“B” is for Bobwhite and Buteo: “B” Birds, Part 2

“B” is for Bobwhite and Buteo: “B” Birds, Part  2

James J. S. Johnson

Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) ©StateSymbols

Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) ©StateSymbols

BOBWHITE QUAIL (Colinus virginianus)

In this series the “B” birds began (in Part 1) with Bluebird and Bittern. 

In this Part 2 the “B” birds will continue with Bobwhite Quail and Buteo Hawks.

Now for Bobwhite, i.e., the Bobwhite Quail — and the relevance of 1st Samuel 26:20 will be noted below.

Bobwhite is the name of a bird belonging to the New World quail family.  Other members of that quail family include the Yucatan (Black-throated) Bobwhite, the Crested Bobwhite, and the Spot-bellied Bobwhite.

Northern Bobwhite

The Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus), a/k/a Northern Bobwhite and Virginia Quail, is a “New World quail”, meaning that it belongs to the group of pheasant/grouse/partridge/quail-like ground-fowl that habituate parts of North America.  In particular, the Northern Bobwhite is the only small native galliform (i.e., chicken-like ground-fowl) in the eastern region of North America.

The name “bobwhite” is supposed to represent this quail’s terse two-syllable whistle-call.  The Bobwhite’s call has a lower (and slower) first syllable, followed by a sharply projected (and quicker) “whhht”.  One variety of the Northern Bobwhite, known for habituating Virginia, was formerly called the “Virginia Partridge” (e.g., by ornithologist John James Audubon) – that local variety now being called Colinus virginianus virginianus (identified by Linnaeus in AD1758).

Virginia Partridge (under attack by diving hawk) depicted by John James Audubon (Public Domain)

Virginia Partridge (under attack by diving hawk) depicted by John James Audubon (Public Domain)

Bobwhite Quail, a/k/a Virginia Quail (and a/k/a Northern Bobwhite), are quail.  Accordingly, it is unsurprising to learn that they hybridize with other quail – reports indicate successful hybridizations with Blue Quail (Coturnix adansonii), Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla gambelii), California Quail (Callipepla californica), and Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus).

The ground-fowl lifestyle of this grouse-like ground-fowl is comparable to the Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) of which Israel’s king David once wrote:

Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.  (1st Samuel 26:20).

(See “Rock Partridges: Lessons about Hunting and Hatching”, citing 1st Samuel 26:20).

Now for the last category of “B” birds, the Buteo hawks. 

So what are the most prominent characteristics of buteo hawks?  Describing the birds of prey we call Buteo Hawks (a/k/a “buzzard hawks”), Roger Tory Peterson says:  “Large, thick-set hawks, with broad wings and wide, rounded tails.  Buteos habitually soar high in wide circles”, taking advantage of thermal air currents to lift their heavy bodies. [See Roger Tory Peterson, A FIELD GUIDE TO WESTERN BIRDS (Houghton Mifflin, 3rd ed., 1990), page 174.]  The different sexes often look similar, yet the female buteo is typically larger than her male counterpart.

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) by Daves BirdingPix

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) by Daves BirdingPix

Buteo hawks, as a category or raptors, are routinely contrasted with the Accipiter hawks (a/k/a “bird hawks”) that were described in the previous article on A” birds (see “A” for Accipiter and Alcid: “A” Birds, Part 2, featuring Cooper’s hawk as the representative accipiter).  Hawk-like raptor birds include kites, falcons (including kestrels), harriers, eagles, Old World buzzards, vultures, osprey, and the exotic Secretary Bird.

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) ©WikiC

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) ©WikiC

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo, of Eurasia)

The paradigmatic buteo, in Europe, would be the Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo).  However, that hawk has non-artificial range in the Western Hemisphere, so the Common Buzzard is not “common” to American birders.  Besides the Common Buzzard, there are many buteo hawks around the world, such as the Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis), Grey Hawk (Buteo plagiatus), Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni), Eastern Buzzard (Buteo japonicas), Himalayan Buzzard (Buteo burmanicus), Cape Verde Buzzard (Buteo bannermani), Short-tailed Hawk (Buteo brachyurus), and many more. For this article, however, to represent the entire group of buteos, one buteo will be reviewed, the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) of North America.

RED-TAILED HAWK  (Buteo jamaicensis).

