Not Deer or Bovine, So It Must Be An ‘Antelope’

Bibleworld Adventures has chosen to close down his website, due to a very busy schedule with work and his church ministries. We have decided to move his articles here. Baron has written articles here as Golden Eagle. This will preserve his and Dr. Johnson’s articles for us to enjoy. They are not about birds, but are all very interesting. Most are about a variety of our Creator’s amazing animals. [Will have a link to these pages in the sidebar as Bible World Adventures.]

Originally posted 2017/12/19

NOT DEER OR BOVINE, SO IT MUST BE AN ‘ANTELOPE’

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg [dîshōn], and the wild ox, and the chamois.   (Deuteronomy 14:5)

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ADDAX male [photo credit: Haytem93]

Most likely the “Pygarg” [dîshōn] is what today is called an ADDAX.  An ADDAX is a desert-dwelling member of the ANTELOPE family.  [See George Cansdale, ALL THE ANIMALS OF THE BIBLE LANDS (Zondervan, 1976), page 85, saying “Among several quaint animal names found only in the AV [i.e., KJV] is the Pygarg, from Heb. dishon; this is merely a transliteration of the [LXX] Gr. Word meaning ‘white-rumped’, by which [Greeks] had long ago described an antelope. … [The reference in Deuteronomy 14:5] between two animals that are probably desert species, coupled with a long-standing tradition, suggests that this is the Addax, Addax nasomaculatus, a desert antelope classified between the oryx and hartebeests”.]antelope-family.jjsj-PPTslide

But, what is an antelope?

Antelope, and antelope-like animals, live in many different parts of the world—except not in Australia or Antarctica. For examples, pronghorns live mostly in America’s Western prairie states. The oryx live in Israel and many of the Arabian deserts.  The Dorcas gazelle lives in the top half of Africa.  Impalas live in eastern and southern Africa.

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Wildebeests and Zebras migrate through Serengeti  /  Zambesi Safari photo

The blue wildebeest (also called “gnu”) are famous for their huge migratory herds, that often mix with zebras, that seasonally travel through Tanzania’s Serengeti.  Tibetan antelope, of course, live in Tibet, as well as in neighboring parts of Asia.  The Indian antelope (also called “blackbuck”) lives in India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

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Great Migration (Serengeti & Masai Mara)  image credit: Pinterest

These plant-eating mammals (animals that give mother’s milk to their babies) are different from other four-legged mammals – such as deer, cattle, horses, camels, sheep, goats, pigs, cats, and dogs.

In many ways antelope (and antelope-like animals, like the pronghorns of America’s prairies) are like deer. But unlike deer, which have antlers (that grow and shed each year, then regrow the next year, and are later shed, etc.), antelopes have horns (like cattle, bison, sheep, and goats), which continue to slowly grow out from their heads, anchored to bony roots.

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Antelopes often live in flat grasslands (such as the grassy prairies of America’s West), where their plant-food is plentiful. However, in grasslands there are usually very few trees, so antelopes cannot hide in forests from other animals (such as mountain lions or wolves), so it is good that God made them to have great speed for running across flat land.  And that is what antelopes (and pronghorns, which are antelope-like animals) often do–with great speed!–when they run away from predators at high speeds—sometimes as fast as 55 miles/hour for a mile, or 42 miles/hour for 2 miles, or 35 miles/hour for 3 miles.Gazelle-foraging.jjsj-PPTslide

Dorcas is the Greek word for a gazelle, which is a member of the antelope family. Because gazelles are graceful and beautiful animals it is unsurprising that girl babies have been named Dorcas, including one who is mentioned in Scripture, in Acts chapter 9.Dorcas-philology.jjsj-PPTslide

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In North America the primary antelope-like mammal is the PRONGHORN. To learn about this beautiful, graceful, and extremely speedy animals, see “Geography Matters, Illustrated by Pronghorns, Mountain Goats, and Old Testament Warfare”, posted at https://bibleworldadventures.com/2016/08/17/geography-matters-illustrated-by-pronghorns-mountain-goats-and-old-testament-warfare/ .

