Different Habitats Fit Different Birds

Different Habitats Fit Different Birds

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

I know all the fowls [i.e., birds] of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are Mine.    (Psalm 50:11)

And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.   (Luke 9:58)

Western-Tanager.WildBirdsUnlimited

WESTERN TANAGER perching   (Wild Birds Unlimited photo)

God loves variety, including variety in bird life. In order to facilitate bird variety, unsurprisingly (to creationists), God has provided a variety of avian habitats.

Just as humans have different preferences, for where they choose to live – whether that may be a neighborhood that is urban, suburban, or rural, or even in a wilderness – birds have preferences regarding which “neighborhoods” they prefer to call home.

In fact, this ecological reality is not limited to birds – habitats are diverse for animals in general, just as animals themselves display God-designed biodiversity.

God chose to fill the earth with different kinds of life. All over the world, we see His providence demonstrated in ecological systems. Different creatures live in a variety of habitats, interacting with one another and a mix of geophysical factors—like rain, rocks, soil, wind, and sunlight.

But why does this happen? And how does it happen? These two questions are at the heart of ecology science—the empirical study of creatures interactively living in diverse “homes” all over the world.

Why did God design earth’s biodiversity the way that He did? Two words summarize the answer: life and variety. Even in this after-Eden world, cursed and groaning as it is under the weight of sin and death, we still see a prolific and diversified creation.

God loves life. God is the essence and ultimate origin of all forms and levels of life.

God loves variety. God’s nature is plural, yet one, and He is the Creator of all biological diversity anywhere and everywhere on earth.

Because God loves life and variety, we can understand why God favors different kinds of life forms, causing them to be fruitful—increasing their populations generation after generation.  . . . .

For creatures to successfully “fill the earth,” there must be both population growth and creature diversity within a geographical context—the earth. . . . .

Different Homes for Different Folks

Different types of habitats all over the planet collectively host an ecological smörgåsbord of alternative habitat opportunities. Consider how [countless] examples of very different habitats are filled by aptly “fitted” creatures—providentially prepared creatures living in providentially prepared places. . . . .

Some ecological conditions might work for a world full of just a few kinds of animals and/or plants, but God did not want a monotonous planet. So He designed an earth that could and would host a huge variety of life-form kinds.

Befitting God’s own divine essence—the ultimate source of (and ultimate logic for) all created life and variety—God’s panoramic plan was for many different kinds of creatures to populate and fill His earth.

And because God loves beauty, God even chose to integrate His eye-pleasing artistry into the variety of His creatures and the wide array of their respective habitats.

[Quoting JJSJ, “God Fitted Habitats for Biodiversity”, ACTS & FACTS, 42 (3): 10-12 (March 2013), at https://www.icr.org/article/god-fitted-habitats-for-biodiversity  .]

Northern-Flicker-redshafted.Evergreen-edu

NORTHERN FLICKER  (Red-shafted variety)   —   Evergreen.edu photo credit

For an example of bird with a montane habitat, consider the Northern Flicker, reported in “Want a Home in the Mountains?  Some Birds have One!” [at https://leesbird.com/2015/09/24/want-a-home-in-the-mountains-some-birds-have-one/ ].

Or, for an example of a bird with an https://leesbird.com/2015/09/24/want-a-home-in-the-mountains-some-birds-have-one/, notice the Green Heron, reported in “Flag that Green Heron Nest!” [at https://leesbird.com/2019/02/01/flag-that-green-heron-nest/ ].

Many more examples could be given — see generally www.leesbird.com !

WillowPtarmigan-Alaska-variety.Wikipedia

WILLOW PTARMIGAN  (Alaska variety)   —   Wikipedia photo credit

Scripture alludes to this reality of avian ecology: birds live in different habitats.

Of course, every bird needs to live near a source of freshwater, so brooks and streams, as well as lakes and ponds, are good places to look for birds (1st Kings 17:4).

Some birds prefer mountain habitats (Psalm 50:11; 1st Samuel 26:20; Isaiah 18:6; Ezekiel 39:14; Psalm 11:1).  Other birds prefer the valleys or open fields, including farmlands (Proverbs 30:17; Ezekiel 32:4; Matthew 13:4 & 13:32; Mark 4:4; Luke 8:5).

Ground fowl, such as partridges, live in scrublands, sometimes near bushes that fit their camouflage plumage (Deuteronomy 22:6-7; 1st Samuel 26:20).

Some birds prefer desert wilderness habitats (Psalm 102:6; Isaiah 13:21 & 34:11-15), including rocky places like crags atop high rocky cliffs or in desolate canyons (Jeremiah 48:28 & 49:6; Obadiah 1:3-4; Song of Solomon 2:14; Job 39:27).