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) ©WikiC

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) ©WikiC

The Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is described by ornithologist Mary Taylor Gray as follows: “The most abundant, widespread, and familiar hawk of he West, the Red-tailed Hawk resides year-round in Colorado [and elsewhere].  Adult birds are readily identified by their rusty-red tail[s].  Dark bars along the undersides of the leading edge of the outstretched wings, near the shoulder, are also characteristic.  We often see redtails perched on power [utility] poles or soaring in the air on broad wings, carving slow, wide arcs.  The redtail’s dramatic call fits its image as a western icon.  The down-slurred scream—Keeeer!—is often heard as a background sound in movies and television shows.”  [Quoting Mary Taylor Gray, THE GUIDE TO COLORADO BIRDS (Englewood, Colorado: Westcliffe Publishers, 1998), page 66.]

Gray’s observation – that the Red-tailed Hawk is the common buteo of America’s Great West – is illustrated by my own birding experience, even 20 years ago! – having seen redtails during AD1996 in places as divergent as Montana (eastern side of Glacier National Park, July 2nd AD1996) and South Texas (Rockport-Fulton shoreline, Aransas Bay region, March 10th AD1996).

Bee-eaters From Pinterest

Bee-eaters From Pinterest

Of course, other “B” birds (such as the colorful and gregarious bee-eaters, shown above – photograph taken from Lee Dusing’s “Fellowship”,  exhibit our alphabet’s second letter – but this article is already long enough.  God willing, the next contribution to this alphabetic series will be some “C“ birds – such as Cardinal, Chicken, Coot, Cormorant, Chickadee, Caracara, Crane, Cuckoo, Curlew, and Corvid (including Crow)!  So stay tuned!    > JJSJ


“B” is for Bluebird and Bittern: “B” Birds, Part 1

“A” is for Avocet, Albatross: “A” Birds, Part 1

“A” is for Accipiter and Alcid: “A” Birds, Part 2



“B” is for Bluebird and Bittern: “B” Birds, Part 1

“B” is for Bluebird and Bittern: “B” Birds, Part 1

James J. S. Johnson

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) ©Elaine R Wilson WikiC

“B” is for Bluebird, Bittern, Bobwhite Quail, and Buteo hawks (which include Old World “buzzards”, a/k/a “buzzard hawks”) – plus Buffleheads, Babblers, Barbets, Becards, Bowerbirds, Bulbuls, Bullfinches, Berrypeckers, Brushturkeys, Birds-of-paradise, Bushshrikes, Bustards, Bushtits, Broadbills, Boobies, Bee-eaters, Buttonquail, Buntings (including Painted Bunting, Indigo Bunting, Snow Bunting, Lark Bunting, Lazuli Bunting, etc.), and various Blackbirds (including Bobolink and Brewer’s Blackbird, all of which blackbirds this series will treat as “icterids”), and a few other birds.

This blogpost-article calmly continues an alphabet-based series on birds, starting with a quick introduction to 4 types of birds that start with the letter “B”   –    followed by a few observations of alphabetic patterns in Scripture (exhibited by Psalm 119:9-16)   –   then followed by specific information on Bluebirds, Bitterns, Bobwhite Quail, and Buteo hawks.  In particular, this article will feature the Mountain Bluebird (Sialis currucoides) as a representative bluebird; the American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) as a representative bittern; the Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus); and the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) as a representative buteo hawk.

In this Part 1, of the “B” birds, the Bluebird and Bittern are reviewed.  (Part 2, God willing, will continue with Bobwhite and Buteo.)


As noted in the earlier article on “A birds” – titled “A” is for Avocet, Albatross, Accipiter, and Alcid” [posted at leesbird.com ,  Deo volente] – using the alphabet, to organize a sequence of information, has Biblical precedent.  The perfect example is the “acrostic” pattern of Psalm 119, the longest psalm (having 176 verses!), which has 22 sections (comprised of 8 verses per section), representing the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. (Compare that to English, which has 26 alphabet letters, and Norwegian, which has 29 alphabet letters.)

The sentences in each section start with the same Hebrew  letter, so Verses 1-8 start with ALEPH, Verses 9-16 start with BETH, Verse 17-24 start with GIMEL, and so forth.  Here are the second 8 verses in Psalm 119, each sentence of which starts with BETH  [a consonant like our “B”, whenever it does to immediately follow a vowel sound, otherwise its consonantal sound is like our “V”, where it is sometimes transliterated as “bh”].

