Here am I, Where are You?

Always Honking

Honk…honk…honk!” Before you ever see the birds’ characteristic black heads and white cheek patches, you identify Canada Geese coming as they honk across the sky in their typical V-shaped pattern. It seems Canada Geese are always vocal; on the ground, in the air, while feeding, when waking up, just before they sleep… they are always honking.

So that begs the question: what are they honking about? What are they saying? Biologists tell us they honk to keep family groups together; they honk to communicate rest or feeding areas; they honk to alert others of danger or predators; or, especially the younger birds, they just “go off with a jag of honking that seems to serve no other purpose than sheer exuberance – the expression of joy and excitement over the ability to fly with their friends and family.” 

Keeping it Together

Birds face many hazards during migration. Facing often severe weather and high winds, some may get blown off course or get caught in a storm. Inexperienced birds may chart a wrong course and fatally collide with tall buildings, windows, and other structures, or risk being shot by hunters. It is during the hardships of migration that honking becomes so important to Canada Geese. The blinding snow and rain, or thick fog, may make it impossible to see one another. So, as they toil through the sky, they honk to keep their flock together.

The geese are talking to one another. Each is saying to its companions, ‘Here am I… where are you? Here am I… where are you?’ Aloft in storm and cloud, the voices hold the flock together. They speak out loudly against wind and distance so that others of their kind, strayed or lost, may know the way. Under fair sky the calls continue for reassurance and to reassure. ‘Come along, do not tire. We are on the right course and will soon stop for rest.’ It is no fable, but a truth of nature; experienced elders lead the way.

Magnificent Voyagers, Waterfowl of North America

The experienced elder goose is leading the way with his honking, while the others follow honking encouragement to the others to keep to the course and not quit the flight. The grounded geese that left the flock because of weariness or injury can hear the incessant calling, “Here am I… where are you?” and rejoin their migrating families. It is the duty of those still in flight and on course to call out to their lost and weary relations to come back and return to the path.

Calling Out to Others

In life, many people around us may fly the wrong course or succumb to the hazards of life: failure and defeat, drugs and alcohol, apathy or crime. We have a duty to our fellow man to fly the right course and to lead them in a safe direction. We are to be leaders in our schools, on our jobs, in our families. We have a duty to not leave behind the weak and weary, and to help others to the safe places of rest and success that have been shown to us.

As Christians, we all have a duty to “honk” as the Canada Goose: “Here am I…where are you?” There are many – family members, friends, coworkers, schoolmates – that are lost and on the wrong course. They will never find the right course and follow Jesus if we, the ones that know the right path, don’t call out to them to follow. 

The New Living Translation of Romans 10:14 states, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” If we remain silent, they will never find the way. Our constant, clear call of “Here am I…where are you? Here Am I…where are You?” makes it ever known to them to where they can return when they tire of the life of sin. ​

Where are You?

Before you can lead others and call “Here am I…”, do you know where you are heading? Are you on the narrow path that leads to life? If not, follow the voice of the Savior who “calls you out of darkness into His wonderful life” (I Peter 2:9). And if you do know the course, never quit your duty of calling out to those who are lost or weary. Like the geese that seem to never quit honking, so should you never cease making the call: “Here am I…where are you?  Here am I…where are you?


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

From The Deepest Wilderness, To The Most Crowded Cities

From the deepest wilderness, to the most crowded cities

The great thing about enjoying birds is that you can experience that joy just about anywhere you go! Even if we’re shut indoors at a meeting or conference, we can simply pick the seat next to the window and find our avian friends.

In his chapter in the book Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White, author and birder Noah Strycker wrote, “The beauty of birds is that they are everywhere, from the deepest wilderness to the most crowded inner cities.”

I usually find the Hermit Thrush in one of the more deeply wooded areas of my regular birding routes. Walton County, GA. November 2018 by William Wise.

And the great thing about being a Christian is that we can engage with our Creator anywhere we are! Whether we are admiring His handiwork on a nature hike, lifting up His name in organized worship, or slipping into a closet during a stressful day at work to call upon His name, our God is ever-present.

In the book of Psalms, David wrote, “If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.” Psalm 139:8-10

Mourning Dove on roof top, Athens, Georgia USA

Just like the birds, “from the deepest wilderness, to the most crowded cities”, our God is there!

William Wise Photo Nature Notes is a wildlife, birding and nature photography blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s creation. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104 The Message


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

True From The Beginning

Forster’s Tern; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA by WilliamWisePhotography

TRUE FROM THE BEGINNING

by William Wise

Psalm 119:160 “Thy word is true from the beginning…”  

January 1 is an exciting day for us birders. Our year list begins again and the hunt is on to list even those common visitors that often only get a passing glance as the year wears on. The checklist is blank and all the birds are “new”. And with the start of the New Year, many Christians begin another yearly reading plan. The Bible reading checkboxes are empty and race is on!

