Mastodon at Creation Museum

Mastodon Cast Fossil Creation Museum 2018 by Dan

“Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:24-25 NKJV)

On the last visit to the Creation Museum last month, we encountered the HUGE skeleton of a Mastodon. It is known as the Burning Tree Mastodon. This fossil is actually a casting of the original fossil that was found under a golf course in Ohio. Looks and size are the same.

Mastodon – Creation Museum 2018 by Lee

We took several photos of the Mastodon to help get a perspective as to how large is really is. I would not liked to have come upon one back when they were alive on earth.

Mastodon Head and Neck – Creation Museum 2018 by Lee

Mastodon Head – Creation Museum 2018 by Lee

Here are a couple of articles, from Answers in Genesis and Institute For Creation Research, that give a more information about the Mastodon.

Fascinating Fossils: Glimpse the Creation Museum’s Collection

The Mastodon Has Arrived

Dinosaur DNA Trumps Mammoth Expert – Institute for Creation Research

Dragon Legends at Creation Museum I

Behemoth – Not The Stuff Of Legends!

Leviathan – Not The Stuff Of Legends!

Many Thanks!

Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons) singing ©Brindusa Art

As many of the readers of this blog know, I had back surgery on August 3rd. Before I mention the results of the surgery, I want to give some thanks.

#1  I want to thank the Lord for His Watching over all that has happened during this. Thanks and praise to a wonderful Savior who cares so much about us.

“O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.” (Psalms 105:1 KJV)

#2  I want to thank all of you for your prayers and well wishes. Also, for continuing to keep up with the blog. I cannot thank you enough for that. Thank you.

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: ” (1 Peter 3:12a KJV)

American Oystercatchers (American Bird Conservancy photo)

#3  I want to especially thank Dr. James J. S. Johnson, who has been practically carrying on this blog, by providing almost an article a day. The articles have been very interesting and entertaining, as I detect by the remarks that have been posted. He posts occasional posts here, but Dr. Jim, as I call him, has written the last 11 posts. Thank you, Dr. Jim.

“We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.” (3 John 1:8 KJV)

My forty-five (45) minute surgery and an overnight stay in the hospital ended up being a two and a half hour surgery and five nights in the hospital. Then we I returned home on Tuesday (100 mile ride), I ended up in the Emergency Room the next day, here in town. It is taking me a while to get back up to strength.

I just found out yesterday why the longer surgery. While they were placing the wedge/cage by my vertebra, the vertebrae fractured due to soft bone. I started bleeding immediately and they had to stop to get that stopped. Then they had to figure out what to do with the vertebra. [How many times I have prayed for other’s surgeries that the Lord would guide their hands, and their thinking.] Thank you for praying.

As a result of that, I ended up with fluid in the sac by the lung. That had to be drained a few days after the surgery. I believe I am now on the mend. I am still weak and on medicine that has slowed me down from even thinking about blogging. See why I am so thankful for the last 11 articles by Dr. Johnson. Needless to say, I have not done any birdwatching. :)

SNOWY EGRET wading & shading (Mrs. Bursk Science Class blog)

Thanks again to all of you for your thoughts and prayers, and especially for the Lord who knew all about this before, during, and after the surgery, and never left me.


If you missed the latest 11 articles by Dr. Jim:

Shake a Leg (or 2 or 3 or 4), Crab-Eater! – Aug 7

Crazy as a Coot! – Aug 8

Pinyon Jay, Grand Canyon’s Forester – Aug 9

Killdeer atop Killdeer: Appreciating Help from Others – Aug 10

Loggerhead Shrike: Converting Thorns into Meat-hooks – Aug 11

Oystercatchers Must be Gentiles – Aug 12

Eggs Taste Better if Salted – Aug 13

Penguin Eggs Tragedy – Aug 14

Shades of Snowies – Aug 15

Peregrine Falcon – Proactive Hunter – Aug 16

Egret Feathers Worth More Than Gold – Aug 17

Master’s Degree WAS Finished in 2017

From February 2016 until October 2017 I was working on a Master’s Degree online from the School of Biblical Apologetics. With my back surgery, a hurricane, and etc., etc., … I failed to post the conclusion of it. It’s about time I express my thankfulness to the Institute for Creation Research for having the online school.

SOBA Degree

I was delighted when I received my tassel and the cords that I would have worn with a cap and gown. When there is no graduation ceremony because of being an online degree, you are at a loss to figure out how to show them off. I solved that problem by hanging my tassel on my walker. Then I showed it off at church. I caused my pastor to double over laughing when I told him the following:

When you graduate when you are young, you hang your tassel on your mirror in the car. When you are 74, you hang it on your walker.

