Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Isla de la Plata

If you remember that far back, the last Irregular Bird was on the birds of Christmas Island. Here is another tropical island, Isla de la Plata (Silver Island) in the eastern Pacific just off the coast of Ecuador. Unlike Christmas Island, it isn’t remote, just a 40km/25mile boat trip from Puerto Lopez. So it doesn’t have any endemic birds, but it does have nesting colonies of interesting seabirds. I visited it in October 2005 with Jo Wieneke. She was on her way to the Galapagos, while I was on my way back to Australia on a round the world fare.

Isla de la Plata, Ecuador

It’s relatively small, about 5km/3miles long from northwest to southeast, uninhabited, with the only building – at Drake Bay, above – being the information centre of the national park (Machalilla) of which it is part. Like Christmas Island, it is surrounded by cliffs and the only beach of note is at Drake Bay, the landing place for visitors and the start of a network of walking tracks around the island.

Isla de la Plata, Ecuador Shore

The Bay is named after Sir Francis Drake who, as captain of the Golden Hind, was here in 1579, plundering Spanish ships carrying plundered native treasure. There is debate over whether the name ‘Plata’ refers to silver in Drake’s possession or the white, guano-covered cliffs and if you are interested you can check up on the history of Drake’s adventures around Isla de la Plata here.
Brown/Peruvian Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis/thagus) by Ian
Anyway, back to birds. Puerto Lopez, the departure port for day trips to the island is a fishing village and is notable for plenty of Pelicans, lounging around on the colourful fishing boats waiting for a free feed. This part of the coast of Ecuador marks the transition from the northern Brown Pelican (Birdway) to the southern Peruvian Pelican (Birdway). The latter has been treated in the past as a subspecies of the Brown but the two are now regarded as different species. These ones look intermediate to me and I’ve given up trying to pin them down to one species or the other. In any case, it was lovely to get a close-up view of these spectacular birds.
SUL-Suli Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) by Ian
Isla de la Plata is often referred to as the Poor Man’s Galapagos as it costs only about 40USD to visit it and shares some of the iconic species of the Galapagos such as the Blue-footed Booby. These were to be found nesting on the walking tracks and appeared quite undisturbed by human visitors. The male in the first photo is displaying to the stationary female by walking around her and showing off his blue feet. Foot colour is very important to boobies. She looks completely unimpressed, perhaps because he is too young and his feet aren’t blue enough yet.
Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) by Ian4
The next pair clearly have what it takes and the male on the left has blue enough feet to melt the heart of any prospective mate. The sexes look similar but females are generally bigger and the irises of males appear whiter as female irises have a dark inner ring around the pupil. I tend to think of the Blue-footed Booby as mainly a Galapagos specialty but in fact it’s breeding range includes Baja California in Mexico and along the coast from Panama to northern Peru.
SUL-Suli Nazca Booby (Sula granti) Portrait by Ian
Like Christmas Island, Isla de la Plata has three species of nesting boobies. The second is the Nazca Booby, a black and and white booby with orange bill and eyes. It bears more than a striking resemblance to its close relative the Masked Booby (Birdway), which it replaces in the eastern Pacific where its main population centre is also the Galapagos Archipelago. The Nazca used to be treated as a subspecies of the Masked, which occurs in tropical and subtropical water around the world including offshore islands around Australia. The main field mark distinguishing the Nazca is the coral pink, rather than yellow, bill but there are also morphological differences including smaller size and longer wings and tail.
SUL-Suli Nazca Booby (Sula granti) by Ian
Bill colour differs between the sexes: the bird in the background in the second photo has a pinker bill and is female. Nazca Boobies have khaki feet, hardly something to get excited about, but there’s no accounting for differences in taste.
SUL-Suli Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) by Ian
The third species of Booby is the Red-footed, another species with a pantropical distribution and which we encountered on Christmas Island. There, the birds were of the white morph; here they are of the brown morph. The one in the photo is an adult bird (juveniles don’t, of course, have red feet) at its nest.
