Nail-punctured Tire Leads to Red-bellied Woodpecker

Nail-punctured  Tire  Leads  to  Red-bellied  Woodpecker

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain.  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then it vanishes away.  For that ye ought to say, ‘If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that’.   (James 4:13-15)

Red-bellied-Woodpecker.KenThomas-Wikipedia

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER photo credit: Ken Thomas / Wikipedia

How was seeing a Red-bellied Woodpecker, on July the 5th, the direct result discovering a punctured car tire on July the 4th? And how was this series of related events an illustration of James 4:13-15?

On the 4th of July we planned a multi-generational (i.e., 4 generations!) family get-together, to share a meal and a relaxing visit, but en route I discovered a silver screw-nail pressed into the front right tire of our van.  Surprise! – surprises like that can interrupt your “flight plan”, so a “Plan B” becomes necessary.

Although our arrival was a bit delayed, it all worked out, without too much trouble, by using a different car, but on July 5th about a half-day was spent with me at the tire repair place  —  but I used the wait-time wisely, reading about lobster ecdysis (i.e., shell-shedding, a/k/a molting) and other such fascinating activities of coastal crustaceans!

Yet should I have been totally surprised?  As James 4:13-15, quoted above, indicates, we should never be shocked when our Plan A must be replaced by a Plan B.  In the end, because we belong to our Lord Jesus Christ, it all works out for good (Romans 8:28).

A NAIL, A TIRE, AND INTERRUPTED PLANS

Silver gleamed from a tire of our van;

A road trip stopped ere it began:

A nail caused air to leak,

Making our van’s tire weak,

Quickly changing my day’s checklist plan.

On the brighter side, on the 5th of July, in a grassy are (with a few small trees) by the tire repair center, I saw (and watched with admiration for God’s detailed bioengineering handiwork) a Red-bellied Woodpecker — that’s a bird I don’t often get to see.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER photo credit: Helena Reynolds / Audubon Field Guide

Each day has its little treasures, if we have eyes to see them.  (And some days have much bigger treasures, such as when a grandchild demonstrated a sincere reverence for God and His Word!)


 

 

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, Oklahoma’s Long-tailed State Bird

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher,

Oklahoma’s Long-tailed State Bird

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Scissortail-OklaDeptWildlifeConservn

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER in flight

Photo credit: Oklahoma Dep’t of Wildlife Conservation

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)

Feathers provide a soft aerodynamic covering for birds, and parent birds are known to use their feather-clad wings to protect their young –  so much so that God Himself compared His own protectiveness to the protective wings of parent birds (see also Matthew 23:37).  What wonderfully lightweight yet sturdy  structures feathers are – it is amazing how God cleverly imagined and invented such airworthy body parts!  One bird with unusually long tail feathers is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, several of which my wife and I saw throughout the day last Saturday, while visiting part of Oklahoma.

Specifically, last Saturday (June 16th AD2018) my wife and I undertook a day trip to Frederick, Oklahoma  –  a small town not far from Wichita Falls, Texas (yet obviously north of the Red River, on the Oklahoma side) –  to visit some American West historical sites and the Tillman County Historical Society’s museum, a/k/a Frederick’s “Pioneer Heritage Townsite Museum”, located next to the Tillman County Courthouse — which courthouse’s lawn features a statue of two of Frederick’s most courageous young adventurers, Louis and Temple Abernathy, sons of U.S. Marshal “Catch-’em-alive” Jack Abernathy.

[ See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Abernathy_and_Temple_Abernathy and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Abernathy and http://www.visitfrederickok.com/placestosee/abernathy_boys.html .]

What amazing epic adventures occurred a little more than a century ago, in that area – and are now are chronicled there, for us now to appreciate!

Scissortail-perching.Cornell-allaboutbirds

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER perching on barbed wire

                                     Photo credit: Allaboutbirds.org / Cornell University

However, that report must appear elsewhere (D.v.) because this is a birdwatching blogsite, so here I will report on the most remarkable of the birds we observed that day, the SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, which happens to be the official state bird of Oklahoma. Roger Tory Peterson describes this fine-feathered foot-long flycatcher as follows:

“A beautiful bird, pale pearly gray, with an extremely long, scissorlike tail that is usually folded. Sides and wing linings salmon-pink.  Young birds with shorter tails may suggest Western Kingbird.  Hybrids [with other tyrant flycatchers] are known.”