And where does that Bible reading plan typically start? At the beginning, with “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” With evolutionary theory now firmly programmed into our society, I often wonder Christians’ reactions when they open to the first chapter of the Bible. Do you believe these words?

As Christians that believe in the accuracy and inerrancy of the Word of God, we must, I repeat, we must make an uncompromising stand that in the beginning, God created the universe in six days. The evolutionary bombardment is not only an attack on the doctrine of origin, but an attack on the entire Bible and every doctrine contained therein. If the first sentence is false, why go on with the rest of the book?

Bible Genesis 1 In the beginning by WilliamWisePhotography

Bible Genesis 1 “In the beginning”

In this New Year, let us commit to a fresh, solid stance on the truth of creation; a doctrine so important that God placed it first in the Bible! We must hold an unwavering commitment that “His word is true from the beginning.” For if the first sentence of the Bible is incorrect, what does that mean for every sentence after that?

William Wise Photo Nature Notes is a wildlife, birding and nature photography blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s creation. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104 The Message

Photos by William Wise taken – December 23, 2019 – A flock of Forster`s Terns on Hilton Head Island Beach, South Carolina. Sterna forsteri breeds inland in North America and winters south to the Caribbean and northern Central America.

Lee’s Addition:

This is a few days past the new year, but this year is still new. Also, this message is appropriate for the whole year. I failed to see William’s email post sooner.

Good News

Chasing Gulls

CHA-Lai Flying Ring-billed Gull; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA by William Wise Photo

Flying Ring-billed Gull; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA by William Wise Photo

Chasing Gulls

by William Wise

It seems the favorite sport of every dog and child on the beach is to run wildly into a pack of gulls. I have to admit, it does look fun, and I probably did it too as a child. While visiting beach of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina this past Christmas, I marveled at the flight of the terns and gulls. Lifting off, taking to the air, circling around, diving and coming back to a landing to avoid the berserker kids and dogs. How do they do it?

From the beginning, as he marveled at the flight of birds, man began chasing the dream to fly. The first concerted efforts came as early as 1485, if not earlier, with Leonardo DaVinci’s Ornithoper blueprints. Although many efforts were made, it wasn’t until 1903 that flight was accomplished by humans. We may have large jumbo jets carrying people across the globe today, but it was a long, arduous process to get there.

If it was so difficult for man to learn to fly, how did birds catch on so quickly and gracefully learn to take to the air? The answer: they didn’t learn! The birds immediately burst forth in color and flight on Day 5 of creation! They were designed, equipped and enabled to fly from their very beginning. They got off to a flying start, so to speak!

CHA-Lai Ring-billed Gulls; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA by William Wise Photo

Ring-billed Gulls; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA by William Wise Photo

Does that sound like an impossible fairy tale? Well, consider this yarn: “Flight appears to have evolved separately four times in history: in insects, bats, birds and pterosaurs. These four groups of flying animals didn’t evolve from a single, flying ancestor. Instead, they all evolved the ability to fly from separate ancestors that couldn’t fly. This makes flight a case of convergent evolution.”

Did you catch that? The complexity of flight evolved separately on four different occasions? Since the probability of even a simple, 200 component, single-celled organism evolving is at least 1060 (a “one” followed by sixty “zeros”), flight evolving even once is basically an impossibility. But four times?

It takes less imagination and faith to marvel at the wonder of flight and know that an incredible Artist designed it in one swift stroke! “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air” (Genesis 2:19)


Lee’s Addition:

When I first introduced you to William Wise, it was because of his photography. Now, he is also willing to share articles/posts with us on a regular basis. Trust you will enjoy having him “on board” with the rest of us.

Stay tuned for great topics tying birds and creation together.
His Site:

William Wise Photography

His Posts Here:

Meet Another New Photographer – William Wise

Two Suppers – By William Wise

Wow!! Two Million And Counting!!

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

“Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Your name.” (Psalms 18:49 NASB)

Thank You!!, Thank You!! again for all visits and views of this blog. Last night (Oct 31, 2019) sometime the counter flipped over the Two Million mark on the visitor counter on the left side of the blog.

2 Million Views

2 Million Views

Here’s a closer view:

Close-up of Two Million Views

Close-up of Two Million Views

On October 20th in 2013, we hit the One Million Mark. See:

Thank You – One Million And Counting!

Now, here we are just a tad over 6 years to the two million mark. Who ever thought that we would still be blogging after all these years. We have now been using WordPress for over 11 years, and the blog is almost 12 years old. It was begun in February 2008, but when it was moved to WordPress the counter was reset.

I am so thankful to the Lord for letting this blog be used to present His beautifully Created birds. Also, without you readers, it would not have been successful. Thank You for every visit, pages viewed, and the many comments. Those comments have come many times when I was thinking of quitting and giving up. But, just when I needed a little extra encouragement, along came a comment that was perfectly timed to keep me going.

Red-crested Turaco at Brevard Zoo by Lee

After these many years, we have met so many people from around the world, and many have become personal friends. [At least I consider you personal friends.]

