Birds of the Bible – How Many Are There? II

Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora) by Ian

Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora) by Ian

Birds of the Bible – How Many Are There? I (continued…)

As we continue in Genesis, the only other reference to birds that I have found is in Chapter 40. Joseph had been tossed in prison and in time he was joined by Pharaoh’s chief butler and his chief baker. They each have dreams and Joseph interprets them for the two men. Unfortunately the baker’s dream, which includes birds, will be killed.

And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head. And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days: Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee. (Genesis 40:17-19 KJV)

Looking at the verses in the compare mode, “birds” or “birdies” are listed by all except one. The ECB calls them the “flyers.” No matter what they are called, it was not a good day for the Chief Baker.

That brings us to the book of Exodus as the children of Israel travel through the wilderness that we meet our next named bird. The Quail. They had been complaining about only eating manna and started asking why they couldn’t have meat. So the LORD sent them quail or whatever we find they called them. I wrote about this avian critter in Birds of the Bible – Quail and in Quail II. Let’s see how the quail in translated here.

And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. (Exodus 16:13 KJV)

  • Quail or quails by most versions
  • mother-quail (ABP+)
  • little birds (BBE)
Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) by Peter Ericsson

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) by Peter Ericsson

Our next verse and named bird is in Exodus 19:4 where the LORD is telling Moses what to tell the people.

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles‘ wings, and brought you unto myself. (Exodus 19:4 KJV)

The power of the eagle’s wings is referred to as how He freed them from their bondage in Egypt. So now we can add the Eagle to our list of birds. There are many references to Eagles throughout God’s Word. Every version mentions “eagle’s wings” or “wings of eagles.” See the Eagle articles.

As we move on to Leviticus, our count of the birds is going to really climb as we encounter the list of the Clean and Unclean birds in Chapter 11 also lots a variety as to how those birds are translated. Before we get there, the sacrifices are mentioned of the turtledoves or young pigeons, previously covered, in Lev 1:14, 5:7, 11, 12:6, 8, and  chapters 14 and 15.

And if the burnt sacrifice of his offering to the LORD is of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or young pigeons. (Leviticus 1:14 NKJV)

I am going to quote the KJV and NKJV for the list, then we will check out the variations:

Leviticus 11:13-19 KJV
(13) And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
(14) And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;
(15) Every raven after his kind;
(16) And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
(17) And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
(18) And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
(19) And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

Leviticus 11:13-19 NKJV
(13) ‘And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard,
(14) the kite, and the falcon after its kind;
(15) every raven after its kind,
(16) the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind;
(17) the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl;
(18) the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture;
(19) the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Can you see the differences already? That is just two translations, let’s see what the others reveal. So far we now have added; ossifrage, ospray, kite, night hawk, cuckow, hawk, little owl, cormorant, great owl, swan, pelican, gier eagle, stork, heron, lapwing, falcon, ostrich, short-eared owl, sea gull, fisher owl, screech owl, white owl, jackdaw, carrion vulture, hoopoe.

Levitus 11: 13 –

  • griffin (ABP+) (DRB) griffon vulture (NET),  
  • gier-eagle (ASV) (BBE) (RV),
  • Goshauke (Bishops) (Geneva) (Tyndale),
  • sea-eagle (Brenton) (Darby),
  • buzzards (ERV) (NAS77) (NASB) (UKJV),
  • bearded vulture and black vulture (ESV) (GW) (HCSB) (LITV) (MKJV)(WEB R) black and great vulture (JPS)
  • cormoraunte and kyte (Tyndale)

Some list them all in one verse:

(CEV) Eagles, vultures, buzzards, crows, ostriches, hawks, sea gulls, owls, pelicans, storks, herons, hoopoes, and bats are also disgusting, and you are forbidden to eat any of them.
(GNB) You must not eat any of the following birds: eagles, owls, hawks, falcons; buzzards, vultures, crows; ostriches; seagulls, storks, herons, pelicans, cormorants; hoopoes; or bats.

The next two verses are easier. Verse 14 has all birds of prey: (KJV)  “And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; ”

  • vulture – “whole species of falcon” (AMP)
  • kite
  • crows (ABP+)
  • buzzards (CJB) (GW) (NRSV)
  • falcon (Darby) + others
  • hawk (ECB)
  • red kite (ISV)
  • red kites and all kinds of black kites (NIrV) (NIV) (WEB (R))
One last verse for now: “every raven of any kind,” (Leviticus 11:15 ESV)
  • black birds, (ERV)
  • crows (GW) (NET)
Ravens, Blackbirds and Crows are all in the same family. No problem there.

