the world. White-tailed eagles usually live most of the year near large bodies of open water and require an abundant food supply and old-growth trees or ample sea cliffs for nesting. They are considered a close cousin of the Bald eagle, which occupies a similar niche in North America. The adult White-tailed eagle is a greyish mid-brown color overall. Contrasting with the rest of the plumage in the adult are a clearly paler looking head, neck and upper breast which is most often a buffy hue. The brownish hue of the adult overall makes the somewhat wedge-shaped white tail stand out in contrast. All the bare parts of their body on adults are yellow in color, including the bill, cere [nose-like part of upper bill], feet, and eyes.
Watching these sea eagles catch fish in their talons, as they wing to, near, and then away from the seawater surface, is much like watching Bald Eagles catch fish in the coastal seawaters of Southeastern Alaska. [See video clip of a Sea Eagle catching fish, at rspb.org.UK – website of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.]
White-tailed eagles are powerful predators and hunt mostly from perches, in a “sit-and-wait” style, usually from a prominent tree perch. Fish is usually grabbed in a shallow dive after a short distance flight from a perch, usually with the eagles only getting their feet wet. At times they will also fish by wading into shallows, often from shores or gravel islands. When it comes to non-fish prey, White-tailed eagles often hunt by flying low over sea coast or lake shore and attempt to surprise victims. [emphasis added]
These coastal raptors mostly eat fish. However, they also eat waterfowl and small mammals (such as rodents). During winter they eat lots of carrion.
In previous centuries the White-tailed eagle populated the coasts of Scotland, but it was hunted to extirpation in the A.D.1920s. However, it was conservationally re-established on Rhum in A.D.1975, and (thankfully) it has since re-colonized (beyond 25 breeding pairs, apparently) many of the indented inlets of the coastal strands of Outer Hebrides islands, including Harris, Lewis, and South Uist.
White-tailed Eagles are large birds (2-to-3 feet, from bill-tip to tail-tip; 6-to-8 feet wingspan; 9-to-16 pounds), famous for eating fish (such as salmon, trout), yet they also prey on rabbits and hares, geese, available seabirds (such as fulmars and petrels), and lamb carrion. Like their Golden Eagle cousins—which reside in the Hebrides—these eagles establish and defend territories for their families.
Other birds of prey, habituating the Outer Hebrides, include two types of owls, the Short-eared Owl and the Long-eared Owl. Other birds of prey include hawks (such as harriers, sparrow hawks, and ospreys) and falcons (such as kestrels, peregrines, and hobbies), which routinely find and consume rodents (such as voles). Other birds of prey, sometimes observed, include Buzzards, Snowy Owl, and Gyrfalcon.
However, in contrast to such carnivorous raptors, consider the common Corncrake.
The chicken-like Corncrake is a migratory rail that frequents grassy parts of Hebridean islands, as well as Scotland’s semi-marshy floodplain grasslands (dominated by grasses or sedges) and coastal wetlands (such as nettle beds, iris beds, and reed beds), yet the Corncrake prefers the tall plant-cover of farmed crop-fields (such as hayfields, fields of wheat and other cereals, and clover meadows). This rail arrives from mid-April and stays for breeding and beyond, till August or September. After that the Corncrake migrates to North Africa, for over-wintering.
The Corncrake’s appearance somewhat resembles a young Grey Partridge (or somewhat like a moorhen or coot), yet it is almost as small as a blackbird.
Plumage softly but richly coloured, with pale grey face, fore-neck and breast, yellowish-buff upper parts, lined with cream and spotted or streaked blackish-brown, chestnut wings ‘catch fire’ in flight, barred white flanks. Bill and legs dull pink. Flight typical of [rail] family, loose-winged and clumsy; usually escapes by running into dense cover.
[Quoting Roger Tory Peterson, Guy Mountfort, et al., A Field Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe (Houghton Mifflin, 1993), page 93.]