Tassel Hanging plus the Cords on Walker (Posed)

I praise the Lord for the opportunity to take the great courses offered through the School of Biblical Apologetics. Here is a list of the courses that I took for my Master of Christian Education in Biblical Education and Apologetics.

S.O.B.A. Courses Taken

What is the School all about? (Taken from their About page)

The School of Biblical Apologetics (SOBA) is a formal education arm of the Institute for Creation Research. (For more on ICR’s purposes, see Who We Are.)

SOBA provides certificate-level, undergraduate-level, and graduate-level training in biblical education and apologetics. SOBA’s foundation is Scripture, which the school and its faculty hold as inerrant, accurate, and authoritative. Biblical creation, with a special emphasis on Genesis 1-11, is a significant focus of all SOBA degrees, majors, and minors. This focus sets ICR’s program apart from other graduate level apologetic programs.

Fulfilling the purpose of training future leaders in biblical education and apologetics, while maintaining a strict adherence to Scripture (including biblical creationist appreciation of Genesis 1-11), makes ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics the best choice for those desiring to round out their biblical education. SOBA prepares its students with defensible answers for their faith, giving them the tools necessary to “be ready always to give an answer” for the hope within (1 Peter 3:15) and to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3).

Dr. James J. S. Johnson is the Chief Academic Officer of the School. As you may know, he posts articles here on this blog. He loves birdwatching and taught birding courses previous to joining I.C.R. He was a tremendous encouragement for me to begin and continue working on this degree. Also, Mrs Mary Smith, the Registrar and Academic Coordinator, was a great encourager. My thanks to both of them.

My husband, Dan, was my most encouraging supporter. He helped complete my neglected duties because of me “having my head in a book.” :) Thank you, Dan!

At my age, this degree was undertaken for several reasons. It was to help increase my Biblical Knowledge and to help me explain the Creation of God’s fantastic critters better. In other words, for personal enrichment and better witnessing of God’s Love and Salvation. The best decision I ever made in my life was on March 20, 1960, when I personally accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Personal Savior.

I desire to use the truth of God’s Word to encourage others to, 1) accept Christ as their personal Savior, 2) to read and study the truths found in Scripture, 3) apply the Word to their lives and grow Spiritually, and 4) use that knowledge to teach others to do the same.

Please check out the School of Biblical Apologetics and see how you could also benefit from their courses.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17 KJV)


Dinosaurs and Feathers Re-post from Creation Moments

“And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
I am a long-time fan of the BBC science fiction show Doctor Who, having watched it since the mid-1960s when the show was in black and white with no computer graphics and Daleks were upturned trash cans with sink plungers attached. One of my favorite episodes of the modern era was entitled Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. The title said it all.Dinosaur

A lost craft was traveling through space with a cargo of untethered dinosaurs. But not everyone enjoyed the episode. Some well-known evolutionary biologists in Britain complained about one scene which featured a couple of tyrannosauruses. Their complaint was that the T. Rexes should have been covered in feathers.

In practice, the idea of feathered dinosaurs still does not have solid fossil evidence to back it up. Most of the fossils found with evidence of feathers are clearly birds. A small number of others are doubtful but could easily be assumed to be birds.

In 2016, it was announced that a dinosaur feather had been found entrapped in amber. However, the feather was not attached to an animal. Later the same year, other amber-clad feathers were discovered that were definitely attached to a bird. Some have claimed that there are fossil T. Rexes that show signs of feather follicles.

Again, these patterns are open to interpretation. Now, it is possible, perhaps, that some dinosaurs could have had feathers, but this does not provide proof that birds evolved from dinosaurs. What we actually find in the fossil record is evidence of kinds of animals, just as the Bible states. It does not make sense to impose an evolutionary worldview on any of these findings.

When You finished creating, Lord God, You looked at all You had made and declared it to be “very good”. Thank You that all we understand about dinosaurs and other animals is consistent with Your word. Amen.
Ref: Thomas, B. New Doubts about Dinosaur Feathers, ICR article. Image: RJ Palmer, license: Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike 4.0 International.

Source: Dinosaurs and Feathers | Creation Moments

Used with permission ©Creation Moments 2017

The Created Sun and Moon – Re-post from I.C.R.

Solar Eclipse 2011 ©WikiC

“The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5 KJV)

It is He Who sits upon the circuit of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are like grasshoppers; it is He  Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in (Isaiah 40:22)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson (usually appearing as “JJSJ” on this blog), from the Institute for Creation Research, has released a Podcast about our Created Sun and Moon. Especially with the Total Eclipse of the Sun today (August 21st AD2017) by the Moon, across North America, we thought you would enjoy this information.

