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