Because Corncrakes (a/k/a Land Rails) routinely reside in grassy fields, where photosynthetic biomass productivity is high, they have a smörgåsbord of seeds – as well as other foods, available just for the taking.
Besides seeds these rails eat bugs (especially cockroaches and beetles, including dung beetles), fly larvae, termites, ticks, spiders, dragonflies, earthworms, grasshoppers, slugs, snails, weevils, and even small frogs. [Regarding the diet of Corncrakes, see further Suzanne Arbeiter, Heiner Flinks, et al., “Diet of Corncrakes Crex crex and Prey Availability in Relation to Meadow Management”, ARDEA, 108(1):55-64 (April 24, 2020), posted at https://doi.org/10.5253/arde.v108i1,a7 . ]
Corncrakes themselves must be careful—they serve as prey to other animals, including mustelids (mink, ferrets, and river otters), foxes, larger birds (such as white stork, harrier hawks, seagulls, and corvids, especially hooded crows).
Wonderful birds are there to be seen, in the Outer Hebrides (Scotland’s “Western Isles”). If you get the opportunity, go see them!
Meanwhile, appreciate that they are there, living their daily lives—filling their part of the earth—glorifying their Creator (Isaiah 42:12).
Top 100 Bird Blogs and Websites For Ornithologists and Bird Lovers
This blog has been selected “by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Bird Blogs on the web.” Wow! What an honor and totally unexpected.
I received an email from the Founder of this list, Anuj Agarwal.
“I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 100 Bird Blogs on the internet, and I’m honored to have you as part of this!”
Great Blue Heron; Walton County, Georgia birding photogaphy blog by williamwisephoto.com
Plus, Thank you to our many previous writers like a j mithra, Dottie Malcolm, and others. Also, all the fantastic photographers who have given us permission to use their photos over the years. Especially, my husband, Dan.
The biggest Thanks and Praise goes to the Lord for giving me the idea and inspiration to begin this journey of writing about His Fantastic Avian Creations!
Reginald, Oliver, and the rest of the turkeys spent all winter down south near the Oliver’s Ocean, which the turkeys had decided to call the lake they had visited. By early spring, however, the weather grew much warmer. The turkeys came together and decided to start for home. After saying goodbye to the turkey friends they had made at the orchard, Reginald slowly led his group back to the north.
Turkeys Taking Flight (PD)
The turkeys enjoyed the weather up north now that winter had gone. To them, it was cold but not too cold, and most of the snow was quickly melting. But Reginald still had to guide the turkeys through different paths that he and a few others would have to create. Sometimes, the snow was soft enough to crush under their feet and walk through, but other times they had to climb over a large pile in their way. Oliver enjoyed stomping through the puddles, though once he fell into a hole he believed was a puddle, and Reginald had to help drag him out as Oliver flailed. The turkeys eventually made it back to their fortress, which was mostly clear of snow.
Inside the tunnels they had built, the turkeys worked to clear the remaining snow so they could easily walk through all the tunnels. They all hoped that, now that it was Spring, they wouldn’t have to worry about the cold, and they looked forward to heading back to their turkey friends in the South next winter.
But one day, Reginald woke up and realized that the weather was incredibly cold. He tried to look outside, but the entrance to the front of the fortress was covered with a dark wall of snow that he couldn’t get through. The rest of the turkeys sleeping on that side woke up and tried to help Reginald push the snow away, but it was too thick. Some of them tried gobbling for help, but the rest of the turkeys couldn’t hear them.
Inside another set of tunnels, Oliver woke up and noticed the snow as well. Luckily, he and a few other turkeys were able to scramble out of an opening and examine the woods around the fortress. Several inches of snow lay around and on top of the fortress the turkeys had made, with some of the tunnels clogged with slush. Oliver suddenly realized that Reginald and the others must be stuck inside since they hadn’t come out.