[Quoting Roger Tory Peterson, A FIELD GUIDE TO WESTERN BIRDS (Houghton Mifflin / Peterson Field Guides series, 3rd edition 1990), page 230.]

Scissortail-perching.DickDaniels

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, perching on branch

Photo credit: Dick Daniels / Carolinabirds.org

Scissortails breed mostly in Oklahoma and Texas (and Kansas), migrating to Mexico and beyond (to Panama) for the winter. Scissortails (like many other kingbirds) prefer open prairies and semi-open areas, such as thinly wooded farms, ranches, towns, and roadsides – often perching upon ranchland barbed wires, tree branches, or atop bushy shrubs, as they monitor their surroundings for flies to snatch.  As their name suggests, scissortail flycatchers are “hawking” aerial predators of flies and other flying insects (such as dragonflies, wasps, robber flies, bees, etc.), although they also enjoy eating earthbound insects (like beetles and grasshoppers), as well as winter berries.

So here is my limerick, to memorialize the time birdwatching in and around Frederick, Oklahoma, historic home of the adventurous Abernathy family:

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHERS, OKLAHOMA’S OFFICIAL BIRD

Perching and alert, scissortail

Pearly grey, its plumage is pale;

Hawking flies in midflight,

Eating bugs with delight

Long-tailed bird that Okies do hail!

Scissortail-with-grasshopper-Birdsna.org-JoeOvercash

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER with grasshopper

Photo credit: Birds of North America / Joe Overcash

 

 

 

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!


 

Shoreline Action: Birds, Turtles, and a Gator

Shoreline Action: Birds, Turtles, and a Gator

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Again He turneth the wilderness into pools of water, and the dry land into water springs.   (Psalm 107:35, Geneva Bible)

Water is a universal magnet for birds and other animals, so “pools” (or “ponds” or “lakes”) attract wildlife.  So having a pond (or a “lake”) in one’s backyard is good for birdwatching — as well as for watching other kinds of wildlife.

Birds-Zim.Golden-Guides-series-1956

JJSJ’s first bird-book (from 2nd grade)

During the latter part of this month, for a couple days (May 20th through 22nd), I once again had the memorable privilege of birdwatching in St. Petersburg, at the hospitable home of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel.    [Regarding this favorite backyard birdwatching site, see “Appreciating White Ibises (and Other Birds in Florida)”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/12/06/appreciating-white-ibises-as-well-as-dozens-of-other-birds-in-florida/ .]   On Monday (May 21st), on or near that lacustrine shoreline, in addition to feeding some large turtles and a hungry alligator  (about 4 feet long! — who stayed on the other side of a metal fence), we saw a lot of birds  – osprey (a/k/a “fish hawk”), great blue heron, Louisiana heron (a/k/a “tri-colored heron”), white ibis, wood stork, mallard, Muscovy duck, snowy egret , great white egret, boat-tailed grackles, anhinga (a/k/a “snake-bird”), etc.  –  and we heard the eerie calls of limpkins (a/k/a “crying bird”). Onshore we also saw birds in the trees, including blue jay and some variety of sparrows, as well as frenetic grey squirrels.    [Regarding Florida’s shellfish-snacking limpkins, see Lee Dusing’s “The Disappearing Limpkin”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2017/11/04/the-disappearing-limpkin/ .]

