Swallow-tailed Kite – the one bird I got a photo of as it flew overhead previously.
Birdwatching and Blessings – 6/7-10/21
Since the last post, on 6/6/21, it has been sort of quiet out back. On June 7th, the busiest morning greeted us with the Muscovys and Pekins coming by for breakfast, while a Red-winged Blackbird landed on the hanging feeder. The Tricolored Heron walked along the shore. The best delight was when a Swallow-tailed Kite flew by. They are in the area for only a couple of months each year.
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) by Daves BirdingPix
Later, while we were eating lunch, the Whistling Duck pair (becoming regulars) were eating, when another pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks showed up, and the “turf war was on!” They jump up in the air and put their feet out toward the other duck. This time, both pairs got into it at the same time. Of course, you never have time to grab a camera. About the time they got back on the ground, a White Ibis decided to walk in between the two feuding pairs, and the war was over. I guess I’ll have to re-name him the Peace Ibis.
On 6/8/21, another Roseate Spoonbill flew by and a Great Blue Heron.
Yesterday, 6/9/21, a Roseate Spoonbill flew by again. The Muscovys were on the other side of the pond along with an Anhinga hanging out to dry. The Red-winged Blackbird chowed down again at the hanging feeder. Then it was off to church.
A large heart can be filled with very little.
A grateful mind is a great mind.
Truths To Consider:
“I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness.” (Psalms 119:32-36 NKJV)
While we were at Gatorland, I was watching the Snowy Egret, and was amused by his stance. I am always amazed by their yellow feet, and this tickled me. I love that the Lord used such variety in the birds when He created them.
Of course, I had to zoom in on his feet:
Snowy with his best foot forward!
I was then off to the lagoon or pond, whatever they call it, to see what the birds and gators were up to. Compared to other times, it was rather quite, except for a Great Egret strolling out from under the boardwalk:
Quieter than normal. No nesting birds.
Great Egret emerging from under the walkway.
I was sitting in a motorized unit when another Snowy Egret landed on the rail right beside me. He then proceeded to walk down the rail with those yellow feet.
On rail right beside me.
Look at that concentration!
Snowy has something in sight.
Showing off those feet. Has a good grip on the rail.
“For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?” (Psalms 56:13 NKJV)
What the Snowy had in sight was an alligator, of which he flew off to check out. By then, “feet” were fascinating me, and I was watching how well those feet stayed planted on the gator’s back as he walked up and down it.
Heading for a ride.
Landed on the other one.
Zoomed in a bit
Steady as he goes!
“Unless the LORD had been my help, My soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” (Psalms 94:17-19 NKJV)
Catching a ride.
Feet holding fast!
Feet holding fast!
“But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.” (Job 23:10-11 NKJV)
I trust you have enjoyed this part of our visit to Gatorland. There are still more sights to see, so, STAY TUNED!
Have you ever heard of someone described as being “wise as an owl”? I suppose, more than anything else, that the owl’s large head and wide-open eyes mark him out as a symbol of wisdom. In any case, he is a remarkable bird, wonderfully designed and fitted by the wisdom and power of the Creator for his peculiar life. At night he is able to see far better than in the day; and in the day he is able to safely hide himself from his enemies.
Can you see in the dark?
Are you wise like the owl? Are you able to see in the night? Do you wonder what I mean? Let me try to tell you…
You see, sin has produced spiritual darkness in this world—a darkness so great that when Jesus was here as the Light of the world, “men loved darkness rather than Light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). And what did they do? They crucified Him because they did not want Him; they did not love Him. They did not see Him to be the Son of God who came to shed His blood and to die so that sinners like you and me might be saved.
Let me ask you: Do you know Him as the Son of God who died for you? Do you love Him? If so, then you, like the owl, have wide-open eyes in this time of night caused by the Lord Jesus Christ’s absence from this world. If you do not, then BE WISE and trust Him as your Saviour. Then you will be able to say with the blind man who Jesus healed, “One thing I KNOW, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25).
White-fronted Scops Owl (Otus sagittatus) by MAMuin
Are you safe from the enemy?
