A Pleasant Surprise – III

BJU Bird Collection 2018 Bottom Shelf

The next set of birds from the Waterman Bird Collection at BJU has five specimens. Four of these birds are found in or near water, but the Crow is not really known as a water bird. [This is a copy of the Waterman Bird Collection – Part II from Birds of the Bible for Kids]

This is the bottom shelf display under the Anatidae Family, just above them. That Family was covered in A Pleasant Surprise – II. I trust you clicked on the links provided to read more about those avian wonders.

Common Loon (Gavia immer) BJU Bird Collection 2018

Common Loon (Gavia immer) BJU Bird Collection 2018

Our big tall bird is a Common Loon. “The common loon or great northern diver (Gavia immer) is a large member of the loon, or diver, family of birds. Breeding adults have a plumage that includes a broad black head and neck with a greenish, purplish, or bluish sheen, blackish or blackish-grey upperparts, and pure white underparts except some black on the undertail coverts and vent. Non-breeding adults are brownish with a dark neck and head marked with dark grey-brown. Their upperparts are dark brownish-grey with an unclear pattern of squares on the shoulders, and the underparts, lower face, chin, and throat are whitish. The sexes look alike, though males are significantly larger and heavier than females. During the breeding season, they live on lakes and other waterways in Canada, the northern United States (including Alaska), as well as in southern parts of Greenland and Iceland. Small numbers breed on Svalbard and sporadically elsewhere in Arctic Eurasia. Common loons winter on both coasts of the US as far south as Mexico, and on the Atlantic coast of Europe.

Common Loon by Raymond Barlow

Common loons eat a wide range of animal prey including fish, crustaceans, insect larvae, mollusks, and occasionally aquatic plant life. They swallow most of their prey underwater, where it is caught, but some larger items are first brought to the surface.” Common Loon – Wikipedia

Here is just one of the Cool Facts from Common Loon – All About Birds

  • Loons are agile swimmers, but they move pretty fast in the air, too. Migrating loons have been clocked flying at speeds more than 70 mph.

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) BJU Bird Collection 2018

Next to the Loon is a Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena). “Like all grebes, the Red-necked is a good swimmer, a particularly swift diver, and responds to danger by diving rather than flying. The feet are positioned far back on the body, near the tail, which makes the bird ungainly on land. It dives for fish or picks insects off vegetation; it also swallows its own feathers, possibly to protect the digestive system.” Red-necked Grebes – Wikipedia

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) young on her wing©USFWS

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) young on her wing©USFWS

Here is a Cool Fact from Red-necked Grebe – All About Birds

  • The oldest recorded Red-necked Grebe was at least 11 years old when it was found in Minnesota, the same state where it had been banded.

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) BJU Bird Collection 2018

The smaller Grebe, next to the Red-necked Grebe, is a Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) . They both belong to the Podicipedidae Family. Now that is a bird we see often here in Florida.

Pied-Billed Grebe at Lake Hollingsworth, Lakeland, FL by Dan

Pied-Billed Grebe at Lake Hollingsworth, Lakeland, FL by Dan

“The Pied-billed Grebes (Podilymbus podiceps) is a species of the grebe family of water birds. Since the Atitlán grebe (Podilymbus gigas) has become extinct, it is the sole extant member of the genus Podilymbus. The pied-billed grebe is primarily found in ponds throughout the Americas. Other names of this grebe include American dabchick, dabchick, Carolina grebe, devil-diver, dive-dapper, dipper, hell-diver, pied-billed dabchick, pied-bill, thick-billed grebe, and water witch.”

Pied-billed Grebes are small, stocky, and short-necked. They are mainly brown, with a darker crown and back. Their brown color serves as camouflage in the marshes they live in. They do not have white under their wings when flying, like other grebes. Their undertail is white and they have a short, blunt chicken-like bill that is a light grey color, which in summer is encircled by a broad black band (hence the name). In the summer, its throat is black.”  Pied-billed grebe – Wikipedia [with editing]

A Cool Fact about this from Pied-billed Grebe – All About Birds

  • Pied-billed Grebe chicks typically leave the nest the first day after hatching and spend much of their first week riding around on a parent’s back. They usually spend most of their first 3 weeks on or near the nest platform.

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) chick ©WikiC

We will check out the other two birds in the display case next.

I trust you will enjoy meeting the various birds through this series. The links provided give much more information, and photos of these species.

“The works of the LORD are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them.” (Psalms 111:2 NKJV)

Gaviidae – Loons – Family

Podicipedidae – Grebes – Family




Dr. James J. S. Johnson

“Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic . . .”  (Matthew 17:15a)

Like people who are called “lunatics”, some birds act like they are just loony —  but one migratory bird has a name that admits it – the Common Loon, a/k/a the Great Northern Diver.  Its characteristic wailing call is eerie; you could say it sounds lamentably loony.


COMMON LOON (John Picken photo)

And, as its other common name (Great Northern Diver) indicates, it is a quintessential diving bird, as USF&W biologist Kathy Reshetiloff notes:

Loons are the submarines of the bird world. Webbed feet gracefully propel this bird underwater, giving the impression of submerged flight, as the loon stalks its prey.  Diving, sometimes as deep as 200 feet, the loon snatches a fish in its dagger-like bill and returns to the surface to eat.  With their [long] sleek bodies, thick necks and short tails, loons float low in the water and can easily ride out fierce storms.  Feet located toward the rear of the body make the loons agile in water but awkward on land.  They only come ashore to breed or wounded.

Loons breed in freshwater ponds and slow rivers of the Arctic and subarctic reaches of North America. They use aquatic vegetation to fashion their nests near shorelines.  Though secretive and wary of humans, the loon’s high-pitched wails, wild [almost maniacal or drunk-sounding] laughter and mournful yodels pierce the northern air, revealing the bird’s position.

Because of their dependence on water, loons must migrate to ice-free areas during fall and winter. In flight, a loon’s neck curves slightly downward, giving it a hunchbacked appearance.  They are swift and powerful fliers, usually migrating singly or in small groups.

Loons begin their southern migration before nearby waters freeze, sometimes as early as August. On the East Coast, loons winter from New England to the Gulf Coast, including the Chesapeake Bay.  They begin arriving in the mid-Atlantic region from mid to late October.  By autumn, most common loons are found along the shoreline from the mid-Bay region south to Virginia.

[Quoting Kathy Reshetiloff, “Listen for the Haunting Call of Loons on Bay’s Frigid Winter Waters”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 27(10):40 (January-February 2018).]


COMMON LOON range map (Wikipedia)

And God made two great lights; the greater light [i.e., the sun] to rule the day, and the lesser light [i.e., the moon] to rule the night: he made the stars also.   (Genesis 1:16)

But it’s not just Great Northern Divers that are loony — the entire world is “ruled” at night by the moon, according to Genesis 1:16-18, because the moon “rules” the night.


(adapted from National Geographic Education poster)

To appreciate how that works, see my article “The Moon Rules”, ACTS & FACTS, 44(9):21 (September 2015), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/moon-rules/ .   See likewise, regarding how the moon continually (and forcibly) “rules” Earth and its inhabitants, “God Purposefully Made the Moon”, ROCK DOVE BLOG (1-10-AD2018), posted at God Purposefully Made The Moon.


GREAT NORTHERN DIVER (a/k/a LOON) by J. J. Audubon