“C” is for Coot and Corvids: “C” Birds”, Part 2

“C”  is  for  Coot  and  Corvids:   “C”  Birds”,  Part  2

By James J. S. Johnson

Coots on Ice ©FWS

Coots on Ice ©FWS

 For Thou hast delivered my soul from death; wilt not Thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?  Psalm 56:13

As the following study of the American Coot shows (which begins our review of birds having names that begin with “C”), God has employed creatively clever bioengineering into the form and function of American Coot feet.  How much moreso, as creatures made in His image, should we appreciate His design-and-construction engineering genius, as it is displayed in our own feet and toes!

rican Coot (Fulica americana) © SDbirds-Terry Sohl

rican Coot (Fulica americana) © SDbirds-Terry Sohl

American Coot (Fulica americana)

As noted in the preceding “Part 1” of this series [see ], “C” is for as Cardinal, Chicken [regarding which fowl, see Flag That Bird – Part 1 ], Coot, Cormorant, Chicken, Coot, Chickadee, Caracara, Crane, Cuckoo, Curlew, and Corvid (including Crow and Chough) — plus many other birds with names that begin with the letter C!

In this “Part 2” review of “C” birds, however, the red-eyed American Coot (a/k/a marsh hen, mud hen, water hen, and poule d’eau, i.e., “water chicken”), as well as the crow-like birds that we collectively label as Corvids, will be featured.

Because the American Coot is a wetland “rail” (i.e., classified with the mostly-wetland-or-forest-associated birds, such as gallinules and crakes, that are “ground-living” – as opposed to dwelling in trees), it is often seen and appreciated by birdwatchers (like Chaplain Bob Webel, of St. Petersburg, and his wife, Marcia) who live at the vegetated edge of a freshwater lake or pond, or by brackish estuarial marshland or swampland.

AMERICAN COOT (12 in. [or larger, with their plumage being mostly black or dark grey, depending upon lighting, and with white under-coverts and secondary wing feather-tips]) nests in marsh vegetation, but often winters in open water.  It is the only ducklike bird with a chalky white bill [and that bill is triangular in shape, somewhat like that of a chicken’s beak].  When disturbed it either dives or skits over the water [like flapping, fluttering hovercraft!] with feet and wings.  The closely related Common Moorhen (or Florida Gallinule, 10½ in. [what ornithologist Lee Dusing has nicknamed the “candy-corn bird”]) has a red bill and forehead and a white stripe under the wing.  Both pump the neck when swimming.”

[Quoting Herbert S. Zim & Ira N. Gabrielson, Birds, A Guide to Familiar American Birds (New York, NY: Golden Press, 1987 rev. ed.), page 34.]   As the youtube video-clip (below) shows, American Coots can skim and scoot across the surface of a lake or pond, flapping just over the water surface, when they want to move quickly.

Unlike ducks, however, the coot has no webbed feet.

American Coot, showing off its cushion-padded toes

American Coot, showing off its cushion-padded toes ©i.ytimg

American Coot, showing off its cushion-padded toes

Rather, coots have long toes that sport broad lobes of skin, designed for kicking through the water, almost like synchronized mini-paddles.  These conspicuously broad foot-lobes fold backward, when a coot walks on dry land, so the foot-lobes don’t interfere with the ground surface contact – yet the foot-lobes can be used to partially support the weight of the coot (by spreading body weight over a larger surface area, like snow-shoes) when the “mud hen” travels across mucky mud (or even on thin ice!).

American Coot on Ice ©Graham Catley

American Coot on Ice ©Graham Catley

American Coot on ice!

In other words, God designed coot feet to fit the wet habitats that they fill.

American Coot standing, showing broad-lobed toes ©Johnrakestraw

American Coot standing, showing broad-lobed toes ©Johnrakestraw

American Coot standing, showing broad-lobed toes

Coots are gregarious, “socializing” with themselves and with other waterfowl.  IN particular, coots are share space, as they “fill” a wetland or aquatic habitat.  Families of coots — or even larger groups of coots — often mixed with other waterfowl (like ducks) may compose a “raft” of hundreds or even thousands!  [See, accord, American Coot entry at CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY, “All About Birds”, with Herbert K. Job, BIRDS OF AMERICA (Doubleday, 1936), pages 214-215, both cited within Steve Bryant, “American Coot”, in OUTDOOR ALABAMA.