So, because BETH is the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet, each verse (in Psalm 119:9-16) 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):

With-what [bammeh] shall a young man cleanse his way? — by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word.

10 In-all [becâl] my heart have I sought thee; O, let me not wander from Thy commandments.

11 In-my-heart [belibbî] Thy Word have I hid, that I might not sin against thee.

12 Blessed [berûk] art Thou, O Lord; teach me Thy statutes.

13 In-my-lips [bisephâtêi] have I declared all the judgments of Thy mouth.

14 In-the-way [bederek] of Thy testimonies I have rejoiced, as much as in all riches.

15 In-Thy-precepts [bephiqqūdekâ] I will meditate, and have respect unto thy ways.

16 In-Thy-statutes [bechūqqōtkâ] I will delight myself; I will not forget Thy Word.


Bible Open to Psalm 119 ©Flickr Jason2917

Bible Open to Psalm 119 ©Flickr Jason2917

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 we have, is the Holy Bible – the Scriptures.  Accordingly, Psalm 119 is dominated by references to the Scriptures, using terms like “the law of the LORD” (and “Thy Word”, “Thy commandments”, “Thy testimonies”, “Thy statutes”, “Thy judgments”, etc.).  In Psalm 119:9-16 these terms are used, to denote God’s revealed truth to mankind: “Thy Word” (3x), “Thy commandments”, “Thy statutes”, ”Thy precepts”, Thy “judgments”, and “Thy testimonies”.

The Hebrew letter BETH means “house” (primarily as a building, such as a physical home, yet secondarily as a household, i.e., that family who lives within a house).  Accordingly, we see in Psalm 119:9-16 that God’s Word is the protective framework within which we should live our lives.  In particular, it is within God’s Word where we clean ourselves (verse 9); it is God’s Word wherefrom we should not wander (verse 10); it is in God’s Word, better than any physical shelter, wherein we take refuge from sin (verse 11); it is in God’s laws that we need to live and learn in (verse 12); because our lips are like the “gates” of our lives, it is God’s judgments that outline the gatekeeping boundaries for “where” we live our lives (verse 13); it is God’s testimonies, of which the Scripture is the great treasure-room, that we should rejoice in (verse 14); and better, than any mansion’s relaxing reading-room is God’s Word, with its laws as a restorative “room” for delightfully meditating “in” (verses 15 & 16).

Thus we see the theme, woven throughout the octet of BETH verses (Psalm 119:9-16), that we are designed to live in God’s truth (which we know best form God’s written Word), as if it was a “house”.  In other words, God’s truth should dwell in us (Psalm 119:11), just as we should dwell in God’s truth (John 4:21-24 & 14:17; 2nd John 1:2).  This complements the prior octet – the ALEPH verses (Psalm 119:1-8), which emphasized that God’s truth is mighty (Hebrews 4:12) as a powerful “ox”.

Ultimately, of course, God’s Word draws us (through the Lord Jesus Christ – see John 14:2-6) unto God Himself, Who should be our everlasting Home – see “Why We Want to Go Home”, as we learn from Psalm 90:1 and 2nd Corinthians 5:1-6.

Open Bible with Pen for Studying ©WikiC

Now back to the “B” birds, beginning with bluebirds.

In a previous article, late last year, the Bluebird was featured, after it was observed during a trip to attend a Christmas lutefisk banquet   —   see “Bluebirds of Happiness, Plus Enjoying a Lutefisk Banquet”.

Since attention has, thus, already been given to the Eastern Bluebird (with brief mention of how to distinguish it from the similar-yet-not-identical-looking Western Bluebird), this review will feature the Mountain Bluebird, a bluebird often seen in the forests and fields of Colorado, as well as in other parts of America’s Rocky Mountains.