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When we see beauty, grace, strength, and speed — displayed in antelope (and antelope-like pronghorns) — we are reminded, by these living exhibits of God’s making, that God Himself is amazingly beautiful, graceful, strong, and quick, beyond our comprehension.

Here am I, Where are You?

Always Honking

Honk…honk…honk!” Before you ever see the birds’ characteristic black heads and white cheek patches, you identify Canada Geese coming as they honk across the sky in their typical V-shaped pattern. It seems Canada Geese are always vocal; on the ground, in the air, while feeding, when waking up, just before they sleep… they are always honking.

So that begs the question: what are they honking about? What are they saying? Biologists tell us they honk to keep family groups together; they honk to communicate rest or feeding areas; they honk to alert others of danger or predators; or, especially the younger birds, they just “go off with a jag of honking that seems to serve no other purpose than sheer exuberance – the expression of joy and excitement over the ability to fly with their friends and family.” 

Keeping it Together

Birds face many hazards during migration. Facing often severe weather and high winds, some may get blown off course or get caught in a storm. Inexperienced birds may chart a wrong course and fatally collide with tall buildings, windows, and other structures, or risk being shot by hunters. It is during the hardships of migration that honking becomes so important to Canada Geese. The blinding snow and rain, or thick fog, may make it impossible to see one another. So, as they toil through the sky, they honk to keep their flock together.

The geese are talking to one another. Each is saying to its companions, ‘Here am I… where are you? Here am I… where are you?’ Aloft in storm and cloud, the voices hold the flock together. They speak out loudly against wind and distance so that others of their kind, strayed or lost, may know the way. Under fair sky the calls continue for reassurance and to reassure. ‘Come along, do not tire. We are on the right course and will soon stop for rest.’ It is no fable, but a truth of nature; experienced elders lead the way.

Magnificent Voyagers, Waterfowl of North America

The experienced elder goose is leading the way with his honking, while the others follow honking encouragement to the others to keep to the course and not quit the flight. The grounded geese that left the flock because of weariness or injury can hear the incessant calling, “Here am I… where are you?” and rejoin their migrating families. It is the duty of those still in flight and on course to call out to their lost and weary relations to come back and return to the path.

Calling Out to Others

In life, many people around us may fly the wrong course or succumb to the hazards of life: failure and defeat, drugs and alcohol, apathy or crime. We have a duty to our fellow man to fly the right course and to lead them in a safe direction. We are to be leaders in our schools, on our jobs, in our families. We have a duty to not leave behind the weak and weary, and to help others to the safe places of rest and success that have been shown to us.

As Christians, we all have a duty to “honk” as the Canada Goose: “Here am I…where are you?” There are many – family members, friends, coworkers, schoolmates – that are lost and on the wrong course. They will never find the right course and follow Jesus if we, the ones that know the right path, don’t call out to them to follow. 

The New Living Translation of Romans 10:14 states, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” If we remain silent, they will never find the way. Our constant, clear call of “Here am I…where are you? Here Am I…where are You?” makes it ever known to them to where they can return when they tire of the life of sin. ​

Where are You?

Before you can lead others and call “Here am I…”, do you know where you are heading? Are you on the narrow path that leads to life? If not, follow the voice of the Savior who “calls you out of darkness into His wonderful life” (I Peter 2:9). And if you do know the course, never quit your duty of calling out to those who are lost or weary. Like the geese that seem to never quit honking, so should you never cease making the call: “Here am I…where are you?  Here am I…where are you?


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Why Use The Ark?

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) ©WikiC

An article in the latest issue of Answers in Genesis Magazine, “As The Bird Flies,”, p.20, tells about the Willow Warbler. This little bird weighs only “0.4 ounce (10 g) … and migrate more than 8,000 miles (13,000 km) from eastern Siberia to Kenya and Tanzania in Africa.”

The article goes on to tell how much research has been done with this bird and its migratory habits. The internet has many articles about this fantastic avian wonder from the Lord. Another article, Study: Siberian Willow Warblers Migrate Incredible 8,000 Miles One Way.