American Coot flock “rafting” (©Jack Dermid)

American Coot flock “rafting” ©ARKive-Jack Dermid

American Coot  flock “rafting”

For a video clip featuring American Coots in action (in Florida), sometimes interacting quite boisterously, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5dPaWH785w .  (Notice:  this youtube footage also includes brief footage of a few other birds, so don’t be surprised when the first bird shown is a Florida Gallinule!)

American Coot  in water

It is interesting to note that the American Coot has a migratory range that covers almost all of North America, from Panama (in the south) through the more temperate zones of Canada (in the north).  As is often the case, a helpful range map has been prepared by Terry Sohl, Research Physical Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, frequently publishing on topics of land usage, ecology, cartography, climatology, and geography, including biogeography.  As Terry Sohl’s range map shows, this wetland bird is a permanent resident of America’s West and Southwest (west of the Mississippi River), a breeding resident of America’s northern prairie states, a nonbreeding resident of America’s Southeast and East Coast states, and a migrant in some parts of Appalachian Mountain range zones.  [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 maps associated with a Christian blogsite.]

American Coot, with young, eating aquatic plant ©Oiseaux-Tom Grey

American Coot, with young, eating aquatic plant ©Oiseaux-Tom Grey

American Coot, with young, eating aquatic plant.

So what do American Coots like to eat?

Mostly duckweeds and other wetland emergent plants (especially seeds and roots), lacustrine algae, small mollusks (like snails), little fish, tadpoles, and wee crustaceans, as well as a mix of aquatic bugs.  [See, accord, Herbert S. Zim & Ira N. Gabrielson, Birds, A Guide to Familiar American Birds (New York, NY: Golden Press, 1987 rev. ed.), pages 134-135.]

American Coot ©iytimg

American Coot ©iytimg

But American Coots are not the only common bird dominated by black plumage. Consider the common crow, or the raven  —  both of which belong to another group of “C birds”:  CORVIDS, an amazingly intelligent group of crow-like songbirds, including the likes of crows, ravens, jackdaws, rooks, choughs, jays, treepies, magpies, and nutcrackers.

For  a few examples, consider that Lars Jonsson’s BIRDS OF EUROPE (Princeton University Press, 1993), pages 487-495, includes the following corvids of Europe:  Siberian Jay, Eurasian Jay, Spotted Nutcracker, Eurasian Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, Alpine Chough, Red-billed Chough, Jackdaw, Common Raven, Brown-necked Raven, Fan-tailed Raven Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow, and Rook.

Rook (Corvus frugilegus) pair perching on wooden fence ©BBCI Mike Wilkes

Rook (Corvus frugilegus) ©BBCI Mike Wilkes

Rook (Corvus frugilegus) pair, perching on wooden fence

In North America we can expect to find corvids quite terrific, ranging from the Atlantic to the Pacific:  American crow, Northwestern Crow, Common Raven (including the subspecies “Western Raven”), Green Jay, Blue Jay, Steller’s jay, various scrub jays, Grey Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Yellow-billed Magpie, Yucatan Jay, Pinyon Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, and more!

For general information on corvids, see ornithologist Lee Dusing’s insightful birdwatching articles: “Corvidae — Crows, Jay”, listing more corvids that you or I will ever witness in this lifetime!  —  as well as Lee’s Birds of the Bible – Raven I, Lee’s Birds of the Bible – Raven II, and Lee’s  Birds of the Bible – Raven III.

Corvid Chart - Differences Between Types of Corvids ©Autodidactintheattic

Corvid Chart – Differences Between Types of Corvids ©Autodidactintheattic

For some world history-linked appreciation of corvids (such as ravens, jackdaws, and magpies), see also 5 of my earlier articles:

A Diet of Jackdaws and Ravens” [posted at https://leesbird.com/2015/09/16/a-diet-of-jackdaws-and-ravens/ ]; and

Northern Raven and Peregrine Falcon: Two Birds Supporting the Manx Coat of Arms; and

Steller’s Jay:  A Lesson in Choosing What is Valuable; and

Flag That Bird Part 5, featuring the Australian Magpie; and

Providential Planting:  The Pinyon Jay”, CREATION EX NIHILO, 19(3):24-25, summer AD1997.