One might wonder ecologically why various species of booby have such overlapping distributions. It seems that they differ in the feeding habits. Blue-footed Boobies feed mainly on schooling sardines, anchovies and mackerel and feed gregariously, often diving in unison, and also feed on flying-fish. The diet of Nazca Boobies varies by location but includes larger schooling fish and flying-fish. Red-footed Boobies feed mainly on flying-fish and squid and often feed at night when squid come to the surface.
Male Magnificent Frigatebird by Ian
Christmas Island boasts three of the five species of Frigatebird, including the endemic Christmas (Island) Frigatebird, the Lesser and the Great. Isla de la Plata has only one, the Magnificent, but this is the largest of the five species by way of compensation. Adult males have entirely black plumage making them difficult to distinguish in the field from the Great. Males of the latter have a brown wing-bar, but so do a few male Magnificent. Female Magnificent Frigatebirds are similar to female Great but are larger and have a white nucal collar (below).
Magnificent Frigatebird Family by Ian
The Magnificent Frigatebird is closely related to the Great and both it and the fifth species, the Ascencion Island Frigatebird, used to be treated as races of the Great. The Great also occurs in the eastern Pacific but it is mainly an offshore species and does not breed on Isla de la Plata, though both breed in the Galapagos so their ranges are not exclusive. The distribution of the Magnificent is mainly the tropical and subtropical eastern and western coasts of the Americas, with a relict population on Cape Verde Island off the west coast of Africa.
Red-billed Tropicbird by Ian
Christmas Island has two of the three global species of Tropicbird: the Red-tailed and the golden morph of the White-tailed. Isla de la Plata has the third: the Red-billed Tropicbird. This is probably the least numerous of the three species with three subspecies in the northwestern Indian Ocean; the Atlantic south of the equator; and, the most common and widespread subspecies off Cape Verde, in the Caribbean and the eastern Pacific. Adult birds retain the barred plumage on the back and wings that is otherwise characteristic of juvenile birds. With a wingspan to 106cm/42in and length, including tail streamers, to 105cm/41in , this is the largest of the three species. It feeds mainly on flying fish, usually by diving but will also take them in flight.
Isla de la Plata has a very small population, less than 20 pairs, of the only tropical Albatross, the Waved Albatross, but unfortunately we didn’t see any. It breeds mainly on Hood Island in the Galapagos with a population of less than 20,000 pairs. The population has declined in recent decades owing to mortality as bycatch by fishing vessels and is classified as critically endangered.
Croaking Ground-dove by Ian
The island is rather arid with scrubby vegetation and didn’t seem to support many species of terrestrial birds. We did however see White-tipped Doves (Birdway) and Croaking Ground-Doves. I photographed the Croaking Ground-Dove above when we were having breakfast in Puerto Lopez a couple of days after our visit to Isla de la Plata.
Long-tailed Mockingbird by Ian
The only passerines we saw were Long-tailed Mockingbird and Collared Warbling-Finch. The Long-tailed Mockingbird has a mainly coastal distribution in Ecuador and Peru and is a close relative of the Chilean Mockingbird (Birdway).
Collard Warbling-Finch by Ian
The Collared Warbling-Finch isn’t a finch but a member of the Thraupidae family (Birdway) which comprises a rather heterogeneous collection of birds including most, but not all, of the Tanagers. It has a similar distribution to the Long-tailed Mockingbird along the coast of Ecuador and Peru. The bird in the photo is a male; females have streaked, brownish plumage without the black breast-band or black markings on the head.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our virtual tours of two tropical islands. I have a couple of very cold islands, one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern, in mind as candidates for the next two Irregular Birds.
Greetings
Ian


Ian Montgomery,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

I am always amazed and tickled by these Blue-footed and Red-footed Boobies. Along with all the many critters and birds the Lord created, it sometimes shows his sense of humor.
“So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.” (Genesis 1:21-23 NKJV)

Test Yourself!

