Taking and Making Opportunities

2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season…”

Bright yellow female American Goldfinch perched on pine sapling. Spinus tristis is a North American songbird. Photographed June 17, 2020 in Walton County, Georgia USA. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

People have asked me, “How are you able to photograph so many different animals?” A big part of the equation is taking and making opportunities. This success principle holds true in many areas: financial investors watch the markets to take advantage of opportune seasons to invest, while ingenious entrepreneurs create a market where none existed before. Taking an opportunity, or making one, can bring success.

There are times that wildlife photography opportunities present themselves; say, a Red-tailed Hawk swooping down on a roadside squirrel, or a Gray Fox cutting through your backyard. You have to be always ready to take those opportunities when presented. But most of the time, birds don’t swoop in and pose when we set up a tripod and camera. We must make opportunities by travelling to areas that maximize our chances of wildlife viewing, such as birding hotspots, parks and wildlife refuges.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul passes along this same strategy for success to the young pastor Timothy. William Barclay’s translation of 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Urge it upon people whether you can take an opportunity or have to make an opportunity.” Paul isn’t speaking about wildlife photography or financial investments, but about eternal investments: souls! There are times that opportunities to witness present themselves, such as in a long line at Walmart. Other strategies include making evangelistic opportunities such as outdoor concerts and testimony services, or mini neighborhood healing crusades.

So, a greater question than “how do I photograph more birds?”, is “how do I win more souls?”!  Hobbies and recreation are fine – and I’d say they are even essential to mental health – but do I spend as much time seeking to bring people for Christ as I do on photography? Or do I squander my evangelistic opportunities on other pursuits?

Just some food for thought. As for me, I will pursue and enjoy both!

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.  — “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.

American Goldfinch, Seen in Penn’s Woods



Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.    (Psalm 68:13)


AMERICAN GOLDFINCH on thistle (Fredric D. Nisenholz / Birds & Blooms)

 The psalmist referred to a special dove having silver-covered wings, with feathers sporting yellow-gold highlights (literally, flight-feathers of greenish-gold).  What a beautiful dove that must be!  In America, however, there is a yellow-colored finch that we are more likely to see, the AMERICAN GOLDFINCH.  It too could be called greenish-gold, because its plumage varies seasonally, from lemon-yellow to a light olive-green.  Goldfinches are small passerines, monogamous (i.e., male-female couples permanently paired, as if married) gregarious (i.e., they travels and feed in flocks), and they migrate to and form the outer territories of their populational ranges — although they are year-round residents in much of their American range (see Wikipedia range map below: yellow for breeding-only, green for year-round residence, blue for over-wintering only). 


For me, the first time I saw one was on Friday, July 22nd AD2016, as I was driving a rent-car on a wood-flanked country road that paralleled the Susquehanna River, in Pennsylvania, near Exeter, where the next day I would speak at the Pennsylvania Keystone Family Bible Conference, in celebration of 60 years of IN GOD WE TRUST being our national motto.  Here is a quick limerick in honor and appreciation of the American Goldfinch.  (Speaking of our national motto, IN GOD WE TRUST, it derives from THE STAR-SPANGELD BANNER, penned by attorney Francis Scott Key, during the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.)


Lemon-hued, they eat many seeds;

They’re social, so in flocks they feed;

Goldfinches migrate,

Each true, to its mate;

God provides for all goldfinch needs.


AMERICAN GOLDFINCH female, Virginia (Wikipedia / flickr.com photograph)



Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.  (Psalm 84:3)


NORTHERN CARDINAL   (Mother Nature Network)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson


Bright red, flies by, a cardinal male,

As down, we trek, a nature trail;

Here it’s wide, there it’s narrow;

Perched nearby, a chipping sparrow;

(How quickly told is our tale.)


CHIPPING SPARROW   (Audubon Field Guide)

One of Shakespeare’s plays, MACBETH, includes a cynical comment that compares the transitory experience of human mortality to a fleeting “hour upon the stage”, like a “tale” that is “told” with “sound and fury”, yet “signifying nothing” (MACBETH, Act 5, Scene 5).  It is true that this earthly lifetime is transitory and fleeting (James 4:13-15), yet this earthly life is the opposite of meaningless — unless we foolishly ignore our Maker (Ecclesiastes 12:1).  And our Maker cares so much for us — much more than He cares for little birds, like sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31),  — so much that He has provided a free redemption and abundant life in Christ, available to all who believingly receive Him as personal Savior (John 1:12 & 3:16 & 14:6).  And, thankfully, belonging to Him lasts forever!


ENGLISH SPARROW   ( allaboutbirds.org  )

Time flies.  Time zooms by even moreso when one is experiencing a wonderful blessing, as the above limerick briefly notes in fly-by fashion.  Such a time was last Thursday (June 29th AD2017), when I was birdwatching (and butterfly-watching) with my youngest grandson, Hunter, at the Cox Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio.  At the Arboretum we saw various birds (including English Sparrow [a/k/a “House Sparrow”], American Goldfinch, Canada Goose, Mallard, Robin, Northern Cardinal, and Chipping Sparrow), butterflies (including Cabbage White, Pipevine Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, and Orange Sulphur), other insects (bumblebees, ants, dragonflies, etc.), pond-dwelling fish, slow-moving turtles, and scampering chipmunks.  For me, the Chipping Sparrow was a special highlight — it is a summer breeder during its migrant months in Ohio.  (Hunter accurately described the Chipping Sparrow, who helpfully posed for our observations, as looking like an English Sparrow except “his head has red on it” and “there’s some white by his eyes”.)  Hunter had a one-word comment on the American Goldfinch:  WOW!