Of course, many books could be  —  and, in fact, have been  —  written about  corvid birds.  But this article is already long enough.

Alpine Chough, in snowy French Alps ©Static1-Philip Braude

Alpine Chough  ©Static1-Philip Braude

Alpine Chough, in snowy French Alps

So, God willing, the next contribution to this alphabetic series will be some “D“ birds – such as Dippers, Doves, and Ducks (including Dabblers and Divers).  So stay tuned!    ><> JJSJ

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Lee’s Addition:

American Coot showing feet by Lee LPkr

American Coot showing feet by Lee Lake Parker

Like Dr. Jim’s article above, I have also been fascinated by the feet of the American Coot. See Birdwatching Term – Lobed Feet and  Birdwatching – American Coot where I have a video of one walking down to the shore. He almost steps on his own feet.

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A Diet of Jackdaws and Ravens

Western Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula) ©WikiC

Western Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula) ©WikiC

A Diet of Jackdaws and Ravens

by James J. S. Johnson

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. … The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.  (Psalm 46:1 & 46:11)

Looking at ravens, recently, I was reminded of the 46th Psalm and a hymn that majestically paraphrases its doxological theology.  Also I was reminded of the Jackdaw (Corvus monedula), which is cousin to the Raven (Corvus corax), both of which corvids range in Germany.

Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Ray

Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Ray

But how are these – Psalm 46, a hymn, ravens, and jackdaws — connected?

Let’s begin with a famous hymn that paraphrases, in lyrical dignity, from the content of the 46th Psalm. Surely you recognize these lyrics:

Luther's Ein Feste Burg

Luther’s Ein Feste Burg

Of course, the lyrics are penned by a Saxon theologian of the AD1500s, in German, so maybe an English translation (of that hymn’s lyrics) would be more helpful.  This German hymn (“Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”) was translated into English, as early as AD1539, by Bible translator Miles Coverdale, with the title “Oure God is a defence and towre” [notice obsolete spellings of “our”, “defense”, and “tower”].  The hymn’s composition (AD1529), as well as its original melody and meter, comes to us thanks to Dr. Martin Luther, the great Reformer.

But the most familiar English translation of this heroic hymn, by Frederick Hedge (AD1853), is “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing”, which begins:

  1. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
    our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.
    For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
    his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
    on earth is not his equal.
  2. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
    were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.
    Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he;
    Lord Sabaoth, his name, from age to age the same,
    and he must win the battle.
  3. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
    we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.
    The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
    his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure;
    one little word shall fell him.
  4. That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
    the Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru him who with us sideth.
    Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
    the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still;
    his kingdom is forever.

Of course, Lutheran choirs and organists know this hymn well!

Yet how does this hymn, and its music-loving author (Dr. Martin Luther), relate to a “diet of jackdaws and ravens”?

In the year AD1530 an ecclesiastical confrontation was scheduled to occur at Augsburg (a city in Bavaria, Germany), but Dr. Luther was persuaded to stay behind – mostly for his personal safety’s sake – in Coburg (a town of Bavaria, near Augsburg) because Luther was declared an “outlaw” at the Diet of Worms, so he was an unprotected target).  So Luther staid there, writing to his friend Philip Melanchthon (and others), as Luther waited for the next important event to occur in Germany’s (and Europe’s) Reformation.  But Luther was not one who would contently wait while others battled – and the controversy would have reminded Luther of prior confrontations that he had personally experienced, in defense and promotion of Luther’s Bible-based faith.

Martin Luther by Cranach restoration ©WikiC

Martin Luther by Cranach restoration ©WikiC

While in Coburg, therefore, Luther’s imagination could picture the clutter and cawing of agenda-driven clergymen (and bustling government officials) who were gathering, in Augsburg, to cluck about theological controversies, at what would be a hotly contested “diet” (conference of representative delegates).  Luther could easily imagine the conspiring conversations of the corrupt clergymen who would soon be attending and arguing at the Augsburg “diet”, seeking to ensnare Melanchthon and Luther’s other Protestant allies.