Birds are famous for appreciating trees, dwelling in and/or under trees branches (Psalm 104:17; Ezekiel 17:23 & 31:13; Daniel 4:12-14 & 4:21; Luke 13:19).

WesternScrubJay-PinyonPine-Snow.RonDudley

WESTERN SCRUB JAY in snow-adorned evergreen   (Ron Dudley photo)

Some birds seem to prefer to build nests in and around houses and other buildings made by humans (Psalm 84:3 & 102:7), while other birds, such as poultry, live lives of domestication (Numbers 6:10; Proverbs 30:31; 1st Kings 4:23; Nehemiah 5:18; John 2:11-16).

Of course, migratory birds are famous for having a “summer home” and a “winter home”, traveling to and fro twice a year (Jeremiah 8:7; Song of Solomon 2:12).

What variety! With these thoughts in mind, therefore, we can better appreciate the diversity of bird habitats, as we watch (and value) the fine-feathered residents and migrants that frequent our own home neighborhoods.

In other words, we not only identify (and appreciate) birds according to their physical appearances, we can also match their physical needs to their habitats.

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger niger), Northern subspecies
BLACK SKIMMER with young   (Michael Stubblefield photo)

Accordingly, consider what Dr. Bette J. Schardien Jackson (ornithologist of Mississippi State University, also president of the Mississippi Ornithological Society) says, about differences in avian habitats.

HABITATS. A [bird’s] habitat is an environment – a portion of an ecosystem – that fulfills a bird’s needs for food, water, shelter, and nesting.  If a species habitually chooses a particular habitat – and many do – it is known as a habitat specialist.  Even widespread species may be extremely narrow in their choice of habitat.  For example, the Killdeer is common through most of North America, but within the varied ecosystems of the species’ range it specializes in [i.e., tends to prefer] one habitat:  open areas with patches of bare ground. The Killdeer particularly favors habitats close to bodies of water.  The widespread Blue Jay, in contrast, always requires groves of trees.

Plants are often the most important element in any habitat. Fruit, berries, nuts, sap, and nectar completely satisfy the dietary needs of some birds.  Because plants provide nourishment for insects, they [i.e., the insect-hosting plants] are also essential to insect-eating birds.  Additionally, plants provide various nest sites and shelter from weather and enemies.  In arid environments, plants are an important source of moisture.

Some species are intimately associated with a particular plant. The Kirtland’s Warbler, for example, nests only in young jack pine trees that spring up after a fire.  When the trees grow large enough to shade the scrubby growth beneath, the warblers will no longer use them.  This specific habitat requirement is one reason why the Kirtland’s Warbler is now [i.e., as of AD1988] an endangered species – probably fewer than a thousand remain [in America].  They live on Michigan’s lower peninsula where the U.S. Forest Service periodically burns jack-pine forest to provide the young trees that the birds need.  . . . .

A [bird] species’ habitat is predictable because it has traditionally provided food, nest sites, defendable territories, and conditions conducive to attracting mates [and successfully raising young]. Through our efforts to find birds, we learn about their habitats; we learn both quality and quantity are important.  Pileated Woodpeckers, for example, may require 200 acres of mature forest.  . . . .

In central Wyoming, for example, Western Meadowlarks often place their nests in the midst of a dense patch of prickly-pear cactus where the [cactus] pads are spread close to the ground.  Once you have found one [such] nest, the mental image of that nest helps you to find a dozen more in a short time.  But that [mental] image would be of little help in searching for Western Meadowlark nests in a Nebraska prairie, where there are no cacti, but where the species is just as common.  There each nest is a little tent of grass, often with an opening to the south.

[Quoting Jerome A. Jackson & Bette J. Schardien Jackson, “Avian Ecology”, THE BIRDS AROUND US (Ortho Books, 1986, edited by Robert J. Dolezal),  pages 91 & 93.]

NorthernShoveler.male-and-female
NORTHERN SHOVELER male & female, in wetland waters   (Wikipedia photo)

So, when it comes to choosing a neighborhood, to live in, even the birds have their own preferences!


 

Jaybirds Mix It Up in Colorado

Jaybirds Mix It Up in Colorado

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.   (Genesis 6:20)

Jaybird-hybrid.Stellers-X-Blue-Jay

As my recent blogpost on Corvid hybrids illustrates [see blogpost reference below], birds feel no obligation to conform to taxonomist classifications of “genus” and/or “species” — because they limit their gene pool activities to the created “kind” categories that God gave to them, from the beginning, on Day # 5 of Creation Week (see Genesis 1:21), when God made different kinds of “winged fowl”.  And, it follows likewise, that real-world corvids likely reject modern speculations (by “natural selection” advocates) that appear in public wearing the term “speciation”.