Whether it be for school, employment, or medical treatment, testing is a fact of life. But the Bible tells us of a more important test…

Psalm 26:2 “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”

With such a wide variety of “flavors”, shorebirds like peeps and gulls can be a test of a birder’s identification skills. Sanderling and Ring-billed Gull; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. December, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

For months now we’ve heard about coronavirus testing, testing, testing. So when I came home from work last month and saw my 15-year-old daughter laid out on the couch with a runny nose, headache and sore throat, I knew what had to be done. And when her COVID-19 test came back positive, we knew what we had to do: re-enter that dismal bunker of self-isolation. (Thankfully all her symptoms were fairly minor and she had a quick recovery, other than loss of taste and smell.)

Two weeks of Quarantine. What now? While my older daughter lamented about the devastating impact upon her social life, I decided to test myself! No, I’m not speaking of a homemade COVID-19 test, but brushing up my skills on some of those hard to identify shorebirds. I found my old stack of 3 x 5 index cards that I made long before I had a smartphone, each with a bird photo taped to front, and began to test myself.

Semipalmated Sandpipers and Sanderlings on Port Royal Sound, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. May, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

But I wasn’t halfway through the first day of isolation when God began to challenge me. What about your prayer life? How is your Bible reading lately? Like Job’s inquisition from the Almighty, my only answer could be, “Touché, God!”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24

Following God‘s cue, I continued to test myself. Where did I put that prayer list of friends, family, and coworkers? How long has it been since I’ve written a full-length sermon? How about getting the Greek New Testament off the shelf to read a chapter a day? Instead of binge-watching internet videos, I challenged myself to pray morning, noon, night (which proved harder than I thought!).

God tests us to prove us and bring us closer to Him; not to frustrate us, see us fail, or wallow in a puddle of self-condemnation. We may not always enjoy testing, but if we will self-test ourselves now, we will be spared that “Final Examination” coming to those that miss the Rapture!

“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Revelation 3:10


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

Bible Birds – Pelican Introduction

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) by AestheticPhotos

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) by AestheticPhotos

“And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,” (Leviticus 11:18 KJV)

Bible Birds – Pelican Introduction

The Pelican is mentioned in three verses in the Bible (KJV). In Leviticus 11:18 and in Deuteronomy 14:17, the Pelican is listed as one of the “Do Not Eat” birds. The Jewish people, from God’s chosen people, were given a list of birds that they were not to eat. [My “Do Not Eat” birds]

In Psalms 102:6, it mentions the Pelican in the wilderness. That will be mentioned in a later article.

Pelicans are huge birds that are larger than swans and have a remarkably enormous bill. The lower part of the bill is like a large pouch or bag that can expand to hold quarts of water. The pelican places the fish they catch in this lower part of the bill.

Brown Pelican with fish and Laughing Gull

Brown Pelican with fish in pouch and a Laughing Gull

The White Pelican was recording holding three gallons of water in that pouch. Wow! They belong to the Pelecanidae family which is in the Pelecaniformes Order. There are eight species of Pelicans:

Mature Brown Pelican by Dan at MacDill

Mature Brown Pelican by Dan at MacDill AFB

Great White Pelican, Pink-backed Pelican, Spot-billed Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Australian Pelican, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, and the Peruvian Pelican.

McGuffey’s 6th Grade Reader – The Morning Oratorio

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by Quy Tran

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by Quy Tran

“He sends forth springs in the valleys; They flow between the mountains; They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; They lift up their voices among the branches.” (Psalms 104:10-12 NASB)

McGuffey Readers were a series of graded primers for grade levels 1-6. They were widely used as textbooks in American schools from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, and are still used today in some private schools and in homeschooling.

Here is a story of The Oratorio from the Sixth Grade Reader. (From Gutenberg) Pictures are current photos.

hairbird

Noun (plural hairbirds) – birdSpizella passerina, the chipping sparrow. [from Your Dictionary]

XI. THE MORNING ORATORIO. (90)

Wilson Flagg, 1806-1884, was born in Beverly, Mass. He pursued his academical course in Andover, at Phillips Academy, and entered Harvard College, but did not graduate. His chief Works are: “Studies in the Field and Forest,” “The Woods and Byways of New England,” and “The Birds and Seasons of New England.”