Also, those that write for the blog have made great contributions: James J.S. Johnson. or Dr. Jim, as I call him; Emma Foster and her Emma’s Stories, have been two of the newest writers used during this six year span. Also, Golden Eagle drops by occasionally. Our Ian Montgomery has provide numerous post from his birding adventures.

“God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:21-22 NASB)

Thank you, Lord, for giving us so many birds to learn and write about. Thank you, readers, for every visit to this blog. I trust that the Lord will allow me the wisdom, strength, and curiosity about the Avian Wonders from His Hand to keep writing about them.

Stay Tuned!

Feeding White Ibises at Lake Morton, by Lee [Dr. J.J.S. Johnson, Baron, and Dan]

Birdwatching at Staffa: Puffins, Shags, & more

Birdwatching at Staffa, near Iona: Puffins, Shags, and Herring Gulls

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands.  (Isaiah 42:12)

The three birds that I recall most, from visiting the island of Staffa (Inner Hebrides, just north of Iona) were Herring Gulls (a very common seagull),  Shags (a yellow-mouthed but otherwise all-black cormorant), and those cute and colorful (and comically clown-like) Atlantic Puffins, a couple of which settled (after some aerial arcing) not much more than a yard (i.e., meter) form where I was standing, upon the grassy cliff-side of the pasture-topped island.

Shag-Staffa.PublicInsta-[hoto

SHAG  at  STAFFA   (Public Insta photo credit)

Below is a limerick I wrote to recall my observations at the Isle of Staffa (same island that has Fingal’s Cave, made famous by Felix Mendelssohn’s overture written in AD1829), a small uninhabited island north of Iona (where I ate some of the best sea scallops, after soaking my feet in the cold Sound of Iona tidewaters!), in the Inner Hebrides archipelago on the western side of Scotland (July 19th AD2019).  Norse Vikings were reminded of staves (plural of “staff”) when they saw the upright timber/log-like columns (contiguous pillars) of basalt there  —  hence the name “Staffa“.

BIRDWATCHING  FROM  CLIFF-EDGE  ATOP  STAFFA  ISLAND,  NORTH  OF  IONA  (INNER  HEBRIDES)

Herring gulls, puffins, and shags,

Launch from cliff-edge grass and crags;

Flying low — then a splish!

Success!  Caught a fish!

Herring gulls, puffins, and shags.

Herring gulls, of course, I first observed during my boyhood days (in elementary school).  But shags and puffins are not seen in the parts of America where I have lived, so seeing them at Staffa was quite a privilege!

Puffins-Staffa.Mull-n-IonaRangerService

PUFFINS at STAFFA   (Mull & Iona Ranger Service)

 

 

Of Cormorants and Anhingas

Of Cormorants and Anhingas

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Cormorant-Doublecrested.WikipediaAnhinga-perching.Wikipedia

Double-crested Cormorant (L) & Anhinga (R)  / both Wikipedia images­

­But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it . . . . (Isaiah 34:11a)

Cormorants and bitterns (the latter being a type of heron) are famous to frequently waterways, preying on fish and other aquatic critters. Yet there is another large waterbird that resembles a cormorant, the anhinga.

CORMORANT VERSUS ANHINGA

Cormorants and Anhingas are frequently confused. They are both [fairly big, i.e., bigger than a crow, almost as large as a goose] black birds that dive under the water to fish.  Both must dry their feathers in the sun [because their feathers are not 100% waterproofed].

The differences are easy to see. The Anhinga’s beak is pointed for spearing [i.e., stabbing] fish, while the Cormorant’s beak is hooked for grasping its prey.  The Cormorants’ body remains above the surface when swimming [unlike the “snake-bird” appearance of a swimming Anhinga, which swims mostly underwater, with only its head and neck emergent].  It [i.e., the Cormorant] lacks the Anhinga’s slender [snake-like] neck, long tail, and white wing feathers.

[Quoting Winston Williams, FLORIDA’S FABULOUS WATERBIRDS: THEIR STORIES (Hawaiian Gardens, Calif.: World Publications, 2015), page 4.]

By the way, this photography-filled waterbird book [i.e., Winston Williams’ FLORIDA’S FABULOUS WATERBIRDS: THEIR STORIES] was recently given to me by Chaplain Bob & Marcia Webel, of Florida, precious Christian friends (of 45+ years) who are also serious birdwatchers.

Cormorant-Doublecrested-fishing.Bruce-J-Robinson-photo

Double-crested Cormorant fishing (Bruce J. Robinson photograph)

Of course, there are different varieties of cormorants [e.g., Neotropic Cormorant, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Great Cormorant, etc.], as Winston Williams observes [ibid., page 4], but the cormorant that you can expect to see in Florida is the Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), so called due to white tufted feather “crests” during breeding season.  Mostly piscivorous [i.e., fish-eating], cormorants will also eat small crustaceans [e.g., shellfish like crayfish] and amphibians [e.g., frogs], often about one pound of prey daily. These cormorants range over America’s Lower 48 states, especially in the Great Lakes region.