“What does Scripture say about the sun and the moon? How do these two “great lights” rule the heavens? Dr. Jim Johnson describes the sun and moon’s impact on our planet, as well as their effects on plants, animals, and humans. He also sheds light on a historical controversy involving Galileo…..” CLICK TO HEAR


More from James J. S. Johnson

Dinosaur Tracks from Institute For Creation Research

Dinosaur footprint

Dinosaur footprint ©WikiC

“Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee” (Job 40:15)

Since evolutionary “scientist” believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs, I thought I would introduce you to a few articles and a video about the tracks the Dinosaurs left behind.

Dinosaur tracks can be found on every continent! But just how did they form?

Here are a few of the many articles about Dinosaurs from the Institute for Creation Research. I will cover the Dinosaur-to-Bird issue in another article.

New Dinosaur Tracks Study Suggests Cataclysm – Article
Brian Thomas, M.S. – … observers are not the only ones who puzzle over dinosaur footprint origins. After all, other animal tracks in mud are not fossilized today because erosive processes rapidly erase them. If a rock layer requires thousands of years to…

Dinosaur Footprints in Dallas – Article
Various Authors – … slowly receded, it revealed a reshaped shoreline—and dinosaur tracks. What kinds of creatures made these marks? Local news interviewed area paleontologists who made casts of the dinosaur tracks. The paleontologists will not reveal the…

Regarding some of the trickery that evolutionists engage in, to prevent the truth about dinosaurs from becoming exposed, see

Dinosaur DNA Research: Is the tale wagging the evidence? – Article
Various Authors – … J.D., Jeffrey Tomkins, Ph.D., and Brian Thomas, M.S.* Dinosaurs are a popular topic of study, whether in the public imagination or in scientific research. The scientific community, however, has a dirty little secret regarding the manner in…

Regarding the kind of noise that dinosaurs appeared to be known for, see:

Sound Science About Dinosaurs | The Institute for Creation Research – Article
James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. … there any clues about dinosaur sounds in Scripture or science? In both … and science provide trustworthy evidence that dinosaurs were anything but… ”

Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19 NKJV)


Hummingbirds! – by Brian Thomas, M.S.

Scintillant Hummingbird (Selasphorus scintilla) in Flight by Raymond Barlow

Scintillant Hummingbird (Selasphorus scintilla) in Flight by Raymond Barlow

That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. (Isaiah 41:20 KJV)

I wanted to share an article from the latest Acts and Facts. Acts and Facts is a monthly magazine from the Institute for Creation Research. Here are a few quotes from “Hummingbirds!”, by Brian Thomas, M.S.

Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens) by Judd Patterson

Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens) by Judd Patterson

“Who doesn’t pause to marvel when a hummingbird flies by? These tiny, colorful birds perform amazing aerobatic feats, and yet some very smart scientists insist that mere natural forces mimicked a real engineer to construct these fascinating flyers. Authors of a Nature paper on hummingbird flight wrote in 2005 that “the selective pressure on hummingbird ancestors was probably for increased efficiency.”1 They imagine that hummingbirds….”

Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti) by Michael Woodruff

Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti) by Michael Woodruff

“Hummingbird beaks, bones, and feathers differ from those of all other living or extinct bird kinds.3 Their wings don’t fold in the middle. Instead,….”

Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis) by Raymond Barlow

Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis) by Raymond Barlow

“New hummingbird research has revealed other fascinating features. Birds generate a lot of heat when they fly. Considering their speed, you might expect hummingbirds….”

To read the article  CLICK HERE.


Acts and Facts

“Hummingbirds!”, by Brian Thomas

Institute for Creation Research

Trochilidae – Hummingbirds Family


Friendly and Welcome Visitors

Goldfinches at feeders by Lee thru screen

Goldfinches at feeders by Lee thru screen

Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. (Psalms 96:1-4 NKJV)

For the last two weeks, I have had to stay close to home. First, the disc in my back slipped a little more, causing great pain and lack of mobility. (The biggest slip was back in August) Then, after making it almost through the winter without bronchitis, it caught up with me. The pollen was so heavy, that it was necessary to just stay home to get things back in control. So, this was all mentioned for several reasons. 1) Prayers are always accepted. 2) I was able to work on my online course from the School of Biblical Apologetics. 3) Best of all, the Lord kept sending Avian Wonders for me to watch and be reminded that He always cares for them and us.