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) by Daves BirdingPix

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) by Daves BirdingPix

The male of the Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucides), unlike the Eastern Bluebird and the Western Bluebird, has feathers of bright blue (peacock-to-turquoise blue) above and light-blue-fading-to-white beneath.  The female has less conspicuous coloring; her plumage is a blend of blue and Confederate grey (sometimes with brownish-grey blended in), atop, with a whitish underside. This bluebird ranges almost entirely in and west of the Rocky Mountains. [See Roger Tory Peterson, A FIELD GUIDE TO WESTERN BIRDS (Houghton Mifflin, 3rd ed., 1990), pages 278-279 & Map 303.  See also Tom J. Ulrich, BIRDS OF THE NORTHERN ROCKIES (Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing, 1994), pages 122-123; Mary Taylor Gray, WATCHABLE BIRDS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS (Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing, 1992), page 138-139.]

Mountain Bluebird, male (R) & female (L) ©Mickey Barnes / from Birds & Blooms

Mountain Bluebird, male (R) & female (L) ©Mickey Barnes / from Birds & Blooms

Says ornithologist Mary Taylor Gray, “As soon as the young [Mountain Bluebirds] are able to leave the nest, [they] flock together and head for the high mountains, fluttering in waves of blue up mountain slopes and onto the alpine tundra.  Mountain bluebirds differ from other bluebirds by their preference for more open habitat.  Mountain blue birds nest in holes in trees or other structures, using either natural cavities or nests excavated by woodpeckers.  Removal of dead timber in forests and replacement of wood fence posts with metal has reduced the nesting sites for [these] bluebirds, who must compete with other bird species—sparrows, flickers, starlings—for nest cavities. …  Primarily an insect-eater, the mountain bluebird may launch suddenly from its perch to pluck a flying insect from the air, or hunt by watching for prey on the ground as it flies, hovering when it spots something, then dropping down to grab a meal.”  [Quoting Gray, WATCHABLE BIRDS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, page 138.]

Now for another “B bird:  Bitterns, a group of mostly piscivorous (fish-eating) heron-like wading birds of wetland habitats.

Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris, a/k/a Great Bittern) ©WikiC

Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris, a/k/a Great Bittern) ©WikiC

For general information on bitterns, see ornithologist Lee Dusing’s insightful birdwatching articles:  “Bird of the Bible – Bittern” —  and “Birds of the Bible – Bitterns II”.  Regarding the American Bittern in particular, see Lee’s “Birds of the Bible – American Bittern”, including close-up photographs of the American Bittern, taken by Lee at the Circle B Bar Ranch Reserve (n/k/a Circle B Bar Reserve), an amazing venue for birdwatching in Lakeland, Florida.  To learn about this birding resource, see Southwest Florida Water Management  District’s website.

Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) by Jim Fenton

Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) by Jim Fenton / from Leesbird.com

There are several bitterns – such as the Least Bittern shown above, as well as the Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris), Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis), Black-backed Bittern (Ixobrychus dubius), Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus), and others.  In this article, however, this “family” of wetland waders will be represented by the American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus).

In addition to what Lee Dusing has already reported (see links shown above) the American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) has been the subject of many (other) ornithological studies.

The American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) is widely spread, range-wise, across North America.  As a Terry Sohl range map (not shown) indicates, the American Bittern is a migratory bird, so its range differs depending upon the season of the year.  [NOTE: the above-referenced Terry Sohl range map is not shown here, because Mr. Sohl, as a self-described “hardcore atheist”, does not want his range maps associated with a Christian blogsite.]

So watch carefully, in wetland habitats, for bitterns – but you are more likely to hear one!

Meanwhile, in Part 2 of (of the “B” birds), God willing, the Bobwhite and Buteo hawks will be reviewed.  Thereafter, D.v., this alphabetic series will continue with some “C“ birds – such as Cardinal, Chicken, Coot, Cormorant, Chickadee, Caracara, Crane, Cuckoo, Curlew, and Corvid (including Crow)!  So stay tuned!



“A” is for Avocet, Albatross: “A” Birds, Part 1

“A” is for Accipiter and Alcid: “A” Bird, Part 2

Bob White and Carol the Meadow Lark – Chapter 14

Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) by Bob-Nan

Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) by Bob-Nan

Bob White and Carol the Meadow Lark

The So-called Quail and the Meadow Lark.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children


Listen to the story read.

CHAPTER 14. Bob White and Carol the Meadow Lark.

“Bob—Bob White! Bob—Bob White! Bob—Bob White!” clear and sweet, that call floated over to the dear Old Briar-patch until Peter could stand it no longer. He felt that he just had to go over and pay an early morning call on one of his very best friends, who at this season of the year delights in whistling his own name—Bob White.