CommonMoorhen-wikipedia-ShantanuKuveskar

COMMON MOORHEN (a/k/a Florida Gallinule, a/k/a Marsh Hen) — photo credit: Shantanu Kuveskar / Wikipedia

In error, then, I thought I saw a Purple Gallinules family, but Bob correctly identified these candy-corn-billed rail-fowl as Common Moorhen (a/k/a “marsh hen” and “Florida gallinule”), and Bob’s bird-book confirmed Bob’s identification.  Meanwhile, at one point, amidst a lot of tossing pieces of bread unto the birds and turtles (and alligator), Marcia tossed some less-than-fresh tuna fish salad upon the shore  –  and the tuna was quickly gobbled up by a Louisiana Heron! (Louisiana herons are birds that I don’t often see – I first saw one at Aransas Bay, in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, on March 11th of AD1996, and I have rarely seen any since then.)  It rained quite a bit, later (on Monday and Tuesday), so I was very glad that we did our backyard birdwatching when we did  — here is a limerick to remember that time by!

Remembering Time (and Critters) at the Shore

Ducks afloat, hawks in the sky

Herons ashore, jays fly by;

Turtles near, some beyond

Gobble bread in the pond;

Busy critters catch my eye!


Happy birdwatching!

Behold! Carolina Chickadee in Louisiana Pine Tree!

Carolina-Chickadee-FeederWatch.org-in-pine-tree

Carolina Chickadee in pine tree (photo credit: FeederWatch.org )

 

The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth.  The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.   (Daniel 4:11-12)

Birds love trees!

Trees provide suitable platforms for nests.  Sometimes trees serve as substrates for crawling bugs that are eaten by attentive birds. Trees provide shelter form boisterous winds or excessively hot sunlight.  Trees often provide fruits or nuts that birds eat. Trees can provide protective cover to birds who hide in their branch-supported foliage. Trees provide perching sites, for resting or for monitoring the neighborhood for predator or prey.  Among other uses, trees are made to birds!

One perky illustration of these forest ecology facts is the Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis).

Carolina-Chickadee.RangeMap-Wikipedia

Carolina Chickadee range map (Wikipedia)

On Thursday, March 22nd (AD2018) I saw a “lifer”  —  a Carolina Chickadee perched upon a branch of a pine tree, in the Thomas, Louisiana (in the Franklinton/Pine area), not too many miles south of Brookhaven, Mississippi (home of some of the best Cajun/Creole cuisine I’ve ever eaten – at “Mardi Gras Gril”, a family-owned-and-operated restaurant).  The Carolina Chickadee looks a lot like it northern cousin, the beige-accented Black-capped Chickadee; however, the Carolina Chickadee has no beige plumage – its feathers are a patchwork of black, grey, and white.

Carolina-Chickadee.AlbertoLopezTorres-photo
Carolina Chickadee (Alberto Lopez Torres)

So here is my limerick about seeing the chickadee in the pine tree.

 

        VIEWING A CAROLINA CHICKADEE IN LOUISIANA

Behold!  The Carolina Chickadee  —

        Was perched within a pine tree;

               ‘Twas ready, to grab, bugs to eat,

               For insects, in air, was its meat  —

        Behold!  The Carolina Chickadee!

(Also, that day, I observed Eastern Bluebird, Barn Swallow, Swamp Sparrow, Mockingbird, Black Vulture, White Egret, Brown Thrasher, and more —  and heard a Mourning Dove’s mournful cooing.)

Louisiana is not just a “Sportsman’s Paradise”, it is a near-paradise for birdwatching (and catching frogs!)  —  but, if you are in or near in blackwater swamps,  watch out for snakes and alligators!   (Meanwhile, expect to have some good Cajun cuisine!)

JJSJ-eating-crawdads-in-Mississippi

JJSJ eating crawdads, Mardi Grad Gril (Brookhaven, Mississippi)

Teaching God’s Creatorship to Kids

 

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SNOW GEESE at Hagerman N.W.R.   (photo by Trent)

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.   (Deuteronomy 6:7)

USING  RECREATION  TO  TEACH  GOD’S  CREATIONSHIP  TO  KIDS

Kids grow with imagination,

Kids learn, too, with recreation;

Moth to watch, ducks to feed,

Songs to sing, books to read

So teach kids about creation!

And, in the process of teaching kids about creation, teach them about God’s Creatorship.

Unless the process is “boring”, most kids like to learn.  Furthermore, most young children love to learn about animals — especially mammals and birds.