Are you wise like the owl? Are you able to safely hide yourself in the day? Again, do you wonder what I mean? Let me tell you…
This is the daytime of God’s salvation and grace, but do you know that the enemy of your soul stalks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour? Who is that, do you ask? It is none other than Satan, the Devil, who has many deceitful tricks to make you fall into his hands. You are no match for his power nor his cunning, so you need a refuge from him—a hiding place for your soul. Is there such a hiding place? Yes! The Hiding Place is the same One who gives light so the wise may see. It is the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 32:7). He is referred to as the ROCK of our Salvation (Psalm 95:1)—the place of strength, safety and security. He defeated the Devil at the Cross where He was smitten for our sins, and became the “Rock of Ages” cleft for sinners. Your safety depends solely upon hiding in Him. There is no other salvation for you than in the Lord Jesus. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other Name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
How to be wise
BE WISE! Come to the Lord Jesus Christ NOW! How do you come? Come just as you are, confessing to Him that you are a sinner, and tell Him you believe He died for your sins on Calvary. He will then become your Saviour.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
You will then have in Jesus Christ a Light in the darkness, and a Hiding Place from danger and judgment for time and eternity. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
and the red kite, the falcon, and the kite in their kinds, (Deuteronomy 14:13 NASB)
In the Birds of the Bible – Hidden Covenant Part 3, I mistakenly placed this photo of a Swallow-tailed Kite instead of a Swallow. I have since fixed my mistake. A J was talking about the Swallows observing the time of their coming and he used Jeremiah 8:7.
Even the stork in the heavens Knows her appointed times; And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow Observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 NKJV)
The reason I mixed them up is because right now, in this area, the Swallow-tailed Kites are being spotted. I have seen a single one three times and just the other day, Dan and I had two of them skim over the top of trees, right in front of us. They have been in the area for a month or so, and soon they will move on again. They “Observe the time of their coming.” Thus the mistake on my part.
They may be one of the Birds of Prey, but they were beautifully created by the Lord. They are so graceful and enjoyable to watch. I am always amazed at the Creator’s use of such variety in the birds and in all the other neat things around us.
God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good (suitable, admirable) and He approved it. (Genesis 1:21 AMP)
According to the Audubon WatchList, “Two subspecies found in the Americas. Northern subspecies (Elanoides forficatus forficatus) breeds in small sections of seven southeastern U.S. states and in southern Mexico. Members of this group migrate to South America in the late summer. Southern subspecies (Elanoides forficatus yetapa) found through much of South America. The estimated U.S. population of approximately 10,000 birds now breeds in fragmented populations from South Carolina south to Florida and west to Louisiana/Texas border with largest known populations in northern Florida. Formerly bred north to Minnesota and west through Texas to Mexico. Significant populations remain in Florida and along the Pascagoula River in Mississippi.”
I really enjoy seeing these Kites because you just have to be looking in the right direction at the right time. Every time they have been spotted by us, they just sort of “appear” over the tops of the trees. They skim so low, that when they come over you, you either see them or you don’t.
Kites are of course one of our Bible Birds – (Glede and Kites).They are mentioned twice in Scripture in the list of “unclean” birds in Leviticus 11:14 and Deuteronomy 14:13. Each time “after its kind” is given. So, our Swallow-tailed Kite is one of those kinds and would like to introduce you to this amazing bird that is so neat to watch flying. When they spread that tail of theirs, it is just super neat.
The Swallow-tailed Kite is a member of the Accipitridae Family (Kites, Hawks & Eagles) Family in the Order Accipitriformes. They are considered Abundance Common according the Thayer Birding software.
They are 24 inches (60 cm) with a very long black forked tail, white head, chest, belly and leading portion of underwing. Their flight feathers are black and their back is also black.
They are a medium-sized, graceful, long-winged, long-tailed hawk with pointed wings, a short, dark, hooked bill. The males and females are similar.
Adults have a long, deeply forked tail. white head, neck, chest, underwing coverts, belly, and undertail coverts, a slate gray back and upperwings, black tail and flight feathers. Whereas the immature is duller than adult with fine streaks on head and breast and has a shorter, less deeply-forked tail than adult.
Thayer also says of their habitat and behavior – ” Wet open woodlands, bottomlands, wooded river swamps, marshes, wetlands, and along rivers, ponds and lakes. Agile and graceful in flight. Eats in flight by bending head and neck under body to eat prey held in talon. Will drink in flight, much like a swallow. Gregarious. Will sweep low over open fields and grasslands to catch food or soar very high for flying insects.”
Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) by Africaddict
The Swallow-tails like to breed in “Lowland forest, especially swampy areas extending into open woodland. 1 brood. Mating system is monogamous. Displays are In flight: easy sailing, curving chase often over water. On perch: mutual approach on horizontal limb, face-off, female quickly turns or backs under limb. They also do courtship feeding.
The nest is usually in treetop concealed by thick foliage and they place it on a foundation of preceding year’s nest. It consist of sticks, twigs, moss, pine needles, leaves, lichen. Lined with fine materials, few feathers. Both sexes help with nest construction.
The eggs are white, marked with browns, occasionally lavender, often concentrated at end. 1.8” (47 mm). Both sexes incubate. with Incubation taking 28 days. Development is semialtricial (immobile, downy, eyes open, fed). Young are able to fly after 36-42 days. Both sexes tend young.
The spend their winters from Colombia and Venezuela S. Marsh drainage, deforestation, and shooting are responsible for reduction in population and range.
Miscellaneous notes; Occasionally nest in loose colonies of a few pairs. Bathe and drink by skimming water surface like swallow. Occasionally soar at great heights. Up to 200 pieces used in nest, carried individually, may require up to 800 miles of flight. Formerly known as American Swallow-tailed Kite; changed by AOU in 1996.
From Thayer Birding Software, The Birder’s Handbook, Wikipedia, and other internet sources.
“Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.” (Psalms 104:17 KJV)
Bible Birds – Storks at Zoo Tampa
Birds mentioned in the Bible include the Storks. The Yellow-billed Stork is closely related to the Wood Stork. [Bible Birds – Wood Storks]
The Yellow-billed Stork has a very yellow beak and like other storks, it is quite long. They live in “Africa South of Sahara, Madagascar; straggles into Palearctic Africa in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.”
These storks are 90–105 cm (35–41 in) tall and have a wingspan 150–165 cm (59-65 in). Males average larger. Non breeding adult has plumage and bare parts duller. Immature duller, especially bare.
Here are some photos of the Yellow-billed Stork taken at Zoo Tampa recently:
Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) Wet at Jacksonville Zoo
The wolf is rather larger than our largest dogs, and looks somewhat like them; but he seems more wild, savage and cruel. The wolves go in large companies, making a terrible howling noise; and though they are in general cowardly, yet when they are very hungry they attack large animals, and even men. They almost always go out by night, and the Bible refers to this when it says,
Their horses are more fierce than the evening wolves.
Jacob, just before his death, said of one of his sons,
Benjamin shall raven as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at evening he shall divide the spoil.
Timber Wolf by Ray
There were once a great many wolves in New England and in other parts of the United States, and some are left yet, although many have been killed or driven away. There are still great numbers of them in some countries. In England the month of January used to be called Wolf- monat, or wolf-month; “because,” as an old book says, “people are wont in that moneth to be more in danger to be devoured of wolves than in any season els of the yeare, for that through the extremity of cold and snow those ravenous creatures could not find other beasts sufficient to feed upon.”
A sad story is told of something that happened in Russia a few years since. A woman was one day riding on a sledge with her three children over a lonely road, when suddenly she heard the noise of wolves behind her. She was not very far from home, and tried to urge her horse on, to get out of their reach; but they gained upon her every moment, and were just on the point of rushing on the sledge, when the poor woman, to save the lives of the rest, caught up one of the children and threw it to the wolves. This stopped them but a short time; they devoured it at once and again ran howling after the sledge. The mother threw out a second child, hoping to escape with the other; but in vain. Again the cruel animals were close behind her, and to save her own life, hardly knowing what she did, she threw over her only remaining child. She succeeded in reaching home herself, in safety, but where were her children? She told the terrible story; but while she was endeavoring to excuse herself by telling of her exceeding fright and danger, a man who stood by struck her on the head with an axe and killed her at one blow-saying that a woman who would thus give up her children to save her life, was not fit to live.
The Bible tells us of a time yet to come, when
The wolf shall feed with the lamb.
Perhaps this will be exactly true of the animals in those days, though it now seems so unlikely; but I suppose it means also that wicked and cruel men shall become holy and Christ-like. Then all will be peace on earth, and
none shall hurt or destroy in all” God’s “holy mountain.
The whale is mentioned in the first chapter of the Bible, 21st verse.
And God created great whales.
Some suppose that large fish of every kind are here meant.
An animal called the leviathan is described in one of the last chapters of Job, which some suppose to be the whale. It certainly means a large and strong animal, as you will see by the questions asked about him:
Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook ? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put a hook in his nose ? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? When he raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid. The arrow cannot make him flee; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear; he maketh the deep to boil like a pot; one would think the deep to be hoary.
This is like the whale in some things; but you will remember that it is not certain that he is meant.
The common whale for which so many sailors are always seeking on the great ocean, is an enormous animal. It is often found seventy feet long; and it is said that they have been found of the length of a hundred feet. If you do not know how long this would be, you will do well to ask some friend to tell you of a building or something else with which you can compare it; for it is not very likely that you will ever see the whale itself, and its size is very wonderful. It is covered with a coat of fat, sometimes more than a yard thick; and when this is cut up and put over fires in great kettles, a hundred barrels of oil are sometimes obtained from a single whale.