Oliver sat in the snow and started thinking. The few other turkeys waited, unsure of what to do. Oliver knew he needed to come up with a good idea to clear the snow away so that the others could get out. After thinking long and hard, however, Oliver still couldn’t come up with anything.
Broken Limb/Branch off of Tree
Just then, a branch from one of the trees above him dropped onto his head, knocking Oliver over. One of the other turkeys with him had to pull it off. When Oliver got up, he noticed how the branch made marks in the snow, and suddenly he came up with an idea.
Oliver told the turkeys that he needed their help taking the branch to the tunnel entrance. One of the turkeys went ahead to locate where Reginald was trapped. As Oliver carried the branch ahead, the other turkey found the entrance to the tunnel where Reginald and the other turkeys were. Immediately, Oliver placed the branch in the snow and used its limbs to drag the snow away. The branch caught large chunks of snow and helped Oliver clear it away. The other turkeys helped by using their feathers, until most of the snow was cleared. Reginald pushed the rest aside and was surprised to discover Oliver with the branch, along with the other turkeys.
Reginald, impressed at Oliver’s idea and leadership, allowed Oliver to use the branch to clear the rest of the snow so that all the turkeys could get out. They all agreed to find more branches similar to the one Oliver discovered so they could keep clearing the snow once it snowed again.
Fortunately, no more snow fell, and the air started to get warmer again. In a couple more days, most of the new snow had melted, so the turkeys didn’t have to worry about being trapped again. They were now free to enjoy the spring without the snow, though Reginald asked Oliver to continue finding branches so that they would be prepared.
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NASB)
It is nice to receive another story from Emma. She has been busy growing up and finishing College and adventures beyond.
We have enjoyed all her stories, and you can read or re-read them here at:
Just as monkeys can’t accidently type Shakespeare texts, birds can’t migrate by evolutionary luck, despite imagined eons of time for “lucky” accidents.1 Why? Because the challenging mix of birds’ metabolic needs for long-distance travel, synchronized to seasonal and diurnal weather conditions, are exacerbated by unyielding entropy. This all-or-nothing complexity prohibits “lucky” bird migrations. In short, to seasonally migrate, birds need the Lord Jesus Christ’s providential bioengineering care.2,3
Flight failures are tragic when malfunctioning airplanes or spacecraft fall out of the sky.3 Likewise, if bird traits malfunctioned while trying to evolve migratory flight features, there would be no second chances.1 So, either birds are aptly fitted by their Creator with migration traits or they can’t migrate.4,5
Consider the air speeds that birds need to maintain over long distances before their flying fuel (i.e., metabolic assets dedicated to long-distance flight needs) is depleted.
The birds’ flight speed in relation to the air varies in general between approximately 30 km per hour, for the smallest birds, and 80 km per hour, for larger birds.…When the bird’s mass increases 100 times, then 200 times as much flight power is required.4
The muscle power cannot, however, increase much more than the weight. Provided that the proportions are the same, the wing area is only 20 times as great in a bird that weighs 100 times more than another. The limited muscle power and wing area of heavy birds, in combination with the very high flight power that is required [for long-distance migrations], sets a size limit above which flying is no longer possible. This limit is estimated to be around 15 kg. This corresponds well with the weight of the largest animals in the world that can actively fly—swans, bustards, albatrosses and condors.4
Thus, interplay between flight speed and muscle power balances the complicated physics required for non-fixed-wing flying against long-distance migration.2-5
Moreover, the unforgiving biochemistry and physiology of each migratory bird’s metabolism (food acquisition, fuel utilization, respiration, etc.) must aptly fit the ongoing needs of seasonal migrations or else avian biochemical logistics fail.4,5 Thankfully, for all migratory birds—and all birdwatchers—the phenological phenomena of bird migrations is not dependent upon “luck,” as imagined by evolutionists.3,5 Rather, none less than the Lord Jesus Christ deserves all credit and acclaim for these winged wonders of biogeographic beauty.
