Birdwatching On Board The Ark Encounter – The Provisions II

Water and Food Holders for the Cages - Lee at Ark Encounter

Water and Food Holders for the Cages – Lee at Ark Encounter

This is the fourth blog about Birdwatching on board the Ark Encounter. The Ark Encounter is a full-sized model of the Ark that is located in Williamstown, Kentucky.

James J. S. Johnson, Dr. Jim as I call him, writes articles here, but he also has a blog called Rockdoveblog. He has been writing limericks lately, and this one fits well with today’s article.

The Floating Zoo by Dr. James J. S. Johnson

There once was a boat called the Ark:
Peep, meow, baa, hee-haw, and bark!
Its size was quite large,
As afloat went this barge:
Noah’s at-sea zoölogical park!

COMMENTARY:  See Genesis chapters 6 through 9.

I am sure it WAS interesting on board the Ark, with all the many critters. In the Birdwatching On Board The Ark Encounter – The Provisions I article, I showed you how they stored the food and water for them and the critters. There are more photos to show and tell you about. As the waters were lifted up, and the ark began to float, there had to be a rise in the noise level of the critters on board.

“And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.” (Genesis 7:17-20 KJV) [emphasis added]

The Fairy Tale Ark Room

The Fairy Tale Ark Room

Surely the critters were frightened at times, as were the humans. When the fountains of the deep broke up and the rain fell, it was not a smooth sailing cruise liner. Yet, the Lord God had given Noah the measurements and design for the Ark. Our Omninescient Creator knew exactly how the Ark would hold up during the upheavals and wave actions of all that was going on outside the Ark. (See “Lifted Up From The Earth” by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.,  How Could All the Animals Get On Board Noah’s Ark? and The Survival of Noah’s Ark, John D. Morris, Ph.D.)

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:11-12 KJV)

Most of our readers are familiar with the details of the Flood, which was universal and not a local flood, as some claim. In fact, one of the rooms at the Ark Encounter they call the “Fairy Tale Ark” room. They have a collection of children’s books and others, depicting the ark with a giraffe sticking his head out the roof, and other critters on deck. You’ve seen them. Here are our photos:

How would you provide for the people, birds and other critters for a year and at least 10 days, (see Provisions I), on those little arks? You couldn’t!!! More on this point another time.

The following is a quote from Chapter 10 of the New Answers Book 1 – Was There Really a Noah’s Ark and Flood? (Online)

“How Did Noah Care for All the Animals?

Just as God brought the animals to Noah by some form of supernatural means, He surely also prepared them for this amazing event. Creation scientists suggest that God gave the animals the ability to hibernate, as we see in many species today. Most animals react to natural disasters in ways that were designed to help them survive. It’s very possible many animals did hibernate, perhaps even supernaturally intensified by God.

Whether it was supernatural or simply a normal response to the darkness and confinement of a rocking ship, the fact that God told Noah to build rooms (“qen”—literally in Hebrew “nests”) in Genesis 6:14 implies that the animals were subdued or nesting. God also told Noah to take food for them (Genesis 6:21), which tells us that they were not in a yearlong coma either.”

“Were we able to walk through the Ark as it was being built, we would undoubtedly be amazed at the ingenious systems on board for water and food storage and distribution. As Woodmorappe explains in Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, a small group of farmers today can raise thousands of cattle and other animals in a very small space. One can easily imagine all kinds of devices on the Ark that would have enabled a small number of people to feed and care for the animals, from watering to waste removal.”

Vervain Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima) WikiC

Vervain Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima) WikiC

If God did choose to have the “animals hibernate,” then, this would have required less provisions and time feeding the critters. That could be one way to stretch the food they had on board. Just from today’s behavior, we know that Hummingbirds go into a “torpor” state. Here is a quote from “How Do Hummingbirds survive Cold Nights? Hummingbirds and Torpor” (ScienceBlogs)

“Torpor is a type of deep sleep where an animal lowers its metabolic rate by as much as 95%. By doing so, a torpid hummingbird consumes up to 50 times less energy when torpid than when awake. This lowered metabolic rate also causes a cooled body temperature. A hummingbird’s night time body temperature is maintained at a hypothermic threshold that is barely sufficient to maintain life. This threshold is known as their set point and it is far below the normal daytime body temperature of 104°F or 40°C recorded for other similarly-sized birds.”

I can see again, we are going to need a Part III to this. But before we end this one, we need to not lose the fact of the applications with these provisions. Our Lord has provided us with daily provisions and meets our many needs. Yet, this Ark was for the preservation of those inside. Many were invited to get in the Ark, but they refused. Judgment was coming, they had been warned, yet they refused to heed the warnings. Then, it was too late. The Door was shut.