Child-feeding-ducks.DailyExpress

child feeding ducks (Daily Express photo)

Introducing a young child to birdwatching, therefore, can be one of the most wonderful favors one can do for such a child.  In fact, teaching a child about God’s Creatorship is one of the best “inheritances” that a parent — or a grandparent (or a family friend) — can bestow to a child (Proverbs 13:22).

Birds-Zim.Golden-Guides-series-1956

For an example of a child being introduced to birdwatching, see “Attracted to Genesis by Magnets and a Bird Book“, posted at  http://www.icr.org/article/attracted-genesis-by-magnets-bird-book — and its uncondensed version at “Appreciating Baltimore Orioles and my First Bird Book“, posted at  https://leesbird.com/2015/06/02/appreciating-baltimore-orioles-and-my-first-bird-book/ .    (See alsoSnow Goose, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, and More“.)


 

American Goldfinch, Seen in Penn’s Woods

AN AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, SEEN IN PENN’S WOODS,

NEAR THE SUSQUEHANNA RIVER

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.    (Psalm 68:13)

American-Goldfinch.Fredric-D-Nisenholz-BirdsandBlooms

AMERICAN GOLDFINCH on thistle (Fredric D. Nisenholz / Birds & Blooms)

 The psalmist referred to a special dove having silver-covered wings, with feathers sporting yellow-gold highlights (literally, flight-feathers of greenish-gold).  What a beautiful dove that must be!  In America, however, there is a yellow-colored finch that we are more likely to see, the AMERICAN GOLDFINCH.  It too could be called greenish-gold, because its plumage varies seasonally, from lemon-yellow to a light olive-green.  Goldfinches are small passerines, monogamous (i.e., male-female couples permanently paired, as if married) gregarious (i.e., they travels and feed in flocks), and they migrate to and form the outer territories of their populational ranges — although they are year-round residents in much of their American range (see Wikipedia range map below: yellow for breeding-only, green for year-round residence, blue for over-wintering only). 

AmericanGoldfinch.range-map-wikipedia

For me, the first time I saw one was on Friday, July 22nd AD2016, as I was driving a rent-car on a wood-flanked country road that paralleled the Susquehanna River, in Pennsylvania, near Exeter, where the next day I would speak at the Pennsylvania Keystone Family Bible Conference, in celebration of 60 years of IN GOD WE TRUST being our national motto.  Here is a quick limerick in honor and appreciation of the American Goldfinch.  (Speaking of our national motto, IN GOD WE TRUST, it derives from THE STAR-SPANGELD BANNER, penned by attorney Francis Scott Key, during the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.)

AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, A YELLOW-FEATHERED FELLOW

Lemon-hued, they eat many seeds;

They’re social, so in flocks they feed;

Goldfinches migrate,

Each true, to its mate;

God provides for all goldfinch needs.

AmericanGoldfinch.female-wikipedia

AMERICAN GOLDFINCH female, Virginia (Wikipedia / flickr.com photograph)

 

BIRDWATCHING AT COX ARBORETUM (IN OHIO)

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.  (Psalm 84:3)

Northern-Cardinal.MotherNatureNetwork

NORTHERN CARDINAL   (Mother Nature Network)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

BIRDWATCHING AT THE ARBORETUM, AS THE HOURS HURRIED BY

Bright red, flies by, a cardinal male,

As down, we trek, a nature trail;

Here it’s wide, there it’s narrow;

Perched nearby, a chipping sparrow;

(How quickly told is our tale.)

Chipping-Sparrow.AudubonSociety

CHIPPING SPARROW   (Audubon Field Guide)

One of Shakespeare’s plays, MACBETH, includes a cynical comment that compares the transitory experience of human mortality to a fleeting “hour upon the stage”, like a “tale” that is “told” with “sound and fury”, yet “signifying nothing” (MACBETH, Act 5, Scene 5).  It is true that this earthly lifetime is transitory and fleeting (James 4:13-15), yet this earthly life is the opposite of meaningless — unless we foolishly ignore our Maker (Ecclesiastes 12:1).  And our Maker cares so much for us — much more than He cares for little birds, like sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31),  — so much that He has provided a free redemption and abundant life in Christ, available to all who believingly receive Him as personal Savior (John 1:12 & 3:16 & 14:6).  And, thankfully, belonging to Him lasts forever!