“But now ask…the birds of the air, and they will tell [literally “explain to,” or “clarify to”] you…that the hand of the LORD has done this, in Whose hand is the life of every living thing.” (Job 12:7-10)
“Thus, eons of time guarantee that the simian keypunchers can never type out Hamlet—the imagined luck is ‘not to be.’ Time plus entropy prevents the spontaneous generation of life and any hope of evolution.” Johnson, J. J. S. 2018. Infinite Time Won’t Rescue Evolution. Acts & Facts. 47 (6): 21. Complex bird anatomies cannot spontaneously self-assemble, apart from Christ’s bioengineering providence, because ubiquitous entropy (i.e., the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) absolutely prevents any mix of biochemicals from magically combining into purpose-working “all-or-nothing-unity” systems, regardless of how much time is allowed, because infinite time guarantees that (our fallen universe’s) entropy bars any such luck.
“The rule of thumb is that the speed roughly doubles when the mass of the bird increases 100 times. If a 10-g Willow Warbler flies at 30 km per hour, then a Raven of 1 kg [1,000 grams] flies, in round figures, at 60 km per hour. …The capacity of the flight muscles sets a ‘ceiling’ to how much flight power a bird can cope with—a lower ceiling for continuous power outtake and a somewhat higher ceiling for temporary all-out bursts. After this sort of brief ‘muscle spurt’ the muscles have to wind down while the lactic acid which is formed in the muscle tissue when energy is produced without sufficient oxygen supply is carried away.” Alerstam, T. 1993. Bird Migration. New York: Cambridge University Press, 252.
“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
As I sit in my backyard, enjoying some springtime sunshine while writing this script, my eyes are drawn to a pair of shapes, silhouetted against a bright sky, circling over the Cowlitz River. They look dark from where I am sitting, but I know that if they landed, they would not be so dark, and they would have white heads. They are eagles. A pair of them have been around this area since we moved here about three years ago.
I love the way that eagles seem to fly as if they are not flying. They catch the air currents, and their large outstretched wings enjoy a lift force which is not from their own muscles, but from those air currents. To maintain that height for so long by their own muscle power would be too tiring for such large, flying birds.
The way that these eagles soar is used in the Bible as a beautiful illustration of God’s grace. In Isaiah 40:31 we read:
“They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
One can imagine that getting into the air, and flying high would cause the eagle to lose energy. But then it can rest and renew its strength. The Lord reminds us, through the things that He has created, that we should wait upon Him and rely on His strength.
Prayer: Help us, Father God, to wait for You, and to renew our strength through the grace that You give us. Amen.
I was excited several weeks ago when the Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks started showing back up from their summer haunts. Then the Alligator showed up, and they flew off to safer waters.
This last week, one of the alligators came up on our back yard. Dan called me, but by the time I got to the window, it had returned to the water. I was able to take this video:
So now, it is really quiet out back. Just found out yesterday that there are actually three of them back there. Yep, it’s quiet around here for birdwatching!!!
“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;” (1 Thessalonians 4:11 KJV)
Along with this excitement, and boring birdwatching, my computer has still been giving me problems. So, I have been sort of “quiet” on posting here. Yet, I have been busy doing things around the house. With Covid still hanging around, even though we are vaccinated, we are older and are just staying home much more than normal.
Hopefully, things will pick up soon, and the computer will behave. Stay tuned! Just checking in.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” (Psalms 91:1-2 KJV)
We had a fantastic message yesterday from our Pastor, Dave Totman. It was based on Psalm 91, “Shadow of the Almighty.”
Needless to say, there were many references to our Creator’s Avian Wonders. Just thought you would enjoy watching this.
Praise the Lord for His watch care and protection of us!
Gathering Her Chicks Under Her Wings
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;” (Psalms 91:4-5 KJV)
Here is a Killdeer protecting her eggs from a farm tractor. Almost hard to watch. [But it turns out okay!]