“I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall.” Obviously, that’s an expression we use to describe a pointless pursuit that accomplishes nothing but pain. However, it is an action that a woodpecker does on purpose… and apparently by design!
“God’s plan for the world stands up, all his designs are made to last.” Psalm 33:12, The Message
I always marvel as I watch woodpeckers hammer away… chunks of bark and wood flying everywhere. I could only imagine how much my brain would be rattled if I were to try it myself. With all the concerns about concussions in high school and college athletes, it is clearly something humans weren’t designed to do.
But that is not true of the woodpeckers. The ability to hammer on hard objects with the front of their face is undoubtedly designed by a Creator. In Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation, Dennis Peterson writes, “The woodpecker is totally different from other birds. Every part of his body is especially fitted for drilling into wood.”
The woodpecker’s beak alone is designed for the job. It is harder than that of other birds, and the base of the bill is fitted with a shock-absorbing tissue not found in some other species. To go along with a beak designed for drilling, the woodpecker has a specialized tongue. Fashioned to fit into those freshly drilled holes, the woodpecker’s tongue is four times longer than the beak and wraps around the back of the bird’s skull! The tail, legs and claws are also specialized designs to help the woodpecker hold in place during his jack-hammer feeding sessions. And a keen sense of smell helps the woodpecker determine the precise drilling point to maximize the chance of excavating an insect.
All these wonderfully engineered traits could only come about by design. Partially evolved traits in a primitive ancestor would only result in broken beaks and a lot of headaches! These features are obviously designed to the woodpecker’s advantage and keep it from pointlessly beating his head against the wall!
Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.
Northern Barred Owl (Strix varia) Lowry Park Zoo by Dan 2014
CAN THERE BE DESIGN WITHOUT A DESIGNER?
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead…” (Romans 1:20a)
A new science called biomimetics is making news. In the past we have talked about how some of man’s designs are often similar to God’s which do the same job. However, in biomimetics, researchers actively seek to study the creation to learn of designs that will solve engineering problems.
Can There Be Design Without a Designer?We are all familiar with the story of how thistle seeds inspired Velcro. Engineers have used the design of the owl’s wing to make the structures that carry electrical current to trains. The result is a much quieter ride. The moth’s eyes’ ability not to reflect light helps make it harder to be spotted by birds. The same design has now been used to make a nonreflective film. The result is a film that can be used to help prevent windows from reflecting light. This film will soon be available commercially. Many dyes are toxic, yet many creatures manage to show off bright colors without using toxic substances. Materials engineers studied how the jewel beetle produces its color. The result is a film that seems to change color depending on the angle from which you view it.
No scientist can offer a rational explanation for how so many thoughtful and efficient designs could be generated in a mindless universe. These designs are fingerprints God left all over the creation so that man might seek Him out.
Prayer: I thank and praise You, dear Father, for the excellence and wonder You have left as fingerprints in the creation. Amen.
Nikkei Weekly, 2/22/10, p. 17, “Biomimetics yields life-inspired products.”
The drought had been rather severe that summer, and the normally moist woodland was dry and parched. Suddenly, out of the brush, a chunky bird was frantically searching the soil for earthworms. Following behind, and looking as famished as their mama, were four of her wood-brown chicks. And as their mama stopped and probed the arid ground before her, the chicks looked on with eager expectation. But all at once, and without warning, mama bird performed an amazing feat! She lay her body flat along the ground and began drumming the surface with her wings. Minutes later, their hunger satisfied, this American Woodcock family disappeared into the dry undergrowth.
All birds reveal incredible design, but the American Woodcock has an interesting design feature in its behaviour as well.
We have been led to believe by the scientific establishment that birds, like the American Woodcock, are products of time and chance. That through natural processes and eons of time, they are the descendants of a common ancestor that sprang from the reptilian line.
On the other hand, the Word of the Creator states that birds were designed and created by Him, according to their own kind, on the fifth day. As a result, He considered them very good (Genesis 1:31).
Chance vs design. Aimlessness vs plan and purpose. These are two fiercely competitive worldview’s. They are mutually exclusive. And, contrary to popular opinion, the essence of both can be described as the science of one person’s religion vs the science of another’s. Why? Because no one was there at the beginning! Scientifically speaking, the conditions of the early earth are unknown and hence cannot be duplicated. On the other hand, God was there! He is perfectly capable of communicating to His people.
When we look at His world, we find tremendous evidence of His fingerprints, so to speak—design and purpose.
For instance, how did drumming the ground bring the woodcock family from famine to feast? Amazingly enough, mama woodcock was aware of the habits of earthworms. She knew that in dry conditions, they squirm to the lower, moist depths of the soil. However, she was also aware of another quirk in their behaviour! When it rains, worms can sense the ground vibrations caused by raindrops. When this happens, they quickly propel themselves to the soil surface so they won’t drown. Therefore, when the mother beat the ground, she and her family were able to leave the area with their hunger pangs satisfied.