Accordingly, it should not shock us to learn that hybrids are observed where the Blue Jay and Steller’s Jay ranges overlap, in America’s Great West.

Hence, this limerick:

Caveat, Taxonomists:  Jaybirds Mix It Up in Colorado!

In Western pines, before my eyes 

A jaybird perched, to my surprise  

Yet its front, wings, head, and back 

Were feathered blue, not much black

Wow!  Western jaybirds hybridize! 

(Birder’s take-away lesson:  don’t take terms like “species” and “speciation” too seriously.)

See recent blogposts:  “Ravin’ about Corvid Hybrids:  Something to Crow About”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2018/11/07/ravin-about-corvid-hybrids-something-to-crow-about/ .


 

 

Lee’s One Word Monday – 5/30/16

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Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) ©Flickr Stan Lupo

TEMPERANCE

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) ©Flickr Stan Lupo

Temperance means “self-control” * The Blue Jay is “not hogging it all.”

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More Daily Devotionals

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Birds Vol 1 #2 – The Blue Jay

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. February, 1897 No. 2

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THE BLUE JAY.

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URING about three-fourths of the year the American Jay is an extremely tame, noisy and even obstrusive bird in its habits. As the breeding season approaches he suddenly becomes silent, preparing the nest in the most secluded parts of his native forests, and exercising all his cunning to keep it concealed. He is omniverous but is especially fond of eggs and young birds. The Jay may be regarded as eminently injurious though in spring he consumes a number of insects to atone for his sins of stealing fruit and berries in autumn. He is a professional nest robber, and other birds are as watchful of him as is a mother of her babe. He glides through the foliage of the trees so swiftly and noiselessly that his presence is scarcely suspected until he has committed some depredation. The Robin is his most wary foe, and when the Jay is found near his nest will pursue him and drive him from the neighborhood. He is as brave as he is active, however, and dashes boldly in pursuit of his more plainly attired neighbors who venture to intrude upon his domain.

The Jay has a curious antipathy toward the owl, perching on trees above it and keeping up a continual screeching. Some years ago an Ohio gentleman was presented with a magnificent specimen of the horned owl, which he kept for a time in a large tin cage. In favorable weather the cage was set out of doors, when it would soon be surrounded by Jays, much in the manner described of the Toucan, and an incessant screeching followed, to which the owl appeared indifferent. They would venture near enough to steal a portion of his food, the bars of his cage being sufficiently wide apart to admit them. On one occasion, however, he caught the tail of a Jay in his claws and left the tormentor without his proud appendage.

The Jay remains with us throughout the year. He is one of the wildest of our birds, the shyest of man, although seeing him most. He makes no regular migrations at certain seasons, but, unless disturbed, will live out his life close to his favorite haunts. His wings show him to be unfitted for extended flight.

Jays are most easily discovered in the morning about sunrise on the tops of young live oaks. Their notes are varied. Later in the day it is more difficult to find them, as they are more silent, and not so much on the tree tops as among the bushes.

The Jays breed in woods, forests, orchards, preferring old and very shady trees, placing their nests in the center against the body, or at the bifurcation of large limbs. The nest is formed of twigs and roots; the eggs are from four to six.

Blue Jay at Bok Tower by Dan's Pix

Blue Jay II at Bok Tower by Dan’s Pix


THE BLUE JAY.

Something glorious, something gay,
Flits and flashes this-a-way!
’Thwart the hemlock’s dusky shade,
Rich in color full displayed,
Swiftly vivid as a flame—
Blue as heaven and white as snow—
Doth this lovely creature go.
What may be his dainty name?
“Only this”—the people say—
“Saucy, chattering, scolding Jay!”


Lee’s Addition:

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)

The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America. It is resident through most of eastern and central United States and southern Canada, although western populations may be migratory. It breeds in both deciduous and coniferous forests, and is common near and in residential areas. It is predominately blue with a white breast and underparts, and a blue crest. It has a black, U-shaped collar around its neck and a black border behind the crest. Sexes are similar in size and plumage, and plumage does not vary throughout the year. Four subspecies of the Blue Jay are recognized.

