Dan’s Newest Gatorland Photos

Snowy Egret Strutting in Mating Plumage by Dan at Gatorland

I finally encouraged Dan to edit his photos from our latest visit to Gatorland. When I saw them, I knew we had to share them. He has a Zenfolio photo site, that he has sort of ignored lately, but with a little encouragement, he posted his newest photos from our Gatorland trip last month. I always shrink photos here so that they don’t eat up storage space, but there is no way these photos would give them justice. You just have to see them on Dan’s Pix.

With a new folder called Gatorland 2021, you will find these latest photos.

My version of this bird is not near as amazing, but I did try to capture this Snowy Egret. Of course he strutted or puffed up for Dan’s camera.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;” (1 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV)

Of course in this case, the Snowy was not being prideful, he just doing what the Creator designed them to do to attract a mate.

Snowy Egret in Breeding Plumage by Lee

Dan’s Pix

Gatorland 2021

Snowy Egret in Breeding Plumage Struting

The Wise Owl

Birds and Flowers Helping Christians

Robin Eating by Jim Fenton

Robin Eating by Jim Fenton

Stephen Nielsen writes a blog called Prayer A to Z or just Stephen Nielsen. This is an excerpt from his How Birds and Flowers Can Help a Christian article. I am sure you will enjoy reading the whole post:

Birds

Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air [Look at and think about them].”

  1. They don’t sow or reap or gather.
  2. Yet God our Father feeds them.
  3. And we are better (closer to God) than they are; we are His children. So, He definitely will care for us.
  4. Also, what good will it do anyway to worry about these things. Will worrying change anything? Will it extend your life?

Let’s look at the birds and all humans, how God provides for them.”……

Stephen has based this post on Matthew 6:25-30. What a great promise for us today. Thanks, Stephen, for another great lesson from the Lord and His Avian Wonders.

Matthew 6:25-30

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

Birds Learning About Worms ©BirdsOutsideMyWindow

How Birds and Flowers Can Help a Christian

Prayer A to Z

Stephen Nielsen

Good News

A Time for Joy: Remembering Wigeons and Celebrating Resurrection Day

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

American Wigeon – Male by Ray

As we reflect on this year’s celebration of Resurrection Day (i.e., Easter), Luke 10:20 reminds us of the best reason for rejoicing.

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

And the unending joy that is noted in Luke 10:20 is built upon the forever-firm fact of Christ’s historic prophecy-fulfilling resurrection, which we can analyze in 1st Corinthians 15.

However, as many birdwatchers (even unbelievers) know, viewing birds can be an earthly joy, too, albeit a much lesser and temporal one  –  yet good enow to put a joint replacement surgery (such as a hip replacement or a knee replacement) into a more satisfactory perspective.  This is demonstrated by Mike Burt’s “American Wigeon Remind Us to Look for Joy, Even in Storms”, published in Chesapeake Bay Journal, 30(10):47 (January-February 2021), posted at American Wigeon Remind Us To Look For Joy Even In Storms .  After some birdwatching at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (near Cambridge, Maryland),  birdwatcher Mike Burke chose to visit the Choptank River (the Delmarva Peninsula’s largest riverine tributary of the Chesapeake Bay), in order to see the wintering waterfowl there.

American Wigeon (Anas americana) by Daves BirdingPix

American Wigeon (Anas americana) by Daves BirdingPix

The snow was quickening as we got out, binoculars in gloved hands. Before us were rafts of gorgeous ducks bobbing on the windswept waters. I glanced up. The opposite shore, more than a mile away, was lost in the snow. We could still see the ducks in the middle of the broad, tidal river. . . [including the] big white spots on the black heads of the buffleheads and the picturesque black-and-white patterns of a few long-tailed ducks. Just a few feet away, though, sloshing alongside the jersey barrier, was the real object of our pursuit: scores of winter ducks. The raft included plenty of canvasbacks, a handful of redheads and scaup, and a good number of American wigeon. . . .