“All populations are highly migratory, with the subspecies P. t. yakutensis migrating up to 12,000 km from eastern Siberia to southern Africa along the Asian – East African Flyway, one of the longest migrations of any for a bird of its size. Approximate timings are:

October to March: wintering in sub Saharan Africa.
Mid March to mid May: migrates and arrives in the breeding range.
Late April to August: breeding season, usually only one brood but rarely two.
August to October: migrates back to Africa.” [Wikipedia – Willow Warbler]

Answers article continues with this remark: “Their surprisingly complex navigational abilities showcase the Creator’s ingenious design”

They then challenge those who sort of believe in creation, but the flood gives them problems. Many only believe in a “Local Flood.” My take on this and theirs is: Why Get In The Ark When You Can Fly? “Why couldn’t the animals just leave the area instead of getting on a ship, especially if a bird that weights less than a few paper clips can trave more than 8,000 miles?”

“In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.” (Genesis 7:13-14 KJV)

“And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:19-23 KJV)

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) ©WikiC

Sharing The Gospel

Woodcocks: Devouring Worms, Dwelling in Wet Woods

EURASIAN WOODCOCK: Forest Fowl that Look Like Wading Shorebirds

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

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Thou makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.   (Psalm 104:20)

Earthworms, known in some places as “night crawlers”, are a favorite meal for woodland Woodcocks, such as the Eurasian Woodcock.

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Woodcock eating Earthworm (Wikipedia)

The Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola, like the American Woodcock (its American cousin, Scolopax minor), is not a flashy or flamboyant bird, like a Peacock, Turquoise-browed Motmot, or Lilac-breasted Roller.  Rather, the Eurasian Woodcock prudently prefers to keep a low “behind-the-scenes” profile.

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Called “Waldschnepfe” (“wood snipe”) in German, this bird loves “wet woods” and other moist areas dominated by trees, unlike similar-looking wading shorebirds (like sandpipers and phalaropes).  With its woodland-blending cryptic camouflage plumage, it is easily by-passed by busy woodland hikers in mixed hardwood-evergreen forests — and, more importantly, by potential predators.  Its hidden-in-plain-view plumage mixes a mottled mosaic of greys and brown, with wavy bars and patches of reddish-brown russet, buff-beige, and dark-chocolate browns, woven in here and there.

A reedy whistle and a grunt as a dark shape hastens through the gloaming is all that most of us normally see of a woodcock. Males [perform courtship display flights] around dawn and dusk throughout the breeding season … [and females sometimes join males, in open areas near woodland edges, after responsive flights.]

The rest of their lives, however, are conducted in the obscurity of night, usually in deep cover where they can feast undisturbed on earthworms and other invertebrates.  Even if you were to chance upon an incubating female during the day, the bird’s camouflage amongst leaf litter is so effective that you would most likely walk past by unawares.

[Quoting Niall Benvie, SCOTLAND’S WILDLIFE (National Trust of Scotland: Aurum Press, 2004), page 56, with emphasis added.]

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Guided by its far-back-and-high-set eyes (which have 360O monocular vision), its long thin bill, like that of sandpipers and snipes and phalaropes(its water-wading cousins), is used for probing and picking edible material from or under wet surfaces, such as wet sands, muddy meadows, and moist thicket soil.  And the Woodcock’s bill is routinely successful at frequently finding food, mostly earthworms but also bugs (and their grub-formed larvae), snails, and seeds.

The Woodcock is a hidden yet hungry hunter!

Woodcock also love damp forests where they can use their sensitive, almost rubber-like bill to probe the soft ground for earthworms, for which they have a voracious appetite —  research with captive birds has shown that they can eat their own body weight (about 300 grams) in earthworms each day[!].  It is therefore likely that very dry summers, such as that of 2003, have a negative impact on the [Woodcock] population.

[Quoting Niall Benvie, SCOTLAND’S WILDLIFE (National Trust of Scotland: Aurum Press, 2004), page 56.]

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Eurasian Woodcocks are migratory birds, with about 9/10 of them breeding in the cool wet woodlands of Scandinavia, Finland, and Russia, later migrating to overwinter in milder regions all over Europe (as far as the Mediterranean Sea, and sometimes even farther southward) and the Indian Subcontinent.

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However, some Woodcocks are year-round residents of some of Europe’s mild-climate countries, such as the British Isles, and in southern (and western) Europe, as well as in some of the mild-climate islands of the Atlantic Ocean, including Britain’s Channel Islands and Spain’s Canary Islands, as well as Portugal’s Azores and Madeira.

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Because the Eurasian Woodcock’s migratory range — and, to a smaller extent, its year-round residential range, — is so far-reaching, it is no surprise that many countries have honored the worm-devouring, woods-dwelling Woodcock with postage stamps.

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Hvitkinngås, a Coldwater Coast Colonist

Hvitkinngås, a Coldwater Coast Colonist 

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

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BARNACLE GOOSE flock in flight (credit: BirdGuides)

And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.  (Mark 13:18)

The above-quoted Scripture refers to the “flight” of human refugees, during a time of future world crisis.  However, for migratory birds, long-distance flights are not deemed a “crisis” because they are an ordinary twice-yearly lifestyle  —  winging from breeding grounds (as summer fades into autumn) to wherever it overwinters, usually with stopover breaks along the way, then vice versa (during spring).

For the  BARNACLE GOOSE (called Hvitkinngås in Norwegian, literally “white-cheek goose”), however, the breeding grounds are fairly frigid, with that anatid dwelling mostly in four populations:  (1) east Greenland breeders, who overwinter mostly along the western coasts of the British Isles, especially in the Hebrides (e.g., Islay) and western Ireland; (2) Svalbard’s breeders, who overwinter in and near the Irish Sea’s Solway Firth, that separates England and Scotland, not far from the Isle of man; (3) Russian breeders, some summering at or near Novaya Zemlya, or its neighboring Siberian coastland, who overwinter in the Netherlands or nearby Germany; and (4) an unusual not-so-migratory eastern colony, which appear to have abandoned the Russian population, and are now resettled (and mostly residing year-round!) in and near islands and coastlands of the Baltic Sea, including coastal Estonia, Finland, and Sweden (although some of these “transplants” may overwinter in and around Netherlands).

One of Norway’s most extreme territories is the arctic archipelago of Svalbard, the largest island of which is Spitsbergen.  Svalbard hosts one of the world’s three most-northern breeding populations of migrating Barnacle Goose (Norwegian: Hvitkinngås, meaning “white-cheek goose”) colonies.   Imagine the goslings hatched there each year!

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Barnacle Goose group (credit: http://www.-spitzbergen-svalbard.com / Rolf Stange)

According to the Norwegian Polar Institute:

“The barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis) is a medium sized, black and white goose …  occu[ring] in three separate populations that breed [first] in northeast Greenland, [second] in Svalbard[,] and [third] in northwest Russia and the Baltic region … [with those] from Greenland winter[ing] in Ireland and in the western parts of Scotland, [while] the Svalbard birds spend the winter in the Solway Firth between England and Scotland” and the Russian population “winters along the western coasts of Germany and the Netherlands”.

[Quoting from “Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)”, http://www.npolar.no/en/species/barnacle-geese.html  .]

Also according to the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Svalbard-breeding population looks just like the other white-cheeked geese: “The Svalbard barnacle goose is indistinguishable morphologically from birds in the other populations, but is geographically isolated. In Svalbard, the barnacle goose breeds on the western coast of Spitsbergen and within Tusenøyane south of Edgeøya” – while “most barnacle geese breed in colonies on small islands, but some pairs also breed on cliffs on Spitsbergen.”

But as weather warms after winter, and daylight hours stretch (vs. night darkness), the northward migration repeats; breeding occurs in the arctic north:

“The spring migration starts in April or early May, when the geese leave Solway Firth and head for Helgeland on the western coast of mainland Norway. In the second half of May they move on to the southern part of Spitsbergen before reaching the nesting areas toward the end of May.  In late August or early September the autumn migration starts. Bjørnøya is an important stop-over site where the birds can spend up to three weeks waiting for favourable winds to initiate migration to the wintering grounds in northern Britain. Some birds probably migrate directly from Spitsbergen to the Solway Firth.”

[Quoting “Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)”,  http://www.npolar.no/en/species/barnacle-geese.html .]

As a previous blogpost indicates, this “new” eastern (Baltic coastlands) population may be the result of Novaya Zemlya breeders who wisely abandoned that Russian archipelago due to the USSR’s hydrogen bomb [“Ivan”, the Russian Царь-бомба, i.e., “Tsar Bomb”] testing there.

[See “What’s Good for the Goose … May be Relocating (to Another Summer Home)”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2017/07/10/whats-good-for-the-goose-may-be-relocating-to-another-summer-home/ . ]

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Barnacle Goose range map (Wikipedia Commons)

And now for a quick limerick poem about this white-cheeked goose’s migrations.

Hvitkinngås, Migrating Over Cold Oceans and Seas 

Barnacle Geese are God’s creation,

Mobilized marvels of migration;

Far, far north they’ll do their breeding,

Thereafter they’ll be southward speeding,

For winter months of warm vacation.

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Barnacle Goose pair, in Kaivopuisto, Helsinki, Finland (Juha Matti / Picssr)

 

Four Billion Birds Flying

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) (Junco hyemalis hyemalis) female WikiC

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV)

Here are some interesting statements from an article on All About Birds. The research that Cornell Lab of Ornithology scientists are discovering with weather radar data is assisting the ornithologist. They are learning more about the 4 Billion birds that migrate during this time of the year.

“An average of 4 billion birds passed from Canada across the northern border of the U.S. in autumn, with 2.6 billion birds returning across the Canada–U.S. border in spring. Activity across the southern border was on an even grander scale: an average of 4.7 billion birds left the U.S. for Mexico and other points south each autumn, with 3.5 billion birds heading north across the U.S. southern border each spring.”

Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) male by Kent Nickell

Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) male by Kent Nickell

That is quite a few birds heading south, with fewer returning in the spring. It appears the birds that go further south have a better survival rate than the ones that winter here in the United States. 

” For birds crossing the U.S. northern border—which includes many short-distance migrants such as sparrows, Snow Buntings, and Dark-eyed Juncos that fly from Canada to spend winter in the Lower 48 states—the average rate of return was 64 percent. But for birds crossing the U.S. southern border—which includes more of the long-distance migrants such as warblers, tanagers, and orioles that travel to Central and South America, three to four times farther than the short-distance migrants—the average rate of return was 76 percent.”

Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) at Lake Howard, Winter Haven, Florida By Dan'sPix

Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) at Lake Howard, Winter Haven, Florida By Dan’sPix

My first thoughts were why are so many not surviving here in North America. Yet, those traveling further south, seem to fare better. I knew from previous articles I’ve read that many birds die from impact with tall buildings and glass windows. Here is what they had to say:

One explanation for the higher mortality among birds that overwinter in the U.S. may be a higher number of hazards. “All birds need to stay safe from predators, find enough food, and not get hit by a car,” says Ken Rosenberg, research coauthor and conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab. “Birds wintering in the U.S. may have more habitat disturbances and more buildings to crash into, and they might not be adapted for that.” 

They also discuss in this article the differences in different breeding strategy between short distant and long distant migrants.

“And He changes the times and the seasons;” (Daniel 2:21 NKJV)

Sandhill Cranes in our side yard

Here in Florida, I have begun seeing more of the migrants that spend time near here. The Boat-tailed Grackles are invading my feeders already. I have also spotted more Bald Eagles, and the Heron, Egrets, and Sandhill Cranes seem to be more populous. Yeah, for the Winter Visitors!!


4 Billion Birds Will Fly Through American Airspace This Fall by Carley Eschiman, All About Birds, Sept 17,2018

Unbelievable Migrations from Creation Moments

Bird Migration Mistakes

Birds of the Bible – Migration September 2009

Interesting Things – Amazing Bird Migration