The Blue Jay mainly feeds on nuts and seeds such as acorns, soft fruits, arthropods, and occasionally small vertebrates. It typically gleans food from trees, shrubs, and the ground, though it sometimes hawks insects from the air. It builds an open cup nest in the branches of a tree, which both sexes participate in constructing. The clutch can contain two to seven eggs, which are blueish or light brown with brown spots. Young are altricial, and are brooded by the female for 8–12 days after hatching. They may remain with their parents for one to two months before leaving the nest.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) by Daves BirdingPix

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) by Daves BirdingPix

The bird’s name derives from its noisy, garrulous nature, and it sometimes also called a “jaybird”.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) from xeno-canto.org – Call

The Blue Jay measures 22–30 cm (9–12 in) from bill to tail and weighs 70–100 g (2.5–3.5 oz), with a wingspan of 34–43 cm (13–17 in). There is a pronounced crest on the head, a crown of feathers, which may be raised or lowered according to the bird’s mood. When excited or aggressive, the crest may be fully raised. When frightened, the crest bristles outwards, brushlike. When the bird is feeding among other jays or resting, the crest is flattened to the head.

Its plumage is lavender-blue to mid-blue in the crest, back, wings, and tail, and its face is white. The underside is off-white and the neck is collared with black which extends to the sides of the head. The wing primaries and tail are strongly barred with black, sky-blue and white. The bill, legs, and eyes are all black. Males and females are nearly identical.
As with other blue-hued birds, the Blue Jay’s coloration is not derived from pigments but is the result of light interference due to the internal structure of the feathers;[citation needed] if a blue feather is crushed, the blue disappears as the structure is destroyed. This is referred to as structural coloration.

Blue Jays have strong black bills used for cracking nuts and acorns, and for eating corn, grains and seeds, although they also eat insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars.

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 February 1897 No 2 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 February 1897 No 2 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial for February 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Swallow-Tailed Indian Roller

Previous Article – Vol 1 #1 – The Golden Oriole

Wordless Birds

Links:

Xeno-canto.org

Wikipedia – Blue Jay

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They even had ads in the Birds Illustrated by Color Photography.

Bicycle and Pen Ad

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The Joy of Awareness – by Dot Malcolm

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Dan at Lake Morton

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Dan at Lake Morton

Since I was a child there has been an awareness of God’s creation and great enjoyment in it. At the age of 11 or 12 years, I saved my allowance and bought a book on Birds of America.It was real special to see a Heron fly over the farm headed for a swampy area.

My grandparents lived a short walking distance from us, and I liked going to her house. Her kitchen always smelled of toast. Also special was looking out the south kitchen window to see the wrens flying in and out of their houses which hung at eye level.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Lee at Circle B

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Lee at Circle B

I no longer live in the north, but in the south and am now a grandma. Birds, butterflies and gardens are still high on my list of favorite things. Even tho’ the seasonal changes are not as evident as in the north, still I look forward to my special feathered friends coming and going.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) at Bok Tower By Dan'sPix

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) at Bok Tower By Dan’sPix

The Blue Jays are always present and they let me know before I see it, when the neighborhood Red-shouldered Hawk is around. They “Yell” enough to discourage even me if their frenzy of cries and wild flying were directed at me!

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) by Daves BirdingPix

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) by Daves BirdingPix

A pair of Cardinals come about the beginning of November and I hear them before I see them. Also in the winter months small chirpy birds can be heard which makes me look out the window for them. Today, I’m sitting on the patio swing having put out a cushion for myself and my sweet doggy companion, Ruby. When not claiming her seat, she stays busy with squirrel patrol.

Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) at Lake Morton By Dan'sPix

Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) at Lake Morton By Dan’sPix

While working on the coming Sunday School lesson, I heard them – Crows. Some people find them irritating, but not me. Looking up I see black flying bodies against a blue sky dotted with white-dumpling clouds.

White Pelicans in Flight - Circle B Bar by Dan

White Pelicans in Flight – Circle B Bar

There are also the usual Vultures beautifully soaring overhead, and a single Pelican, and four unidentifiable ducks.

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) Reinier Munguia

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) Reinier Munguia

I should also mention of the neighbors Macaw (very noisy) who only makes me smile when he talks or laughs. They also have chickens that are very pleasant to listen to.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) in nest by Ray

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) in nest by Ray

Admittedly the best will be if the Robins return. In the 5th grade our teacher had all of us draw a picture of a Robin. She then hung them around the room above the blackboards. Oh, Robins, please come back. Remember I promised not to mention your bad manners to anyone. I will gladly welcome you and you can be noisy, toss leaves, eat all the worms you want and anything else that suits you fancy.

Dot Malcolm, 12/30/11

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31 NKJV)

See Dot’s other articles:

When The Robins Came – May 23, 2010

Return Of The Robins – March 14, 2011

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Thanks, Dottie, for another interesting article. What a delight to read your love and awareness of birds. When the Robins come back, we will expect another article. You kept me busy finding photos for your many birds. Keep it up.

Dorothy is a charter menber of our church, Faith Baptist, and a great friend.

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