Wigeon are often called “bald pates” for the white forehead and crown that gives the male the look of a bald man. A dramatic green eye patch reaches toward the back of the head, just like a green-winged teal. The male wigeon has a gray face and neck and a pale blue bill that is rather short and narrow and ends in black. The wigeon is a dabbler, like a mallard, feeding on duckweed, milfoil and especially widgeon grass. But they also feed alongside geese in fields as they use that short, tough bill to rip vegetation free. The back and sides of wigeon are a sinuous rosy brown down to the waterline. In males, a white spot occurs right in front of the black tail. Elegant, elongated black feathers lined in white lay on his rear when he’s at rest. I had a big smile as I admired this handsome drake.

American Wigeon (Anas americana) by Ray

The female is a beauty in her own right. There’s no arresting green eye swoosh or bald pate. Instead, her head is a series of wavy brown and white feathers, except for black smudges around her eyes. The hen is a bit browner overall than the drake, but she has the same lovely lines. In flight, the birds show mostly white underneath. The male also has a big white panel on its upper wing, just above a bright green speculum (wing feathers that are close to the body). The female has a simple white line above her speculum, which is black.

While most birds enter their breeding plumage in the spring and raise their broods in the summer, ducks put on their breeding feathers in the winter. Here in the Chesapeake region, we get to see the birds at their most colorful. This is also when pair bonds are established. By early spring, wigeon will have left the Bay heading toward their breeding territory. Most will go all the way to the boreal forests of Alaska and western Canada. A moderate number will stop in the upper Midwest “prairie pothole” region. Nests are built near ponds and lakes. The hen lays a single clutch of three to 13 eggs. The eggs need to incubate for almost a month, but when they hatch, the chicks are quick to leave the nest, heading to water to evade land predators. Even on water, though, they will face mortal danger from hungry fish and turtles. The bird’s first year of life is full of peril. As winter approaches, these ducks disperse down both coasts. On the Pacific Coast, American wigeon winter from Alaska south to Central America. On the Atlantic, you’ll find them from Massachusetts south through the Caribbean and into northern South America. Wigeon can also be found in all of the Eastern states south of Pennsylvania, especially throughout the Chesapeake [Bay region].

American Wigeon (Anas americana) brood ©USFWS

[Quoting Mike Burke, posted at American Wigeon Remind Us To Look For Joy Even In Storms.]   Watching American Wigeons (and other ducks, such as Mallards, Lesser Scaups, and Northern Shovelers), wintering at Furneaux Creek (in Carrollton, part of Denton County, Texas) during the A.D.1990s, are happy memories  —  form years gone by, back when I taught Ornithology and Avian Conservation for Dallas Christian College (in Farmers Branch, Texas).  God gives us so many richer-than-money blessings over the years, including privileged opportunities to observe His avian wonders —  in bushes and woods, at ponds and creeks, etc.

Of course, compared to the truth of 1st Corinthians 15 – the completed redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ – the transitory joys of this life, even birding, pale and disappear.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

[Quoting song-writer Helen Howarth Lemmel, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”.]

Even so, come Lord Jesus, our risen-from-the-dead Redeemer!

 CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!


Other Articles by Dr. James J. S. Johnson (JJSJ)

James J. S. Johnson

What Will You Do With Jesus?

Baby Egrets at Gatorland

On our latest trip to Gatorland, March 23rd, one of my goals was to see if any of the baby Great Egrets had hatched. Great Egret Nest – Gatorland.

Eggs in Great Egret Nest Gatorland 02252021 by Lee
Eggs in Great Egret Nest Gatorland February 25th by Lee

As I expected, there were still some babies there, but it appears by the age of some of them, that many had already fledged. Yet, there were enough to check out. This nest pictured above, was right next to the rail, and to my dismay, it was empty except for one little fluffy chick that did not appear to be alive.

Great Egret with Dead Chick

I met Cathy McArthur there, and we were both watching this young chick. There was no breathing, so we both came up with the same conclusion. The reason I mention her name, is she has agreed to allow me to use some of her photos she also took that day.

There were plenty of other active chicks to try to get a photo of, but of course, I got my fair share of branches. :)

Baby Great Egret
Baby Great Egret
Another chick acoss the water
Two of the Great Egret Chicks by Cathy McArthur
Great Egret Chick by Cathy McArthur

They have quite the hair do’s, don’t you think?