Nature, for the delight of waking eyes, has arrayed the morning heavens in the loveliest hues of beauty. Fearing to dazzle by an excess of delight, she first announces day by a faint and glimmering twilight, then sheds a purple tint over the brows of the rising morn, and infuses a transparent ruddiness throughout the atmosphere. As daylight widens, successive groups of mottled and rosy-bosomed clouds assemble on the gilded sphere, and, crowned with wreaths of fickle rainbows, spread a mirrored flush over hill, grove, and lake, and every village spire is burnished with their splendor.

At length, through crimsoned vapors, we behold the sun’s broad disk, rising with a countenance so serene that every eye may view him ere he arrays himself in his meridian brightness. Not many people who live in towns are aware of the pleasure attending a ramble near the woods and orchards at daybreak in the early part of summer. The drowsiness we feel on rising from our beds is gradually dispelled by the clear and healthful breezes of early day, and we soon experience an unusual amount of vigor and elasticity.

During the night, the stillness of all things is the circumstance that most powerfully attracts our notice, rendering us peculiarly sensitive to every accidental sound that meets the ear. In the morning, at this time of year, on the contrary, we are overpowered by the vocal and multitudinous chorus of the feathered tribe. If you would hear the commencement of this grand anthem of nature, you must rise at the very first appearance of dawn, before the twilight has formed a complete semicircle above the eastern porch of heaven.

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by Daves BirdingPix

The first note that proceeds from the little warbling host, is the shrill chirp of the hairbird,—occasionally vocal at an hours on a warm summer night. This strain, which is a continued trilling sound, is repeated with diminishing intervals, until it becomes almost incessant. But ere the hairbird has uttered many notes, a single robin begins to warble from a neighboring orchard, soon followed by others, increasing in numbers until, by the time the eastern sky is flushed with crimson, every male, robin in the country round is singing with fervor.

It would be difficult to note the exact order in which the different birds successively begin their parts in this performance; but the bluebird, whose song is only a short, mellow warble, is heard nearly at the same time with the robin, and the song sparrow joins them soon after with his brief but finely modulated strain. The different species follow rapidly, one after another, in the chorus, until the whole welkin rings with their matin hymn of gladness.

I have often wondered that the almost simultaneous utterance of so many different notes should produce no discords, and that they should result in such complete harmony. In this multitudinous confusion of voices, no two notes are confounded, and none has sufficient duration to grate harshly with a dissimilar sound. Though each performer sings only a few strains and then makes a pause, the whole multitude succeed one another with such rapidity that we hear an uninterrupted flow of music until the broad light of day invites them to other employments.

When there is just light enough to distinguish the birds, we may observe, here and there, a single swallow perched on the roof of a barn or shed, repeating two twittering notes incessantly, with a quick turn and a hop at every note he utters. It would seem to be the design of the bird to attract the attention of his mate, and this motion seems to be made to assist her in discovering his position. As soon as the light has tempted him to fly abroad, this twittering strain is uttered more like a continued song, as he flits rapidly through the air.

Purple Martin (Progne subis) ©WikiC

But at this later moment the purple martins have commenced their more melodious chattering, so loud as to attract for a while the most of our attention. There is not a sound in nature so cheering and animating as the song of the purple martin, and none so well calculated to drive away melancholy. Though not one of the earliest voices to be heard, the chorus is perceptibly more loud and effective when this bird has united with the choir.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) eating by Jim Fenton

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) eating by Jim Fenton

When the flush of the morning has brightened into vermilion, and the place from which the sun is soon to emerge has attained a dazzling brilliancy, the robins are already less tuneful. They are now becoming busy in collecting food for their morning repast, and one by one they leave the trees, and may be seen hopping upon the tilled ground, in quest of the worms and insects that, have crept out during the night from their subterranean retreats.

