“E” is for Eagles and Eiders: “E” Birds”, Part 1

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

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Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
Fair Use photo credit: Mike Haworth

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. (Obadiah 1:3-4)

E” is for Eagles, Eiders, Egrets, Emus, Earthcreepers, Eagle-owls, Euphonias, Elaenias, Eremomelas, Elepaios, and/or Emerald hummingbirds — plus whatever other birds there are, that have names that begin with the letter E.

This present study (i.e., “‘E’ Birds, Part 1”) will focus on Eagles and Eiders.
But first, because this blogpost-article calmly continues an alphabet-based series on birds, we look at Psalm 119:33-40, — thereafter we review two categories of birds that start with the letter “E”, namely, Eagles and Eiders.

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Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
Fair Use photo credit: Mike Haworth

THE ALPHABET HELPS TO TEACH US ABOUT GOD’S TRUTH
Using alphabet letters, to order a sequence of information, has Biblical precedent, as is noted in the four earlier articles in this series of “alphabet birds” — i.e., A birds; B birds; and C birds; and D birds.

The perfect example is the “acrostic” pattern of Psalm 119, the longest psalm (having 176 verses!), which psalm has 22 sections (comprised of 8 verses per section), representing the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. (Compare that to the English alphabet, which has 26 alphabet letters, and/or to the Norwegian alphabet, which has 29 alphabet letters.) The sentences in each section start with the same Hebrew letter: Verses 1-8 start with ALEPH, Verses 9-16 with BETH, Verse 17-24 with GIMEL, and so forth.

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Fair Use Image Credit:  4.bp.blogspot.com

In this serial study’s lesson, the fifth octet of verses in Psalm 119 (i.e., Psalm 119:33-40), each sentence starts with HÊ (pronounced “hay”, like what horses eat), the Hebrew consonant equivalent to the English “H”.

The word based upon this letter is HÊ’, (also pronounced “hay”, like what horses eat), which is routinely translated as a “Behold!” (or “Lo!”) in the Old Testament (see YOUNG’S ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE, Index-Lexicon to the Old Testament, page 18, column 4), such as in Ezekiel 16:43 & Genesis 47:23.

Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things, behold! — therefore, I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations. (Ezekiel 16:43)

Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: Lo! — here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. (Genesis 47:23)

The Aramaic equivalent, HÂ’ (pronounced “Ha!”) appears in Daniel 3:25, when King Nebuchadnezzar was shocked to see what surprisingly happened in the fiery furnace, after Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were unjustly thrust therein.

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In King James English, one alerted others by exclaiming, “behold!” – meaning something like our modern expressions “Hey! Look!” and/or “Hey! Watch out!” In other words, ironically, the modern English exclamation “Hey!” means about the same thing as the ancient Hebrew exclamation “HÊ’!” – which is pronounced the same as is the English “Hey!”

Exclamations — like “Hey!” — alert us, to pay attention to something, to behold something, to watch out for something, that is very important. In the New Testament, the Greek equivalent is an imperative form of a verb meaning “look”, i.e., the New Testament’s equivalents (of “Behold!” or “Lo!”) likewise call someone to “Look!”

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Fair Use image Credit: Pinterest

So, because HÊ’ is the fifth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, each verse (in Psalm 119:33-40) literally starts with that letter as the first letter in the first word (although the first Hebrew word may be differently placed in the English translation’s sentence):

33 Teach-me [hôrênî], O LORD, the way of Thy statutes; and I shall keep [a form of nâtsar] it unto the end.

34 Give-me-understanding [habînēnî], and I shall keep [a form of nâtsar] Thy law; yea, I shall observe [a form of shâmar] it with my whole heart.

35 Make-me-to-go [hadrîkēnî] in the path of Thy commandments; because therein do I delight [a form of ].

36 Incline [haṭ] my heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

37 Turn-away [ha‘abēd] mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken Thou me in Thy way.

38 Stablish [haqēm] Thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to Thy fear.

39 Turn-away [ha‘abēd] my reproach which I fear: for Thy judgments are good.

40 Behold [hinnēh] ! — I have longed after Thy precepts; quicken me in Thy righteousness.

As noted before, Psalm 119 is all about God’s revelation of truth – especially truth about Himself – to mankind (in a comprehensive “A to Z” panorama). The most important revelation of truth that God has given to us, and the most authoritative form of truth that we have, is the Holy Bible – the Scriptures (2nd Peter 1:16-21). Here, the octet of verses in Psalm 119:33-40 is dominated by references to the Scriptures, using the terms “Thy statutes” (verse 33), “Thy law” (verse 34), “Thy commandments” (verse 35), “Thy testimonies” (verse 36), “Thy way” (verse 37), Thy Word” (verse 38), “Thy judgments” (verse 39), and “Thy precepts” (verse 40).

Notice how the “theme” of the Hebrew noun hê’ appears frequently in this section of Psalm 119 – because when you behold a “window” of valuable/relevant information, provided by God, you “watch out!” —  i.e., you look and see what is important for you to learn about, that helps you with your God-designed destiny.

Accordingly, the Hebrew letter HÊ’ alerts our attention to vitally important information – such as the sobering cause-and-effect logic of God’s punishment of wickedness (Ezekiel 16:43), or the providential opportunity to live and thrive in a well-provided-for situation (Genesis 47:23), or the astounding sight of a miracle happening inside a burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25).

But what about the running theme of alertness in Psalm 119:33-40? Behold!

In Psalm 119:33, the psalmist requests teaching from the LORD, in order that the psalmist “keep” God’s way completely. A person cannot practice God’s truth, in daily living, with first learning what God’s truth is — this is practical logic that Ezra exemplified in his life (Ezra 7:10).

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Israel’s armored cavalry “chariot” [Merkava 3], firing projectile (public domain)

Two Hebrew verbs appear in Verse 33, “teach” (a causative active imperative form of YÂRÂH, which refers to the action of projecting, i.e., casting a projectile such as an arrow or spear) and “keep” (a simple active imperfect form of NÂTSAR, which refers to guarding, preserving, conserving, protecting). The idea here is that the psalmist is alert to his need to vigorously dive into – like an arrow being forcibly shot into God’s assigned missions in life – which involve the spiritual pathway of God’s statutes, in order for the psalmist to guard those statutes (in daily living) “to the end”. This is not a relaxed scenario! If God’s Word was like a swimming pool, the psalmist is asking God to “throw him into the deep end”, so that the psalmist is confronted with challenges needful for “finishing strong” in his spiritual journey!