“I suppose,” muttered Peter, “that Bob White has got a nest. I wish he would show it to me. He’s terribly secretive about it. Last year I hunted for his nest until my feet were sore, but it wasn’t the least bit of use. Then one morning I met Mrs. Bob White with fifteen babies out for a walk. How she could hide a nest with fifteen eggs in it is more than I can understand.”

Bob White - Burgess Bird Book ©©

Bob White – Burgess Bird Book ©©

Peter left the Old Briar-patch and started off over the Green Meadows towards the Old Pasture. As he drew near the fence between the Green Meadows and the Old Pasture he saw Bob White sitting on one of the posts, whistling with all his might. On another post near him sat another bird very near the size of Welcome Robin. He also was telling all the world of his happiness. It was Carol the Meadow Lark.

Peter was so intent watching these two friends of his that he took no heed to his footsteps. Suddenly there was a whirr from almost under his very nose and he stopped short, so startled that he almost squealed right out. In a second he recognized Mrs. Meadow Lark. He watched her fly over to where Carol was singing. Her stout little wings moved swiftly for a moment or two, then she sailed on without moving them at all. Then they fluttered rapidly again until she was flying fast enough to once more sail on them outstretched. The white outer feathers of her tail showed clearly and reminded Peter of the tail of Sweetvoice the Vesper Sparrow, only of course it was ever so much bigger.

Peter sat still until Mrs. Meadow Lark had alighted on the fence near Carol. Then he prepared to hurry on, for he was anxious for a bit of gossip with these good friends of his. But just before he did this he just happened to glance down and there, almost at his very feet, he caught sight of something that made him squeal right out. It was a nest with four of the prettiest eggs Peter ever had seen. They were white with brown spots all over them. Had it not been for the eggs he never would have seen that nest, never in the world. It was made of dry, brown grass and was cunningly hidden is a little clump of dead grass which fell over it so as to almost completely hide it. But the thing that surprised Peter most was the clever way in which the approach to it was hidden. It was by means of a regular little tunnel of grass.

“Oh!” cried Peter, and his eyes sparkled with pleasure. “This must be the nest of Mrs. Meadow Lark. No wonder I have never been able to find it, when I have looked for it. It is just luck and nothing else that I have found it this time. I think it is perfectly wonderful that Mrs. Meadow Lark can hide her home in such a way. I do hope Jimmy Skunk isn’t anywhere around.”

Peter sat up straight and anxiously looked this way and that way. Jimmy Skunk was nowhere to be seen and Peter gave a little sigh of relief. Very carefully he walked around that nest and its little tunnel, then hurried over toward the fence as fast as he could go.

“It’s perfectly beautiful, Carol!” he cried, just as soon as he was near enough. “And I won’t tell a single soul!”

“I hope not. I certainly hope not,” cried Mrs. Meadow Lark in an anxious tone. “I never would have another single easy minute if I thought you would tell a living soul about my nest. Promise that you won’t, Peter. Cross your heart and promise that you won’t.”

Peter promptly crossed his heart and promised that he wouldn’t tell a single soul. Mrs. Meadow Lark seemed to feel better. Right away she flew back and Peter turned to watch her. He saw her disappear in the grass, but it wasn’t where he had found the nest. Peter waited a few minutes, thinking that he would see her rise into the air again and fly over to the nest. But he waited in vain. Then with a puzzled look on his face, he turned to look up at Carol.

Carol’s eyes twinkled. “I know what you’re thinking, Peter,” he chuckled. “You are thinking that it is funny Mrs. Meadow Lark didn’t go straight hack to our nest when she seemed so anxious about it. I would have you to know that she is too clever to do anything so foolish as that. She knows well enough that somebody might see her and so find our secret. She has walked there from the place where you saw her disappear in the grass. That is the way we always do when we go to our nest. One never can be too careful these days.”

Then Carol began to pour out his happiness once more, quite as if nothing had interrupted his song.

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

Somehow Peter never before had realized how handsome Carol the Meadow Lark was. As he faced Peter, the latter saw a beautiful yellow throat and waistcoat, with a broad black crescent on his breast. There was a yellow line above each eye. His back was of brown with black markings. His sides were whitish, with spats and streaks of black. The outer edges of his tail were white. Altogether he was really handsome, far handsomer than one would suspect, seeing him at a distance.

