American Coot (Fulica americana) by Lee at Lk Morton
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:4 KJV)
While working on the Coot article, the shield was mentioned. “Coots have prominent frontal shields or other decoration on the forehead…”
When the Lord created the Coots and many of the birds in the Rallidae – Rails, Crakes & Coots family, He gave them a frontal shield. Some Jacanas (Jacanidae – Jacanas) also have shields.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives this definition: “a platelike prolongation of the base of the upper mandible over the forehead that is a characteristic feature of the coots and gallinules.” A few coots and gallinules have a frontal shield, which is a fleshy rearward extension of the upper bill. The most complex frontal shield is found in the Horned Coot.
As you can see by the different photos, each species has a different shield, some similar, but others quite different.
Wikipedia says, “A shield is a type of personal armor, meant to intercept attacks, either by stopping projectiles such as arrows or redirecting a hit from a sword, mace, battle axe or similar weapon to the side of the shield-bearer.
Shields vary greatly in size, ranging from large panels that protect the user’s entire body to small models (such as the buckler) that were intended for hand-to-hand-combat use. Shields also vary a great deal in thickness; whereas some shields were made of relatively deep, absorbent, wooden planking to protect soldiers from the impact of spears and crossbow bolts, others were thinner and lighter and designed mainly for deflecting blade strikes.
Often shields were decorated with a painted pattern or an animal representation and these designs developed into systematized heraldic devices during high-medieval times for purposes of battlefield identification. ”
Ceremonial shield with mosaic decoration- Aztec or Mixtec-AD 1400-1521-In the British Museum ©WikiC
For our birds, I would think the decorated shields for identification seems the most logical. Since the Lord enjoys so much variety, we see it again displayed in these frontal shields.
At least 54 verses (depending on version) mention the word “shield” in the Bible. Psalm 91:4 above is providing refuge under feathers and wings and is protecting us with a shield of truth and faithfulness. Let’s look at some of the verses and just let His word encourage and challenge us to serve Him more.
The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. (2 Samuel 22:3 KJV)
But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. (Psalms 3:3 NASB)
Horned Coot (Fulica cornuta) ©©Flickr Gunnar Engblom
Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. (Psalms 18:35 KJV)
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. (Psalms 33:20 KJV)
Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata) Breeding ©WikiC
For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Psalms 84:11 KJV)
Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. (Psalms 115:11 KJV)
Red-fronted Coot (Fulica rufifrons) ©WikiC
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:16 KJV)
Are others able to identify us by our shield?
Birds of the Bible
Rallidae – Rails, Crakes & Coots Family
Jacanidae – Jacanas Family
Birdwatching Term – Frontal Shield