Psalm 119:34 is similar in meaning to Verse 33, because the psalmist again is seeking to “keep” (NÂTSAR) God’s Word, which this time is called God’s “law” (TÔRÂH), so that the psalmist can be careful in attending to (SHÂMAR) God’s law with his “whole heart”, like a watchman on a city wall. To do this, the psalmist asks God to give him “understanding” (a causative active imperative form of the Hebrew verb BÎN — literally exhorting God to cause the psalmist to understand what is needful, to achieve the goal of carefully living by God’s Word, with his “whole heart”. This too is no relaxed scenario – very serious understanding, discernment, judgment is needed. So this verse shows the psalmist being watchful, living life with “eyes open”, to know what is really going on in life.

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Fair Use Credit: JohnFanPhotography.com

 In Psalm 119:35, the psalmist requests God to “lead” [a causative active imperative form of DÂRAK] him in the proper pathway, namely, the pathway of proper living – this verse resembles a later verse, Psalm 119:105, that likens life’s spiritual journey as needing the enlightenment of God’s Word, “a lamp to my feet” and “a light unto my path”. Notice the psalmist’s purpose for this — he has “delighted” [a simple active perfect form of CHÂPHĒTS] in God’s commandments. The verb CHÂPHĒTS (which appears as “delighted” in Psalm 119:35) denotes the action of being delighted, favoring, enjoying, being pleased with – i.e., having a positive attitude toward someone or something. Remember the Westminster Confession? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

This reminds me of something my granddaughter Sydney said, when she was about 5 years old, when her mom told her that “we love God”. “Yeah”, Sydney agreed, “and we like God, too!” (Accordingly, we like and enjoy His Word, too!)

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Sydney (photo at about age 2), who loves God, and who likes Him too!

In Psalm 119:36, the psalmist asks God to “incline” his heart toward God’s “testimonies”. The word translated “incline” is a causative active imperative form of the Hebrew verb NÂṬÂH, which refers to the action of stretching or spreading out (e.g., spreading/stretching out a tent in Genesis 33:19 & Exodus 33:7, and arching a spear in Joshua 8:18 & 8:26), so the psalmist is beseeching God to stretch his heart toward God’s testimonies. This is no lackadaisical request! Of course, the testimonies of God’s witnesses were not of slight importance – the fate of families, communities, and even and nations would depend upon how such testimonies were received (or not received) — see, e.g., Deuteronomy 8:9 & 32:46; 2nd Kings 17:13-15; Nehemiah 9:26-34; Psalm 78:56; Isaiah 8:20; Amos 3:13; John 3:32 & 4:44; Acts 1:8; 1st Corinthians 15:15; Ephesians 4:17; 1st Thessalonians 4:6; Hebrews 12:1; 1st Peter 1:11; 1st John 4:14; Rev 22:16 & 22:20. In other words, watch out! — God’s testimony, provided by God’s witnesses, is never to be trifled with. The psalmist wants the opposite of shying away from God’s testimonies; the psalmist wants to stretch toward God’s testimonies.

In fact, the psalmist is actually pleading with God, asking God to make the psalmist to stretch him toward God’s testimonies, as opposed to the psalmist being inclined (i.e., “stretched”) toward seeking worldly “gain”. This cannot be a passive enterprise – in order for us to stretch toward God, and toward what honors God (i.e., what Colossians 3:2 calls “the things above”), we must affirmatively pull our hearts away from the worldly “treasures” that all-too-often compete with God, as our heart’s affection.

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Fair Use Credit: Felicia Starks

In Psalm 119:37, the psalmist asks God to turn the psalmist’s eyes from visons of vanities, as the psalmist recognizes that real life is experienced only in the ways of God. The verb translated “turn away” (in Psalm 119:37) is a causative active imperative form of the Hebrew verb ‘ÂBAR (literally, “to pass through”). Thus, the psalmist is imploring God to make the psalmist to “pass through” (or “pass over”) the lying sights of worldly temptation and folly. In other words, the psalmist does not expect divine deliverance, from worldly vanities, to come in the form of escape so much as to come in the form of a successful endurance (see 1st Corinthians 10:13). To achieve this result, the psalmist (and we) must pay alert attention to what is reliable and true — and (likewise) refuse to be distracted by what is ultimately illusory and false.

[Regarding the inherent distractiveness of deceit, seeStaying on Track, Despite Deceptive Distractions.

In Psalm 119:38, the psalmist asks God to make what He says to “arise” (using a causative active imperative form of the Hebrew verb QÛM) – i.e., whatever God’s promises He must establish. As mere mortals we cannot, by ourselves, establish God’s will on earth. God must make His own Word happen — and He is ready, willing, and able to do just that (see Isaiah 14:24 & 14:27)! Yet notice who the intended beneficiaries of God promises are: “those who fear Thee”, i.e., those with reverential awe of God, those who worshipfully fear His power and holiness – and that should describe us. Obviously this is not a lackadaisical matter – this is something we must pay close and sober attention to, especially if we hope to be on the “good side” of God’s promises.

In Psalm 119:39, the psalmist begins with the same Hebrew verb that Verse 37 began with, ‘ÂBAR (literally, “to pass through”), this time asking God to cause the psalmist’s self-dreaded “reproach” to pass through, i.e., the psalmist is fearful of his own fallibility and faultiness, and rightfully so – as we all should be. The psalmist’s prayer is a prayer of dependence — God needs to protect us form ourselves. The old saying is true: we are our own worst enemies. Accordingly, we need for God to take/pull us through our own shameful sinfulness, overruling our inherent sin-nature (which we inherited form Adam our first forefather), so that we can freely live for Him. But only God’s truth can free us from our sinful selves; only the Scriptures give us the truth that sets us free (see John 8:31-32). Thus, God’s Word is liberating. As the psalmist here says, God’s ordinances are “good” – they are the real daily nutrition that our lives must have, spiritually speaking (Matthew 4:4) — see Real Freedom Only Comes from Real Truth”, posted at  (from the April AD2013 issue of ACTS & FACTS).