“the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.” (Leviticus 11:19 NKJV)

Egrets and Herons are in the same family, Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns, and therefore a Bird of the Bible – Herons member. Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns make up the Ardeidae family.

I did shoot a few videos, but they are a bit shaky because I was quite away from the nest. Here is one of them:

Stay tuned for more nesting birds. The Tricolored Herons and Snowy Egrets were busy preparing nest, laying eggs, and sitting on them.

Bird of the Bible – Herons

Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns

Cathy McArthur

Birdwatching Trips Around Florida – Gatorland

10 Reasons Jesus Came to Die

[I attempted writing this post with just the Block Editor.]

Minnesota Bird Songs

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Raymond Barlow

Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) by Raymond Barlow

Dr. Jim (JJSJ) sent me this link and I think you will also enjoy it. If you look down through there, you will see a Catbird. Now, you will be able to hear him along with all the other Minnesota bird songs. Enjoy!! [Thanks, Dr. Jim]

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mcvmagazine/bird_songs_interactive/index.html

“…When one rises up at the sound of a bird, …” (Ecclesiastes 12:4 NKJV)

Catbird at Gatorland

James J. S. Johnson

Sharing The Gospel

Great Blue Herons – Gatorland

Great Blue Heron Gatorland 03-23-21

We walked Gatorland in the opposite direction that we normally take. This Blue Heron had just landed and was walking on the rail.

Great Blue Heron Gatorland Cropped

Even though we see Great Blue Heron often, it is always great to watch that stately pose they present. As we have mentioned before, the Heron is mentioned in Leviticus and Deuteronomy as birds to not eat. Birds of the Bible – Herons

“the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.” (Lev. 11:19 NKJV)
“the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat.” (Deut. 14:18 NKJV)

Later on, we encountered another “GBH” [Great Blue Heron] near the other end of the boardwalk. I saw Dan watching something, and then as he started taking photos, I realized it was the Heron.

Dan Watching Great Blue Heron (On rail near the tree)

Dan Taking Photo of Great Blue Heron

Not to be out done, I took out my camera and zoomed in on the Heron.

Great Blue Heron Gatorland

Great Blue Heron Gatorland

Great Blue Heron Gatorland 03-23-21

Great Blue Heron Gatorland 03-23-21

What was the highlight of this encounter was when this bird was chased by another GBH, and caught the heron with its wings fully extended.

Two Great Blue Herons Flying

Two Great Blue Herons Flying – Cropped

Great Blue Heron Flying at Gatorland – Cropped More

What beauty and majesty that the Lord used when He created the flying Avian Wonders for us to enjoy, and realize His awesome power. In church Sunday we sang the hymn, “I Sing The Mighty Power Of God.” This verse expresses some of what I feel when we are out bird watching.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

Stay tuned for more of this latest trip to Gatorland.

Catbird At Gatorland

Birds of the Bible – Herons

Other Gatorland Posts:

Great Egret Nest At Gatorland

Gatorland Again – February 2021

Flamingo Filtering at Gatorland – 12/30/20

Gator Tail Anyone?

Our Gatorland Welcome 12-30-20

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Black Vultures Up Close At Gatorland

Wishful Thinking

Dan’s Photos – Wishful Thinking Flamingo and Vulture

Birdwatching and More Photos by Dan

Good News

 

Catbird at Gatorland

Gray Catbird Gatorland 03-23-21 by Lee

Today we took another ride over to Gatorland to see how the eggs had developed. As we were heading back to the “rookery,” we were surprised by a rare find in a tree as we were walking there.

Catbird – Zoomed

As is typical of Catbirds, they are quick movers and like to stay hidden as much as possible. This one was all over the place until he finally came out on a branch where I could get a decent photo.

Catbird at Gatorland – by Lee

Had this bird not let out one of its soft “cat call,” We would have probably walked right by it.

“This species is named for its cat-like call. Like many members of the Mimidae (in particular mockingbirds), it also mimics the songs of other birds, as well as those of Hylidae (tree frogs), and even mechanical sounds. Because of its well-developed songbird syrinx, it is able to make two sounds at the same time. The alarm call resembles the quiet calls of a male mallard.