“[Even the migratory birds are punctual to their seasons.] Yes, the stork [excelling in the great height of her flight] in the heavens knows her appointed times [of migration], and the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane observe the time of their return. But My people do not know the law of the Lord [which the lower animals instinctively recognize in so far as it applies to them].” (Jeremiah 8:7 AMP)

The most surprising was the American Goldfinches that started coming to my feeders. Very seldom do any come by to dine. Maybe one or two at most. Several times over a week or so, we saw as many as 14 at one time. We figured that they were probably a small flock making their way north for the summer, and with the Lord’s help, landed here to rest and “tank-up” for the rest of their journey. They seem to have now continued their migration. Haven’t seen but the one or two who come by occasionally for the last two days. (OOPS!!!) Just looked out the window while working on this article and now there are at least 10 of them out there feeding. YEAH!!

Here are some of the photos of them, unfortunately, photographed through a screened window.

Sandhill Youngster in Yard 3-26-16

Sandhill Youngster in Yard 3-26-16

Then on Saturday, mom and pop Sandhill Crane came to the yard with their two new youngsters. This time, Dan was able to take the camera and get a few photos of them.

Yesterday, Easter, we drove over to Tampa to the Bayside Community Church to hear Dr. James J. S. Johnson from the Institute for Creation Research speak. On the way over, we had two Swallow tailed Kites fly right over us. They migrate through here this time of the year. They seem to stay for about 2-3 months and then head on north. They are so beautiful to watch.

Swallow-tailed Kite (same)

Swallow-tailed Kite

We always have the Lord’s Wonders to behold, if we just stay alert. He sends blessings to us, even when we may think we are “down.”



James J. S. Johnson

Institute for Creation Research

The Price Of Sparrows – from Institute For Creation Research

House Sparrows watching Parrot show at National Aviary by Lee

House Sparrows at National Aviary by Lee

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

This fascinating bit of first-century pricing information, seemingly so trivial, provides a marvelous glimpse into the heart of the Creator. Of all the birds used for food by the people of those days, sparrows were the cheapest on the market, costing only a farthing for a pair of them. In fact, they cost even less in a larger quantity, for on another occasion Jesus said: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (Luke 12:6). The “farthing” was a tiny copper coin of very small value, so a sparrow was all but worthless in human terms.

Russet Sparrow (Passer rutilans) by Nikhil Devasar

Russet Sparrow (Passer rutilans) by Nikhil Devasar

And yet the Lord Jesus said that God knows and cares about every single sparrow! God had a reason for everything He created; each kind of animal has its own unique design for its own intended purpose. Modern biologists continue to waste time and talent developing imaginary tales about how all these multitudes of different kinds of creatures might have evolved from some common ancestor. Even some evolutionists have started calling these whimsical tales “just so” stories. They would really be better scientists if they would seek to understand the creative purpose of each creature rather than speculating on its imaginary evolution.

Sparrows in snow ©©Bing

Sparrows in snow ©©Bing

The better we comprehend the amazing complexity and purposive design of each creature, the better we realize the infinite wisdom and power of their Creator. Then, all the more wonderful it is to learn that their Creator is our Father! He has placed them all under our dominion, and we need to learn to see them through His eyes if we would be good stewards of the world He has committed to us. We can also thank our heavenly Father that we “are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). HMM

The Price Of Sparrows – ©Institute For Creation Research (March 20, 2016)

Lee’s Addition:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)

I trust you enjoyed this article. Today, instead of the Seven Word Sunday, this devotional is being shared. Today, is my 56th Spiritual Birthday. On March 20, 1960, I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. What a day, the best day of my life; marrying Dan, the second.

Just like the Sparrows, my Father in Heaven, didn’t forget about me, but put those in my path to show me why I needed the Lord as my Savior. In my case, my sister and her husband had accepted Christ the month before. They started telling me about the Lord and invited me to church on the 20th of March. That morning I was shown the plan of salvation and after accepting the free gift of salvation, I left church a new creation.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)



Gospel Message


Birds of the Bible – Parable of the Nest

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Egg in Eastern Phoebe Nest ©WikiC

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Egg in Eastern Phoebe Nest ©WikiC

Recently, I have been taking some on-line courses through the School of Biblical Apologetics with the Institute for Creation Research. Some of the lessons have been about how the Lord used parables to teach many lessons. Jesses seemed to use some of them like object lessons, where you use something currently in sight. So, here is my attempt to use a parable with birds as the object.

When you observe a bird’s nest with eggs in it and they all look alike, do you assume they are all from the same bird parents? In the picture above, it is obvious that there is a “false member of the family” in the nests.

Sometimes, they really do look the same, but there is a “Brood parasite” in among them. They look so similar that you hardly notice them. Therefore the parents accept them, sit on them, and all is well for a while.

Reed Warbler eggs with Cuckoo Egg in them ©WikiC

Reed Warbler eggs with Cuckoo Egg in them ©WikiC

But, when the eggs begin to hatch, several things can happen:

Sometimes, while the chick is in the egg, it hears its adopted parents and will actually make sounds like these parents. Therefore the parents feed them, just like its own.