Having found out Carol’s secret, Peter was doubly anxious to find Bob White’s home, so he hurried over to the post where Bob was whistling with all his might. “Bob!” cried Peter. “I’ve just found Carol’s nest and I’ve promised to keep it a secret. Won’t you show me your nest, too, if I’ll promise to keep THAT a secret?”

Rob threw back his head and laughed joyously. “You ought to know, Peter, by this time,” said he, “that there are secrets never to be told to anybody. My nest is one of these. If you find it, all right; but I wouldn’t show it to my very best friend, and I guess I haven’t any better friend than you, Peter.” Then from sheer happiness he whistled, “—Bob White! Bob—Bob White!” with all his might.

Peter was disappointed and a little put out. “I guess,” said he, “I could find it if I wanted to. I guess it isn’t any better hidden than Mrs. Meadow Lark’s, and I found that. Some folks aren’t as smart as they think they are.”

Bob White, who is sometimes called Quail and sometimes called Partridge, and who is neither, chuckled heartily. “Go ahead, old Mr. Curiosity, go ahead and hunt all you please,” said he. “It’s funny to me how some folks think themselves smart when the truth is they simply have been lucky. You know well enough that you just happened to find Carol’s nest. If you happen to find mine, I won’t have a word to say.”

Bob White took a long breath, tipped his head back until his bill was pointing right up in the blue, blue sky, and with all his might whistled his name, “Bob—Bob White! Bob—Bob White!”

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

As Peter looked at him it came over him that Bob White was the plumpest bird of his acquaintance. He was so plump that his body seemed almost round. The shortness of his tail added to this effect, for Bob has a very short tail. The upper part of his coat was a handsome reddish-brown with dark streaks and light edgings. His sides and the upper part of his breast were of the same handsome reddish-brown, while underneath he was whitish with little bars of black. His throat was white, and above each eye was a broad white stripe. His white throat was bordered with black, and a band of black divided the throat from the white line above each eye. The top of his head was mixed black and brown. Altogether he was a handsome little fellow in a modest way.

Suddenly Bob White stopped whistling and looked down at Peter with a twinkle in his eye. “Why don’t you go hunt for that nest, Peter?” said he.

“I’m going,” replied Peter rather shortly, for he knew that Bob knew that he hadn’t the least idea where to look. It might be somewhere on the Green Meadows or it might be in the Old Pasture; Bob hadn’t given the least hint. Peter had a feeling that the nest wasn’t far away and that it was on the Green Meadows, so he began to hunt, running aimlessly this way and that way, all the time feeling very foolish, for of course he knew that Bob White was watching him and chuckling down inside.

It was very warm down there on the Green Meadows, and Peter grew hot and tired. He decided to run up in the Old Pasture in the shade of an old bramble-tangle there. Just the other side of the fence was a path made by the cows and often used by Farmer Brown’s boy and Reddy Fox and others who visited the Old Pasture. Along this Peter scampered, lipperty-lipperty-lip, on his way to the bramble-tangle. He didn’t look either to right or left. It didn’t occur to him that there would be any use at all, for of course no one would build a nest near a path where people passed to and fro every day.

And so it was that in his happy-go-lucky way Peter scampered right past a clump of tall weeds close beside the path without the least suspicion that cleverly hidden in it was the very thing he was looking for. With laughter in her eyes, shrewd little Mrs. Bob White, with sixteen white eggs under her, watched him pass. She had chosen that very place for her nest because she knew that it was the last place anyone would expect to find it. The very fact that it seemed the most dangerous place she could have chosen made it the safest.

… and do not reveal another’s secret, (Proverbs 25:9b ESV)

Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:24 NKJV)


  • Which bird whistles his own name?
  • How many little ones did they have?
  • Did Peter ever find their nest?
  • Who’s nest did Peter find?
  • What did he promise not to tell?
  • Can you describe the Meadow Lark?
  • What does the Bob White look like?
  • How does the Meadow Lark fly?
  • How do the birds keep people and animals from finding their nest?
  • Do you keep others secret, or do you tell them?
  • Who knows all secrets?





  Next Chapter (A Swallow and One Who Isn’t)





Burgess Bird Book For Children



Savannah Sparrow by Ray    Wordless Birds