How did she know how to do that? What complicated series of events caused all of this information to come together in one little bird? Was it by chance and natural processes or was it creation with deliberate purpose?
Not only did it know the habits of the earthworms, this bird’s anatomy is highly complex as well. The eyes are located high on its head enabling it to see 360 degrees. Imagine being able to see, with overlapping vision allowing depth perception, both in front of and behind you. The ears are situated between the eyes and its eight-centimetre (three-inch) bill. This highly sophisticated hearing apparatus is better able to detect the sub-soil movement of its prey. Working together with its exquisitely attuned vision and hearing, are its sensitive feet. Designed to feel ground vibration, they help to pinpoint a worm’s location.
Being fairly certain that the worm is within reach, the bird pushes its bill into the ground. But this isn’t just any old bill! The flexible tip, which allows it to open and close in a tweezer fashion within tiny spaces, has highly sensitive nerve endings. It allows the woodcock to know that it has grasped its meal.
A nocturnal animal, the woodcock is probably best known for its bizarre courtship behaviour. At dusk, the male of the species will circle high in the sky on a spring night making a continual ‘twittering’ noise. At this highest point, he’ll suddenly dive in a zig-zag fashion toward the earth. It’s a most unusual display, completely captivating his mate-to-be. The three outer primary feathers not only make the strange sounds of this courting male, but also contribute greatly to his survival. When the woodcock is in danger of being discovered by a predator, it will explode from its concealment. In so doing, those feathers make such an unexpected and horrible noise, that often the predator is temporarily shocked. This brief moment is all the time the bird needs to make its escape!1
When it is realized how many of these complicated factors must come together, at the same time, just for the bird to survive, that all this could come from gradual, piecemeal evolution defies credibility.
The outdoors is chock full of unique and fascinating organisms, like the American Woodcock, just waiting to be discovered by both children and adults alike. All of creation, though now fallen from its original perfection, holds a wonder and fascination that finds its meaning in the Creator God who put it there! Evidence of His handiwork can be seen and understood. And evidence can be logically discussed in scientific circles, so be bold, be confident and be in awe of His creative abilities!
The world today needs more people who will proclaim the news in every land that Jesus Christ, the awesome Creator, came to us, lived amongst us, died and rose again for us!
‘Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest’ (Joshua 1:9).
“The American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), sometimes colloquially referred to as the Timberdoodle, is a small chunky shorebird species found primarily in the eastern half of North America. Woodcocks spend most of their time on the ground in brushy, young-forest habitats, where the birds’ brown, black, and gray plumage provides excellent camouflage.
Because of the male Woodcock’s unique, beautiful courtship flights, the bird is welcomed as a harbinger of spring in northern areas. It is also a popular game bird, with about 540,000 killed annually by some 133,000 hunters in the U.S. (Ugh!)
The American Woodcock is the only species of Woodcock inhabiting North America. Although classified with the sandpipers and shorebirds in Family Scolopacidae, the American Woodcock lives mainly in upland settings. Its many folk names include timberdoodle, bogsucker, night partridge, brush snipe, hokumpoke, and becasse.
The American Woodcock has a plump body, short legs, a large, rounded head, and a long, straight prehensile bill. Adults are 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) long and weigh 5 to 8 ounces (140 to 230 g). Females are considerably larger than males.] The bill is 2.5 to 2.75 inches (6.4 to 7.0 cm) long.
The plumage is a cryptic mix of different shades of browns, grays, and black. The chest and sides vary from yellowish white to rich tans. The nape of the head is black, with three or four crossbars of deep buff or rufous. The feet and toes, which are small and weak, are brownish gray to reddish brown.
Woodcock have large eyes located high in the head, and their visual field is probably the largest of any bird, 360° in the horizontal plane and 180° in the vertical plane.
The Woodcock uses its long prehensile bill to probe in the soil for food, mainly invertebrates and especially earthworms. A unique bone-and-muscle arrangement lets the bird open and close the tip of its upper bill, or mandible, while it is sunk in the ground. Both the underside of the upper mandible and the long tongue are rough-surfaced for grasping slippery prey.
In Spring, males occupy individual singing grounds, openings near brushy cover from which they call and perform display flights at dawn and dusk, and if the light levels are high enough on moonlit nights. The male’s ground call is a short, buzzy peent. After sounding a series of ground calls, the male takes off and flies from 50 to 100 yards into the air. He descends, zigzagging and banking while singing a liquid, chirping song. This high spiralling flight produces a melodious twittering sound as air rushes through the male’s outer primary wing feathers.” (Wikipedia with editing)
Dippers are small, stout, short-tailed, short-winged, strong-legged birds. The different species are generally dark brown (sometimes nearly black), or brown and white in colour, apart from the Rufous-throated Dipper which is brown with a reddish-brown throat patch. Sizes range from 14–22 cm in length and 40-90 g in weight, with males larger than females. Their short wings give them a distinctive whirring flight. They have a characteristic bobbing motion when perched beside the water, giving them their name.