The hours of hiking went all too quickly.  It was a precious time for Farfar (Norwegian for “father’s father”) to teach a grandson something of the wonders of God’s creation, and something about the wonderfulness of God Himself.  Thankfully, neither of us fell into any of the ponds — although some inspections of turtles or fish came close to a splashing scenario.  It was a good day — albeit one that hurried by all too quickly.


AMERICAN GOLDFINCH   (Fredric Nisenholz / Birds and Blooms )

Friendly and Welcome Visitors

Goldfinches at feeders by Lee thru screen

Goldfinches at feeders by Lee thru screen

Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. (Psalms 96:1-4 NKJV)

For the last two weeks, I have had to stay close to home. First, the disc in my back slipped a little more, causing great pain and lack of mobility. (The biggest slip was back in August) Then, after making it almost through the winter without bronchitis, it caught up with me. The pollen was so heavy, that it was necessary to just stay home to get things back in control. So, this was all mentioned for several reasons. 1) Prayers are always accepted. 2) I was able to work on my online course from the School of Biblical Apologetics. 3) Best of all, the Lord kept sending Avian Wonders for me to watch and be reminded that He always cares for them and us.

“[Even the migratory birds are punctual to their seasons.] Yes, the stork [excelling in the great height of her flight] in the heavens knows her appointed times [of migration], and the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane observe the time of their return. But My people do not know the law of the Lord [which the lower animals instinctively recognize in so far as it applies to them].” (Jeremiah 8:7 AMP)

The most surprising was the American Goldfinches that started coming to my feeders. Very seldom do any come by to dine. Maybe one or two at most. Several times over a week or so, we saw as many as 14 at one time. We figured that they were probably a small flock making their way north for the summer, and with the Lord’s help, landed here to rest and “tank-up” for the rest of their journey. They seem to have now continued their migration. Haven’t seen but the one or two who come by occasionally for the last two days. (OOPS!!!) Just looked out the window while working on this article and now there are at least 10 of them out there feeding. YEAH!!

Here are some of the photos of them, unfortunately, photographed through a screened window.

Sandhill Youngster in Yard 3-26-16

Sandhill Youngster in Yard 3-26-16

Then on Saturday, mom and pop Sandhill Crane came to the yard with their two new youngsters. This time, Dan was able to take the camera and get a few photos of them.

Yesterday, Easter, we drove over to Tampa to the Bayside Community Church to hear Dr. James J. S. Johnson from the Institute for Creation Research speak. On the way over, we had two Swallow tailed Kites fly right over us. They migrate through here this time of the year. They seem to stay for about 2-3 months and then head on north. They are so beautiful to watch.

Swallow-tailed Kite (same)

Swallow-tailed Kite

We always have the Lord’s Wonders to behold, if we just stay alert. He sends blessings to us, even when we may think we are “down.”



James J. S. Johnson

Institute for Creation Research

Finches at Feeder This Morning

Goldfinches at Feeder

Goldfinches at Feeder

The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22 KJV)

What a great surprise and blessing when I looked out the kitchen window this morning. Spotted an American Goldfinch at my feeder. Haven’t seen any in months. So it was neat to watch them. They kept coming and before long there were at least six. Went to get the camera when the first one showed up and recorded them as they kept coming in.

These photos are through the screen, so forgive the quality, but just wanted to share them with you. I have been battling another round of bronchitis, third one this winter, hence not many birdwatching adventures to report lately. They almost put me in hospital yesterday with possible pneumonia, because of a low oxygen reading. Because of this, I have not been to many of your sites lately to stop by. Your prayers are again appreciated and always welcome.

Goldfinches at Feeder - avoiding the crowd

Goldfinches at Feeder – avoiding the crowd

Wordless Birds


Birds of the Bible – Goldfinches Are On The Way

Goldfinches 4-1-13 No screen clean window (7)

Even the stork in the sky knows her seasons. The turtledove, swallow, and crane are aware of their migration, but My people do not know the requirements of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 HCSB)

We have been having American Goldfinches at the feeders for the last few weeks. Don’t see them often, so was enjoying their presence. They kept building in numbers from 6 at first, then 12 about a week ago, then Easter Sunday there were at least 20 of them. It even motivated me to wash the window and take out the screen on Monday to get better photos of them.

Yesterday morning, Wednesday, I checked out the window to see how many there were now. Not a one! So throughout the morning I kept checking, NONE! When we went out, there was no singing in the trees that we have been hearing lately. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed, but it didn’t take long to figure out where they were. GONE!!!

Keep your eyes open up north, the Goldfinches are on the way. This is a spring occurrence down here. The birds fold up their lounge chairs, pack the bellies full of my sunflower seed and head back home. They have territories to claim, nest to build, broods to raise and give you now the pleasure of viewing them and listening to their songs. ENJOY!

It’s your turn to enjoy the Lord’s beautiful American Goldfinches as they migrate up to you. Treat them nice and when fall comes, send them back, please.

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