Sometimes, they are so determined, that they actually shove the hosts eggs or the nestlings out of the nest.

Click to see photo of chick pushing egg out of nest.

When they do begin to grow, they become much larger than the adopted parents.

A Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) chick being fed by a Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia Capensis)

A Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) chick being fed by a Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia Capensis)

Sometimes they really grow.

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) being raised by a Reed Warbler©WikiC

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) being raised by a Reed Warbler©WikiC

Now for an application:

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Peter 2:1-2 NKJV) (emphasis mine)

Some deny the Creation and the Creator of Genesis. Yet, they “accept” the other parts of the Bible. Many other truths of God’s Word are also changed or watered-down to fit the needs of the false teachers.

Those of us who are Christians, should be on our guard for false believers, who may learn to “talk the talk” and may “sound like us,” but they are actually bending or perverting the truth.

“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. ” (Acts 17:11 NKJV)

“These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.…” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NKJV)

“Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:14-15 NKJV)

“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Mark 13:22 NKJV)

Let God’s Word speak for itself. The answers are in the Word of God, if one just searches for these truths.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7 NKJV)

“Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:27 NKJV)

(Bolding for emphasis on verses is mine)


Birds of the Bible

Brood Parasite – Wikipedia

Is There a God?


The Ghost Army – Repost

An inflatable dummy tank ©WikiC

An inflatable dummy tank ©WikiC

The Ghost Army:  Moaning Noises Can be Scary!

– by James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. *

[Lee’s introductionThe current Acts & Facts from Institute for Creation Research has this very interesting article by Dr. James J. S. Johnson, who formerly taught courses on ornithology, ecology, limnology, and other bioscience-related courses at Dallas Christian College.]

Sometimes the best defense is an offense, even when the “offense” is really a bold bluff. This tactic is valued in wartime, and when God uses this principle He deserves our reverent adn admiring appreciation.

America’s top-secret World War II “Ghost Army” used cleverness and technology to fool German forces by masking military vulnerabilities. Yet the main fakery they used wasn’t mere camouflage—the daring deception involved threat-reversal mimicry….

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) ©USFWS

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) ©USFWS

Such is ordinary life for the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), which feeds on the ground and nests there or within shrubs, on buildings, or in trees—the same places where opportunistic and omnivorous rats, like Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus, roam for food. Consequently, dove eggs and hatchlings are sometimes vulnerable to prowling predatory rats.3 … [Click here to see the whole article.]

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Romans 11:33-34 KJV)



Trumpeter Swans: Trumpeting a Wildlife Conservation Comeback

If a bird’s nest chance to be before you in the way, in any tree, or upon the ground, whether they be young ones [i.e., nestling infant birds], or eggs [i.e., not-yet-hatched baby birds], and the mother [’em is the usual Hebrew noun for “mother”] sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young.  But you shall surely send forth the mother, and take the young [literally “children”] for yourself; that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong days.  Deuteronomy 22:6-7

During mid-August (AD2015) my wife and I visited the Columbus Zoo (in Ohio), while vacationing, and I was surprised to see Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) there —  and I realized that the Trumpeter Swan illustrated the importance of Deuteronomy 22:6-7.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©Columbus Zoo

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©Columbus Zoo

Seeing the snowy-white Trumpeter Swans, there, occurred during a telephone call, while we were viewing and identifying various animals, with our enthusiasm-exuding Ohio grandsons (who both call us Mimi and Farfar, the latter name being Norwegian for “father’s father”).  The unexpected telephone call came from a caller in crisis, seeking legal advice, on how to interpret and apply a mix of federal statutes.  It appeared that the call could not wait, till I returned to Texas – such is the lot and responsibility of a vacationing lawyer.

But a bird-watcher has his priorities!  So, as we rounded a bend in the walking trail, and I saw a couple of Trumpeter Swans, I interrupted the phone call with “hold on just a minute”, then I half-screamed to the grandsons: “Look, boys  –  Trumpeter Swans!  Look!  Trumpeter Swans!”