In Barnas Seares’ biography of Dr. Luther, titled THE LIFE OF LUTHER, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO ITS EARLIER PERIODS AND THE OPENING SCENES OF THE REFORMATION (American Sunday-School Press, 1850; 2010 reprint by Attic Books), he describes how Luther’s birdwatching provoked memories of prior confrontational conferences:

A mind like Luther’s could not remain inactive, and, for want of other employment, he suffered his fancy to picture to itself a diet of birds, as he saw them congregate before his window, much as he saw persecuting bishops in the huntsmen and hounds while engaged in the chase at Wartburg [where Luther was sequestered, hidden from his persecutors, during the time Luther translated the Bible in German].  The reader will easily recognize the satire.  The sportive letter [written by Luther] was addressed to his table companions at Wittenberg, and reads thus:

Common Ravens Feeding ©WikiC

Common Ravens Feeding ©WikiC

‘Grace and peace in Christ, dear friends.  … [Luther then explains that he and two other men] do not go to the Augsburg diet, though we are attending another one in this place.  There is, directly before my window, a grove where the jackdaws and ravens have appointed a diet; and there is such a coming and going, and such a hubbub, day and night, that you would think them all tipsy.  Old and young keep up such a cackling, that I wonder how their breath holds out so long.  I should like to know if there are any of these nobles and knights with you, for it seemeth to me that all in the world are gathered together here.  I have not yet seen their emperor, but the nobles and great ones are all the time moving and frisking before us; not gayly attired, but of one uniform colour, all black and all gray-eyed.  They all sing the same song, though with the pleasing diversity of young and old, great and small.  They pay no regard to the great palace and hall, for their hall hath the high blue heavens for its ceiling, the ground for its floor, the beautiful green branches for its paneling, and the ends of the world for its walls.  They don’t trouble themselves about horses and wagons, for they have winged wheels wherewith to escape from fire-arms.  They are great and mighty lords; but what decisions they come [to] I know not.  But, so far as I can learn through an interpreter, they meditate a mighty crusade against wheat, barley, oats, malt, and all kinds of corn and grain, and there is here many a hero, who will perform great deeds. … I consider all these nothing but the sophists and papists, with their preachers and secretaries, and must have them all before me thus at once, that I may hear their lovely voices and their preaching, and see how useful a class they are, to devour all that the earth bringeth forth, and cackle for it a while.’” [Quoting Luther, as quoted within Sears, at pages 449-451, with emphasis added.]

Jackdaws at Herstmonceux Castle

Jackdaws at Herstmonceux Castle

Somehow the busy yacking and cawing of the jackdaws and ravens, in Coburg, reminded Dr. Luther of the conspiring ecclesiastical kleptocrats whom he observed (and contended with), those crooked racketeers famous for grabbing (but not for giving) —  just as jackdaws and ravens are famous for shamelessly raiding the crop-fields that others work long and hard to produce food from.  (See 1st Peter 5:2-3; some things don’t change much!)

Quite a “diet”, pardon the pun.

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James J. S. Johnson’s Articles

Orni-Theology

Jackdaw and Raven Corvidae Family

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Sunday Inspiration – Crows and Jays

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

The Corvidae Family has 143 species, of which many are known to people around the world. A member of this family, the Raven is a well recognized Bird of the Bible. On our recent vacation, in Arizona we were able to see a wild Common Raven and a Stellar’s Jay for the first time. Was able to add these to my Life List of Birds on eBird.

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) Wild SD Zoo Day by Lee

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) Wild SD Zoo Day by Lee

Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) by Lee at Desert Museum AZ

Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) by Lee at Desert Museum AZ

The Corvidae Family not only has Crows, Ravens, and Jays, but the family also hosts; the Choughs, Treepies, Magpies, Bushcrow, Nutcrackers, Jackdaws, and the Rook.

“They are considered the most intelligent of the birds, and among the most intelligent of all animals, having demonstrated self-awareness in mirror tests (European magpies) and tool-making ability (crows, rooks)—skills until recently regarded as solely the province of humans and a few other higher mammals. Their total brain-to-body mass ratio is equal to that of great apes and cetaceans, and only slightly lower than in humans.