In Psalm 119:40, the psalmist starts the verse with the exclamation “Behold!” (Hebrew: HĪNĒH), which repeats the tone of this octet of verses. The last word in this verse is an intensive active imperative form of the Hebrew verb CHAYAH (meaning “to live” or “to have life”). Thus, the psalmist is beseeching God to give him life “in Thy [i.e., God’s] righteousness”, because the psalmist “has longed for” (simple active perfect form of the verb TÂ’AB) a life that harmonizes with God’s ordinances/judgments. In other words, the psalmist connects real living to God’s gift of His own righteousness, that fits the worthy goal of living according to God’s judgments. This is no careless approach to daily living! This requires careful dependence upon God — only He can give us a good life.
In sum, Scripture-based living is not easy – it requires watchfulness, alertness, caution, sobriety, and complete dependence upon God’s Word-based guidance.

Thus we see the theme, woven throughout the octet of HÊ’ verses (Psalm 119:33-40), is that we need to be alert while living life on earth (i.e., “Watch out! Beware! Hey! Pay attention!”) — and that God’s Word is what equips us to be properly alerted to what is really happening in and around us.

After that lesson (from Psalm 119:33-40), about the value of careful attentiveness, it is appropriate to consider some EAGLES, those huge raptors that illustrate super-keen eyesight, telescopic eyes that they routinely use for the serious business of catching prey on land, in air, and even at the water’s surface.

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EAGLES

Regarding Eagles, see Lee Dusing’s Sunday Inspiration: Eagles, as well as her “Bible Birds: Eagles”.

The best known eagle, for Americans, is the USA’s national bird, the BALD EAGLE. Frequenting saltwater shorelines, these hawk-like fish-eating raptors are well-populated in coastal Alaska, as is reported in Alaska’s Bald Eagle, which is quoted below.

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                   Photo credit: SkagwayExcursion.com

BALD EAGLE pair (Alaska)

Bald eagles may enjoy abundant fishing opportunities, in Alaska and in other coastwater and riverine areas, but life has not been easy for these carnivores, due to the accumulation of poisons in food chains they depend upon.

Driven to near extinction due to DDT [via its byproduct DDE] poisoning and illegal killing. Now making a comeback in North America. Returns to same nest each year, adding more sticks, enlarging it to massive proportions, at times up to 1,000 pounds (450 kg). In the midair mating ritual, one eagle will flip upside down and lock talons with another. Both tumble, then break apart to continue flight. Thought to mate for life, but will switch mates if not successful reproducing. Juvenile attains the white head and tail at about 4-5 years of age.

[Quoting Stan Tekiela, BIRDS OF TEXAS FIELD GUIDE (Adventure Publications, 2004), page 81.]

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GOLDEN EAGLE  (photo credit: WildEchoTours.com)

The other major variety of eagle, in North America, is the GOLDEN EAGLE, which lives off of prey it seizes from the ground, or from the air.

Large and powerful bird of prey that has no trouble taking larger prey such as jackrabbits. Hunts by perching or soaring and watching for movement [on the ground below]. Inhabits mountainous terrain, requiring large territories to provide large supply of food. Thought to mate for life, renewing pair bond late in winter with spectacular high-flying courtship displays. Usually nests on cliff faces, rarely in trees. Uses well-established nest that has been used for generations. Not uncommon for it to add thing to nest such as antlers, bones and barbed wire.

[Quoting Stan Tekiela, BIRDS OF TEXAS FIELD GUIDE (Adventure Publications, 2004), page 239.]

Golden Eagles are actually well distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere, not just in North America, as the range map (below) indicates.

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Golden Eagle Range Map (Wikipedia)

But would you expect there to be many more examples of “eagles” than just the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalos) and the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysactos)?

The varieties of Eagles – besides North America’s Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle – are many [see Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks, Eagle ], such as: Indian Black Eagle [found in tropical Africa], Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Chaco Eagle, Crested Eagle, Crowned Eagle, Gurney’s Eagle, Harpy Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Little Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Martial Eagle, Papuan Eagle, Philippine Eagle, Pygmy Eagle, Grey Sea Eagle [a/k/a Ørn and White-tailed Sea-Eagle], Sanford’s Sea Eagle, Steller’s Sea Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Andaman Serpent Eagle, Congo Serpent Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Madagascan Serpent Eagle, Mountain Serpent Eagle, Great Nicobar Serpent Eagle, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Solitary Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Madagascan Fish Eagle, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Lesser Fish Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Flores Hawk-Eagle, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Legge’s Hawk-Eagle, Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Javan Hawk-Eagle, Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle, Philippine Hawk-Eagle, Pinsker’s Hawk-Eagle, Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle, Black Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, Ayre’s Hawk-Eagle, Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle, Booted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Indian Spotted Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle [a/k/a African Black Eagle], Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, and Steppe Eagle!

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Grey Sea Eagle, a/k/a Ørn and White-tailed Sea-Eagle

Fair Use Credit: Sindri Skulason

 Consider the following information about eagles, a raptor often mentioned in Holy Scripture:

Eagles are such heavy birds that they don’t build their houses, called “nests”, near the ground. Eagles build their nests high up in trees or on top of rocky mountains or cliffs, so that they can jump out into the air and glide on rising warm air currents. Some air currents are made of warm rising air, so an eagle can jump into such warm air and “ride” it up like an elevator, then the eagle can glide from one air current to another , until it wants to fly down. These rising air currents are called “thermals”. The eagle that soars on a thermal is mostly at rest, because he is trusting the thermal to carry him along for a “ride” in the air. The eagle soaring on such a thermal air current is a reminder of how we should trust and depend upon God to carry us through life’s adventures, as we travel from one day to the next. By “riding” on upwardly spiraling thermal air currents eagles can save their energy, because too much wing-flapping can waste an eagle’s energy and cause it to get too tired to fly. Like eagles, we can waste a lot of energy if we fail to depend on God, because worrying and distrusting God wastes a lot of mental energy and emotions! (See Isaiah 40:31, quoted below.)