In our list below, I doubled up the obvious birds that are in the same family like the owls and vultures.

Our list of Birds of the Bible so far:

Also mentioned:

  • Swooper (Gen 15:11)
  • Flyers (Gen 40:19) (Lev 11:13)

I am only listing what the different versions have written. I am neither approving or disapproving those versions.

For now, that is enough. To be continued in Part III.

Wordless Birds

Disclaimer About Bible Version Usage


Birds of the Bible – How Many Are There? I

Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

The list of the Birds of the Bible varies according to which version of the Bible you use. We have discussed this in other articles, but don’t think I ever actually listed them all. An article from Birding and the Bible says there are 29 and then questions 2 of them, the Glede and the Ossifrage, adding the Swift, his lists is 28 or 29.

The sidebar here has links to 33 pages of Bible Birds. There are a few more I am considering adding. After this study, I may find even more. I am going to write this as I do my research using my e-Sword program (free). Currently, I have quite a few versions of the Scriptures loaded and want to see what is listed. (Disclaimer About Bible Version Usage) Let’s get started.

The very first reference to birds or fowls, is in Genesis 1:21. That is where God created “every winged fowl after his kind” (KJV) or ” every winged bird according to its kind” (NKJV). Most agree with, “And God saw that it was good.” Here are some of the other ways of stating it:

  • “winged creature feathered  according to type.” (ABP+)
  • “every creature that flies with wings according to its kind,” (Brenton)
  • “every kind of bird that flies in the air.” (ERV)
  • ” all kinds of birds.” (GNB)
  • “He created every kind of bird that flies.” (NIrV)

So basically, all agree that the birds or fowls were created after their kind or type on the fifth day (1:23) and that God saw that it was good. That right there includes all the major families of birds, some have become extinct, some which interbred within their kinds, etc. until today we now have over 10,000 named species of birds. (Birds of the World)

In Genesis 1:25 God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion” over birds, etc. The term his is given as “dominion over”, “have rule over”, “power over” (GNB), “be masters over” (ISV), “So they can be responsible for” (MSG).

Then in Genesis 2:20, Adam named the birds that the LORD God brought to him. The version all agree that they are birds or fowls or the air or heavens.

In chapter 3, Adam and Eve sin against God and we all come under the judgement including the critters, birds included. By chapter 6, things are so bad that the LORD tells Noah to bring two of every kind of critter into the Ark and then in 6:20, the birds are again mentioned. They are to be preserved in pairs of sevens. Again, no specific named bird is mentioned throughout chapter 6 or 7.

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) by Lee

During and after the Flood, then we finally here of specific named birds. The first bird named in the Bible is the Raven. Noah opened the window of the ark and “sent forth a raven” and it flew back and forth “until the waters were dried up from off the earth.” (KJV) Other than spelling differences, they all agree on the Raven. The same is true of verse 8 where the Dove was released. The Dove kept coming back until the waters were totally dried up. The third time it was released, it did not return.

So now we have 2 Birds of the Bible – the Raven and the Dove.

The next reference to birds is in 9:2 where the birds now have a fear of humans placed on them. They, the birds, are told to multiply and fill the earth and are given a covenant or promise by God that the earth would never be destroyed by a worldwide flood again. Gen 9:10-17 – the Rainbow.

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. (Genesis 9:2 KJV)

King Vulture Brevard Zoo 120913 by Lee

King Vulture Brevard Zoo by Lee

In Genesis 15:9 we find the next birds, a Turtledove, young pigeon and in 15:11, the vultures. Two are sacrificed birds, the other is coming to take from the alter.

So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:9-11 NKJV)

Let’s see how these birds are given in the various translations. “dove” several, “turtle” (DRB), “mourning dove” (GW), “even a nestling” (LITV), and “young bird” (YLT). Most are in agreement with spelling differences from the old English of some of the translations.

Verse 11 has: birds of prey, birds, fowls, large birds (DRB), swoopers (ECB), Vultures (GNB, MSG, NKJV), and ravenous birds (YLT). Never heard of “swoopers”, so I guess that one doesn’t count. What you think? They all realize that some birds came swooping down trying to get at the sacrifice, but Abram drove them away.

Our list of Birds of the Bible so far:

Also mentioned:

  • Swooper (Gen 15:11)

For now, that is enough. To be continued in Part II.

Birds of the Bible

Wordless Birds