Seeing these massive swans, up close, helps you to appreciate how huge they are.  Trumpeter Swans are the heaviest of all birds that are “native” to North America – and one of the heaviest birds, alive today, that is capable of flight!  Unlike other swans, the Trumpeter Swan has a distinctively black bill, a stark contrast to the all-white hue of its adult plumage.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©USFWS

The Trumpeter is a close cousin of Eurasia’s Whooper Swan [Cygnus cygnus], which I previously commented on, in an earlier blogpost about birdwatching in Iceland  (please check out .)  The Trumpeter Swans did not “trumpet” while we observed them; however, their name is due to their habit of loudly vocalizing with a musical sound like a trumpet, similar to the vocal sounds of their Cygninae cousins, the Whooper Swans and Bewick Swans.  Swans are shaped somewhat like geese, but swans grow larger and have longer (and proportionately thinner) necks.  The poise and posture of swans, accented by their flexible and long necks, appear more elegant than that of geese, some say, although surely mama geese would disagree.  Why are swan necks so lengthy and versatile?  Imagine being nick-named “Edith Swan-neck” — that is the name by which historians remember the wife and widow of England’s last Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, who lost the Battle of Hastings to William the Conqueror, in AD1066.  [ For more on that providentially historic battle, see  . ]  Geese have 17 to 23 neck vertebrae, yet swans have 24 or more!  Trumpeters also bob their heads a lot, apparently as a form of visual communication with one another.

Back to the very busy (and very tiring) adventure at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.

As we all excitedly discussed the Trumpeter Swans, so close to us then, my mind recalled how these quietly graceful and magnificently dignified swans were once very close to the extinction cliff.   According to one study (by Banko, cited below), in AD1957, the United States then hosted only 488 Trumpeter Swans.  It got even worse!  In AD1932, fewer than 70 Trumpeter Swans were known to exist in all of America, with about half of them dwelling at or near Yellowstone National Park’s northwest section.  Would the Trumpeter Swan go extinct like the Passenger Pigeon and the Dodo bird?

What a loss it would have been, if our earthly home had seen a permanent demise of such noble anatids, especially since they once teemed when America was founded!

Trumpeter Swans were once hunted in huge numbers – thousands were killed for their skins and/or feathers.  Sir John Richardson (a Scottish scientist/surgeon who studied the Trumpeter extensively) once wrote that the Trumpeter Swan was “the most common Swan in the interior of the fur-counties.  …  It is to the trumpeter that the bulk of the Swan-skins imported by the Hudson’s Bay Company belong” [as quoted in Winston E. Banko, “The Trumpeter Swan:  Its History, Habits, and Population in the United States”, North American Fauna, 63:1-214 (April 1960), a data-source used for much of this article].  The Trumpeter Swan was well-known of its migratory habits, ranging from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, according to ornithologist James Audubon:

“The Trumpeter Swans make their appearance on the lower portions of the waters of the Ohio about the end of October. They throw themselves at once into the larger ponds or lakes at no great distance from the river, giving a marked preference to those which are closely surrounded by dense and tall canebrakes, and there remain until the water is closed by ice, when they are forced to proceed southward. During mild winters I have seen Swans of this species in the ponds about Henderson [Kentucky] until the beginning of March, but only a few individuals, which may have stayed there to recover from their wounds. When the cold became intense, most of those which visited the Ohio would remove to the Mississippi, and proceed down that stream as the severity of the weather increased, or return if it diminished. . . . I have traced the winter migrations of this species as far southward as the Texas, where it is abundant at times, . . . At New Orleans . . . the Trumpeters are frequently exposed for sale in the markets, being procured on the ponds of the interior, and on the great lakes leading to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. . . . The waters of the Arkansas and its tributaries are annually supplied with Trumpeter Swans, and the largest individual which I have examined was shot on a lake near the junction of that river with the Mississippi. It measured nearly ten feet in alar extent, and weighed above thirty-eight pounds.”   [Quotation taken from Banko, on page 15.]

During AD1862 George Barnston, a Scottish-born Hudson’s Bay Company official in Canada, noticed the Trumpeter Swan’s remarkable migration habit, as it is seen in America’s Northwest:

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) and Canadian Geese ©WikiC

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) and Canadian Geese ©WikiC

“In the winter months all the northern regions are deserted by the swans, and from November to April large flocks are to be seen on the expanses of the large rivers of the Oregon territory and California, between the Cascade Range and the Pacific where the climate is particularly mild, and their favourite food abounds in the lakes and placid waters. Collected sometimes in great numbers, their silvery strings embellish the landscape, and form a part of the life and majesty of the scene.”   [Quotation taken from Banko, on page 17.]

Records indicate that Trumpeter Swans were still present in “the states of Washington, Oregon, and California in the Pacific flyway ; Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Icansas, and Texas in the Central flyway ; Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Louisiana in the Mississippi flyway ; and Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina in the Atlantic flyway to demonstrate that the trumpeter still appeared as a migrant or winter resident in those states during the last half of the 19th century”, according to Banko (at page 20).  Banko further reported, in AD1960, that the marketable feathers of swans historically superceded the marketing of their skins (especially by the Hudson’s Bay Company), and soon the population numbers of North American swans were plummeting as swan feathers gained popularity as a glamorous ingredient in fancy hats for ladies, with less flamboyant quills being marketed as ink-pens.   Even the famous Audubon, in AD1828, observed that American Indians engaged in swan hunts, in order to gain the prized plumage of these wondrous waterfowl, many of which feathers would ultimately be exported for resale to ladies of fashion in Europe!  (Banko once served as Refuge Manager, Branch of Wildlife Refuges, for the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish & Wildlife Service).