They are medium to large in size, with strong feet and bills, rictal bristles, and a single moult each year (most passerines moult twice). Corvids are found worldwide except for the tip of South America and the polar ice caps. The majority of the species are found in tropical South and Central America, southern Asia and Eurasia, with fewer than 10 species each in Africa and Australasia, and Australia.” (Wikipedia)

Could this intelligent family of created birds from the Creator’s Hand be the reason the Raven was chosen by Noah?

And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. (Genesis 8:6-7 KJV)

Enjoy these beautiful birds from their Creator:

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“Peace Medley” ~ by Faith Baptist Choir

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Sunday Inspirations

Birds of the Bible – Ravens

Corvidae – Crows, Jays Family

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Sunday Inspiration – Jays and Cousins

 

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. (Genesis 8:7 KJV)

Yesterday’s Birds of the Bible – Eurasian Jay? gave the idea for today’s Sunday Inspiration. Blue Jays are a favorite of mine, even though they can be a pest to other birds. Their warning cries of predators help offset their”peskiness.”

The Corvidae – Crows, Jays Family contains not only Jays and Crows,, but also Magpies, Treepies, Bushcrows, Nutcrackers, Choughs, Piapiac, Jackdaws,  Rook and Ravens. One of these is a Bird of the Bible; see – Birds of the Bible Raven.

The family has some plain birds, but the Lord has created many with beautiful colors like our Blue Jay and the Eurasian Jay. He designed them just the way He planned for the places they are to occupy. He love them all and know when any of them fall.

The Lord has “designed” us just the way He trusts we will serve Him. Some of us love his bird creations and want to share them and His Love for them and us. Some of you were give other likes and interests that He wants used.

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A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. (Psalms 103:1 KJV)

“Bless The Lord Oh My Soul” by Sean Fielder

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More:

Sunday Inspirations

Assurance: The Certainty of Salvation

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Birdwatching Adventure – Scrub Jays II

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)  by Dan

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20 NKJV)

Now for the good photos from our visit to see the Florida Scrub Jays. Dan shared these that he took.

Here is an idea of the “scrub” habitat that the Florida Scrub Jays prefer. They do not like too many trees where Hawks, Eagles or other Birds of Prey can attack them.

Habitat at Lake June-in-Winter SP by Dan

Scrub Habitat at Lake June-in-Winter SP by Dan

They greeted us from a distance at first.

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

Then they were more friendly when enticed.

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

They are such pretty birds. I sure am glad the Lord has given us so many varieties of avian friends to enjoy.

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) by Dan

Here is another photo from the state parks habitat:

Habitat at State Park by Dan

Habitat at State Park by Dan

These two last photos were his that he photographed through the open window of the Red-Shouldered Hawk at Highlands Hammock State Park. Remember, mine was through plastic.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Highlands Hammock SPk by Dan

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Highlands Hammock SPk by Dan

“Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, And spread its wings toward the south? (Job 39:26 NKJV)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Highlands Hammock SPk by Dan

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Highlands Hammock SPk by Dan

Trust you have enjoyed seeing these fantastic birds.

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Birds of the Bible – Raven III

Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Ray

Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Ray

It has been several years since the Raven was featured in the Birds of the Bible. Let’s review the Raven’s part in the Scripture and see if we can add more details about this fantastic bird and his family members.

Ravens are mentioned eleven times in the Bible:

Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. (Genesis 8:7)
every raven after its kind, (Leviticus 11:15)
every raven after its kind; (Deuteronomy 14:14)
You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 1Kings 17:4)
And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. (1Kings 17:6)
Who provides food for the raven, When its young ones cry to God, And wander about for lack of food? (Job 38:41)
He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. (Psalms 147:9)
The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. (Proverbs 30:17)
His head is like the finest gold; His locks are wavy, And black as a raven. (Song of Solomon 5:11)
But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it, Also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. And He shall stretch out over it The line of confusion and the stones of emptiness. (Isaiah 34:11)
Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! (Luke 12:24)