A gray catbird’s song is easily distinguished from that of the northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) or brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) because the mockingbird repeats its phrases or “strophes” three to four times, the thrasher usually twice, but the catbird sings most phrases only once. The catbird’s song is usually described as more raspy and less musical than that of a mockingbird.

In contrast to the many songbirds that choose a prominent perch from which to sing, the catbird often elects to sing from inside a bush or small tree, where it is obscured from view by the foliage.” (Wikipedia – Gray Catbird)

Catbird at Gatorland 03-23-21

Our Catbird find was encouraging, as it was sort of quiet today, until we got near the few hatch-lings. But, that will have to wait until the next post.

As the Catbirds call out, it can remind us of Psalm 91:15:

“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”

Considering we haven’t been birdwatching in some time, other than out the back door, I thought I would share the Catbird, while I check the rest of the photos. It was just about a month ago that we were last at Gatorland, and there is a new group of birds laying eggs. Stay tuned!

Gatorland Again – 2021

Wordless Birds

Turf War Whistlers

Duck Fight Posture

Our Black-bellied Whistling Ducks have continued to stay with us since showing up March 1st. I originally thought that they flew off that evening to migrate north. Since then, I admit I made a false assumption. The Florida flocks of Whistlers do not basically migrate. What they do in the evening, is take flight to find a place to feed.

Apparently, the Texas Whistling Ducks do some migration, and are showing up in more southern states. About the only migration here in Florida seems to be around the Sarasota area. Why? I haven’t found out yet. So, since the first of March, we have had a constant flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks outside our back door and on the retaining pond. Anywhere from 100-300+ daily. It’s like living at a wildlife refuge. I LOVE IT!!!!

My camera is just about worn out taking so many photos and videos. [of course, I’ve thrown many photos away] We have had more laughs watching the “turf wars” between the different groups within the group. According to All About Birds – Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, this is common:

Duck Fight – Here We Come

“Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks have long legs and spend more time than other ducks walking on land or perching in trees. You may see them perched on fences, telephone lines, or in Spanish moss. They are gregarious year-round, forming flocks of up to 1,000 birds. They form lifelong pair bonds and breed in their first year of life. Males spar by chasing or nipping at each other, or with a threat display that involves stretching their neck forward and opening their bill.

Duck Fight – On The Attack

Here are some of the videos of them and their “Turf Wars.” I tried to stay silent while filming, but it was too interesting. I kept chuckling.

The first video was started to record that injured Whistler when the war broke out. That duck will be written about later.

A few days later, they were still having their “Turf” discussions:

Hope you enjoyed this birdwatching adventure. Apparently, they seem to be sticking around our neighborhood. Who know what will happen next?

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1 NKJV)
“But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.” (Mark 13:7 NKJV)

Birds of the Bible – Birds “Singing”?

Whistling Ducks Encountering A Turtle

All About Birds – Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Good News Tracts – Various Topics

Hair Like Eagles’ Feathers Revisited

Steller’s Sea-eagle at San Diego Zoo 2015 by Lee

Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:33 NASB)

In the Birds of the Bible, we’ve written about this verse before Birds of the Bible – Hair Like Eagles Feathers, but it came up again today. In our devotions this morning, we read chapter 8 of Daniel. Along with the reading from it, we were reading our notes from various Study Bibles.

Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) ©Wiki

Actually, the original article covers most of this about the king, but we read an interesting fact about his behavior. The fact that Nebuchadnezzar was eating grass like cattle is amazing.

This is from the King James Study Bible for Daniel “4:33. Two important questions arise from this incident: (1) Could it happen to a man? and (2) Could it have happened to Nebuchadnezzar? The answer to both questions is Yes. There is a mental illness known as zoanthropy in which a man thinks and acts like an animal. It is also called boanthropy, more specifically, when a man thinks of himself as an ox. In answer to the second question, this illness is not mentioned in Nebuchadnezzar’s annals, but one would not expect such a humiliating experience to be chronicled. On the other hand, his long reign of 43 years (605–562 b.c.) is more than long enough to include the lengthy sickness.”