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©WikiC naturespicsonline

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) ©WikiC naturespicsonline

As transatlantic trade in fancy feathers burgeoned, the marketing of Trumpeter Swan plumage (as well as plumage of other large birds, such as flamingo, egret, heron, and many others), for fashionable female headgear, was driving the North American population of Trumpeter Swans toward regional extirpations and appeared aimed at a continental extinction, — unless regulatory brakes were somehow applied, with ameliorative conservation efforts to restore the population.

Many conservation efforts combined, to rescue the Trumpeter Swan’s perilous predicament,   four of which were:  (1) the Lacey Act of 1900, that banned trafficking in illegal wildlife; (2) the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, that implemented the migratory bird protection “convention” treaty, of AD1916, between America and Great Britain (f/b/o Canada); (3) President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 7023 (4-22-AD1935); and (4) the conservation-funding statute called the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration [Pittman-Robertson] Act of 1937.  For more on this last federal wildlife conservation-funding law, please review “Crayfish, Caribou, and Scientific Evidence in the Wild”, posted at ).

Saving America’s Trumpeter Swan from near-extinction is largely due – humanly speaking – to the establishment of the Red Rock Lakes Migratory Waterfowl Refuge (n/k/a “Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge”), part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem  —  located mostly within a 60-mile radius that includes portions of southwestern Montana, eastern Idaho, and northwestern Wyoming, including Yellowstone National Park, which itself includes a “Trumpeter Lake”.   The Trumpeters have enjoyed dwelling in the Red Rock Lakes neighborhood for generations —  for example, an aerial photograph during January AD1956 shows 80 of them on Culver Pond (east Culver Spring area, where warm spring waters, often found in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, keep the pond from freezing), on a day when the outside air was -20 degrees Fahrenheit!  (See page 59 of Banko’s report, cited above.) This federal wildlife refuge was established by FDR’s presidential executive order (#7023), in AD1935, largely in reaction to the nadir-number of Trumpeter Swan count of less than 70 during AD1932.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by Daves BirdingPix

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by Daves BirdingPix

According to the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge’s official website (q.v., at, this refuge now includes 51,386 acres, plus conservation easements totaling 23,806 acres, all of which blends into a marvelous mix of snowmelt-watered mountains, montane forests, flowing freshwater, and marshy meadows:

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has often been called the most beautiful national wildlife refuge in the United States. The rugged Centennial Mountains, rising to more than 10,000 feet, provide a dramatic backdrop for this extremely remote Refuge in Southwest Montana’s Centennial Valley. Red Rock Lakes NWR encompasses primarily high mountain, wetland-riparian habitat–the largest in the Greater Yellowstone Area– and is located near the headwaters of the Missouri River. Several creeks flow into the refuge, creating the impressive Upper Red Rock Lake, River Marsh, and Lower Red Rock Lake. The snows of winter replenish the refuge’s lakes and wetlands that provide secluded habitat for many wetland birds, including the trumpeter swan, white-faced ibis, and black-crowned night herons. The Refuge also includes wet meadows, willow riparian, grasslands, and forest habitats. This [ecological] diversity provides habitat for other species such as sandhill cranes, long-billed curlews, peregrine falcons, eagles, hawks, moose, badgers, bears, wolves, pronghorns and native fish such as Arctic grayling and westslope cutthroat trout.”    [Quoting from ]

Trumpeter Swans are also seen afloat in lakes of Wyoming’s neighboring park, Grand Teton National Park, a scenic mountain-dominated park accented by the Snake River and Jackson Lake, and historically enjoyed, annually (in the summer), by many bankruptcy barristers (and their families), as they simultaneously attended the Norton Bankruptcy Law Institutes at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  The Trumpeter pairs are often seen as isolated pairs, each “owning” its own lake, yet these swans also congregate in gregarious flocks, especially in the Red Rock Lakes area.

[Canadians, especially in British Columbia and Alberta, have also been intensively involved in serious efforts to conserve Canada’s population of Trumpeter Swans, for more than 65 years – but this birding report mostly notices and focuses on the Trumpeter conservation efforts in the United States.]