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) by J Fenton

But as the robins grow silent, the bobolinks begin their vocal revelries; and to a fanciful mind it might seem that the robins had gradually resigned their part in the performance to the bobolinks, not one of which is heard until some of the former have concluded their songs. The little hairbird still continues his almost incessant chirping, the first to begin and the last to quit the performance. Though the voice of this bird is not very sweetly modulated, it blends harmoniously with the notes of other birds, and greatly increases the charming effect of the combination.

Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens) by Raymond Barlow

Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens) by Raymond Barlow

It would be tedious to name all the birds that take part in this chorus; but we must not omit the pewee, with his melancholy ditty, occasionally heard like a short minor strain in an oratorio; nor the oriole, who is really one of the chief performers, and who, as his bright plumage flashes upon the sight, warbles forth a few notes so clear and mellow as to be beard above every other sound. Adding a pleasing variety to all this harmony, the lisping notes of the meadowlark, uttered in a shrill tone, and with a peculiar pensive modulation, are plainly audible, with short rests between each repetition.

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

There is a little brown sparrow, resembling the hairbird, save a general tint of russet in his plumage, that may be heard distinctly among the warbling host. He is rarely seen in cultivated grounds, but frequents the wild pastures, and is the bird that warbles so sweetly at midsummer, when the whortleberries are ripe, and the fields are beautifully spangled with red lilies.

There is no confusion in the notes of his song, which consists of one syllable rapidly repeated, but increasing in rapidity and rising to a higher key towards the conclusion. He sometimes prolongs his strain, when his notes are observed to rise and fall in succession. These plaintive and expressive notes are very loud and constantly uttered, during the hour that precedes the rising of the sun. A dozen warblers of this species, singing in concert, and distributed in different parts of the field, form, perhaps, the most delightful part of the woodland oratorio to which we have listened.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Quy Tran

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Quy Tran

At sunrise hardly a robin can be beard in the whole neighborhood, and the character of the performance has completely changed during the last half hour. The first part was more melodious and tranquilizing, the last is more brilliant and animating. The grass finches, the vireos, the wrens, and the linnets have joined their voices to the chorus, and the bobolinks are loudest in their song. But the notes of the birds in general are not so incessant as before sunrise. One by one they discontinue their lays, until at high noon the bobolink and the warbling flycatcher are almost the only vocalists to be heard in the fields.


Title: McGuffey’s Sixth Grade Eclectic Reader, Author: William Holmes McGuffey
Release Date: September 26, 2005 [EBook #16751], Language: English

McGuffey’s Sixth Grade Reader

Wordless Birds

Bible Birds – Sea Gulls Introduction

Bible Birds – Sea Gulls Introduction

Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) by Ian

Bible Birds – Sea Gulls

“the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind;” (Leviticus 11:16 NKJV)

“and the ostrich, and the night-hawk, and the sea-mew, and the hawk after its kinds;” (Leviticus 11:16 JPS)

The Sea Gull or Sea-mew is mentioned in many versions of the Bible. It is unclear if this is the correct bird, but many believe so. This bird is listed with others on the “Do Not Eat” list. The Jewish people were reminded not to eat some birds.

Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14 have those lists. The LORD was protecting His people from becoming sick. Also, some birds were not to be eaten because “God said not to”. Have your parents ever told you not to eat something because it would make you sick. Did you do it anyway? That is disobedience. These people were to be obedient, just as you and I are supposed to obey.

Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) by Ian

Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) by Ian

The Gulls or Seagulls are seabirds in the Laridae family. They are closely related to the terns and only distantly related to auks, skimmers, and more distantly to the waders. An older name for gulls is mews, cognate with German Möwe, Danish måge, Dutch meeuw, and French mouette; this term can still be found in certain regional dialects.

Gulls are typically medium to large birds, usually grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They typically have harsh wailing or squawking calls; stout, longish bills; and webbed feet. Most gulls are ground-nesting carnivores which take live food or scavenge. Live food often includes crabs and small fish. Gulls have unhinging jaws which allow them to consume large prey. Gulls are typically coastal or inland species, rarely going far out to sea, except for the kittiwakes.

The large species take up to four years to attain full adult plumage, but two years is typical for small gulls. Large white-headed gulls live long, with a maximum age of 49 years recorded for the herring gull.

Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) chick-egg nest ©USFWS

Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) chick-egg nest ©USFWS

Gulls nest in large, densely packed, noisy colonies. They lay two or three speckled eggs in nests composed of vegetation. The young are relatively mature from the moment of birth, born with dark mottled down and mobile upon hatching.

Laughing Gull landing on Brown Pelican

Laughing Gull landing on Brown Pelican by Lee

Gulls are resourceful, inquisitive, and intelligent, the larger species in particular. For example, many gull colonies display mobbing behavior, attacking and harassing predators and other intruders. Certain species have exhibited tool-use behavior, such as the herring gull, using pieces of bread as bait with which to catch goldfish, for example.

More Information:

Story of the Wordless Book

Bible Birds – Swallow Introduction

Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica) by Nikhil Devasar

Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica) by Nikhil Devasar

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)

Previously, we introduced the Thrush and used the above verse. Today, we will look at that same verse, but from a different version of Scripture that translates the bird as a Swallow. Here is the same little Greek study for you: The Greek word (the OT was written mostly in Greek) gives the word (H5693) עגוּר -or – ‛âgûr (aw-goor’) An unused root meaning to twitter; probably the swallow: – swallow. Translations using the word Swallow, have more than one verse that refers to the bird. The New King James Version has these other verses:

Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young— Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God. (Psalms 84:3 NKJV) Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight. (Proverbs 26:2 NKJV) Like a crane or a swallow, so I chattered; I mourned like a dove; My eyes fail from looking upward. O LORD, I am oppressed; Undertake for me! (Isaiah 38:14 NKJV)

So there are at least four verses with the Swallow listed. The Swallows belong to the Hirundinidae – Swallows, martins Family. There are 88 members in the family at present. Many times in the Bible they mention a bird‘s name and then say “after its kind.” For now, let’s just same that it means all of those species in that family. The Swallows also have Saw-wings and Martins in the family. They live on all the continents except Antarctica.

This family is known for their aerial feeding. taking flying insects on the wing. Swallows hunt insects on the wing because they were designed with a slender, streamlined body and long pointed wings, which allow great maneuverability and endurance, as well as frequent periods of gliding. Their body shape allows for very efficient flight, which costs 50-75% less for swallows than equivalent passerines of the same size. Swallows usually forage at around 18.6-25 mph (30–40 km/h), although they are capable of reaching speeds of between 31-40 mph (50–65 km/h) when traveling.

The legs are short, and their feet were created for perching rather than walking, as the front toes are partially joined at the base. Swallows are capable of walking and even running, but they do so with a shuffling, waddling gait. The leg muscles of the river martins (Pseudochelidon) are stronger and more robust than those of other swallows.

The most common plumage is glossy dark blue or green above and plain or streaked underparts, often white or rufous. Species which burrow or live in dry or mountainous areas are often matte brown above (e.g. Sand Martin and Crag Martin). The typical song of swallows is a simple, sometimes musical twittering.

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) by J Fenton

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) by J Fenton

Our verse above mentions the birds and how they KNOW when it is time to migrate, but what about the end of the verse? The Lord uses birds and other critters as an example, BUT He is mainly trying to teach us something.

Let’s see what some of the different versions say about what we are supposed to learn from these birds.

(HCSB)  ”are aware of their migration, but My people do not know the requirements of the LORD.”

(MSG) …know when it’s time to move south for winter… know when it’s time to come back again. But my people? My people know nothing, not the first thing of GOD and his rule.

(NET) …knows when it is time to move on…recognize the normal times for their migration. But my people pay no attention to what I, the LORD, require of them.

Do you know what the Lord wants you to do? Do you know Him as your Savior? If you do, are you doing what the Bible tells us we should do? Are you obeying your parents? And doing what the Lord wants you to do?.

The Lord loves us, just as your parents do. When you obey them you are happier and blessed. When you do not obey, are you happy or sad? The same is true with obeying the Word that the Lord has given us through His Word, the Bible.

See:

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