As you can see, the Raven is one of the more mentioned birds in God’s Word, therefore it deserves to be studied again. The  Corvidae – Crows, Jays, Ravens Family is where you will find the Raven and their kind, such as Ravens, Crows, Jackdaw, Magpies, Jays, Magpie-Jays and Ground-Jays, Treepies, Choughs and Nutcrackers. At present, there are 130 species in the family. The Raven is one of several larger-bodied members of the genus Corvus—but in Europe and North America the Northern (Common) Raven is normally implied. They have black plumage and large beaks. They are considered the most intelligent of the birds, and among the most intelligent of all animals. It appears that the Lord used the intelligence He created in the Raven to help find the food that was needed to feed Elijah, the prophet, and also to help Noah discern when the waters had dried up.

And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. (1 Kings 17:1-6 NKJV)

Today there are thirteen (11) Ravens plus several subspecies. (IOC 3.4) There are also two extinct; the Chatham and New Zealand Ravens.

Forest Raven (Corvus tasmanicus)
Little Raven (Corvus mellori)
Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides)
Pied Crow (Corvus albus)
Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)
Somali Crow (Corvus edithae)
Northern Raven (Corvus corax)
Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)
Fan-tailed Raven (Corvus rhipidurus)
White-necked Raven (Corvus albicollis)
Thick-billed Raven (Corvus crassirostris)

Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus) ©WikiC

Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus) ©WikiC

The Northern (Common) Raven, which is North America’s main Raven, began in the Old World and crossed the Bering land bridge into North America. Recent genetic studies, which examined the DNA of Northern Ravens from across the world, have determined that the birds fall into at least two clades: a California clade, found only in the southwestern United States, and a Holarctic clade, found across the rest of the northern hemisphere. Birds from both clades look alike, but the groups are genetically distinct and began to diverge.

The findings indicate that based on mitochondrial DNA, Northern Ravens from the rest of the United States are more closely related to those in Europe and Asia than to those in the California clade, and that Northern Ravens in the California clade are more closely related to the Chihuahuan Raven (C. cryptoleucus) than to those in the Holarctic clade. Ravens in the Holarctic clade are more closely related to the Pied Crow (C. albus) than they are to the California clade. Thus, the Northern Raven species as traditionally delimited is considered to be paraphyletic.

One explanation for these surprising genetic findings is that Northern Ravens settled in California and became separated from their relatives in Europe and Asia during an ice age. A group from the California clade became into a new species, the Chihuahuan Raven. Other members of the Holarctic clade arrived later in a separate migration from Asia.

A recent study of raven mitochondrial DNA showed that the isolated population from the Canary Islands is distinct from other populations. The study did not include any individuals from the North African population, and its position is therefore unclear, though its morphology is very close to the population of the Canaries (to the extent that the two are often considered part of a single subspecies). (Wikipedia with editing)

Thick-billed Raven (Corvus crassirostris) ©WikiC

Thick-billed Raven (Corvus crassirostris) ©WikiC

Wikipedia and others break the Ravens into five groups along with their allies in the True Crows division.

  • Australian and Melanesian Species – Australian Raven, Little Raven, Forest Raven
  • Eurasian and North African Species – Fan-tailed Raven, Brown-necked Raven
  • Holarctic Species – Northern (Common) and Pied Ravens
  • North and Central American Species – Chihuahuan Raven, Western Raven
  • Tropical African Species – White-necked Raven, Thick-billed Raven, Somali Crow (Dwarf Raven)
Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides) by Ian

Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides) by Ian

Other articles about the Raven:

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Ian’s Bird of the Week: Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) by Ian

Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week: Clark’s Nutcracker ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 10-14-10

My apologies for the very late bird of the week. My last week in California was very full, so the flight to Costa Rica last Sunday was the first opportunity to prepare the photos and, owing to internet problems at my first two hotels, I haven’t been able to send this email until now (Thursday) although I wrote it on Monday morning.

Craggy Trail-Lassen Volcanic National Park

Craggy Trail-Lassen Volcanic National Park

This is one of the birds of the week that gets chosen because there’s a good story to go with it. Clark’s Nutcracker is a mountain species, found near the tree-line in coniferous forest or rocky areas, that I’d only seen once before, in Colorado in September 1970 and and last week’s visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park in NE California was my third since 2008 to look for it. The first photo shows the craggy trail recommended by a ranger to Bumpass Hell (I kid you not) my sister, Gillian, and I took to look for it.

Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) by Ian

Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) by Ian

Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) by Ian

Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) by Ian

Eventually, we returned to the car park empty-handed and went to the rest-rooms shown in the second photo. After I’d emerged, I heard the call we had been listening for, and turned round the find Gillian looking for the source – a Clark’s Nutcracker calling mockingly at us perched the very top of the small pine tree right behind the building, third photo.

Restroom area-Lassen Volcanic National Park

Restroom area-Lassen Volcanic National Park

After a few seconds, it then flight right over my head and almost into the camera, fourth photo, to perch on a rock beside the car park, directly in front of the sun, thank you very much, fifth photo. I dodges the inevitable questions from a couple of tourists about the size of my 500mm lens to get in a better position before the bird flew, sixth photo, with its mate down into the very steep valley, never to be seen again.

Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) by Ian

Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) by Ian

Many birders will be familiar with the car park list, the ones you find waiting for you when you get back after a long and arduous hike and the rest-room list is a variation on this. And familiar with the advice to take your camera everywhere. EVERYWHERE! And with the settings ready to take photos of the unexpected.

My main target here is the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, so a collective world-wide prayer that I can serve it up to you as the next bird of the week would be greatly appreciated!

Best wishes,
Ian,

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


Lee’s Addition:
I couldn’t help but chuckle about his being ready at all times episode. It reminded me of a verse in Daniel that says,

Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, … (Daniel 3:15 KJV)

I didn’t read where it mentioned the “Clark’s Nutcracker calling mockingly.”

As usual, Ian had another interesting birdwatching experience.

The Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) are in the Corvidae – Crows, Jays family of the Passeriformes order.

See also:

a j mithra’s – Clark’s Nutcracker

Island Scrub Jays – The Ultimate Home-makers

Island Scrub Jays – The Ultimate Home-makers – by a j mithra

Island Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma insularis) ©WikiC

Island Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma insularis) ©WikiC

 

Island Scrub Jays are monogamous and may stay with a mate for their entire lives. Unlike some Aphelocoma species, the Island Scrub Jay is not a cooperative breeder, meaning that pairs do not rely on other related jays to help them raise their young…

Divorce has become the order of the day…
Spouses getting separated for flimsy reason, sometimes for no reason has become a fashion..
Even churches encourage divorce..
But,through these birds, GOD shows us that HE has created every spouse to mate for life..

It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. (Mathew 5:31,32)

And most importantly Kids are gifts from GOD..
HE trusts is us that we would take care of these gifts and that is the reason HE has given us kids..
How well do we take care of them?
Or do we rely on some one else to raise them for us?

For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? (1Timothy 3:5)

Both the male and the female help build nests three to 25 feet high in trees and shrubs. They use small oak branches that they break off trees and they never use sticks that fall to the ground These branches form the cup of the nest, which the parents line with grass and small roots…

We need to provide a home filled with love and care for our kids and not a house of luxury…

Females lay 3 to 5 eggs in a nest that they incubate for about 20 days. While the female sits on the eggs, the male spends his time hunting and defending the nest from snakes, hawks, foxes, and other Island Scrub Jays.

The male is also responsible for bringing the female food so she can be with the eggs as long as possible each day.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)

Observations suggest that the more time parents spend near their nest, the higher their chances of defending their young ones against nest predators….

Now a days parents spend more time in their offices than with their kids..
The excuse is that they are working hard to give a comfortable future..
But, we parents cannot protect our children if we don’t spend time with them..
How can we claim that GOD has created us in HIS own image when we fail to protect our kids the way HE protects us?
It is time for us to learn from these Island Scrub Jay

s about how to spend time with our children so as to defend them from predators…

Do we have that learning spirit?

Your’s in YESHUA,
a j mithra

Please visit us at: Crosstree


Island Scrub Jays are in the Corvidae Family which has Crows, Jays, Magpies, Treepies, Rooks and Ravens in it. They are in the Passeriformes Order.

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