Perhaps you already know how they take the whale. As soon as the sailors see one, they go towards him in a boat until they get as near to him as they dare. Then they throw their harpoons at him; these are sharp-pointed irons, fastened to a very long rope, one end of which they keep in the boat. As soon as the whale is wounded, he dives down into the water, and swims away to some distance. He is usually obliged to come up again in about half an hour to breathe, for he cannot live all the while under water; and then the men throw other harpoons at him. Sometimes he comes so near as to upset the boat with a blow of his strong tail. The picture shows you a scene of this kind, where the boat was tossed into the air, the men thrown out, and one of them drowned.
The vulture is called a bird of prey, because it lives on flesh; but it has not such strong claws as the eagle, to seize and tear its food. It does not often kill other animals; but preys upon those that have been killed in some other way, or have died of themselves. It is a disagreeable bird, and one that you would not like very well to see; no wonder the Israelites were forbidden to eat it. It is about a yard long from the top of its head, and it sometimes measures two yards across the wings.
Black Vultures at Saddle Creek by Lee
It lives only in warm or hot climates, and there it is very useful, though you might at first be puzzled to think how this can be. It is because it lives upon such things as would be very injurious to man if they were left to decay in the open air. It not only consumes the dead bodies of animals, but takes away many things from the streets of the cities which the inhabitants are too indolent to remove. It is for this reason that in the city of Cairo, in Egypt, there is a law forbidding any person to kill a vulture. These birds sometimes follow an army, and prey upon the bodies of those poor soldiers who have been killed in battle. Ah ! it is a sad thing to go to war; almost every thing about it is sad.
The vulture has a very keen eye, and, like the eagle, can see what is on the ground, even when it is very high in the air. This is referred to in the book of Job.
There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen.
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) by Nikhil
It often happens in those countries that almost as soon as an ox, or a horse, or any other large animal has been killed, great multitudes of vultures will gather around, though not one could be seen in the sky before. they seem to fly down from every part of the heavens, and being to pull and struggle for the flesh of the animal; until in the course of a few hours nothing is left but the bones. We read in Isaiah,
There shall the vultures be gathered, every one with her mate.
This must have been written by one who had seen these birds coming together, as they do in great flocks or companies.
There is only this animal mentioned in the Bible, the name of which begins with U, and of this I cannot give you a picture, because no person now knows what sort of an animal it was. Some suppose it was a kind of wild goat; others think that it was a sort of deer; and others, that it was what we call the rhinoceros. Perhaps you have seen pictures with the name of the unicorn under them; but you must remember that those who made them only guessed it was so, and that no person can certainly tell what it was.
This is a very beautiful and innocent bird, and no one is mentioned more frequently in the Bible. It does not live upon the flesh of animals: so when Noah sent one out of the ark, she soon came back again, because she could find nothing to eat, and no rest for the sole of her foot. Noah put out his hand and gently took her in, and she did not go out again for a whole week. Then Noah let her fly, and the beautiful creature came back in the evening, having in her mouth a green leaf which she had plucked from an olive-tree; as though she wanted to tell him that the waters were beginning to dry up. After another week she went out, and did not come back again to the ark, because the earth was dry.
The dove was often offered as a sacrifice in ancient times; and was a type of our innocent Savior, to show how he would afterwards be put to death for the guilty. The Holy Spirit once condescended to take the form of a dove, when he rested upon Christ at the time of his baptism. Our Savior speaks of the innocence of this bird when he says to his disciples,
I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
This bird has a very sweet but mournful voice; and this is referred to in the Bible. Hezekiah, one of the Jewish kings, had been very sick and expected to die; but as he lay on his bed, he prayed that God would be pleased to spare his life. God heard his prayer, and promised that he should live fifteen years longer; and soon after he became quite well. He was grateful to God for his goodness, and wrote a beautiful song of praise to be sung in the temple. Among other things he told how he felt when he lay so sick upon his bed. He says,
Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove.
The turtle-dove is a bird of passage. It appears in Judea early in the spring, when the leaves are coming out, the flowers opening, and every thing looking lovely and beautiful. This will explain some verses in the Song of Solomon,
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away, for lo ! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle (or turtle-dove) is heard in our land.
It remains until summer is gone; and then flies away to a warmer climate to spend the winter. It is in reference to this that David says,
Oh ! that I had wings like a dove ! for then would I flee away, and be at rest; lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness; I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.
You will find these beautiful verses in the 55th Psalm.
Who would not wish to be like the gentle, peaceful dove?