It is the American Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), however, that is properly nicknamed “Snake-bird” (and a/k/a “American Darter” or “Water Turkey”), due to its mostly-submerged-underwater hunting habit.  It eats fish almost exclusively, though it can and sometimes does eat crustaceans (e.g., crabs, shrimp, crayfish) or small aquatic vertebrates (e.g., frogs, newts, salamanders, turtles, snakes, and even baby crocodiles).

Anhinga-piscivore.PhilLanoue-photo

ANHINGA with fish (Phil Lanoue photo)

America’s Anhinga is a cousin to other darters (a/k/a “snake-birds”) of other continents, such as the Indian Darter, African Darter, and Australian Darter. The term “darter” refers to the piercing dart-like impalement technique that these birds use, for acquiring and securing their prey, just before ingestion.   Worldwide, darters like in tropical climes or in regions with almost-tropical weather.

In the Orient, for many generations, cormorants have been harnessed to catch fish for human masters. [See “’C’ Is for Cardinal and Cormorant:  ‘C’ Birds, Part 1”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/05/18/c-is-for-cardinal-and-cormorant-c-birds-part-1/ .]

Also, cormorant feathers have been used, historically, for stuffing Viking pillows. [See “Viking Pillows were Stuffed for Comfort:  Thanks to Ducks, Geese, Eagle-Owls, Cormorants, Seagulls, and Crows!”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2018/04/30/viking-pillows-were-stuffed-for-comfort-thanks-to-ducks-geese-eagle-owls-cormorants-seagulls-and-crows/ .]

Now it is time for a limerick, about an Anhinga:

TABLE  MANNERS  &  TECHNIQUE  (ANHINGA  STYLE)

Wings spread out, the bird had one wish:

To dive, stab, flip up, and eat fish;

Without cream of tartar,

Fish entered the darter!

‘Twas stab, gulp!  —  no need for a dish!

><> JJSJ


 

 

Unique Feeding Of The Spoonbills

African Spoonbill Zoo Tampa by Lee

The Spoonbill family has a unique or uncommon way of feeding. They swing their beak back and forth in the water to find food. The inside of the “spoon” is very sensitive. When they feel a “goodie,” their beak snaps shut. They then swallow their food.

I have been trying to capture this action on video for some time, and finally, watched this African Spoonbill catch his food. This was taken at Zoo Tampa (Lowry Park Zoo) in their aviary.

“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV)

Just as the Spoonbills eat differently from other species of birds, it was the Creator that made them this way. You were created different than anyone else. Enjoy your uniqueness, because God made you the way your are. You were given different talents and abilities than someone else. What are you going to do with what the Lord has given?

African Spoonbill Zoo Tampa by Lee

The Spoonbills are using their uniqueness very well!

Spoonbill – Wikipedia

Strutting Like A Peacock?

Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) by Nikhil Devasar

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3 NKJV)

I just published Proud As A Peacock? on the Birds of the Bible for Kids blog and thought I’d share it here also.

In a recent post, Rabbit Chasing Sandhill Crane, I mentioned that Dan and I have been re-reading “Things I Have Learned” by Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. Today, I’d like to tell another short excerpt about the singing of a Mockingbird and the strutting of a Peacock.

The lesson has to do with having a “big head.” The Lord has given every Christian certain abilities or “talents.” How we use them and how we may feel about those gifts. Some believe that those talents were their own and lean toward becoming an “egomaniac”

“The Bible recognized that. God tells you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. You are not so tremendously important.” School might grieve for a few days if you died, but.. “…I have seen many a man die whom nobody knew how to get along without, and yet somehow or other things went right on. The world kept moving.”

Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) By Dan'sPix

Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) By Dan

“Young people, I meet many people along life’s way who are failures because they overemphasize their own importance. That is the temptation of talented people. The fact that you have talents does not mean you are brilliant. Some people with much talent have little reasoning ability. Some people have special gifts for which they deserve no credit whatever. The just have gifts.”

Patagonian Mockingbird (Mimus patagonicus) ©WikiC

“What credit does a mockingbird deserve for singing? He is just made that way. When a mockingbird sings, he is not strutting his stuff.”

“A peacock struts. He has tail feathers, but he didn’t make them. God Almighty bent over heaven and stuck all those feathers in his tail. I know some people who can sing and play and act. That is about all they can do; yet they get to thinking they are wonderful.”

Peacock at Magnolia Plantation by Dan

“What have you on this earth you didn’t get from somebody else? What are you stuck up about? Do you know the cure for the big head is? It is to sit down and realize two things: first, anything you have, you got from God; and you are custodian of that gift –a trustee. Then think of somebody else in the world who has something you don’t have.”

Quotes from, Things I Have Learned, Chapel Talks by Bob Jones Sr  , 1992

Things I Have Learned

 

Seek Me, And Find Me

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) ©Flickr Wayne Butterworth

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

As many bird watchers are aware, we spend considerable time searching for a bird that we know is near. That can be so frustrating at times. Other times you see a glimpse of the bird, and then when the camera is aimed, it’s not there. Oh, the joys and frustration of looking for God’s Avian Wonders.