Philippine Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus philippensis) ©Flickr Billy Lopue

I am not sure what his hair looked like, so I have added these interesting eagles with feathers that might give an example of the kings hair.

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at Zoo Miami 2014

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at Zoo Miami 2014

As for what his fingernails might have looked like, here are some bird’s claws:

Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) Feet by Lee at National Aviary

Cape Eagle-Owl (Bubo capensis) on Right and Spotted Eagle-Owl on Left ©©

Cape Eagle-Owl (Bubo capensis) on Right and Spotted Eagle-Owl on Left ©©

The best part of this Bible story of Nebuchadnezzar, is how this ends. He come to his senses, and looks toward heaven, as we all should:

Daniel 8:34 “But at the end of [ae]that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my [af]reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account,
But He does according to His will among the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can [ag]fend off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

36 At that time my [ah]reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were [ai]restored to me for the honor of my kingdom, and my state counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my [aj]sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are [ak]true and His ways [al]just; and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Links and scripture from Bible Gateway)

Birds of the Bible – Hair Like Eagles Feathers

Birds of the Bible

Birds of the Bible – Eagles

The Wise Owl

Whistling Ducks Encountering A Turtle

Whistling Ducks Looking As Turtle Disappears

Our welcoming Whistling Duck provided some entertainment when they encountered our local Turtle. He was trying to mind his own business, but the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks where quite curious. Here is a video, I attempted to patch together. Still trying to learn the procedure.

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so.” (Genesis 1:24 NKJV)

Oh, the joys of looking out our back door! I hope the main flock that took off on Saturday are safely at their migration destination. Or at least, getting close.

If you missed the first part of this Whistling-duck adventure, see: Birds of the Bible – “Singiing”?

Birds of the Bible – Whistling Ducks

Birds of the Bible

Sharing The Gospel

Birds of the Bible – Birds “Singing”?

In my recent article, I mentioned seeing two Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks in our yard. Whistling Duck Visitors. Scripture tells about birds singing. I am not sure if singing and whistling are the same, but for the sake of this post, they are. :)

“The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:12 NKJV)

On Saturday morning, we were up early and could hear a lot of sound coming from outside our back door. Here is what we were welcomed with:

This continued for several hours. They stayed all day. The whistling slowed down as they rested, napped, took baths, preened, and just hung out for the day.

The original group grew throughout the day. We estimated between 300-400 were there by late afternoon. We were eating our evening meal just before 5 p.m., and I was thinking that I would start videoing them again. All of a sudden, they all took flight. They were gone just like that. Kind of thinking that they had probably been resting for a night migration flight.

About a half hour later, a couple of small flocks came. Maybe they had been off eating somewhere and missed the mass exodus. By evening, about 50 or so spent the night.

There are some more videos to show with their encounter with a turtle. Stay tuned!

P.S. After I published this, a post popped up that I had forgotten about:

Birds of the Bible – Whistling Ducks


Birds of the Bible

Singing Birds

Whistling Duck Visitors

ABC’s Of The Gospel

Great Egret Nest – Gatorland

Eggs in Great Egret Nest Gatorland 02252021 by Lee

Eggs in Great Egret Nest Gatorland 02252021 by Lee

Just wanted to share a nest that we observed at Gatorland this week.  The Great Egret was standing and I was able to get a photo of the three eggs. Then I turned the video on while she inspected the nest and then settled down on the eggs.

After I had moseyed on down the boardwalk, I took this photo looking back at where I was standing:

Showing How close I was to nest Gatorland 02252021 by Lee

Showing How close I was to nest Gatorland 02252021 by Lee

If you make it larger, you will see how close we can get to some of these nest. This nest was the closest one to the rail. It is always enjoyable to journey over to Gatorland during the nesting season.

“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; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.” (Deuteronomy 22:6-7 NKJV)

We left both the mother and the eggs alone. I’m looking forward to more days in the future to go bird watching. Lord Willing!

More to come on this latest trip to Gatorland.

Gatorland Again – February 2021

Good News