Dippers are found in suitable freshwater habitats in the highlands of the Americas, Europe and Asia. In Africa they are only found in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. They inhabit the banks of fast-moving upland rivers with cold, clear waters, though, outside the breeding season, they may visit lake shores and sea coasts.
The Lord created them unlike many water birds, dippers are generally similar in form to many terrestrial birds (for example they do not have webbed feet), but they were designed with some morphological and physiological adaptations to their aquatic habits. Their wings are relatively short but strongly muscled, enabling them to be used as flippers underwater. They have dense plumage with a large preen gland for waterproofing their feathers. Relatively long legs and sharp claws enable them to hold onto rocks in swift water. Their eyes have well-developed focus muscles that can change the curvature of the lens to enhance underwater vision. They have nasal flaps to prevent water entering their nostrils. Their blood has a high haemoglobin concentration, allowing a greater capacity to store oxygen than terrestrial birds, and allowing them to remain underwater for up to at least 30 seconds.
Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. (Psalms 148:5 KJV)
American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) by Ian
Dippers forage for small animal prey in and along the margins of fast-flowing freshwater streams and rivers. They perch on rocks and feed at the edge of the water, but they often also grip the rocks firmly and walk down them beneath the water until partly or wholly submerged. They then search underwater for prey between and beneath stones and debris; they can also swim with their wings. The two South American species swim and dive less often than the three northern ones.Their prey consists primarily of invertebrates such as the nymphs or larvae of mayflies, blackflies, stoneflies and caddisflies, as well as small fish and fish eggs. Molluscs and crustaceans are also consumed, especially in winter when insect larvae are less available.
White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) – Widespread, also nw Africa
Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasii) – Europe
American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) – w Canada to Panama
White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus) – Colombia to Bolivia
Rufous-throated Dipper (Cinclus schulzii) – nw Argentina, se Bolivia
Several things have been dipped in blood in Scripture:
And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; (Genesis 37:31 KJV)
Hyssop was dipped in blood in Exodus 12:22 and put on doorposts; Lev. 4:6,16 and 9:9, 14:16 dipped finger in blood and sprinkled it while at the altar; dipped a bird in blood in Lev. 14:6 (See Birds of the Bible – Purifying Bird); then when Christ is seen in heaven, His vesture is dipped in blood.
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. (Revelation 19:13 KJV)
The one time someone dipped himself in a river, was when Naaman, who had leprosy, finally believed enough to go dip seven times in the Jordan and was healed.
Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:14 KJV)
Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, [and] stretch her wings toward the south? (Job 39:26)
When I Consider – “Designed for Flight” by Creation Moments
“Many textbooks tell young people today that birds are modified reptiles. Suppose, they say, that millions of years ago the scales on some reptiles began to fray along the edges. In time, they say, the frayed scales turned into feathers and birds were born.
Formed By Him
The elegance and beauty of the feather make this story hard to believe. Can sticking a feather on a lizard produce a peacock? The bird’s feather is only a small part of the complete flying system of the bird. Even with very careful planning and redesigning, a reptile doesn’t have what it takes.
A bird needs massive breast muscles for flight. In some birds, 30 percent of the body weight of the bird is breast muscle. By comparison, in humans, breast muscles are only about 1 percent of body weight. A bird also needs an extremely high metabolism and blood pressure to deliver the energy those muscles need for flight. Birds have a higher metabolism than any other creature; they also have the necessary high blood pressure. Finally, as is well known, birds need light skeletons. The man-o’-war has a wingspan of seven feet. But its entire skeleton weighs only a few ounces – less than its feathers!
Even the most clever rebuilding of a reptile cannot produce a bird. In fact, birds have very little in common with reptiles. The entire being of the bird, from body to brain, has been specially designed for flight by a Creator who clearly knows everything there is to know about flight.
Father in heaven, the beauty, grace and huge variety of birds You have created are some of the most beautiful creatures on earth. As I thank You for them, fill me with new wonder over the wonderful work of Your hands. Amen.
Vandeman, George. 1991. “The miracle of flight.” Signs of the Times, May. p. 25.”
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3 KJV)
So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (Genesis 1:21-23 NKJV)
On the fifth day of creation when God Created the birds, they were told/commanded “let birds multiply on the earth.” The birds then started obeying that command. When their numbers were reduced to seven pairs of each living avian species, to be saved from the flood in the ark, they were again commanded to be fruitful and multiply when they left the ark. Look at the numerous avian population we have today.
Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth. (Genesis 8:17 NKJV)
The Lord in His wisdom gave the birds the ability to produce their young by laying eggs and then having the young “hatch.” There are many aspects of this, but the way the egg is produced is our focus today.
Reading around the “evolution” of the article (see below) “Eggs and Their Evolution” in the Birder’s Handbook, I came across these interesting facts.
“Bird eggs are virtually self-contained life-support systems. All they require for the embryo to develop properly are warmth and oxygen. Oxygen diffuses into the egg through microscopic holes formed by the imperfect packing of the calcium carbonate crystals that compose the eggshell. There are not many of these pores—for example, they make up only about 0.02 percent of the surface of a duck egg. Carbon dioxide and water vapor diffuse outward through the same pores. Birds can lay their eggs in even drier environments than reptiles, because when the fatty yolk is broken down to provide energy for the developing embryo, water is produced as a by-product.” That is fantastic!
Here is an interesting link about the development of a chicken in the egg. Chickscope Click through the different days to see the development.
Different Eggs- Birds and Others – from Wikipedia
Also eggs come in a “wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures” as you can see in the chart above.
For she [the ostrich] leaves her eggs on the ground, and warms them in the dust; she forgets that a foot may crush them, or that a wild beast may break them. (Job 39:14 15)
The creation is literally filled with millions of what those who believe in evolution call “happy coincidences.” But when you encounter millions of instances of what appears to be thoughtful design, the obvious conclusion is that there is a Designer. Take the example of bird eggs.
The shape of the egg makes it strong. This strength comes in handy in a busy nest. Mom and dad are coming and going, and they turn the eggs periodically during incubation. But all eggs are not equally egg shaped, and there is a pattern to their shapes. Birds like robins that build a nice, dish shaped nest tend to lay eggs that are more round in shape. Screech owls, which lay their eggs at the bottom of a hole in a tree, also have round shaped eggs. Birds, like the killdeer, barely build any kind of nest and lay eggs on the ground where almost round eggs could roll away. For this reason, birds such as a Kildeer lay much more sharply pointed eggs which are designed to pivot on their small end. Likewise, eggs that are laid where predators are not likely to see them are usually pale or solid in color, but eggs laid out in the open are camouflaged. Moreover, baby birds that hatch in protected nests like the bluebird, tend to be naked, blind and helpless. But the unprotected killdeer hatchlings are ready to leave the nest within minutes of hatching.
All coincidences? It seems more scientific to say that here we have a few of the many fingerprints of our wise Creator!
“I praise You, Father, for how Your glory is reflected in the creation. Amen.”
Notes: Jim Williams, Bird basics: egg size, color and shape, Star Tribune, July 29, 1999, p.8″
Here are some more interesting facts about bird eggs from the Birder’s Handbook:
“The proportion of yolk differs between altricial and precocial birds. The former, which hatch so undeveloped that they require significant parental care and thus need less stored energy, generally have eggs that contain about 25 percent yolk. Precocial birds, which can walk and feed themselves shortly after hatching, have eggs with about 40 percent yolk (67 percent in megapodes, inhabitants of Australia and Pacific islands which upon hatching are virtually ready to fly). Interestingly, in spite of this difference, and although bird eggs range in weight from about one hundredth of an ounce (small hummingbird) to three and a half pounds (ostrich), all bird eggs lose water amounting to about 15 percent of their original weight during incubation. This careful control is probably a result of the necessity to keep the water content of the developing chick’s tissues constant even though metabolic water is continually being produced.”
Birds lay their eggs proportionate to their size, but not what you would think. A wren may lay an egg that weighs about 13% of its weight, while an ostrich egg may only be 2% of its weight. “the parents must “invest” more in the egg to give the chick the energy and materials required for more advanced development within the confines of the shell.”
The book ask this question: “Why have birds not “advanced” beyond egg laying and started to bear their young alive like mammals?” Here is what The Bible says about that.
Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. (Psalms 148:5 NKJV)
Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:26-28 NKJV)
That they may see and know, And consider and understand together, That the hand of the LORD has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it. (Isaiah 41:20 NKJV)
The Lord created them, just the way, in His Wisdom, that they were to be. He looked on His handiwork and called it, Very Good!
Creation was corrupted because of the curse of sin that all are under.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:20-22 NKJV)
(“Reading around the “evolution” is my term for reading the article and looking at the facts and evidence, but from a Christian perspective. We all are observing the same birds and eggs, but some look at it from a theory of evolution and I look at them from believing that God in His Wisdom designed them to be the way they are.
Here is an example: “The other major group of reptile descendants, the birds, not only have continued the reptilian tradition, but have evolved eggs of an improved design in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures.” [from the Birder’s Handbook]
Here is my “reading around evolution”: Birds have eggs, designed through creation, in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. Even simpler, just looking at the facts: Birds have eggs in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures )