A Look Back – Christmas at Faith 2016

“Matthew 2:1-12 KJV
(1)  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
(2)  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
(3)  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
(4)  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
(5)  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
(6)  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
(7)  Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
(8)  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
(9)  When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
(10)  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
(11)  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
(12)  And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

The Gospel Message

Christmas Story to Explain the Meaning of Christmas

This is the 1965 recording of Paul Harvey’s Christmas story classic titled The Man and the Birds. Christmas Day in 2013 I spent the morning putting it all together with a picture slideshow to illustrate the story. I hope you enjoy it. Please share with others.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2 KJV)

Gideon

Wordless Birds

 

Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Grey Falcon

Gray Hawk (falcon hypoleucos) Male by Ian

Bird of the Moment – Grey Falcon by Ian Montgomery

Here is a special bird of the moment for the festive season. If you asked Australian birders to nominate the most sought after diurnal raptor, you’d probably get a choice of two: the Red Goshawk of the Hawk and Eagle family (Accipitridae) and the Grey Falcon of the Falconidae. Rex Whitehead, my birding pal in Mount Isa had told me about a nesting pair of Grey Falcons in the Winton district so I came back to Townsville that way at the end of the camping trip in May.

The Falcons were nesting high up on a very tall communications mast. Rex had told me that they were in its vicinity only from before dusk until shortly after dawn and I took his advice and camped near the base of the mastto maximise my chances of seeing them. Sure enough they arrived in the evening but I got only poor shots of them flying in and perched in shadow on the mast.

 Gray Hawk (falcon hypoleucos) Mating by Ian

I got up early and was rewarded three or four minutes after sunrise by the male flying around calling (first photo) in preparation for mating with the female (second photo) who was perched on the mast near the nest.

This behaviour was repeated two more times over the hour or so. The third photo shows the third mating attempt at a different location just over an hour after sunrise and the fourth photo shows the male flying away four seconds later.

Gray Hawk (falcon hypoleucos) Mating by Ian

The sexes are similar, though the females, as is typical for raptors, are larger. The male has a shorter tail which supposedly makes it look longer winged in flight but I didn’t get any photos of the mainly sedentary female for comparison. The fifth photo shows the female in the same position as during the third mating (third photo) but the male is sitting in the nest.

Gray Hawk (falcon hypoleucos) Male by Ian

Grey Falcons are supposed to use the old nests of other raptors or corvids (ravens and crows) preferably high up. In the arid areas where they occur, tall trees are few so in recent years they’ve taken to nesting in communication masts.

About two hours after sunrise, the birds disappeared as quietly as they’d arrived the previous day and I didn’t see them fly away. This pair had just bred successfully with two young fledging, so it was encouraging to see them preparing to do so again.

Gray Hawk (falcon hypoleucos) Pair by Ian

The Grey Falcon is an Australian endemic sparsely scattered over the drier inland areas of mainland Australia except the southwest, eastern and southern coastal areas and the wetter parts of northern Australia. The breeding range has contracted since the mid 20th century to drier areas north of 26º S. It’s population is estimated at less than 1000 mature individuals and it is classified as vulnerable. Threats include habitat clearing, egg collecting and the taking of young for falconry so I’m sure you’ll understand why I’ve been a bit vague about the actual location of the mast.

Christmas seems to be a time for unrestrained gaudiness, dare I say meretriciousness, in decoration so here is my gaudiest photo from 2018 – taken from my back verandah – to get into the spirit of things. I wish you a joyful, safe and happy festive season and a peaceful and fulfilling 2019.

Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) Male by Ian

Greetings
Ian


Lee’s Addition:

“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46 KJV)

Thanks, Ian, for showing us one of Australia’s endemic birds. When I first saw the rosy colored Falcon, I thought you had made a mistake. Lighting makes a lot of difference.

I especially love your Christmas addition of that lovely Sunbird.

Merry Christmas, Ian, and all of you that are reading this post.

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles

Nectariniidae – Sunbirds

Wordless Birds

Christmas Bird from the Christmas Islands

Christmas Island White-eye (Zosterops natalis) by Ian

Christmas Island White-eye (Zosterops natalis) by Ian

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12 KJV)

MERRY CHRISTMAS from Dan and I, and from our writers, who add so much to this blog. James J. S. Johnson, Emma Foster, and Ian Montgomery are the other authors currently. We have produced quite a few articles about “Christmas Birds,” yet not much about the birds named “Christmas.” Here is a brief description of them, with links to other “Christmas Bird” articles over the years.

Christmas Boobook (Ninox natalis) by Ian

Christmas Boobook (Ninox natalis) by Ian

The Christmas Boobook (Ninox natalis), also known more specifically as the Christmas Island hawk-owlis a species of owl in the family Strigidae. Closely related to the hawk owls of Southeast Asia and Australia. N. natalis was first classified at species level by J.J.Lister in 1888. It was not until 1998 however that DNA testing confirmed its status as a separate species from other owls.

The Christmas Island Hawk Owl is a small, rufous-brown hawk-owl with a barred breast, dark chestnut facial mask, whitish brow, lores and throat, yellow eyes, legs and feet. It is approximately 26–29 cm in length and 130-190 grams in weight with the female slightly larger than the male. The double-noted hoot, boo-book, has a clucking quality with the second note usually lower in pitch. The begging call of juveniles is a high-pitched trill.

Christmas Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) by Ian

Christmas Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) by Ian

Christmas Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) or Christmas Island Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) is a seabird of the frigatebird family Fregatidae which is endemic to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. The Christmas frigatebird is a large lightly built seabird with brownish-black plumage, long narrow wings and a deeply forked tail. It has a wingspan of around 2.15 m (7.1 ft). The male has an egg shaped white patch on its belly and a striking red gular sac which it inflates to attract a mate. The female is slightly larger than the male and has a white breast and belly. They feed on fish taken in flight from the ocean’s surface (mostly flying fish), and sometimes indulge in kleptoparasitism, harassing other birds to force them to regurgitate their food.

Christmas Island Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula whartoni) by Ian

Christmas Island Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula whartoni) by Ian

Christmas Imperial Pigeon (Ducula whartoni), is a large (39 cm in length, 450-700 g in weight) pigeon, mainly dark grey in colour with an iridescent sheen. Fruit from forest trees with occasional buds and leaves are it main diet. It builds a platform nest of twigs high in a forest tree. It utters a deep booming call.

See: Ian’s Bird of the Week – Christmas Imperial Pigeon

Christmas Island Swiftlet (Collocalia natalis) ©Christmas IS Wildlife

Christmas Island Swiftlet (Collocalia natalis), also known as the Christmas glossy swiftlet or the Christmas cave swiftlet, is a small bird in the swift family Apodidae. It is endemic to Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the eastern Indian Ocean. It was formerly commonly treated as a subspecies of the glossy swiftlet.

Christmas Shearwater (Puffinus nativitatis) ©WikiC 2 FK Starr

Christmas Shearwater (Puffinus nativitatis) is a medium-sized shearwater of the tropical Central Pacific. It is a poorly known species due to its remote nesting habits, and it has not been extensively studied at sea either.

The Christmas Shearwater nests on remote islands of the Central Pacific: the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Tuamotu, the Marshall Islands, Kiritimati (for which the species is named) and Sala-y-Gómez. It has become locally extinct on a number of islands, including Wake Island. Outside of the breeding season it ranges across the Pacific, having been recorded off the coast of Mexico and Guatemala in the east, and Bonin Islands in the west. Further south it is rare, having been recorded off Fiji only twice (one time in early to mid-May).

Christmas White-eye (Zosterops natalis) by Ian

Christmas White-eye (Zosterops natalis) by Ian

The Christmas White-eye (Zosterops natalis) is a species of bird in the family Zosteropidae. It is endemic to Christmas Island. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist shrubland. It is threatened by habitat loss.

See also: Ian’s Bird of the Week – Christmas Island White-eye

It is always refreshing to take a look back at other Christmas Blogs. Just as we are all looking back to the first “Christmas” event, when the Saviour of the World, took on human flesh, as a baby. Totally human, totally God. It is difficult for us to wrap our thoughts around that truth.

Some Christmas Birds (Re-posted)

The Christmas Birds Series in 2013

In 2014 – Sunday Inspiration – Christmas Birds  Please watch the video near the end.

MAY YOUR CHRISTMAS BE FILLED WITH BLESSINGS AS YOU REMEMBER THE REASONS FOR CELEBRATING OUR SAVIOUR’S BIRTH.

Lee’s Seven Word Sunday – 12/25/16

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Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) 2-day olds ©USFWS

FOR UNTO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY

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For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 KJV)

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) 2-day olds ©USFWS

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Remember the story about the farmer who saw chickens frantically running scared around, at the beginning of a violent thunderstorm?  So the farmer tried to shoo the chickens into the nearby barn, where they all could wait out the storm quite safely.  But the chickens would not heed his helpful directions, so they continued in their group panic attack, wearing themselves out as they were frantically scurrying in circles, terrified at the noise and lightning bolts.  The man thought, “if only I could become a chicken, I could join them, and explain the way to safety – they could follow me into the barn and be safe!”

Thinking about this, later, he told his Bible teacher that he knew a little bit what God felt, when God decided to become a human, in order to secure our safety, when we were spiritually lost and confused (and living in fear of death), as sinners without hope in the world.  “But that is only a little bit comparable to what God did, when He chose to become human (as the Lord Jesus Christ) – at Christmas”, replied the Bible teacher.  “Do you mean because it wasn’t necessary for me to die for the chickens, and then rise from the dead 3 days later?” asked the farmer.  “Yes”, agreed the Bible teacher, “that and a lot more – because were you then willing to not only become a chicken long enough to get them into the barn, but also to continue being yourself — as well as being a chicken — simultaneously — forever, so that your rescued chickens would enjoy eternity with you as their Kinsman-King?”

Accordingly, as you look at the baby Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (above), ask yourself:  would I be willing to become one of them, and somehow continue to be myself (also), FOREVER, if that’s what would be necessary to save their little chicken “souls”?  CHRISTmas is huge in importance to us, of course – yet it was (and continues to be) huge to our incarnate God, the Lord Jesus Christ, too. (JJSJ)

More Daily Devotionals

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Sunday Inspiration – Merry Christmas 2016

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2 KJV)

All of us from Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas. Dan and I, James J. S. Johnson [Dr. Jim], Emma Foster, Ian, and all our other guest authors wish you a peaceful and blessed day as you consider all the importance of what this Christmas Day represents.

Last Sunday, our pastor, had a very good message that emphasizes this and the importance of worship. I have linked it here and trust you will be blessed by it. Also enjoy our quartet singing the “Beautiful of Star of Bethlehem,” and Angel singing “Noel.” Next week we will get back to our regular Sunday Inspiration format.

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More Sunday Inspirations

Gospel Message

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Christmas Island White-eye (Zosterops natalis) by Ian

Christmas Island White-eye (Zosterops natalis) by Ian