English-Sparrow.AllAboutBirds

ENGLISH SPARROW   ( allaboutbirds.org  )

Time flies.  Time zooms by even moreso when one is experiencing a wonderful blessing, as the above limerick briefly notes in fly-by fashion.  Such a time was last Thursday (June 29th AD2017), when I was birdwatching (and butterfly-watching) with my youngest grandson, Hunter, at the Cox Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio.  At the Arboretum we saw various birds (including English Sparrow [a/k/a “House Sparrow”], American Goldfinch, Canada Goose, Mallard, Robin, Northern Cardinal, and Chipping Sparrow), butterflies (including Cabbage White, Pipevine Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail, and Orange Sulphur), other insects (bumblebees, ants, dragonflies, etc.), pond-dwelling fish, slow-moving turtles, and scampering chipmunks.  For me, the Chipping Sparrow was a special highlight — it is a summer breeder during its migrant months in Ohio.  (Hunter accurately described the Chipping Sparrow, who helpfully posed for our observations, as looking like an English Sparrow except “his head has red on it” and “there’s some white by his eyes”.)  Hunter had a one-word comment on the American Goldfinch:  WOW!

The hours of hiking went all too quickly.  It was a precious time for Farfar (Norwegian for “father’s father”) to teach a grandson something of the wonders of God’s creation, and something about the wonderfulness of God Himself.  Thankfully, neither of us fell into any of the ponds — although some inspections of turtles or fish came close to a splashing scenario.  It was a good day — albeit one that hurried by all too quickly.

American-Goldfinch.Fredric-D-Nisenholz-BirdsandBlooms

AMERICAN GOLDFINCH   (Fredric Nisenholz / Birds and Blooms )

Dueling with a Diamondback in the Desert: Roadrunner vs. Rattlesnake!

DUELING  WITH   A  DIAMONDBACK  IN  THE  DESERT:  ROADRUNNER  vs.  RATTLESNAKE!  

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Let their table become a snare before them; and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.   (Psalm 69:22)

Roadrunner-approaches-coiled-Rattlesnake-in-desert

Sometimes hunting backfires: the hunter becomes the hunted!

Recall how Haman, in the Book of Esther, plotted to persecuted the Jews, to death, during his heyday in the Persian Empire?  The result was the opposite of his diabolical scheme, however – and it was the Jews who deftly ended as victors (over their persecutors), with Haman himself being hanged to death, on the very gallows that he had constructed for hanging his Jewish rival, Mordecai!(1)

Amazingly, the animal kingdom sometimes sees something comparable happen – such as the scrubland showdown that sometimes occurs when a rattlesnake decides to prey upon a roadrunner. For an action-packed documentation of such a do-or-die duel, see the National Geographic video footage (“Roadrunner vs. Rattlesnake”) posted at  http://video.nationalgeographic.com/tv/roadrunner-vs-rattlesnake  (slightly longer than 2 minutes).

Rattlesnake-attacks-Roadrunner.Natl-Geo-youtube-pic

Hence, here is a poetic tribute (in limerick format) to the roadrunner, whom God caringly designed to “hold its own”, and then some (!), when dueling with a diamondback in the desert!

RATTLESNAKE  ATTACKS  MAMA  ROADRUNNER!

(JJSJ’s poetic review of predator-prey turnabout)

A rattlesnake, hunting for prey,

Met Mama Roadrunner that day;

The coiled snake grinned with glee,

But the fowl did not flee —

Thus, a bird, the snake aimed to slay.

 

The roadrunner brave, the snake brash;

Twin fangs lunged – but no gash!

The bird’s flesh he had missed —

The bird jumped, the snake hissed;

Again, the snake struck in a flash!

Rattler-fangs-ready2bite.Pinterest

Missed again! – the bird jumped aside!

Once again, snake-fangs were denied;

So the shrewd snake re-set,

As the bird watched the threat —

Then a target the roadrunner eyed.

 

The roadrunner now used her skill,

To bite the snake hard, with her bill!

Between the fangs, she had bit —

Vise-clamped bite! – she won’t quit!

Fangs dangling, the snake couldn’t kill!

Roadrunner-bites-Rattlesnake.Pinterest

Struggle, wiggle, — the trapped snake did strain,

To loose the bird’s grip, but in vain!

The bird’s bite, firm and fierce —

The snake’s fangs, naught could pierce;

The snake’s plight, now dire, with pain!

Roadrunner-biting-smashing-Rattlesnake-head

The bird aims – the snake’s head now bashed

On rocks, the snake’s head, thrashed and smashed.

Hammering the snake’s head,

Till it’s broken and dead —

The snake’s crown is thus cracked and crashed.

Roadrunner-biting-crushing-Rattlesnake-head

This showdown, so furious and fast,

Ends with the rattler breathing his last;

The snake thought he found prey,

But on that fateful day,

‘Twas the snake as roadrunner’s repast!

Roadrunner-eats-Rattlesnake.closeup

Of this duel, the moral is clear

(If, your own life, you hold dear):

A predator, one day,

On the next, may be prey!

And Mama Roadrunner, you’d best fear!

Roadrunner-in-desert.SanDiegoUnionTribune.jpg

Roadrunners are fast. These chaparral birds live in deserts and xeric scrub (such as sage-dominated scrublands), and in other rural and semi-rural regions of America’s Southwest, feeding on bugs, scorpions, lizards, and snakes.

But can roadrunners survive showdowns with diamondback rattlesnakes? Yes! Although roadrunners are famous for running from danger, they aggressively attack rattlesnakes, face to face—i.e., bill to fangs!  Amazingly, God has so designed the roadrunner that it can speedily aim at the face and fangs of a striking rattle, using its pointed bill to bite (and clamp) onto the rattler’s open mouth, between the upper fangs, rapidly lock-biting the snake in a death-grip. Then the bird repeatedly thrashes and crushes the serpent’s head against rocks—killing the rattlesnake. The victorious roadrunner then eats the dead diamondback!(2)

The arid, torrid wastelands that we call deserts are relatively inhospitable, for most creatures, yet God has providentially fitted some animals to fill desert habitats—such as desert rats, rabbits, roadrunners, and rattlesnakes.(3)

God loves variety!   (For some Bible-based analysis regarding this timeless truth, see “Valuing God’s Variety”, posted at http://www.icr.org/article/valuing-gods-variety/ .)

Desert-dwelling creatures — like Roadrunners (or Diamondback Rattlesnakes!)  —  daily demonstrate that fact, for those who have eyes to see.  And sometimes, if you happen to live in the America’s Southwest,  you need not journey all the way out to a desert, to see such God-created marvels as the resilient roadrunner.    (Meep, meep!)

Roadrunner-on-table

References

 (1)  Esther 7:10.

(2)  “Roadrunner vs. Rattlesnake”, National Geographic video clip, posted at http://video.nationalgeographic.com/tv/roadrunner-vs-rattlesnake .

(3)  Many creatures are providentially fitted to fill hot or cold desert (and similar xeric scrub) habitats, e.g., the Sage Grouse, named for its sagebrush-nesting habits and for eating sagebrush buds and leaves. See James A. MacMahon, Deserts (Alfred A. Knopf, 1986), especially page 583 & plate 545. See also, generally, Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, Desert Animals: Physiological Problems of Heat and Water (Dover Publications, 1979), especially pages 204-224 (desert birds) & pages 225-251 (desert reptiles).


PHOTO CREDITS:

Rattlesnake showdown with Roadrunner:  National Geographic video

Roadrunner approaching Rattlesnake: Viral Portal

Roadrunner bites Rattlesnake: Pinterest

Roadrunner biting/smashing Rattler: Viral Portal

Roadrunner thrashing/crushing Rattler’s head: National Geographic video

Roadrunner running in desert: San Diego Union Tribune

Roadrunner eating Rattle:  Kami.com

Roadrunner on patio table:  original source unknown / RockDoveBlog