Today, the offer of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior is before us. Will we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior or we “fluff” it off like those who refused to enter the Ark. Judgment is coming. Many like to talk about the love part of the Lord, but there is also the judgment side. Hebrews 9:26-28 says,

“For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:26-28 KJV)

Before the Flood, man was able to look ahead to the cross, and now we look back at the cross. The Door was available the pre-flood people, they refused, except eight. Now the Door is open to us. Praise the Lord, Dan and I, along with many of you have opened the door of your hearts and let the Lord in.

The Door at the Ark Encounter - Dan and our friends

The Door at the Ark Encounter – Dan and our friends

“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:7-9 KJV)



Happy Thanksgiving – 2015

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) by Daves BirdingPix

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) by Daves BirdingPix

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! (1 Chronicles 16:8 NKJV)

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving here in America. When I went back to see what had been posted in the past, there is not much more could be said. See the list of many previous posts for Thanksgiving over the years this blog has been going.

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Lee

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Lee

Or is there? 2015 was another great year and I am thankful for all the blessings the Lord has given us through out this last year. Our big trip to the West Coast was the highlight of the year. We are thankful for all the many miles we safely traveled and the many birds and interesting things we saw. Thankful to the Lord for His marvelous creations we saw.

“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NKJV)

I am also thankful for all of you who have stopped by to visit and read the articles. Also, for the many comments you have left over the year, even the negative ones. That is called freedom of speech. Also, I am thankful for the almost 1.5 million visits here. Wow! It is getting close. I am also thankful for the writers who have contributed to help enhance the blog. James J. S. Johnson, Golden Eagle, Ian Montgomery, Emma Foster, Dottie Malcolm, and others have written many fine articles. Happy Thanksgiving to all of them.

“…and to everyone who works and labors with us.” (1 Corinthians 16:16b NKJV)

Most of all, I am thankful for my Savior and the Love and Blessings He has given to Dan and I. Even with hospital time and a slipped disc, He has never left us, nor forsaken us.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV)

Previous Thanksgiving Posts:


Seventh Anniversary

Flamingo by Dan' at Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo by Dan’ at Flamingo Gardens

Wow! Has it now been seven years since I started writing the Birds of the Bible articles? February 2008 is the original beginning month of the blog. It was started using Blogspot, but moved here to WordPress in July of that year. If you take a look at the articles below you will see how the Lord has been blessing over these years.

Today with almost 1.3 million visits (with WordPress), over 1,100 followers and 216 Flags of countries that you have visited from, I am amazed. Here is a quote from the 1st Anniversary blog:

Our pastor just reminded us of a quote by William Carey, an English Missionary to India:

Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.

Great Blue Heron by Dan

I am not sure this was attempted as a “great thing,” but it was attempted to honor the Lord. That is a very great thing, and God has turned that attempt into a blog that has been visited over 10,000 times just since July. Many of those visits have come from around the world. Thank all of you for your visits.

Carey also said, “If I begin a thing I must go through with it!” This blog has been started and we trust we will continue to keep writing about God’s wonderful creation, especially His birds, and the joy of observing all God’s marvelous handiwork.

Because of this blog many you have become great friends that most we have never met personally, and you are from around the world, where Dan and I will never visit. Yet many of you will be sharing eternity with us and we will meet as we share the presence of Our Saviour. What a thought!

Thanks to the many writers that have added greatly to the blog; Ian, Dottie, Emma, Golden Eagle (Baron), James J S Johnson, Stephen, and others.

Thank you for your visits! Thank you for your friendships! Especially THANK YOU LORD!

I would like to use Paul’s words to express my feelings:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:2-6 NKJV)

Yes, I do pray for many of you even by name. I especially pray for those of you who do not know the peace of knowing my Savior and the Creator of these fantastic birds.

Some of the previous articles about the anniversaries:


European Dipper, Norway’s National Bird

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) by Ian

European Dipper, Norway’s National Bird

by Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)


Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan


The official bird of Norway is the White-throated Dipper (a/k/a European Dipper: Cinclus cinclus). Unlike the American Dipper (which is dark-black all over), it has a mix of colors: brown head, white throat/bib, chestnut belly, and blackish back and tail.

As the range map shows, this little bird is known to range over all of Norway, as a year-round resident. This bird needs running freshwater, because that is where its primary source of food resides. And Norway has lots of fast-running freshwater, especially as mountain snow melts and flows downhill, in crevices, waterfalls, streams, and other drainage pathways that lead westward to the sea.

White-throated Dipper aka European Dipper

White-throated Dipper aka European Dipper

This passerine (i.e., perching songbird) bird is thus deemed an “aquatic” bird, due to its familiar habit of dipping into freshwater for food – and “walking” across the streambed as it fishes (underwater) for insect larvae and other edible morsels found in streambeds.

Specifically, this dipper has too behavioral movements that fit its name: (1) as it perches near quick-flowing stream-waters, it often (and suddenly – some say “spasmodically”) bobs, with its tail propped up (somewhat like a wren), near the splashing water; and (2) it dives into such lotic waters, sometimes after wading into the water’s edge: then submerges itself by quickly plunging in (or diving in), with a small splash. While underwater it seems to swim, though its wings actually “fly” underwater, or (at times when the current is stronger) the submerged bird vigorously “rows” its sturdy wings, like oars, to resist the under-current, in order to steady its underwater position.

Dipper under water by Getty Images

Dipper under water by Getty Images

The Dipper can also use its strong prehensile toes (i.e., it can grip with its feet, almost like a human hand) to grab onto projecting substrates on the bottom of a stream, while simultaneously straining its muscles (and keeping its head bent down so that it can see what is on the streambed) to prevent it from rising to the water’s surface – thus giving the appearance that it is “walking on the bottom” of the stream!

While underwater the dipper collects its food (which is often “epibenthic”, i.e., located on top of the stream-bottom sediments), such as caddisfly larvae (and other insect larvae), as well as small freshwater mollusks, fish, and amphibians – and a favorite freshwater crustacean, the thin amphipod shrimp (of the genus Gammarus, a genus containing marine “scud”, estuarial, and freshwater shrimps known for their detritivorous / scavenging habits).

What a strange bird! Yet it is determined to use its anatomy and strength to get food for the day, even appearing to defy gravity while it does. It may not be a huge buffet banquet table, by our standards, but it is enough – so the bird eats what it needs, one day at a time.

Just face one day of challenges at a time – what a concept!

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)



James J S Johnson

Dippers – Cinclidae

Good News


Rock Partridges: Lessons About Hunting And Hatching

Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) WikiC

Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) WikiC

Rock Partridges: Lessons about Hunting and Hatching ~ James J. S. Johnson

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. (1 Samuel 26:20 KJV)

Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan


Rock Partridges – like other partridges – prefer to hide from people, yet their voices are quite detectable. “Rock partridges are masters of concealment and are best spotted when perched on a boulder sending out a challenge; however, when we were [in Israel] we probably heard ten for every one of which we had a glimpse” [quoting George Cansdale, All the Animals of the Bible Lands (Zondervan, 1970), pages 165-166].   Yet if we look for partridges carefully, in Scripture, we will find them mentioned twice, providing us with two lessons for our own lives (and “callings”, pardon the pun).  But, before looking at those two Bible passages, first let us consider what a “partridge” is.

 So what is a partridge?

Partridges are chicken-sized ground-dwelling birds, classified together with other “pheasant family” birds like pheasant, grouse, bobwhite, quail, junglefowl, chicken, peafowl, and ptarmigan. Specifically, partridges are categorized as fowl belonging to the order Galliformes, family Phasianidae, subfamily Perdicinae).

Partridges don’t migrate.  Partridges  — such as the Rock Partridges of the Holy Land — often nest in hilly or montane areas, in fairly dry climate zones, laying more than a dozen eggs in a minimally lined ground scrape – quite a humble nest!   This habit leaves partridge eggs quite vulnerable, for many ovivorous predators (including hungry humans – see Deuteronomy 22:6-7) hunt around the nesting grounds of partridges.  Resourceful foragers themselves, partridges routinely eat accessible ants, seeds, berries, lichen, and other low-to-the-ground vegetation.  Like other land-fowl partridges spend most of their time on the ground, hidden in ground cover, so don’t expect to see them flying around much, or perching in tree branches.

Partridges are mentioned only twice in the Old Testament (noted below), as translations of the Hebrew word qoré’ – a noun derived from the verb qara’ (meaning “to call”, “to cry”).   The Hebrew root  verb qara’ is used to describe calling out someone’s name, when you wish to speak to that person, and it is used to describe God’s actions when He “called” the light Day, the dark Night, the dry land Earth, etc. (in Genesis chapter 1).  Partridges, therefore, are “criers”, famous for their calls.  The Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca), which seems to have been common during Bible times, is known for its “cok-cok-cokrr” call, in the arid piedmonts of Israel.

The Rock Partridge ranges “from the mountains of Lebanon in the north across the coastal plains to the dry hills of Judaea, but its range also extends westwards through Greece and all over Italy” [quoting George Cansdale, All the Animals of the Bible Lands (Zondervan, 1970), page 165].  Its Holy Land cousin, the Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa), resembles the Rock Partridge from a distance, so the Bible could refer to either or both, as well as any hybrids.  Another partridge found in Israel’s desert lands is Hey’s Partridge (Ammoperdrix heyi), by the Dead Sea.

“Partridges” ae mentioned once in 1st Samuel 26:20 and once in Jeremiah 17:11.  Both verses illustrate important life lessons.

Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) ©WikiC

Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) ©WikiC

Living life on the run

As a fugitive trying to escape King Saul, David compares himself (in 1st Samuel 26:20, quoted above) to a partridge being hunted in the mountains.  Because partridges don’t fly far away, as chased ducks or geese may, hunters chase partridges in the hilly scrublands, causing the partridges to run this way and that, often wearying the partridges to the point that they became targets for whatever weapons (even sticks used for clubbing) the hunters have available.  Surely David saw such partridges in the arid wilderness scrublands he hid in, and likely David himself hunted, caught, and ate such partridges.  Because David was daily fleeing Saul’s soldiers, in the hilly wilderness  of Israel, David knew what partridges felt like, being pursued by hunters.  Yet God protected David from Saul’s evil efforts, and in God’s providence it was David, when the dust settled, who survived and reigned over Israel, not Saul.

What can we learn from David’s fugitive plight?

First, there is no good reason to surrender to one’s enemies!  When persecutors aim at innocent victims, as has been the plight of believers ever since Cain murdered Abel (Genesis 4:8-9; Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51), we are counseled to evade persecutions when possible (Matthew 7:6 & 10:14 & 10:23; Luke 9:5 & 10:11 & 21:21; Acts 9:25 & 13:51).

Second, David’s example reminds us that God is sovereign – He will not let us die until it is the proper time for dying.  So long as God has earthly work for us to do, He will sustain us (James 4:13-15).

Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) ©Arthur Grosset

Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) ©Arthur Grosset

Don’t count your chickens (or partridges) before they hatch

Another lesson from the partridge comes from Jeremiah 17:11.  It seems that partridges have a bad reputation for being less than fully successful in hatching their eggs!  This parental deficiency is compared to the tentative gains of those who acquire wealth by unrighteous means – they will, in the end, be seen as the fools they are!  Why?  Because the wealth of this world, even if kept until death, is only transitory wealth.  It is like eggs laid in a slipshod nest, never to be successfully hatched.

Don’t invest the best of your life in the transitory things of this world  —  because the investment will be a disappointment, when life is over.  Rather, invest your time and treasure in what God values.  It is truly foolish to lay up temporal treasures, “where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal” (Matthew 6:19).  Materialistic treasures are a long-term waste of investment, to be displayed as folly in eternity (and often earlier, on earth), as “gains” wrongly gotten – because we are only stewards of the assets God entrusts to us.

Therefore, let us rather, on a daily basis, accrue (by God’s grace) “treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:20).  It’s really a matter of the heart:  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

(Dr. James J. S. Johnson, an apologetics professor for ICR, previously taught ornithology at Dallas Christian College.)

Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) ©Pixabay

Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) ©Pixabay

Lee’s Addition:

Rock Partridges belong to:


P.S. – As of this post, James J. S. Johnson is now one of our regular contributors to the blog. An introduction will be given soon.


Sneaky Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) Reinier Munguia

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) Reinier Munguia

Sneaky Roadrunner ~ by Dr. James J. S. Johnson

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18 KJV)

Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan


Roadrunners are unusual birds.   When you think of birds, usually you think of birds that fly.  But not roadrunners – mostly they run (up to 20 miles per hour!), or walk very quickly (“race-walking”).  But roadrunners sometimes fly short distances, if they want to escape someone.  Once I saw one fly from my home’s front yard to the roof of our house.  But a roadrunner’s usual exit strategy is to run.  But not always. Sometimes they try to be sneaky. Before recalling a memorable example of roadrunner sneakiness, however, a few fact about roadrunners should be reviewed.

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) by Daves BirdingPix

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) by Daves BirdingPix

Roadrunners have longer legs, in proportion to their bodies, than do most birds.  Obviously God designed these roadrunners to get around on foot!  Taxonomists (i.e., those who categorize creatures into groups of common traits, by “lumping” on similarities and “splitting” on dissimilarities) classify the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus – meaning “Californian earth-cuckoo”) as a member of the cuckoo family, birds that look like half-starved chickens with long tails.  Roadrunners thrive in desert habitats, yet these black-and-white fowl are also found living in shrub-dominated lands known for hot, dry climates, such as the western half of Texas (as well as most of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and California).  See Roger Tory Peterson, WESTERN BIRDS (Houghton Mifflin, 3rd ed., 1990), range map 192.  Roadrunners can also be seen, though less frequently, in contiguous states, such as Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©Alan Murphy Flickr

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©Alan Murphy Flickr

Roadrunners are not picky eaters.  Roadrunners are happy to eat bugs (insects and spiders), seeds, fruits, millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, and even small birds (and their eggs), small mammals (usually rodents like mice, rats, and voles), and small reptiles (such as lizards).  One of the more unusual insects, that roadrunners are known to eat, is the tarantula hawk wasp – an amazing spider-killing wasp that the U.S. Army named one of its “unmanned aircraft” reconnaissance units after.  [See my article at — “Slow Death for a Tarantula”.]

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©Flickr

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©Flickr

So how can a roadrunner be “sneaky”?  A few months ago I walked out of my house’s front door, and saw a roadrunner in my path.  Startled by my approach, the roadrunner skittishly scuttled around my van, which was parked in the driveway in front of my house.  So now I was standing on the north side of my van, and the roadrunner was standing on the south side of my van.

How do I know that, since I don’t have “x-ray eyes” that can see through a parked van?   As I slowly and silently crept, counter-clockwise around the west side of my van, I could see the roadrunner, standing on the south side of my blue van: he (or was it a she?) was bent over with his head turned to the southeast, with his slender bill and face aimed directly away from me.  By bending down his head, and aiming it away from where I was standing, the roadrunner must have thought that he was hiding from me, and that I could not see him – because he could not see me!  If I had impolitely startled him, then, surely it would have hurt his feelings, or his pride, because he obviously thought he really had me fooled.  So I stood silently, unmoving, for quite a while, to see if he would notice me – only about 3 feet form him – with nothing but air between us!  The roadrunner never moved, and he never turned his head to see me, so perhaps he thought I still could not see him.  Not having the heart to correct him, I slowly and silently backed up to the north side of the van, then retreated back through my front door, into my house.  To this day the roadrunner probably thinks that his bent-over, head-turned “hiding” had fooled me.

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©thedrinkingbird Bing

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©thedrinkingbird Bing

Then I got to thinking about how often we humans act as though we could hide ourselves from God.  When our first parents first sinned (Genesis 3:8-10) they tried to hide from God, among the trees in the Garden of Eden.  (If there had been a blue van there they might have tried to hide behind it.)  Of course, the very thought of hiding from God is silly because He is omnipresent and omniscient (Psalm 139).  But, because the Lord Jesus Christ provides us with a free redemption (John 3:16), there is no good reason to be afraid of God (Hebrews 10:19), because “perfect love casts out fear” (1st John 4:18).

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©Nathan Davis Bing

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) ©©Nathan Davis Bing

Roadrunners are fun to watch – I love watching them scoot around on their fast, race-walking legs! If roadrunners only knew how kindly I regard them they would not fear me – they don’t need to sneak around to escape me.  And, because of Jesus, there is no good reason for us to try to hide from God.

(Dr. James J. S. Johnson, now apologetics professor at ICR,  previously taught ornithology at Dallas Christina College. Mrs. Thelma Bumgardner, his second-grade teacher, introduced him to creationist ornithology.)




Great Blue Heron: Patient, Prompt, and (Rarely) Pugnacious

Great Blue Heron by Dan

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron: Patient, Prompt, and (Rarely) Pugnacious

by Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan


The heron family (family Ardeidae, which also includes bitterns and some egrets) and their cousins include some of my favorite long-legged wading birds:  great blue herons, green herons, grey herons, tri-colored herons, night herons, great white egrets, and cattle egrets.


Reddish-Snowys-Greats Egrets -Great Blue Heron all MacDill by Lee

Reddish-Snowys-Greats Egrets -Great Blue Heron by Lee

Their often smaller cousins (of the family Egretta) include the reddish egret, little blue heron, and the snowy egret.  Of these many regard the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) as a favorite:

“For most of us, sightings of great blue herons are confined to a glimpse of the bird as it flies slowly and steadily overhead, wings arching gracefully down with each beat, neck bent back, and feet trailing behind.  At other times we see it on its feeding grounds, standing motionless and staring intently into shallow water, or wading with measured steps as it searches for prey.” [Quoting from “Great Blue Heron”, by Donald & Lillian Stokes, in Bird Behavior, Volume III (Little, Brown & Co., 1989), page 25.]

Great Blue Heron by Dave's Pix

Great Blue Heron by Dave’s Pix

The Holy Bible mentions “herons” twice, in Leviticus 11:19 and in Deuteronomy 14:18 (both times translating the Hebrew noun ’anaphah), in Mosaic lists of ritually “unclean” birds.   The bird’s Hebrew name is based on a verb (’anaph) meaning “to snort” or “to be angry”.  Herons can be aggressive, and their almost-violent habit of “zapping” their prey could appear to resemble an aggressor angrily striking at unsuspecting victim. The more likely behavior that matches the Hebrew name, however, is the aggressive defense of a heron’s feeding grounds:

“Defense of feeding territories is commonly seen and involves aerial chases, Frahnk-calls, and aggressive [body language] displays, such as Upright, Bill-down-upright, Bent-neck.  Fighting rarely occurs, but when it does it can be violent, with one bird landing on the back of the other and either bird stabbing the other with its bill.” [Quoting from “Great Blue Heron”, by Donald & Lillian Stokes, above, page 30.]

Yet do not imagine that the great blue heron is an erratic hothead that has no self-control, because its self-restraint, when seeking a meal at the shoreline of a pond, is so self-contained that the heron resembles a statue, for many minutes if necessary. Then, zap!  The statue suddenly fast-forwards his sharp beak toward a hapless fish or frog,   —  and instantly the heron is gulping down his dinner!

Great Blue Heron with fish ©© winnu on Flickr

This ability to strike like lightning, yet the choice to withhold doing so (unless the time for doing so is obvious), reminds us of the New Testament directive:  “be ye angry, and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26).

Also, in spiritual matters (Ephesians 6:12), we are exhorted to “contend earnestly” for the Biblical faith (Jude 1:3), in ways that do not involve flesh-and-blood fighting.  Such spiritual conflicts require both the patience and promptness of a sniper (or an opportunistic great blue heron)!   Yes, there may even come a time for the use of physical force, when the stakes are high enough –  remember how the Lord Jesus cleansed the Temple with a whip!  —  but most of the time our anger should be suppressed, with heron-like patience, in order to achieve the most worthy goals in life.

><> JJSJ


Ardeidae- Herons, Bitterns
Birds of the Bible –  Herons
Dr. James J. S. Johnson – Guest Writer



ALASKA’S BALD EAGLE by James J. S. Johnson


Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Associate Professor of Apologetics, ICR ( )

The ecological world of Southeastern Alaska hosts a diversity of animals  —   creatures of the air (like the Bald Eagle),  creatures of the land  (like the Alaskan Moose), as well as creatures of its freshwater rivers and streams (like Pacific Salmon), lakes and ponds (like Rainbow Trout).  This article will look at one of those creatures, the Bald Eagle.

The national bird of the United States of America, since 1782, is the bald eagle.  The backside of many quarter-dollar coins (the silver coins which most Americans call “quarters”) show an American bald eagle with outstretched wings.  Mexico’s most famous eagle is the golden eagle, which is a kind of “cousin” to the bald eagle.   The bald eagle’s scientific name is “Haliaeetus  leuocephalus”,  meaning  “white-headed  sea-eagle” (which is a very accurate name).  The adult bald eagles have their heads (including their neck area) covered in white feathers, and also their tail feathers are white; the rest of the adult bald eagle’s feathers are black or blackish-grey.  Their sharp curl-ended beaks and their talons (feet) are yellow.   A bald eagle is fully grown in about four or five years after its hatching.

Bald Eagles 1 for Alaska' Bald EagleHow big is the adult bald eagle?  The bald eagles is a very large bird; it often weighs about ten pounds, though it may weigh as much as thirteen pounds.  The bald eagle, when fully grown, is almost three feet long and its wingspan can be as wide as six or seven feet when fully spread out!  The tough-looking eagles have a voice that seems almost silly when compared with their rough toughness – their voices make sounds like thin squealing or squeaky cackling.

Where do bald eagles live?  Eagles sometimes migrate, flying south to avoid super-cold weather in Canada’s inland forests.  However, many bald eagles, especially those which live near coastal waters, do not migrate at all.  Bald eagles like to live on land near waters where fish (their favorite food) live, such on seacoasts, by rivers, by large lakes, or in marshy areas where flowing stream-waters provide homes for fish.  Bald eagles usually live in shoreline areas where cold water flows nearby, such as where snow-melt-watered mountain creeks empty into a estuarial bay ( a place where flowing freshwater mixes with tide-washing ocean water).

The highest concentration (most crowded gathering) of bald eagles in the world is in southeast Alaska, where the Chilkat River empties into the tidewaters near the town of Haines, a picture-postcard coastal town originally founded as a Presbyterian mission.   At the Chilkat River’s emptying point more than 3,000 bald eagles congregate annually, during autumn, for an all-you-can-eat salmon feast.  What do bald eagles like to eat?  Bald eagles are hawk-like “birds of prey”, meaning that they like to eat meat from smaller animals (like fish) that they hunt and kill for food.  Bald eagles especially like to eat salmon when then return to coastal streams and rivers during spawning seasons!  (After salmon reproduce fertilized eggs for the next generation of salmon, the parents salmon are fatally exhausted (so tired out that they are dying) and they move about in shallow water where it is easy for bald eagles to see them and to grab them for food).  If an eagle has an adequate food supply, which the eagles of Alaska usually do, they can live for twenty or thirty years, or may even live for forty years!

Bald Eagles 2 for Alaska' Bald EagleBald eagles have super-human eyesight (eyes able to see distances much farther than humans can see).  Their eyes are so sharp that the eagles can chase fish swimming near the surface of water, then zoom down near the water surface to grab the unsuspecting fish with their extra-strong talons (clawed-feet-like legs that can clutch things as if they were hands), then fly away with the fish to eat it (or to share it with its family).  An adult eagle’s beak is about two inches long and about one inch deep at its hook-like curled tip.  The sharp curled tip of the beak can rip into a fish easily, for eating convenience.  Sometimes bald eagles, while flying, will attack another fish-catching bird, the osprey (also called “fish hawk”), in order to get caught fish that the osprey is carrying.  Sometimes an osprey will intentionally drop its fish so that the eagle will fly down to catch the dropping fish; this allows the osprey to escape the attacking eagle – it’s better for the osprey to lose a fish than to lose its life!  Bald eagles eat other small animals, including other fish, ducks, seagulls, and other birds.

Where can eagles be easily seen?  In the coastal forestlands of southeastern Alaska (especially Juneau, Alaska’s capital city), many of the trees that cover sloping hillsides near the shoreline of rivers or bays of water are often filled with perching bald eagles.  The bald eagle prefers to make its nest in a tall tree, where sticks are gathered and arranged to provide the bald eagle family with a huge house of sticks and other materials.   Bald Eagles 3 for Alaska' Bald Eagle(Another kind of eagle, the golden eagle, prefers to make its home in rocky places on top of cliffs, and sometimes bald eagles do the same.  Baby golden eagles and baby bald eagles lookalike, but if the eaglet grows up to have a white head and a white tail it is a bald eagle.)  From the roadside, if you look up at the trees that are near Juneau’s shoreline, you will see many bald eagles perched in the high branches of those dark evergreen trees.  The eagles are easy to see, because their bald heads contrast in color against the dark green trees, so the trees look like Christmas trees decorated in popcorn balls, except that the white spots that look like popcorn are really the heads of the bald eagles!

What kind of family life do eagles have?   Usually an eagle family has a father eagle and a mother eagle (who both act like they are “married” to each other), and a small number of hatched eagle children (one, two, or three) until the smaller eagles grow up large enough to fly away and start their own families (with mates for themselves).   Unlike many animals, the mother eagles are usually larger in size than the father eagles.  Bald eagle mates usually try to have one or more new eagle babies each spring.       After the eggs are laid the parent eagles take turns incubating them, to keep them warm enough to grow until it is time for hatching out of their eggs.  Whenever parent eagles walk around near the eggs they walk very cautiously.  Of course, if they did not, many eagle eggs would be accidentally broken by careless contact with a sharp eagle talon!

When eagles are grown up, at about four years of age, they find a mate to start a family with; so, a fully grown male eagle and a fully grown female eagle become an eagle pair, kind of like getting Bald Eagles 4 for Alaska' Bald Eaglemarried to each other.  The eagle couple will stay together as long as they both live (unless one is captured and prevented from returning to its mate).  Not all birds stay with their mates for life, but the bald eagle does.  The eagle couple will soon become parents, with the female eagle becoming a mother by laying large white fertile eggs that will one day hatch into baby eagles – called eaglets.  The baby eagles are very hungry but they cannot fly to get their own food, just as many other kinds of babies need their parents to care for them, and protect them, and feed them.

The parent eagles are very protective of their baby eaglets; they will attack any other bird that flies too close to the eagle nest, so ravens, gulls, and hawks better stay away and respect the eagle family’s privacy!   The baby eagles do not have “bald”-looking heads, because their heads do not have white feathers.  Baby eagles are blotchy brown-grey colored and begin their hatchling life with light grey-colored fuzzy feathers called “down”.  Young eagles are called nestlings during the time that they live in their parents’ nest.  It takes a while for the little eaglets to grow enough strength in their little wings so they can be ready to fly  like their parents.