I suppose you think you already know as much about sheep and lambs as I can tell you, and perhaps you do. Yet I dare say you never took up your Bible to see how many times they are mentioned there, or how many beautiful things are said about them. Abel, who, as you know, was the third man that lived on the earth, was a
keeper of sheep;
and there have always been a great many shepherds in the world from that time to this. Some of the men who lived in old times had a great many sheep. Job had seven thousand, which God allowed to be taken from him; but afterwards gave him twice as many-fourteen thousand. At the time when Solomon’s beautiful temple was dedicated to God, he offered a sacrifice of a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. If you want to know how many that is, try to think of a pasture with a hundred sheep in it-then think of a hundred pastures, just like it, with just as many sheep in each-then think of those hundred pastures taken twelve times over, and you will begin to understand how many there were. It is not common with us to have persons whose whole business it is to take care of sheep, but that was always the way in Bible countries. This was not done by servants, at least not always; for a great many rich men employed their children as shepherds. Rachel, who was afterwards the wife of Jacob,
kept her father’s sheep
-so did Jacob’s twelve sons-so did Moses for his father-in-law.
When God was about to make David king, he sent Samuel the prophet to do it by anointing him, or putting oil upon his head. David had six brothers, and Samuel did not know which of all the sons was to be king; but both he and their father Jesse supposed it would be one of the older ones, and nobody remembered even to call little David, who had been left with the sheep, until they found that he was the one whom God had chosen. David often spoke of his shepherd-life after he became a king, and even when he was an old man. You remember that most beautiful psalm of his, the twenty-third,
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want: he maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.
That is the way they are accustomed to do in those countries: the shepherd walks on, and the sheep follow where he wishes them to go. So Christ says,
And when he (the shepherd) putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
The sheep in many countries are in danger from wolves, which prowl about and try to carry them off; so it is necessary to watch them by night as well as by day. You remember the shepherds were watching their flocks by night when the bright angels appeared to tell the glad tidings that A SAVIOR had come; and they were the first to hear that sweet song in the stillness of the night, when all around were hushed in sleep.
The sheep is so timid and gentle that it needs the protection of man, and without the care of the shepherd would often stray away and be lost, or devoured by other animals. David says,
I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
and in Isaiah we read,
All we like sheep have gone astray.
Is not this true of us-that we have gone away, far away, from Jesus our good shepherd? Perhaps, dear child, you are wandering still; but why should you thus go on, alone, and every hour in danger? Why should you, when he calls you back with his voice of kindness, and is ready to
gather you with his arms, and carry you in his bosom.
The Bible name of this bird means gentleness or affection, and the stork very well deserves such a name. It is very kind indeed to its young ones, and takes pains to find some things for them that it does not itself eat. It is said that when a house, on the top of which was a stork’s nest, once took fire, the mother bird would not fly away, because the young ones were not large or strong enough to go with her, and so they were all burned together. They are very kind to the old birds, too; and I have read that the younger storks sometimes carry the old ones on their wings when they have become tired with flying a great way; and bring food to them in their nests just as the old ones used to bring it to them. I am not quite certain that this is true, though many people have said so; but if it is, I am sure it is a beautiful example for every child, teaching him to repay his parents in every way he can for all their love and care.
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) by Ian
The stork is about a yard long from its head to the end of the tail; its color is white, excepting some of the great quill feathers, which are black. Its nest is large and flat, and made mostly of sticks; the eggs are about as large as those of a goose, and a little yellowish.
It does not sing; the only noise it makes is by striking one part of its bill upon the other. While it is sleeping it stands on one leg, with its neck bent backward, and its head resting between its shoulders. The Jews were forbidden by God to use the stork for food; perhaps this was because it lives upon such animals as frogs, fishes and serpents.
The stork is a bird of passage; it spends the summer in Holland and other countries in the north of Europe, but flies to a warmer climate before cold weather comes. They seem to have a kind of agreement among themselves about starting on these long journeys; and for a fort-night before they are ready, they may be seen collecting in great numbers-then all take to their wings at once. This explains a verse in the eighty chapter of Jeremiah,
The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times;
that is, her times of going to a warmer climate or returning.
Black-necked Stork (Jabiru) (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) by Ian
After the winter has gone, the storks fly back to their summer home, and very often take their old nests again. In Europe, these are generally made on the tops of houses or old chimneys, and the birds are so gentle and harmless that the people never disturb them, but are glad to see them come back. In some countries the roofs of the houses are flat, and the people walk and sleep on them; in these places the storks often build their nest on the flat branches of some spreading tree. In the 104th Psalm we read,