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

By conserving (carefully using, not wasting) his energy, the bald eagle can flap his wings only when he needs to, and he can rise to very high places in the air, which also means that the eagles can reach high places on top of mountains or cliffs that other animals cannot reach. So an eagles’ nest (called an “eyrie”) can be far away from egg-eating animals that might bother parent eagles and try to eat their eggs before they have a chance to hatch into baby eaglets (the baby eaglets are called “hatchlings” when they first hatch). Bald eagles, like other kinds of eagles, often live in rocky places in high places, so it is not surprising that people (including Biblical authors) compare highness with flying and nesting behaviors of eagles.

One example of highness being compared to the nesting habits of eagles is found in the Bible, in the Book of Obadiah (at Obadiah 1:3-4), where the eagle is described as a creature that lives in high places, much closer to the stars than do most other animals (or people).

Another Old Testament book in the Bible, the Book of Job, refers (at Job 39:27) to the eagle as mounting up into the air by God’s command (because God programs eagles to fly up into the air the way that they do), and as nesting in high places (because God programs eagles to do this also).

“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, ‘Who shall bring me down to the ground?’ Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.” (Obadiah 1:3-4)

“Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?” (Job 39:27)

Eagles are good parents, training their sons and daughters to live like eagles (see Deuteronomy 32:11). Eagles can fly, like dive-bombing airplanes, at great speeds (see 2nd Samuel 1:23 and Lamentations 4:19). Their strength is renewed from time to time, as their feather-cover adjusts to their growing bodies (see Isaiah 40:31 and Psalms 103:5). Eagles are known for their gracefulness and dignity (see Proverbs 30:19). In fact, eagles fly very high in the air as a matter of habit – above most other birds (see Proverbs 23:5).

[Quoting from James J. S. Johnson, “Alaska’s Bald Eagle”].

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Flag of MEXICO  (displaying Golden Eagle)

Eagles are favorite birds on national flags and in official coat-of-arms emblems. For a just a few examples, consider these “flagged” eagles:

Consider – for just a few representative examples – the eagles that appear on the flags – some present, some past — of these national and state/provincial flags: Albania; American Samoa; Austria (armorial flag); Brandenburg, Germany; Ecuador (armorial banner); Egypt; Geneva, Switzerland; Germany (armorial flag ); Iowa; Italian president’s flag (AD1880-AD1946); Jordan (armorial banner); Mexico; North Dakota; Oregon (front side of state flag); Pennsylvania; Poland (armorial flag); Prussia (armorial banner, AD1819-AD1850); (Moldova; Mount Athos (autonomous Greek protectorate); Russian Czar’s banner (18th century A.D.); Serbia (during AD1882-AD1918); Silesia (until absorption by Prussia in AD1742 – parts of Silesia now lay within Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic); United States Coast Guard and Marine Corps; Utah; Virgin Islands (of the USA); Zambia; etc.

[Quoting from James J. S. Johnson, “’Flag that Bird!’ (Part 1)

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Golden Eagle in flight
(Fair Use Credit: NETNS Wildlife Zone)

No wonder so many countries choose to include an eagle in their official coat-of-arms — these birds are truly regal!

Now for another category of “E” birds, the eiders.

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Steller’s Eider in icy seawater (Wikipedia)

EIDERS

Eiders are large sea-ducks, the largest wild ducks in North America and Europe – with the exception of the Muscovy Duck (which, in parts of Texas and Florida, occurs in the wild). Examples of eiders include the Common Eider (Somateria mollissima), King Eider (Someteria spectabilis), and Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri), and Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri), all four of which varieties are found in Alaskan waters. Eiders in the wild (including Steller’s Eider, misleadingly classified as a “different genus” of eider) are known to hybridize, so (obviously) all eiders descend from the same created kind.

Regarding downy-feather-famous Eiders, see, Lee Dusing’s “The Eider: The Cushion Makers (Nuggets Plus)”.  Eiders are true mariners, “sea ducks”, a term that includes mergansers, oldsquaw (a/k/a “long-tailed duck”), bufflehead, goldeneyes, and (of course) eiders.

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King Eider male near Barrow, Alaska (by Gregg Thompson)

Ornithologist Steve Madge describes eiders as cold-water ducks of the North. ”

Large sea-ducks of northern coastal waters. Adult males distinctive [in physical appearance], but other plumages similar; immatures take two or more years to reach maturity, males having confusing variety of piebald plumages [i.e., the usual colored feathering is modified by partial leucism, so that the usual black plumage is whitish, yet feathers of rainbow colors are not whitewashed]. Head-and-bill shape important [for identification], especially extent of feathering onto bill-base.

[Quoting Steve Madge & Hilary Burn, WATERFOWL: AN IDENTIFICATION GUIDE TO THE DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS OF THE WORLD (Houghton Mifflin, 1988), page 104.]

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Spectacled Eider male (photo by Jim Burns)

The Eider’s down feathers are especially well-designed for efficiently insulating the body heat of these North-dwelling ducks, so it is no surprise that eider feathers are prized as down for pillow-making. As, as the Nordic Store (Iceland) advises, “Eiderdown is the softest and lightest down in the world … extremely rare, in great demand and highly prized (accounting for its high price)”. [Quoting Nordic Store, with an (apparently) informative YouTube video, narrated in Icelandic, at Eiderdown Duvets and Pillows  — showing beautiful eiders at sea and on land, in colonial activities.]

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God willing, the next contribution to this alphabetic series will be some more “E” birds – perhaps Egrets, Emus, and Earthcreepers!

Meanwhile, in accordance with Psalm 119:33-40, use God’s Word as you attentively and alertly live life, daily, with its opportunities to follow Christ. (Hey!) Carefully interpret whatever you see, by the wisdom of God’s Word, as you keep your eyes open, like the observant eagle!

><>  JJSJ profjjsj@verizon.net

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Lee’s Seven Word Sunday – 9/11/16

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Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Lake Morton by Lee

IN THE TOP OF THE

UPPERMOST BOUGH

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“Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the LORD God of Israel.” (Isaiah 17:6 KJV)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Lake Morton by Lee

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More Daily Devotionals

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Lee’s One Word Monday – 8/22/2016

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Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) Resting ©Flickr Andy Morffew

RESTING

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“And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;” (Isaiah 32:18 KJV)

Bald Eagle Resting ©Flickr Andy Morffew

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More Daily Devotionals

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Lee’s Four Word Thursday – 8/4/16

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Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

THINGS WHICH ARE BEHIND

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“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,” (Philippians 3:13 NKJV)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Raymond Barlow

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More Daily Devotionals

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Lee’s Four Word Thursday – 7/28/16

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Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

STRETCHING OUT HIS WINGS

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“And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.” (Isaiah 8:8 KJV)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

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More Daily Devotionals

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Bald Eagle Blessing

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Rd

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Rd -1

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Road - cropped

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Road – 1 – cropped

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Rd

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Rd – 2

Last evening while on the way back from Bartow, a seven mile journey, we spotted not one, not two, but three Bald Eagles. Unfortunately, I again did not have anything with me except the cell phone. Dan was able to slow down a little, but with someone coming, we could not stop.

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Rd

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Rd- 2

Here are my attempts to show two of the eagles. These are more “proof shots” than good photos. The other Bald Eagle caught us by surprise down the road another 1/2 mile or so. I had put my phone back down. :(

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Rd

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Rd – 2

We have been rather busy lately and haven’t had time to go birdwatching. But, the Lord knows how to give us unexpected blessings along the way to brighten our days.

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV)

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Road - cropped

Bald Eagle on Old Bartow Road – 2 – cropped

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

I have shown photos of the Old Bartow Road before. Because of the decline in Ospreys, many years ago, they placed platforms on top of various power poles. These are some of them. The Osprey come back from about the middle of January on through February. They raise their young on the platforms and then around May to June they seem to disappear. Polk County has numerous Bald Eagles come down for the winter and are one of my favorite “snow birds” (that is a term for our winter human vistors). Since most of the Osprey haven’t arrived yet, the Bald Eagles have been sitting on these lately. Not sure who will give way when the Osprey do arrive. Hummm!

Osprey Road by Dan - (Old Bartow Road)

Osprey Road by Dan – (Old Bartow Road)

Actually, the fact that these platforms were placed are a good thing and shows one of the responsibilities that man was given by the Lord. Man was given dominion over the earth and the critters included. Dominion did not mean dominance, but one of the meanings is to help preserve them.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28 NKJV)

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Birds of the Bible – Fly Like An Eagle

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

For thus saith the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab. (Jeremiah 48:40 KJV)

I received an email newsletter from Raymond Barlow today with this photo. Oh, my! What a shot. Ray has been one of the first photographers that gave permission to use his photos on this blog. After sending a quick note up to him (Canada), that permission remains and here are some of his latest Bald Eagle photos.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. (Proverbs 23:5 KJV)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread his wings over Bozrah: and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs. (Jeremiah 49:22 KJV)

 

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
(Revelation 4:7 KJV)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. (Revelation 12:14 KJV)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Ray Barlow

If you click on these photos you will see them much larger. Thank you, Ray. Thank you Lord for creating such fantastic birds, especially Eagles.

Blessings,

Lee

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Birds of the Bible Eagles

Raymond Barlow’s Site

Wordless Birds

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Birdwatching Without Birdwatching

Bald Eagle (close up) LP Zoo by Dan

Bald Eagle (close up) LP Zoo by Dan

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

Today we were blessed with the sightings of four mature Bald Eagles. Each had their beautiful white heads and their white tails visible. And I wasn’t even out birdwatching. I therefore had no camera with me.

Because I am still under the weather fighting a bad cold and my slipped disc, we have not gone “birdwatching.” So this morning on the way home from therapy, we spotted a Bald Eagle on one of the power poles. A few days ago we had seen one nearby on another street, so this may have been the same one.

I love this time of the year because the eagles start migrating back down to spend the winter with us. Polk County, Florida, where we live, has one of the highest concentrations (in the lower 48) from now through the winter.

Osprey Road by Dan - (Old Bartow Road)

Osprey Road by Dan – (Old Bartow Road)

This evening, we drove to Bartow on the Old Bartow Road, which I have renamed “Osprey” road. I call it that because of all the Ospreys that make nest on the flat platforms that are on the power poles. They were placed there when the Osprey were becoming endangered. Now they are recovering right well. Anyway, most of the Ospreys left within the last month, except for one or two, which we saw this evening. (They come down in late January or early February, make babies, and then leave July to August.)

On the way back, we spotted one Bald Eagle sitting in one of the nest and then up about this end, where the picture was taken, there were two more standing in a nest. So much for traipsing through the woods to find an eagle, they were just right there in plain view.

So, even though I didn’t get to go birdwatching lately, the Lord brought the birdwatching to us. What a Blessing. Thank you Lord for allowing us to see them.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Lee at National Aviary

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Lee at National Aviary

I have seen other birds while we were riding around, but Bald Eagles are very special to me. As that top verse says, I am to be reminded that my strength will be renewed, not be weary or faint. Not so sure about the running though. :)

Birds of the Bible – Eagles

Birds of the Bible

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles

Wordless Birds

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Jeff Guidry and His Eagle Named Freedom

(This was sent to me in an e-mail and thought I would share it. It’s been around awhile, but is new to me. Also, below is a video of the two of them.)

An Eagle Kiss

As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings, (Deuteronomy 32:11 NKJV)

This is the kind of story you need when it seems like the world is spiraling out of control.. Not many people get a picture of this proud bird snuggled up next to them!

Freedom 1Freedom and Jeff

Freedom and I have been together 11 years this summer.  She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings.  Her left wing doesn’t open all the way even after surgery, it was broken in 4 places. She’s my baby.

When Freedom came in, she could not stand and both wings were broken. She was emaciated and covered in lice. We made the decision to give her a chance at life, so I took her to the vet’s office. From then on, I was always around her. We had her in a huge dog carrier with the top off, and it was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to lay in.

I used to sit and talk to her, urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes. We also had to tube feed her for weeks. This went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still couldn’t stand. It got to the point where the decision was made to euthanize her if she couldn’t stand in a week. You know you don’t want to cross that line between torture and rehab, and it looked like death was winning.

She was going to be put down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in on that Thursday afternoon. I didn’t want to go to the center that Thursday, because I couldn’t bear the thought of her being euthanized; but I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone was grinning from ear to ear. I went immediately back to her cage; and there she was, standing on her own, a big beautiful eagle. She was ready to live. I was just about in tears by then.

That was a very good day. We knew she could never fly, so the director asked me to glove train her. I got her used to the glove, and then to jesses, and we started doing education programs for schools in western Washington. We wound up in the newspapers, radio (believe it or not) and some TV. Miracle Pets even did a show about us.

In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had stage 3, which is not good (one major organ plus everywhere), so I wound up doing 8 months of chemo. Lost the hair – the whole bit. I missed a lot of work.

When I felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would also come to me in my dreams and help me fight the cancer. This happened time and time again.

Fast forward to November 2000.  The day after Thanksgiving, I went in for my last checkup.  I was told that if the cancer was not all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they did the tests; and I had to come back Monday for the results. I went in Monday, and I was told that all the cancer was gone.

Freedom2

So the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her up, and we went out front to the top of the hill. I hadn’t said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back (I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don’t know how long.

That was a magic moment. We have been soul mates ever since she came in. This is a very special bird.

On a side note:  I have had people who were sick come up to us when we are out, and Freedom has some kind of hold on them. I once had a guy who was terminal come up to us and I let him hold her.  His knees just about buckled and he swore he could feel her power course through his body. I have so many stories like that.

I never forget the honor I have of being so close to such a magnificent spirit as Freedom.

Hope you enjoyed this!

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Birdwatching at Lake Morton – 11/22/13

Various birds at Lake Morton by Lee

Various birds at Lake Morton by Lee

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24 KJV)

Today we finally were able to get a little birdwatching in. I have been sick for the last 3 weeks fighting bronchitis and felt well enough to enjoy some time with our avian friends at Lake Morton. Lake Morton is in Lakeland, Florida. It is one of the few places around where people feed the birds. You can hardly get out of your car and cross the street before they start heading your way. The local birds have been “well-trained.”

Lee at Lake Morton by Dan

Lee at Lake Morton by Dan

Off we went, with a few tidbits in hand and my new hat. Since the skin cancer cells were removed from my neck recently, I was told to stay out of the direct sunlight.

Most of the normal residents were hanging out. There were lots of Mallards, American White Ibises, Boat-tailed Grackles, plus some Great Blue Herons, Anhingas, Great Egrets, Mute and Black Swans, and the Bald Eagle made His appearance.

 Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Lake Morton by Lee

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Lake Morton by Lee

Some of our winter visitors were hanging out also. There were lots of American Coots

American Coot (Fulica americana) at Lake Morton by Lee

American Coot (Fulica americana) at Lake Morton by Lee

There were many Ring-necked Ducks – The Male

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) Male at Lake Morton by Lee

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) Male at Lake Morton by Lee

And the Female

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) at Lake Morton by Lee

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) Female at Lake Morton by Lee

If you look at that first photo up close, way out in the middle of the lake you will see small ducks. This is a good as I could zoom in on them. They were Ruddy Ducks. Well over 50 of them on the lake floating around.

Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) at Lake Morton by Lee

Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) at Lake Morton by Lee

Also, way off across the lake were two American White Pelicans with the usual Double-crested Cormorants swimming along with them. Again, this is zoomed way in.

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) with DC Cormorants at Lake Morton by Lee

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) with DC Cormorants at Lake Morton by Lee

I also caught an Anhinga setting along the shore.

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) at Lake Morton by Lee

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) at Lake Morton by Lee

The Ring-billed Gulls are back down and this one seems to be a younger one.

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) at Lake Morton by Lee

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) at Lake Morton by Lee

All in all, for about a 35-40 minute visit to the lake, we enjoyed checking out these and several more I didn’t mention. The Lord gave us good weather until it started sprinkling. Then I made a fast retreat to the car. No since getting sick again.

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: (Isaiah 55:10 KJV)

See:
Birdwatching Trips
Lake Morton Trips

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Birds of the Bible – Swift Eagles

Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii) ©WikiC2

Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii) ©WikiC2

Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions. (2 Samuel 1:23 NKJV)

In my reading today of II Samuel 1, David was told of the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan. They were killed in battle with the Philistines in the last chapter (31) of I Samuel.

David takes up a lament starting in II Samuel 1:17. Even though Saul had tried to kill David on many occasions, David never desired to harm Saul, because he knew that the King was the Lord’s anointed one. Jonathan and David were the best of friends.

In verse 23, David refers to Saul and Jonathan, father and son, were together even in the battles and both were very skilled in battle. They were “stronger than lions” and won many victories. Being “swifter than eagles” could well refer to their ability to dodge the swords and arrows of battle and to come quickly to the place of the fight.

David’s use of the Eagle was because of his familiarity of them. As a shepherd, he must have watched them flying over with great speed and agility. The following Eagles are all seen in Israel and may well have been some of the ones that David was observed speeding through the sky on the way to catch a prey.

Gill – “they were swifter than eagles; in the quick dispatch of business, in hasting to the relief of the distressed, as Saul to the men of Jabeshgilead, and in the pursuit of their enemies, as of the Philistines, more than once:”

K & D  – “The light motion or swiftness of an eagle (cf. Hab_1:8), and the strength of a lion (vid., 2Sa_17:10), were the leading characteristics of the great heroes of antiquity.”

Poole – “Swifter than eagles; expeditious and nimble in pursuing their enemies, and executing their designs; which is a great commendation in a prince and in a soldier.

Stronger than lions, in regard of their bodily strength and the courage of their minds.”

Wesley – “2 Samuel 1:23

Lovely – Amiable, and obliging in their carriage and conversation, both towards one another, and towards their people: for, as for Saul’s fierce behaviour towards Jonathan, it was only a sudden passion, by which his ordinary temper was not to be measured; and for his carriage towards David, that was from that jealousy and reason of state which usually engageth even well – natured princes, to the same hostilities. But it is observable, that David speaks not a word here of his piety; but only commends him for those things which were truly in him…. Swifter, &c. – Expeditious in pursuing their enemies, and executing their designs; which is a great commendation in a prince, and in a soldier. Stronger, &c. – In regard of their bodily strength, and the courage of their mind.”

Here is a list of the Eagles seen in Israel:

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See:

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ALASKA’S BALD EAGLE by James J. S. Johnson

ALASKA’S  BALD  EAGLE

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Associate Professor of Apologetics, ICR ( jjohnson@icr.org )

The ecological world of Southeastern Alaska hosts a diversity of animals  —   creatures of the air (like the Bald Eagle),  creatures of the land  (like the Alaskan Moose), as well as creatures of its freshwater rivers and streams (like Pacific Salmon), lakes and ponds (like Rainbow Trout).  This article will look at one of those creatures, the Bald Eagle.

The national bird of the United States of America, since 1782, is the bald eagle.  The backside of many quarter-dollar coins (the silver coins which most Americans call “quarters”) show an American bald eagle with outstretched wings.  Mexico’s most famous eagle is the golden eagle, which is a kind of “cousin” to the bald eagle.   The bald eagle’s scientific name is “Haliaeetus  leuocephalus”,  meaning  “white-headed  sea-eagle” (which is a very accurate name).  The adult bald eagles have their heads (including their neck area) covered in white feathers, and also their tail feathers are white; the rest of the adult bald eagle’s feathers are black or blackish-grey.  Their sharp curl-ended beaks and their talons (feet) are yellow.   A bald eagle is fully grown in about four or five years after its hatching.

Bald Eagles 1 for Alaska' Bald EagleHow big is the adult bald eagle?  The bald eagles is a very large bird; it often weighs about ten pounds, though it may weigh as much as thirteen pounds.  The bald eagle, when fully grown, is almost three feet long and its wingspan can be as wide as six or seven feet when fully spread out!  The tough-looking eagles have a voice that seems almost silly when compared with their rough toughness – their voices make sounds like thin squealing or squeaky cackling.

Where do bald eagles live?  Eagles sometimes migrate, flying south to avoid super-cold weather in Canada’s inland forests.  However, many bald eagles, especially those which live near coastal waters, do not migrate at all.  Bald eagles like to live on land near waters where fish (their favorite food) live, such on seacoasts, by rivers, by large lakes, or in marshy areas where flowing stream-waters provide homes for fish.  Bald eagles usually live in shoreline areas where cold water flows nearby, such as where snow-melt-watered mountain creeks empty into a estuarial bay ( a place where flowing freshwater mixes with tide-washing ocean water).

The highest concentration (most crowded gathering) of bald eagles in the world is in southeast Alaska, where the Chilkat River empties into the tidewaters near the town of Haines, a picture-postcard coastal town originally founded as a Presbyterian mission.   At the Chilkat River’s emptying point more than 3,000 bald eagles congregate annually, during autumn, for an all-you-can-eat salmon feast.  What do bald eagles like to eat?  Bald eagles are hawk-like “birds of prey”, meaning that they like to eat meat from smaller animals (like fish) that they hunt and kill for food.  Bald eagles especially like to eat salmon when then return to coastal streams and rivers during spawning seasons!  (After salmon reproduce fertilized eggs for the next generation of salmon, the parents salmon are fatally exhausted (so tired out that they are dying) and they move about in shallow water where it is easy for bald eagles to see them and to grab them for food).  If an eagle has an adequate food supply, which the eagles of Alaska usually do, they can live for twenty or thirty years, or may even live for forty years!

Bald Eagles 2 for Alaska' Bald EagleBald eagles have super-human eyesight (eyes able to see distances much farther than humans can see).  Their eyes are so sharp that the eagles can chase fish swimming near the surface of water, then zoom down near the water surface to grab the unsuspecting fish with their extra-strong talons (clawed-feet-like legs that can clutch things as if they were hands), then fly away with the fish to eat it (or to share it with its family).  An adult eagle’s beak is about two inches long and about one inch deep at its hook-like curled tip.  The sharp curled tip of the beak can rip into a fish easily, for eating convenience.  Sometimes bald eagles, while flying, will attack another fish-catching bird, the osprey (also called “fish hawk”), in order to get caught fish that the osprey is carrying.  Sometimes an osprey will intentionally drop its fish so that the eagle will fly down to catch the dropping fish; this allows the osprey to escape the attacking eagle – it’s better for the osprey to lose a fish than to lose its life!  Bald eagles eat other small animals, including other fish, ducks, seagulls, and other birds.

Where can eagles be easily seen?  In the coastal forestlands of southeastern Alaska (especially Juneau, Alaska’s capital city), many of the trees that cover sloping hillsides near the shoreline of rivers or bays of water are often filled with perching bald eagles.  The bald eagle prefers to make its nest in a tall tree, where sticks are gathered and arranged to provide the bald eagle family with a huge house of sticks and other materials.   Bald Eagles 3 for Alaska' Bald Eagle(Another kind of eagle, the golden eagle, prefers to make its home in rocky places on top of cliffs, and sometimes bald eagles do the same.  Baby golden eagles and baby bald eagles lookalike, but if the eaglet grows up to have a white head and a white tail it is a bald eagle.)  From the roadside, if you look up at the trees that are near Juneau’s shoreline, you will see many bald eagles perched in the high branches of those dark evergreen trees.  The eagles are easy to see, because their bald heads contrast in color against the dark green trees, so the trees look like Christmas trees decorated in popcorn balls, except that the white spots that look like popcorn are really the heads of the bald eagles!

What kind of family life do eagles have?   Usually an eagle family has a father eagle and a mother eagle (who both act like they are “married” to each other), and a small number of hatched eagle children (one, two, or three) until the smaller eagles grow up large enough to fly away and start their own families (with mates for themselves).   Unlike many animals, the mother eagles are usually larger in size than the father eagles.  Bald eagle mates usually try to have one or more new eagle babies each spring.       After the eggs are laid the parent eagles take turns incubating them, to keep them warm enough to grow until it is time for hatching out of their eggs.  Whenever parent eagles walk around near the eggs they walk very cautiously.  Of course, if they did not, many eagle eggs would be accidentally broken by careless contact with a sharp eagle talon!

When eagles are grown up, at about four years of age, they find a mate to start a family with; so, a fully grown male eagle and a fully grown female eagle become an eagle pair, kind of like getting Bald Eagles 4 for Alaska' Bald Eaglemarried to each other.  The eagle couple will stay together as long as they both live (unless one is captured and prevented from returning to its mate).  Not all birds stay with their mates for life, but the bald eagle does.  The eagle couple will soon become parents, with the female eagle becoming a mother by laying large white fertile eggs that will one day hatch into baby eagles – called eaglets.  The baby eagles are very hungry but they cannot fly to get their own food, just as many other kinds of babies need their parents to care for them, and protect them, and feed them.

The parent eagles are very protective of their baby eaglets; they will attack any other bird that flies too close to the eagle nest, so ravens, gulls, and hawks better stay away and respect the eagle family’s privacy!   The baby eagles do not have “bald”-looking heads, because their heads do not have white feathers.  Baby eagles are blotchy brown-grey colored and begin their hatchling life with light grey-colored fuzzy feathers called “down”.  Young eagles are called nestlings during the time that they live in their parents’ nest.  It takes a while for the little eaglets to grow enough strength in their little wings so they can be ready to fly  like their parents.

Bald Eagles 5 for Alaska' Bald EagleWhen a young eagle finally learns to fly it is called a fledgling.  Eagles are such heavy birds that they don’t Bald Eagles 6 for Alaska' Bald Eaglebuild their houses, called “nests”, near the ground.  Eagles build their nests high up in trees or on top of rocky mountains or cliffs, so that they can jump out into the air and glide on rising warm air currents.               Some air currents are made of warm rising air, so an eagle can jump into such warm air and “ride” it up like an elevator, then the eagle can glide from one air current to another , until it wants to fly down.  These rising air currents are called “thermals”.  The eagle that soars on a thermal is mostly at rest, because he is trusting the thermal to carry him along for a “ride” in the air.  The eagle soaring on such a thermal air current is a reminder of how we should trust and depend upon God to carry us through life’s adventures, as we travel from one day to the next.  By “riding” on upwardly spiraling thermal air currents eagles can save their energy, because too much wing-flapping can waste an eagle’s energy and cause it to get too tired to fly.  Like eagles, we can waste a lot of energy if we fail to depend on God, because worrying and distrusting God wastes a lot of mental energy and emotions!  (See Isaiah 40:31.)

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:31 KJV)

By conserving (carefully using, not wasting) his energy, the bald eagle can flap his wings only when he needs to, and he can rise to very high places in the air, which also means that the eagles can reach high places on top of mountains or cliffs that other animals cannot reach.  So an eagles’ nest (called an “eyrie”) can be far away from egg-eating animals that might bother parent eagles and try to eat their eggs before they have a chance to hatch into baby eaglets (the baby eaglets are called “hatchlings” when they first hatch).  Bald eagles, like other kinds of eagles, often live in rocky places in high places, so it is not surprising that people (including Biblical authors) compare highness with flying and nesting behaviors of eagles.

Bald Eagles 7One example of highness being compared to the nesting habits of eagles is found in the Bible, in the Book of Obadiah 1:3-4, where the eagle is described as a creature that lives in high places, much closer to the stars than do most other animals (or people).  Another Old Testament book in the Bible, the Book of Job, refers (at 39:27) to the eagle as mounting up into the air by God’s command (because God programs eagles to fly up into the air the way that they do), and as nesting in high places (because God programs eagles to do this also).

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. (Oba 1:3-4 KJV)

Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? (Job 39:27 KJV)

Eagles are good parents, training their sons and daughters to live like eagles (see Deuteronomy 32:11).  Eagles can fly, like dive-bombing airplanes, at great speeds (see 2nd Samuel 1:23 and Lamentations 4:19).  Their strength is renewed from time to time, as their feather-cover adjusts to their growing bodies (see Isaiah 40:31 and Psalms 103:5). Eagles are known for their gracefulness and dignity (see Proverbs 30:19).  In fact, eagles fly very high in the air as a matter of habit – above most other birds (see Proverbs 23:5).

During winter bald eagles like to live near seacoasts or near large fast-moving rivers where fish are abundant.  Often, bald eagles must migrate south to avoid wintering in places where the food supply is too sparse or the weather is too harsh.  During spring, when the new baby eagles are hatched from eggs, bald eagles usually prefer to live in northern lands, such as Alaska and Canada, but some start their springtime families as far south as California on the West Coast and as far south as Virginia on the East Coast.  Since a thermal spring keeps the Chilkat River warm enough to prevent it from freezing in late summer and early autumn, many salmon continue to congregate in that unfrozen river during the autumn – this is like an “all-you-can-eat” salmon dinner for Alaskan bald eagles!

One place other than Alaska where bald eagles are easily seen in the later summer is along certain parts of the Snake River near Jackson Hole, Wyoming (part of the Grand Tetons National Park), in nests built in the tops of old dead trees along the river’s forested shoreline.  Of course, bald eagles are usually so high up in a tree (or soaring up in the air) that you really need to use binoculars (holding them with steady hands) to see the bald eagle’s colors, wings, talons, stern-looking face, curled beak, and clawed  talons.     Maybe learning about the salmon feasts of the Alaska bald eagles has made you hungry for some Alaska salmon!  If so, you might visit my favorite salmon bake feasting-place, “Gold Creek Salmon Bake” a few miles outside of Juneau, Alaska, an Alaskan rainforest all-you-can-eat place near an old abandoned gold mine.  But, if that’s not convenient for you at the moment, you might try buying some fresh salmon filets from your local grocery store, – and your family can enjoy a healthy protein-rich meal – a feast fit for the Bald Eagle, America’s national bird!

[The above text on Alaska’s Eagle is adapted from James J. S.  Johnson’s “The Bald Eagle”; © AD2001-AD2013 James J. S. Johnson, here reprinted/used by permission.]

Bald Eagle Brings Nesting Material by Aesthetic Photos

Bald Eagle Brings Nesting Material by Aesthetic Photos

Lee’s Addition:

What an interesting, informative and challenging article about the Bald Eagles. Thank you, Dr. Johnson, for giving permission to post it here.

I am looking forward to some more articles that he will be sharing with us here.

See also:

Institute For Christian Research

Dr. James J. S. Johnson – Guest Author

Birds of the Bible – Eagles

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles

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