Bald Eagles 5 for Alaska' Bald EagleWhen a young eagle finally learns to fly it is called a fledgling.  Eagles are such heavy birds that they don’t Bald Eagles 6 for Alaska' Bald Eaglebuild their houses, called “nests”, near the ground.  Eagles build their nests high up in trees or on top of rocky mountains or cliffs, so that they can jump out into the air and glide on rising warm air currents.               Some air currents are made of warm rising air, so an eagle can jump into such warm air and “ride” it up like an elevator, then the eagle can glide from one air current to another , until it wants to fly down.  These rising air currents are called “thermals”.  The eagle that soars on a thermal is mostly at rest, because he is trusting the thermal to carry him along for a “ride” in the air.  The eagle soaring on such a thermal air current is a reminder of how we should trust and depend upon God to carry us through life’s adventures, as we travel from one day to the next.  By “riding” on upwardly spiraling thermal air currents eagles can save their energy, because too much wing-flapping can waste an eagle’s energy and cause it to get too tired to fly.  Like eagles, we can waste a lot of energy if we fail to depend on God, because worrying and distrusting God wastes a lot of mental energy and emotions!  (See Isaiah 40:31.)

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:31 KJV)

By conserving (carefully using, not wasting) his energy, the bald eagle can flap his wings only when he needs to, and he can rise to very high places in the air, which also means that the eagles can reach high places on top of mountains or cliffs that other animals cannot reach.  So an eagles’ nest (called an “eyrie”) can be far away from egg-eating animals that might bother parent eagles and try to eat their eggs before they have a chance to hatch into baby eaglets (the baby eaglets are called “hatchlings” when they first hatch).  Bald eagles, like other kinds of eagles, often live in rocky places in high places, so it is not surprising that people (including Biblical authors) compare highness with flying and nesting behaviors of eagles.

Bald Eagles 7One example of highness being compared to the nesting habits of eagles is found in the Bible, in the Book of Obadiah 1:3-4, where the eagle is described as a creature that lives in high places, much closer to the stars than do most other animals (or people).  Another Old Testament book in the Bible, the Book of Job, refers (at 39:27) to the eagle as mounting up into the air by God’s command (because God programs eagles to fly up into the air the way that they do), and as nesting in high places (because God programs eagles to do this also).

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. (Oba 1:3-4 KJV)

Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? (Job 39:27 KJV)

Eagles are good parents, training their sons and daughters to live like eagles (see Deuteronomy 32:11).  Eagles can fly, like dive-bombing airplanes, at great speeds (see 2nd Samuel 1:23 and Lamentations 4:19).  Their strength is renewed from time to time, as their feather-cover adjusts to their growing bodies (see Isaiah 40:31 and Psalms 103:5). Eagles are known for their gracefulness and dignity (see Proverbs 30:19).  In fact, eagles fly very high in the air as a matter of habit – above most other birds (see Proverbs 23:5).

During winter bald eagles like to live near seacoasts or near large fast-moving rivers where fish are abundant.  Often, bald eagles must migrate south to avoid wintering in places where the food supply is too sparse or the weather is too harsh.  During spring, when the new baby eagles are hatched from eggs, bald eagles usually prefer to live in northern lands, such as Alaska and Canada, but some start their springtime families as far south as California on the West Coast and as far south as Virginia on the East Coast.  Since a thermal spring keeps the Chilkat River warm enough to prevent it from freezing in late summer and early autumn, many salmon continue to congregate in that unfrozen river during the autumn – this is like an “all-you-can-eat” salmon dinner for Alaskan bald eagles!

One place other than Alaska where bald eagles are easily seen in the later summer is along certain parts of the Snake River near Jackson Hole, Wyoming (part of the Grand Tetons National Park), in nests built in the tops of old dead trees along the river’s forested shoreline.  Of course, bald eagles are usually so high up in a tree (or soaring up in the air) that you really need to use binoculars (holding them with steady hands) to see the bald eagle’s colors, wings, talons, stern-looking face, curled beak, and clawed  talons.     Maybe learning about the salmon feasts of the Alaska bald eagles has made you hungry for some Alaska salmon!  If so, you might visit my favorite salmon bake feasting-place, “Gold Creek Salmon Bake” a few miles outside of Juneau, Alaska, an Alaskan rainforest all-you-can-eat place near an old abandoned gold mine.  But, if that’s not convenient for you at the moment, you might try buying some fresh salmon filets from your local grocery store, – and your family can enjoy a healthy protein-rich meal – a feast fit for the Bald Eagle, America’s national bird!

[The above text on Alaska’s Eagle is adapted from James J. S.  Johnson’s “The Bald Eagle”; © AD2001-AD2013 James J. S. Johnson, here reprinted/used by permission.]

Bald Eagle Brings Nesting Material by Aesthetic Photos

Bald Eagle Brings Nesting Material by Aesthetic Photos

Lee’s Addition:

What an interesting, informative and challenging article about the Bald Eagles. Thank you, Dr. Johnson, for giving permission to post it here.

I am looking forward to some more articles that he will be sharing with us here.

See also:

Institute For Christian Research

Dr. James J. S. Johnson – Guest Author

Birds of the Bible – Eagles

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles