Standing Firm

Great Blue Heron standing in the water at Brevard Zoo

While at the Brevard Zoo last week, I was able to watch a wild Great Blue Heron standing in the river there. His feet, provided by our gracious Creator, caught my attention.

Great Blue Heron’s Feet – [wild] Brevard Zoo

This brings to mind several verses that has to do with “standing firm.”

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15 NASB)

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11 NASB)

Over the years, I have been fascinated with the feet of birds. Especially the larger birds that have more height or weight to support in water, land, or on Lilly pads.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) Feet by Lee at PB Zoo

Black-bellied Whistling Duck Feet by Lee at PB Zoo

Giant Coot (Fulica gigantea) Loped Feet ©©Flickr

Giant Coot (Fulica gigantea) Loped Feet ©©Flickr

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15 NASB)

Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) Brevard Zoo by Lee

Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) Feet Brevard Zoo by Lee

African Finfoot with puffy feet ©WikiC

African Finfoot with puffy feet ©WikiC

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;” (Ephesians 6:13-15 NASB)

Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) by Wiki

Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) ©Wiki on Pads

“for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 3:8 NASB)

All of these birds were given feet that are meant to meet their needs. The Lord has given us the “Armour of God,” Traditions/teachings of Godly preachers and teachers, preparations, etc. Then He tells us to Stand Firm, because He has provided just the right training for us, just as He has provided just the right feet for the bird’s situations.

You Got To Be Kidding!!!

You really need to watch this video. You will not believe this Great Blue Heron.
YouTube Video by stonecabinphotos – “A Great Blue Heron spears and swallows a huge carp at Bosque del Apache NWR on 29 Oct 2013. The process took 11 minutes.” I have seen them do this, but never with a fish this large. Watched this Great Blue catch a catfish at Circle B Reserve, but it was small compared to the one above.
Great Blue Heron with Catfish at Circle B by Lee - cropped

Great Blue Heron with Catfish at Circle B by Lee – cropped

Here is a photo by ©USFWS, but even it is smaller than the video above.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) ©USFWS

I can’t think of a verse that says that “you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew.” There are verses that the Lord promises food for all his creation:
Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalms 136:25-26 KJV) “Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry.” (Psalms 146:7a KJV) “He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.” (Psalms 147:9 KJV)

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And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:8 KJV)
This last verse reminds the Great Blue Heron that his catch and his beautiful feathers should help him be content. Though, not sure that the Heron may have a sore throat and an upset stomach. Enjoy! Bolding and italics in verse added for emphasis.

To Avoid Hunger, Don’t Be a Picky Eater

To Avoid Hunger, Don’t Be a Picky Eater ! – Dr. James J. S. Johnson

And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.   (Luke 10:8)

GreatBlueHeron-RockportTX.GreatEscapes

GREAT BLUE HERON ( photo: GreatEscapes.com )

Earlier today I was reviewing some pages in Peter Alden’s handy guidebook, NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY FIELD GUIDE TO NEW ENGLAND (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016), and I noticed info (on page 283) on the Great Blue Heron, whose range was described as:

“Apr.-Oct: mainly inland south to MA; nests early, disperses widely by July.  Oct.-Apr.: coast of s n. Eng.” [referring to its range in the New England states].

Alden also noted the habitat of the Great Blue Heron:  “Marshes, watersides” [and you usually find Great Blues near water — see  Lee Dusing’s “Gatorland’s Taxi Service”, posted at https://leesbird.com/tag/great-blue-heron/ ].  This makes sense — herons are wading birds, frequenting the margins of lakes, ponds, and other well-watered wetlands.

However, don’t be shocked when you find them not-so-close to bodies of freshwater, because Great Blue Herons are good at flying — and they are opportunistic eaters (e.g., crayfish, finfish, frogs, small birds, bugs, small rodents, snakes, etc.), so they are not limited to pondshores (or seashores) for their dietary opportunities.  [See, accord, “Great Blue Heron Couples, Contented with Stereotypical Domestic Roles” , posted at  https://leesbird.com/2018/05/31/great-blue-heron-couples-contented-with-stereotypical-domestic-roles/ ].

Why am I not surprised, today, when I think about the opportunistic travels undertaken by Great Blue Herons?  Because this morning, during my morning commute along Interstate 635  (a major highway in Dallas, with the eastbound and westbound lanes divided by an expansive grassy median)  I witnessed a Great Blue Heron picking around in the median’s weedy grasses, hunting for something to eat  —  with no body of water anywhere in sight!   Picky eaters, like Florida Kites (which focus their diet on Everglade apple snails) often go hungry  —  but not Great Blue Herons, because their diet is anything but “picky”.    (Seems like Great Blue Herons don’t like to go hungry.)

GreatBlueHeron-AudubonSociety-Portland

GREAT BLUE HERON (photo: Audubon Society of Portland)


GREAT BLUE HERON COUPLES, CONTENTED WITH STEREOTYPICAL DOMESTIC ROLES

GREAT  BLUE  HERON  COUPLES,   CONTENTED  WITH  STEREOTYPICAL  DOMESTIC  ROLES

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace  of  life,  that  your  prayers  be  not  hindered.  (1st Peter 3:7)

GreatBlueHerons.AmericanExpedition

GREAT BLUE HERONS, nest-building together   (photo credit: American Expedition)

Great Blue Heronwhat a big, beautiful bird! These are the largest-sized and heaviest of North America’s herons – standing about 4 feet tall and weighing over 5 pounds (about 2½ kilograms). Because both sexes look alike, generally speaking, it is difficult to discern which is a male (versus a female).  However, when a pair is seen, expect the male have a slighter larger bill than his female.  (That’s a nice way of saying that males have noticeably bigger mouths than their females.)

GreatBlueHerons.CarolinaBirdClub

GREAT BLUE HERON couple, on nest   (photo credit: The Carolina Bird Club)

Previous blogposts have mentioned this wading bird’s bold usage of alligator “taxis” [see Lee Dusing’s “Gatorland’s Taxi Service”, posted at https://leesbird.com/tag/great-blue-heron/ ], as well as its opportunistic dietary preferences (e.g., fish, frogs, rodents, small birds, bugs, etc.), so those facts are not repeated here [See “Great Blue Heron:  Patient, Prompt, and (Rarely) Pugnacious”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2014/06/30/great-blue-heron-patient-prompt-and-rarely-pugnacious/ ].

However, it is worth mentioning that the Great Blue Heron is unafraid of stereotypical male/female courtship and domestic roles  —  something that some “modern” folks get nervous about:

GREAT BLUE HERONS.  From exchanging twigs to flying in circles, great blue herons participate in a wide range of behaviors during courtship.  To construct the big, bulky nest, the male does most of the gathering of materials, picking up sticks from the ground … [or from other places in its “territory”].  The female does most of the work of putting the nest material in place [i.e., she takes care of the home’s interior decorating].  Pairs often reuse old nests [and have been doing this long before “recycling” became a fad], but if they build a new one, it can take three days to two weeks [although it probably takes longer if they are government contractors].

[Quoting, with editorial inserts, from Kaitlin Stainbrook, “Love at First Flight”, BIRDS & BLOOMS, February-March 2018 issue, page 34.]

GreatBlueHeron-nest.NaturallyCurious-MaryHolland

GREAT BLUE HERON nest    (photo credit: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland)

Where do they build nests? Inside trees and bushes, yes, but also in tall marshy weeds, or even on the ground.  Great Blue Herons are known to collect tree twigs from nearby trees, including some branch fragments that are too long to be useful as part of a nest, so many sticks are likely to fall to the ground before a pair of great blues get their nest built “just right”.  Other nest-building materials include a “lining” of pine needles, moss, grasses, cattail reeds, and/or leaf material.

In other words, these herons are as eclectic in nest-building as they are in sourcing their food.

GreatBlueHerons-nestbuilding.GBH-RV-rentals

GREAT BLUE HERONS, nest-building
(photo credit: Great Blue Heron RV Rentals & Sales Inc.)

A quick limerick follows.

       GREAT BLUE HERON NEST-BUILDERS KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

What’s right oft gets lost, in the throng

       As fads drop what’s right, for what’s wrong;

                        As home tasks come and go

                        Their right roles herons know;

       May that difference forev’r live long !

So Great Blue Herons know the difference between male and female roles.

What a Biblical concept! As the French would say:  vive la difference!


 

Gatorland’s Taxi Service

Great Egret on Alligator at Gatorland 3-8-16 by Lee

You have seen these photos before, but don’t remember sharing the videos of the Great Egret and Great Blue Heron using

Gatorland’s Taxi Service.

To say they are somewhat nuts is mild. It is amazing how some mixed critters seem to get along, though.

We always enjoy our trips over to Orlando to see the activity. Sometimes weird and other times fine. The first video shows the Egret trying to let the gator to start moving.  :)

“By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me. And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.” (Psalms 41:11-12 KJV)

Gatorland Birdwatching Trips

 

 

Lee’s Five Word Friday – 7/21/17

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Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Watching young nearby by Lee at Viera Wetlands

I SAY UNTO ALL, WATCH

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“And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mark 13:37 KJV)

Great Blue Heron Watching young nearby by Lee at Viera Wetlands

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More Daily Devotionals

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Lee’s Seven Word Sunday – 5/1/16

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Great Blue Heron at Lake Morton by Dan

WORD OF THE LORD HAS SOUNDED FORTH

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“For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8 NKJV)

Great Blue Heron at Lake Morton by Dan

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More Daily Devotionals

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Lee’s Two Word Tuesday – 4/12/16

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Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) ©USFWS

AND CHOKED

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“And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.” (Mark 4:7 KJV)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) ©USFWS

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More Daily Devotionals

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Egrets and Heron Catching The Gator Taxis

Great Egret on Alligator at Gatorland 3-8-16 by Lee

Great Egret on Alligator at Gatorland 3-8-16 by Lee

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,” (Ephesians 5:15 NASB)

You saw this photo in Lee’s Three Word Wednesday, but now here is a video of these birds catching their “Taxi Rides” there at Gatorland, FL.

In the first part of the video, notice the Great Egret gives the gator a nudge to get moving and the gator raises its head up. I didn’t realize that the Great Blue Heron was standing on that same alligators submerged tail. Talking to one of the workers, she said every once in a while the gators get hungry. Birds are playing a very dangerous game, in my opinion.

Most times these alligators and birds get along fine. People are tossing food to them and so they abide each other. It is amazing how different critters get along. I can only imagine how it must have been when they were first created. There was no desire of the gators to eat the birds. Today, under the curse, it is a totally different situation. That condition shall come again in the future.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. (Isaiah 11:6-7 NKJV)

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Gatorland

Lee’s Three Word Wednesday

Gideon

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Lord’s Avian Wonders – Smart and Dumb

A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness. (Proverbs 12:23 NKJV)

Here are two more photos from Gatorland, FL:

Smart Snowy Egrets

1-Gatorland by Lee 12-01-2015 (170)

Dumb Great Blue Heron

1-Gatorland by Lee 12-01-2015 (173)

Dumb Great Blue Heron standing on Gator’s Back

 

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

Orni-Theology

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

See:

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

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Birdwatching at Lake Morton – October 21, 2011

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) Juveniles by Dan at Lake Morton

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) by Dan at Lake Morton

Today Dan and I went by Lake Morton for just a short while. We were on our way to have lunch and do some shopping. It was a great day without a cloud in the sky. The temperature was a pleasant 63° (17.2º C).

When we were last there, there were 5 young Limpkins and I want to see how they had grown. We spotted 4 of them sunning themselves. They have lost that fuzz on their heads and the spots are becoming quite distinguished. Dan took a great picture of one of them closeup.

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) Juvenile by Dan at Lake Morton

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) by Dan at Lake Morton

I can tell by their faces that they are still young. Here is a photo of one when it still had its fuzz.

Limpkin baby taken 9-12-11 by Lee

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) baby taken 9-12-11 by Lee

A Great Blue Heron decided to be friendly and came walking toward me while I was feeding some of the ducks. When I tossed him some food, he ate it and kept coming closer. I kept tossing it food and it kept coming closer. What a delight! If I were brave, I would have tried to hand feed him (or her). As I have said in other blogs, this is only one of two places we feed the birds in this area.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Dan at Lake Morton

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Dan at Lake Morton

What did we see today? Besides the 4 Limpkin youngsters and the Great Blue Heron, we spotted Black and Turkey Vultures, a Great Egret, Anhingas, more Great Blue Herons and a Snowy Egret. Those were seen on the way to Lake Morton in Lakeland. At the lake we saw 15-20 Coots (they are back), 3 Wood Storks, 15-20 Mallards, 10 “Aflac” Ducks, Muscovy Ducks, a Great Egret, Laughing Gull, 7 Mute Swans, 2 Black Swans, Boat-tailed Grackle and 10 Ring-necked Ducks (they are back). Our winter visiting birds are finally returning.

 Dan feeding a Black Swan at Lake Morton

Dan feeding a Black Swan at Lake Morton

I caught Dan feeding one of the Black Swans. Then I found a Muscovy Duck sitting on a nest with the male standing guard in front. To me, they seem “not so pretty”, but the Lord created all the birds and I am sure His Eye is on the Muscovy as well as it is on the Sparrow.

Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)

Muscovy Duck on nest at Lake Morton by Lee

I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

What a perfect day for birding and even though we weren’t there long, the Lord let us see His Creation again, up close and enjoy them.

This was the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:23-24 NKJV)

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