One of the most challenging bird I ever searched for was the Tawny Frogmouth. We were at the Aviary in Zoo Miami and were told he was there. We searched high and low with no luck. When we asked the keeper, he pointed him out to us. We had walked right by the bird. It was in plain sight.

Caught Dan on the Boardwalk trying to find a bird

Caught Dan on the Boardwalk trying to find a bird

The Tawny, one of my favorite birds to have to hunt for, is not the only bird that can get away from you. Some of those little jobs are so fast that they are hard to get a photo of also.

Downy Woodpecker by Lee LPP

Downy Woodpecker by Lee LPP

The little woodpeckers can move quite speedily while chasing bugs.

Cactus Wren by Dan at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Wrens can also cause you to search and seek. But, I still think these Frogmouths and Potoos were designed by the Creator to blend in with their surroundings. Therefore, giving birdwatchers and photographers a challenge.

Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus) ©Jullan Iondono

*

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) at Wings of Asia

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) at Wings of Asia by Lee

With all this searching and finding, there is a good principle here for us to follow. The Lord gave a promise to the Israelites, and that applies to us today.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.”
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
And I will be found of you, saith the Lord:...” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)


Similar post about this:

Hidden Wisdom

Hide Thou Me

Here I Am

Gideon

Avian – Happy Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day here in America. I wonder if the beautiful, hard-working avian mother’s have a special day. Maybe, it is the day the little one fledge and finally have “Flown The Coop.”

Seriously, I would like to wish all of my readers a Happy Mother’s Day with this little tribute.

First, the Momma bird lays her eggs:

“Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.” (Proverbs 23:25 NKJV)

Second, momma has to sit on the eggs for awhile:

“For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50 NKJV)

Third, the little ones start to appear:

“Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 19:19 KJV)

Fourth, those little birds get hungry:

“Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)” (Ephesians 6:2 KJV)

Fifth, they mature (juveniles) and eventually Fly The Coop:

Avian mother’s are finished with that batch. Unlike human mothers whose work has just begun, and will continue through every stage of their children’s lives, even into their grandchildren’s lives.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

“Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.” (Proverbs 23:22 NKJV)

“A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish man despises his mother.” (Proverbs 15:20 NKJV)

Carrier Pigeon Prompts Rescue of WWII Airmen Floating in the North Sea, Despite Carrying No Written Message!

BRITISH  AIRMEN LEAVING NORWAY, PLUNGE INTO  THE  NORTH SEA: WWII CARRIER  PIGEON  TO  THE  RESCUE !

(Carrier Pigeon Prompts Rescue of WWII  Airmen Floating in the North Sea, Despite Carrying No Written Message!)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.   (Luke 9:58)

Pigeons know where their nests are;  you can trust them to find their way home!

On February 23rd of AD1942, after an aerial mission over Norway, a shot-up and failing Royal Air Force Beaufort Bomber was trying to return home, but was forced to “ditch” at sea.  The North Sea waters were dangerously cold, freezing (although because these were salt-waters they remained liquid).  The 4 floating survivors were more than 100 miles from home, unable to radio their location to their friend back in Scotland.  Would they die, soon, in the frigid North Sea?

Thanks, providentially, to a Carrier Pigeon (a variety of Rock Dove), the 4 airmen were rescued, without the bird carrying a written S.O.S. message  —  but how?

Winkie-Pigeon-and-her-grateful-crew.WWII-rescue

WINKIE,  Royal Air Force pigeon  # NEHU 40 NSL  

and her rescued & grateful WWII Royal Air Force crew

Here is the amazing report, provided by the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Christopher Sleight (in a BBC article titled “The Pigeon that Saved a World War II Bomber Crew” [ posted  AD2012-02-23 at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-17138990 ].

Seventy years ago a carrier pigeon performed the act of “heroism” that saw it awarded the animal’s equivalent of the Victoria Cross – the Dickin Medal. It was the first of dozens of animals honoured by veterinary charity PDSA during World War II.

On 23 February 1942, a badly damaged RAF bomber ditched into the North Sea. The crew were returning from a mission over Norway, but their Beaufort Bomber had been hit by enemy fire and crashed into the sea more than 100 miles from home. Struggling in freezing waters – unable to radio an accurate position back to base [because the plane crashed so quickly] – the four men faced a cold and lonely death.

But as the aircraft went down, the crew had managed to salvage their secret weapon – a carrier pigeon. The blue chequered hen bird, called Winkie [“NEHU 40 NSL”], was set free in the hope it could fly home to its loft in Broughty Ferry, near Dundee [on the northern bank of River Tay, which flows from Scotland’s eastern coast into the North Sea], and so alert air base colleagues to their predicament.

But Winkie did make it home, after flying 120 miles [to Broughty Ferry], and was discovered, exhausted and covered in oil, by owner George Ross, who immediately informed RAF Leuchars in Fife.

The pigeon was not carrying a message, but the RAF were able to calculate [i.e., approximate] the position of the downed aircraft, using the time difference between the plane’s ditching and the arrival of the bird [to its loft nest] – taking into account the wind direction and even the impact of the oil [spoilage] on Winkie’s feathers, to her flight speed. A rescue mission was launched and the men were found within 15 minutes.

Elaine Pendlebury, from the PDSA [People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals], said the carrier pigeon had been released as a “last ditch stand” when the crew realised they had no other options. “I find it very, very moving really. These people would have died without this pigeon message coming through,” said Ms Pendlebury.

Winkie became the toast of the air base, with a dinner held in her honour. A year later, she became the first animal to receive the Dickin Medal – named after PDSA’s founder Maria Dickin – for “delivering a message under exceptional difficulties [and so contributing to the rescue of an Air Crew while serving with the RAF in February 1942]”.

During World War II, carrier pigeons were routinely carried by RAF bombers for this very eventuality, though in an era before GPS and satellite locator beacons, rescue was far from certain. More than 60 animals have since received the award, including 18 dogs, three horses and one cat. But pigeons still rule the [Dickin Medal] roost, with 32 being given medals, all between 1943 and 1949.

[Quoting from Corporation’s Christopher Sleight, “The Pigeon that Saved a World War II Bomber Crew” [BBC News (BBC.com, Tayside & Central Scotland column), AD2012-02-23 at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-17138990 ].

PigeonService-RAF-WWII.ImperialWarMuseum

Homing Pigeons used by Royal Air Force, WWII   (Imperial War Museum photo)

It is reported that “more than 250,000 carrier pigeons were used [by Great Britain’s military] in World War II. They were called the National Pigeon Service and were relied on heavily to transport secret messages.” [Quoting https://its-interesting.com/2012/11/01/wwii-carrier-pigeon-delivers-message/ .]

WWII-Pigeon-Service-RAF-FeatheryPhotographyBlog

WWII RAF Pigeon Service   (Public Domain / Feathery Photography blog)

But how is it that birds, like the carrier pigeon, can fly so efficiently that humans can predict their flight-path, even without GPS, and can do so with such dependability that such predictions (i.e., calculations that approximate the location where someone can be found) can succeed in 4 saving lives, precariously afloat in wintery North Sea waters, more than 100 miles from Scotland?

In short, God has programmed many types of birds, especially migratory birds, with bioengineering traits that equip it for sophisticated and precise navigation, over lands and oceans.

This logistical miracle, of God’s bioengineering providence, has been quantified by Dr. Werner Gitt (in AD1986), in his study of birds such as PLOVERS.

Pacific-Golden-Plover.NationalAudubonSociety

Pacific Golden Plover   (Nat’l Audubon Society photo)

After quoting Psalm 104:24, Dr. Gitt indicates that he will illustrate one of God’s creative works of wisdom, the flight of migratory birds.

If we take a closer look at this phenomenon, we encounter two miracles: energy and navigation.

 The miracle of energy

Every process, whether in physics, technology or biology, adheres strictly to the law of conservation of energy; that is to say, any work to be done requires a certain amount of energy supplied. The problem facing the migratory bird is that of taking with it sufficient fuel (= fat) to complete its journey. To ensure the necessary flying capacity, the bird must be of as light a build as possible. Excess weight is to be avoided at all costs. Likewise, use of fuel has to be as efficient as possible. How, then, did the Creator make the fuel last so long without refilling? The first step is choosing the most economical cruising speed. Should the bird fly too slowly, it would consume too much fuel simply to stay airborne. If it flies too quickly, it wastes too much energy in overcoming air resistance. Thus we see that there is a definite minimum for the consumption of fuel. If the bird knew about this speed, it would be able to fly as efficiently as possible. Depending on the aerodynamic construction of the rump and wings, the optimal speed is different for each bird (e.g. laughing gull 45 kilometers per hour, budgerigar 41.6 km/h). It is a known fact that birds gear themselves exactly to this energy-saving speed. How do they know? It is one of many unsolved ornithological puzzles.

We want to examine more closely the energy problem of the golden plover (Pluvialis dominica fulva). This bird migrates from Alaska to Hawaii for the winter. Its nonstop flight takes it across the open sea where there is no island en route; in addition, the bird cannot swim, so that a stop for rest is impossible. This flight of over 4000 km (depending on its starting point) involves an incredible 250,000 consecutive wing beats and lasts 88 hours. The bird’s starting weight is G0 = 200 grams, of which 70 grams are stored as layers of fat to be used as fuel. It is known that the golden plover converts 0.6% per hour of its current body weight (p= 0.006/h) into kinetic energy and heat.

For the first hour of flight, it therefore needs x1 = G0 p = 200 (0.006) = 1.2 grams of fat.

Thus, at the beginning of the second hour, it weighs only
G0 x1 = 200 – 1.2 = 198.8 g, so that it uses slightly less fat for the second hour:
x2 = (G0 – x1) p = G1 (p) = (198.8) (0.006) = 1.193 g
x3 = (G0 – x1 – x2) = G2 (p) = (197.6) (0.006) = 1.186 g
and for the 88th hour of flight the fuel consumption has fallen to
x88 = (G0 – x1 – x2 – x3 . . . x87) p = G87 (p)

Now we will calculate how much the bird weighs at the end of the flight. Its body weight at the end of each hour is given by the reduction due to the fat consumption:
1st hour: G1 = G0 – x1 = G0 – G0 p = G0 (1 – p)
2nd hour: G2 = G1 – x2 = G1 – G1 p = G1 (1 – p) = G0 (1 – p)2
3rd hour: G3 = G2 – x3 = G2 – G2 p = G2 (1 – p) = G0 (1 – p)3
and so on. Finally at the 88th hr: G88 = G0 (1 – p)88

For the sake of simplicity, we have performed the above calculation in steps of 1 hour. We could have used a more accurate differential equation, but the result would have differed only negligibly from the above solution. Using the simpler method, and putting in the proper values in Equation (8), the bird’s weight after the 88th hour is given by G88 = 200 (1 – 0.006)88 = 117.8 grams.

The total fuel consumption is then the difference from the initial weight:

G0 – G88 = 200 -117.8 = 82.2 grams.

This value is distinctly more than the available 70 grams! The bird may not go below the limit of 130 g (Fig. 1). In spite of flying at the speed which minimizes his fuel consumption, the bird has not enough fuel to reach Hawaii. To find the number of hours that the fuel is sufficient for, we find using GZ = G0 (1 – p)Z = 200 – 70 = 130 g that the 70 g of fat are used up after Z = 72 hours, which means that after 81% of the projected time (i.e. a good 800 km before the end) the bird crashes into the sea.

Have we miscalculated, or has the Creator not, as we thought, designed and equipped the bird properly? Neither: the Creator’s work leaves us amazed. The clue is the motto: “optimal use of energy through information.” He gave the bird an important piece of information as well:

“Do not fly singly (curve GE) but in V-formation (curve GK).  In V-formation you will save 23% of your energy and reach your winter quarters safely.”

Fig. 1 also shows the curve GK, the rate of weight loss when flying in V-formation.

After 88 hours this would normally leave 6.8 g of fat in hand. This remaining fuel reserve is not superfluous, however, but has been included by the Creator so that the bird reaches its goal even with a contrary wind. The extremely low fuel consumption of p = 0.6% of the total weight per hour is even more astonishing when one considers that the corresponding values for man-made mechanical flying machines are many times larger (helicopter p = 4 to 5%, jet p = 12%). For anyone who does not regard these finely adjusted processes as the work of a Creator, the following questions remain unanswered:

  • How does the bird know how much fat is necessary?

  • How does it arrange to have this amount just before the journey?

  • How does the bird know the distance and the specific rate of fuel consumption?

  • How does the bird know the way?

  • How does it navigate?

[Quoting Werner Gitt, “The Flight of Migratory Birds”, Acts & Facts, volume 15, (Sept. 1986).   NOTE:  Figure 1, not shown here, is an illustration of the flight of the golden plover from Alaska to Hawaii (geographical route, curves of the fuel consumption during the bird’s flight.]

Pacific-Golden-Plover.PPT-migration-map

The analysis by Dr. Werner Gitt, of the plover’s amazing migratory flight, continues.

As well as the aforementioned (East Siberian) golden plover, there is also the North American golden plover. This bird also flies in a dazzling nonstop performance straight across the Atlantic Ocean from the coasts of Labrador to North Brazil. Whereas the western breed flies the same course for both journeys, the North American golden plover chooses different routes for Autumn and Spring. The return flight from the pampas of South America crosses Central America and the United States to Canada. The following equally incredible flight performances are recorded for:

  • the Japanese snipe (Capella hardtwickii): 5,000 km flight from Japan to Tasmania
  • the needle-tailed swift of Eastern Siberia (Chaetura caudacuta): flight from Siberia to Tasmania
  • the American sandpipers (e.g. Calidris melanotos = pectoral sandpiper): 16,000 km flight from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

The navigational miracle

The famous Danish ornithologist, Finn Salomonsen, has this to say about a bird’s orientation during migration: “The bird’s ability to find its way during migration is surely the greatest mystery. Seldom has another question given so much cause for theorizing and speculation as this one.”

Indeed, this navigational achievement, performed without complex boards of instruments, compass and map and under constantly changing conditions, including sun position, wind direction, cloud cover and the diurnal cycle is an incomparable miracle.

Even a slight diversion off course whilst crossing the ocean would mean certain death in the open sea for migrating land birds, as we discovered in the case of the golden plover. Keeping exactly on course is not a question of trial and error.

The vast majority of migrating birds would never reach their destination without navigational methods, and no species could survive such an overwhelming loss rate; thus any suggestion that evolution has played a part here must be totally dismissed. Also the suggestion that young birds learn the way flying with their parents carries little weight, as many species fly solo. It is thought, then, that migratory birds have an instinctive sense of direction like a compass, which makes it possible for them to orientate themselves and thus keep flying in a certain direction. Salomonsen bases his theory about the sense of direction on his study of two kinds of small birds from West Greenland, both of which fly south in autumn. The stonechat(Saxicola torquata) and the snow bunting (Plectrophenox nivalis) share a common homeground and often begin their southward journey at the same time. Once the south of Greenland is reached, however, their ways separate: whereas the snow bunting continues his journey southward to winter in America, the stonechat turns southeast to follow a course over the Atlantic to Western Europe and North Africa. Each bird has a specific sense of direction which determines its migration pattern. Displacement experiments have been carried out with various migratory birds which showed detailed results about the precision of their navigational capabilities: a most remarkable test involving two species of tern (Sterna fuscata and Anous stolidus) and their nesting places in the Tortugas Islands in the Gulf of Mexico, was one such experiment. The birds were shipped in different directions and set free on the open sea. Although they were freed at distances ranging from 832 to 1368 km from their nests over parts of the sea which were completely unfamiliar to them, within a few days, most of the terns returned almost directly to their eggs and young on the Tortugas Islands. The longest disorientation experiment carried out to date was probably one involving a Manx shearwater (Peffinus puffinus) which was taken from its nest on Skokholm Island in Wales to Boston, USA. It arrived back at its nest in 12 days, 12 hours and 31 minutes after a 5,000 km nonstop transatlantic flight. A large number of disorientation experiments has been carried out on homing pigeons, in particular, and it is their navigational achievements which have been most thoroughly researched and documented. Salomonsen, writing about this breathtaking navigational feat, says:

“Even when birds were anaesthetised for the outward journey, or if their cages were made to rotate continuously so that their orientation was constantly changing, they were just as able to find their way home as were the control birds. Therefore there can be no doubt that birds have a special sense of geographical position, i.e. a real navigational sense. The nature of this instinct remains a mystery; even more so, the location of the relevant sense organ.”

The birds’ capabilities extend beyond the bounds of our imagination. They can determine their homeward course over long distances, even when all possible aids to orientation have been removed during the disorientation journey. They possess the extraordinary faculty of being able, wherever they are, to determine their position relative to their home territory from their immediate surroundings. And this method of determining location, itself not understood even today, is only the beginning; then comes the real problem, namely flight navigation: mere sense of direction is not enough for this.

During flight over wide, windswept stretches of ocean, a tendency to drift off course cannot be avoided. Such drift must be continually compensated for, as in a feedback system in control technology, in order to avoid losing energy by flying a longer route. The Creator equipped the birds with a precise ‘autopilot,’ which apparently is constantly measuring its geographical position and comparing the data with its individually “programmed” destination. In this way an economical, energy-saving and direct flight is guaranteed. Just where this vital system is to be found and how this operating information is coded is known by no one today except the Creator, who made it.

[Quoting Werner Gitt, “The Flight of Migratory Birds”, Acts & Facts, vol. 15, (Sept. 1986).]

Pacific-Golden-Plover.NZ-Birds-Online

Pacific Golden Plover   (NZ Birds Online photo credit)

Dr. Jobe Martin, one the most knowledgeable (and reverent) animal experts alive today,  echoes his own appreciation for the God-given navigational skills displayed by the Pacific Golden Plover’s migration.

Scientists are not certain how the plovers navigate from Alaska to Hawaii and back, since there is no land under their flight path.   Utilization of earth’s magnetic field seems to be the best solution at this point.  Some have suggested that they use the sun and stars.

And how do the young birds find their way to Hawaii [since the first-year plovers migrate to Hawaii weeks after the adults depart south] without an experienced adult guide, weeks after their parents have already flown back to Hawaii?

A one degree mistake in navigation over the more than 4,000 kilometer flight and the birds miss Hawaii completely!  But they never miss!

[Quoting Jobe Martin, THE EVOLUTION OF A CREATIONIST, rev. ed. (Rockwall, TX: Biblical Discipleship Publishers, 2004), page 203, emphasis added.]

More examples of avian navigation genius could be given, e.g., the famous circumpolar migrations of the Arctic Tern.  [See, accord, JJSJ, “Survival of the Fitted:  God’s Providential Programming”, Acts & Facts, 39(10):17-18 (October 2010), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/5663 .]

However, the plumed pilots noted above suffice to illustrate the main idea here: God has given birds navigational programming and skills and physiologies that are providential miracles – which we can see year-round, if we take the time to watch these feathered fliers. They are marvelous miracles in motion, “hidden in plain sight”.  And these birds certainly know where their “home” nests are!

Winkie-carrier-pigeon-WWII.PublicDomainWINKIE, Royal Air Force pigeon # NEHU 40 NSL   (public domain)

><> JJSJ profjjsj@aol.com