Has FDR’s Executive Order 7023 been followed by conservation and restoration success, for the Trumpeter Swan?   The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website reports a happy “yes”:

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by Kent Nickel

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) by Kent Nickel

In 1932, fewer than 70 trumpeters were known to exist worldwide, at a location near Yellowstone National Park.  This led to the establishment of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in 1935.  Red Rock Lakes is located in Montana’s Centennial Valley and is part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.  Nearly half of the known trumpeter swans in 1932 were found in this area.  Warm springs provide year-round open waters where swans find food and cover even in the coldest weather.  Today, estimates show about 46,225 trumpeter swans reside in North America, including some 26,790 in the Pacific Coast population (Alaska, Yukon, and NW British Columbia) which winter on the Pacific Coast; 8,950 in Canada; about 9,809 in the Midwest; and about 487 in the tri-state area of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana (including the Red Rock Lakes refuge flock).”   [Quoting from ]

Sounds like a winner to me  —   from less than 70 to more than 46,000!

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) cygnets ©USFWS

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) cygnets ©USFWS

However, if only the wildlife conservation principle of Deuteronomy 22:6-7 (i.e., you can take the eggs and nestlings, but not the adult mother birds) had been practiced in North America, during the past 2 or 3 centuries, the continent’s Trumpeter Swan population would never have gotten so close to extinction.  Moses not only mandated restrictions on excessively hunting avian wildlife (Deuteronomy 22:6-7), Moses also banned imprudent deforestation (Deuteronomy 20:19-20).   Of course, creation conservation laws are always balanced to value human life over nonhuman life forms (Matthew 6:26-30; Psalm 8; Jonah 4:8-11).  Yet the promulgated priority of stewardly usage of God’s creation – because all of creation is God’s property, ultimately, not ours! — traces all the way back to Creation Week, because even Adam was put into Eden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15), and Noah managed the greatest biodiversity protection project ever (Genesis chapters 6-9).

Humans have been eating domesticated birds, such as chicken and turkey, ever since Noah’s family disembarked the Ark (Genesis 9:3).  People who raise domesticated fowl (such as chickens) are careful to preserve enough breeders so that they don’t eat up all of their fowl.  [This illustrates the old adage about balancing give and take: if your input exceeds your output, your upkeep is your downfall!]  Accordingly, chicken farmers avoid eating all of their chickens  — it’s important to protect the reproductive success of your chickens if you want poultry eggs and/or chicken meat to eat, on a continuing basis!  But what about wild birds?  The private ownership principle that guides common sense, in raising chickens and other domesticated fowl, doesn’t work so well with wild birds (especially migratory birds), because they are not privately “owned” – so they are a “public” resource vulnerable to irresponsible “tragedy-of-the-commons” depletion.

And most swans are wild, so greedy over-hunting can endanger their population success.

Providentially, the eating of wild birds, such as wild swans, was restricted under Mosaic law, for good reason  —  wild bird populations can be extinguished if one generation of hunters gets too greedy.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) on nest ©USFWS

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) on nest ©USFWS

If a bird’s nest chance to be before you in the way, in any tree, or upon the ground, whether they be young one [i.e., nestling infant birds], or eggs [i.e., not-yet-hatched baby birds], and the mother [’em is the usual Hebrew noun for “mother”] sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young.  But you shall surely send forth the mother, and take the young [literally “children”] for yourself; that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong days.  Deuteronomy 22:6-7

This is a simple law of predator-prey dynamics:  if the predator population (i.e., the “eaters”) consume too many of the prey population (i.e., the “eatees”), the result is bad for both populations, because the prey population experiences negative population growth, a trend that can lead to its reproductive failure (and extirpation) if the excessive predation continues unabated.

Each generation of humans, therefore, needs to exercise wise stewardship of Earth’s food resources, so that adequate food resources will be available of posterity (i.e., later generations).  When greed leads to over-hunting, the foreseeable consequence is bad for both the birds (whose population declines, generationally) and the humans (whose food resources decline, generationally).

Sad to say, mankind’s track record for respecting and heeding God’s Word, as it teaches us to be godly stewards of His creation (and to use it in ways that glorify Him, its rightful and only true Owner), all-too-often misses the mark (Romans 3:23).

What slow learners we all-too-often are!   [For Genesis-based ecology perspectives, for this fallen “groaning” world, see and and  and .]

Meanwhile, may God have mercy on the people of America, by restoring to us a serious and reverent respect for the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), that He has given us in the Holy Bible, His holy Word.  Only then, as we heartily heed His Word, will we properly appreciate and rightly treat His creation, including the Trumpeter Swan.  And, only then, will we properly revere and appreciate Him as our Creator (and Redeemer).  And living life responsibly on His earth, with that kind of reverence, would be far better than the fanciest feather in anyone’s cap!

by James J. S. Johnson


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