Stressed? Pray and Go Birding!

1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.” ​

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow; Walton County, Georgia. February, 2019 http://www.williamwisephoto.com

What do you do when life has you down? Pray and go birding! When your job is stretching your stamina to the breaking point? Pray and go birding! When you need to relax and shake off the nerves? Pray and go birding! When the next little thing will tip your headache to a migraine? Pray and go birding!

There is no need for a scientific study to tell me that getting outdoors is a way to reduce stress. There is no need to write a paper about how getting away from a ringing phone will calm my nerves; how unplugging from email and social media will lower my blood pressure; how fresh air will clear my lungs and refresh my mind. I don’t need a scientific study because I know first-hand!

There isn’t a need for the Mayo Clinic to tell me the supernatural benefits of prayer. There is no need for them to post a blog telling me that having a purpose in life reduces depression; that prayer and meditation produces actual physical benefits to my brain; that focusing outside myself can alleviate worry and fear. I don’t need that blog because I know first-hand!

Try it sometime. Stop reading this blog, close your browser, push back the chair and walk out the door. Talk to God; cast your concerns at His feet; enjoy this world that He created. You just might get addicted. I know because I go there every day. So, pray and go birding!


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. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s 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.

Voices that Carry

Joshua 6:20 “…and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, and they took the city.”

It is political season in the United States. From now until November all the media outlets will be saturated with political ads as every advocate for every cause will be projecting their voices in an effort to be heard. Some days, I just have to pull away from all those voices and go for a birding walk. But as a Christian, should I pull away? Should I remain silent?

As I stepped outdoors to get away, my attention was immediately drawn to a noisy bird circling overhead; his loud voice was carrying on the wind. One of the Killdeer birds that is normally darting around in our parking lot was flying through the air and shouting its name: Kill-deah! Kill-deah!!! The voices of the other plovers are more pleasantly described as ‘a plaintive or musical whistle.’ But not the Killdeer, of which Peterson’s Field Guide gives a one-word description: “noisy”.

Killdeer plover bird flying

Killdeer; Walton County, Georgia. www.williamwisephoto.com

So, just like the political activists, the Killdeer too wanted his voice to be heard! And perhaps I should take a lesson from the Killdeer. As Christians, in the interest of peace and harmony, do we remain quiet as the special interest groups shout aloud in support of their own, often unrighteous, causes? Do we let their voices carry louder than ours? The last time that happened, the outcome wasn’t so good. “And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed” (Luke 23:23).

This Killdeer was exemplifying his boisterous description, and simultaneously living up to his species name: Charadrius vociferous. Vociferous is from the Latin, meaning “to shout, yell.” If you break it down, vox means “voice”, and ferre, meaning “to carry”; therefore, vociferous describes ‘voices that carry’. Aptly describing my little plover flying overhead!

Killdeer plover bird

Killdeer; Walton County, Georgia. www.williamwisephoto.com

As the other voices carry along on the winds of social media, radio and television, our Christian voices in support of righteousness should also be heard! What if William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln had remained silent? Instead, they let their voices carry on the wind, like the vociferous Killdeer, and changed our society!

Joshua 6:20 “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”


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. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s 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.

Preparing a Place

Thank God it’s Sunday! Finally, an opportunity between morning and evening church service for an afternoon of backyard birding! I have prepared my spot on the patio for an afternoon of relaxation: coffee, binoculars, camera, more coffee, eBird app, notebook and pen, and fill the feeders. I can relax in this beautiful scene my Creator has designed for me… and also meditate upon the future home He is currently preparing for me!

Eastern Bluebird Nest Boxes

Eastern Bluebird at nest box; Clarke County, Georgia. April, 2017.

After noting the different bird species in the flurry of activity at the freshly filled feeders, my eyes were drawn to the pair of Eastern Bluebirds. The male and female repeatedly crisscrossed the yard, alighting here and there upon the nest boxes, spending a moment in thought, and then moving to the next. Although it is still only February, they are preparing for spring.

When my family moved into our current home in Georgia, after we were comfortably settled, it was time to prepare a backyard bird sanctuary. In addition to the small pond, feeders, fruiting shrubs and honeysuckle vines, I wanted to prepare a home for the Bluebirds and built three nest boxes. To my surprise, the very first season, the bluebirds began preparing a home for their young and have had two clutches per season every year!

Eastern Bluebird at Nest Box

Eastern Bluebird nest box; Clarke County, Georgia. April 2017.

But my joy is not only in preparing a home for the bluebirds, and in watching them prepare a nest for their young, but also in knowing a glorious home is currently being prepared for me! And the home He is preparing is no quickly built bluebird nest box! Our Savior has been preparing for 2,000 years now… what a glorious home it will be!

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: …I go to prepare a place for you.” -John 14:2

And since He so graciously has been preparing a home, we should be preparing our hearts! Luke 12:43-47 “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing… And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”


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 the earth overflow with Your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

The King’s Fisher

Have you ever observed the superb skills of a Kingfisher making a headlong dive from an overhanging branch into a pond? The true origin of the Kingfisher’s name isn’t certain. But if you have seen him come up with a large fish, you must agree he is aptly named the king fisher!

Belted Kingfisher; Walton County Georgia

However, since many other birds are also quite good at catching fish, he may not have obtained that name by simply being the best at fishing. Another theory is that some monarch – a king with an affinity for the bird – gave him the name: thus, the King’s Fisher. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary states the name was originally written as The King’s Fisher (“kyngys fischare” in Middle English). I can’t help but think of King Solomon’s “three thousand proverbs which spoke of trees, beasts, birds, creeping things, and fishes.”

The King of Kingfishers

During his earthly ministry of discipling young fishermen to become apostles, Jesus stated, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).  The Lord’s desire is for His people to be the best fishermen they can be; to “launch out into the deep and let down the nets for a catch” of lost souls (Luke 5:4). If it is truly our Lord’s desire for us to be such fishers of men, we should strive to be the best fishermen possible! We can learn a few fishing tips from the Kingfisher.

Be Vocal!

Kingfishers are quite vocal and their loud, rattling call is often heard long before they are seen. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states, “Male and female Belted Kingfishers give strident, mechanical rattles in response to the slightest disturbance.” I can always hear a Kingfisher from my office if there is one on the retention pond. As Christians hoping to win souls for our King, we should be just as vocal about the saving grace of Jesus everywhere we go. Our presence and evangelistic desire should never be hidden.  As Paul said, “If our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Corinthians 4:3).

Dive In!

The Kingfisher’s mode of catching fish is also an inspiration. They plunge headfirst directly from a perch, or, by hovering over the water bill downward, dive in after a fish they’ve spotted. Oh how many more souls we might win if we were to dive headfirst into every situation declaring the Gospel! A “pool” of souls on a city bus?  Dive in head first and preach! A “school” of fish? Take a plunge and declare the word of God no matter what the teachers might say!

So take an evangelistic tip from the Kingfisher: dive in and be vocal! After all, we are the King of Kings’ Fishers!


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. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s 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 the earth overflow with Your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

 

Dabbler or Diver

1 Corinthians 2:10-13 “The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along.” (The Message)

The Hooded Merganser ducks have finally arrived for the winter on the small pond behind my office in Georgia. Not only are they so unlike our resident Mallards in appearance, sporting that black-and-white retractable crest, but they differ greatly in habit and action. That’s the difference between dabblers and divers!

When not cutting across the water for a free handout of bread, our trio of “green head” Mallards stay along the edges of the pond, searching the shallows for aquatic vegetation and larvae. They are the dabblers. But the Mergansers! Those “hoodies” swim out to the middle of the pond and SPLASH!!!… they disappear, diving down to the depths. They are the divers. They go deep for those delectable bottom dwellers!

When it comes to the Christian life, dabbling along the edges might be just enough to keep you alive until the next church service. But oh how much richer, how much more rewarding, to dive to the depths of sanctification and sacrifice. C.S. Lewis wrote, “This is my endlessly recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea and there neither dive nor swim, but only to dabble and splash, careful not to get out of my depth and holding on to the lifeline which connects me with my things temporal.

One observer of ducks wrote, “Dabbling ducks have the condition known as ‘duck butt.’ You look at them in the water and sometimes see no face, just a duck rear end sticking straight up in the air.” And over the last twenty-six years of my salvation, I’ve observed that the church visitors or new converts that remain on the edge – only occasionally seeing their faces and merely dabbling in dedication – they usually migrate away at their season’s end, never to return. But the diver! The diver that abandons all to explore the depths of prayer, discipleship, ministry, giving, evangelism, and the call of God, they repeatedly come with mouths full and to spare for others!

If you’ve been dabbling on the edges in your commitment to serve Christ and to serve in your local church, row out to the middle, step out of the boat, and dive in. I assure you, the water’s great! That’s the difference between dabblers and divers!

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 uses nature writing and photography to glorify our Creator and teach 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.

See more post from William Wise

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)


POST-SCRIPT:   Puffins, gulls, and shags  —  as noted (in the limerick, above)  —   enjoy eating fish, from the sea-waters that wash ashore coastal rocks and beaches of the Hebrides.   Meanwhile, to consider what humans enjoy eating, when visiting Scotland’s Highlands and Hebrides,  check out “When in Scotland, Eat Well!”  —  posted at https://rockdoveblog.wordpress.com/2019/07/29/when-in-scotland-eat-well/  .

 

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