Trinidad Tanagers Contradict Competition “Law” Proposed by Darwinists

Speckled Tanager (Tangara mexicana) ©WikiC

Speckled Tanager (Tangara mexicana) ©WikiC

Trinidad Tanagers Contradict Cutthroat Competition “Law” Proposed by Darwinists


“Survival of the fittest” has been a dominating tenet of Darwinian evolution for more than 150 years now. But a trio of colorful birds, living on islands off Venezuela’s coast, provides debunking evidence that, as Dr. Steve Austin would say, Darwin was wrong, when he alleged that do-or-die competition was the fundamental force that shapes nature. So how do these birds dispute Darwin? By eating!

PAS-Thra Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola) by Michael Woodruff 2

Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola) by Michael Woodruff

Three varieties of Trinidad tanagers share bugs on the same trees as they silently undermine the “natural selection” myth’s survivalism principle. Without wasteful confrontations over limited food resources, found on the same trees that each of these birds forage upon: (1) speckled tanagers pick off bugs from tree leaves, (2) bay-headed tanagers prefer to eat bugs from under large branches, and (3) turquoise tanagers snap up bugs from twigs.1

Admitting that adversarial competition was lacking, these evolutionist scientists reported the following:  “In the 1960s, two ecologists made careful [empirical] studies on the island of Trinidad of the niches of eight coexisting species of tanager–brightly colored songbirds of the New World tropics. Of the eight species, three, the speckled (Tangara guttata), the bay-headed (T. gyrola), and the turquoise tanager (T. mexicana), were extremely closely related.  They all belonged to the same genus, lived in the same trees and bushes, and fed on insects and fruit. This suggests little in the way of division of resources, for all three species seemed to be using the same ones.  More detailed field observations, though, showed up the niche differences, as is clearly demonstrated by considering one aspect of the pattern of resource division.  In hunting for small insect prey in vegetation, the speckled tanager almost exclusively searches the leaves themselves.  It clings to them upside down, picking off insects, or it walks along small twigs, picking off insects from the leaves above it.  The other two species only rarely feed like this.  Instead, both obtain most of their insect prey form the undersides of branches.  The bay-headed species does this mainly on quite substantial branches, hopping along and leaning over each side alternately to reach under it for insects.  The turquoise tanager, in contrast, almost always takes insects from fine twigs, usually those less than half an inch in diameter.  It also has a predilection for the insects found on dead twigs, which are usually untouched by the other two species.  These detailed observations show that insect food resources and specific feeding areas on the island of Trinidad are neatly split even between very closely related birds.” [Quoting from Whitfield, Moore, & Cox, THE ATLAS OF THE LIVING WORLD  — see endnote #1 below.]

In other words, illustrating what ecologists call noncompetitive niche positioning, this tanager trio avoids antagonistic competition.1 To appreciate how this peaceful prey sharing upsets the presumptions of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, and their modern ilk, it’s helpful to review why Darwin’s ideas were welcomed so fervently by academics who scoffed at Genesis.

Turquoise Tanager (Tangara mexicana) ©WikiC

Turquoise Tanager (Tangara mexicana) ©WikiC

Generations before Darwin’s “natural selection” theory first became popular, deists (people who essentially believed in a God yet rejected the Bible) like Charles Lyell and James Hutton, effectively laid the groundwork for the acceptance of evolution’s survivalism themes.  (Neither deists nor Darwinists anchor their research on Scripture, yet they also oppose each other.)

Both deists and Darwinists have misreported living conditions on Earth, yet they do so in opposite ways. Deists err on the “see no evil” extreme, underestimating the terrible fallenness of creation.2 Darwinists, however, overemphasize “conquer or be conquered” survivalism—even nominating death as nature’s hero and means of “progress”, instead of recognizing death as the terrible “last enemy” to be destroyed.3 Both extremes misrepresent nature as they actively oppose and/or passively ignore the facts of Scripture.   Unsurprisingly, the true portrayal of nature’s condition is found in holy Scripture, starting in Genesis, a Mosaic book that Christ Himself endorsed as authoritative (John 5:44-47).

The deists’ approach produces worthwhile observations of natural beauty, orderliness, and efficiency but then fails to account for how Earth “groans” after Eden.2  What about birds that peck other birds to death, while fighting over food and territory?  That’s not beautiful!  In the first half of the 1800s, deism failed to explain such ugly forms of competition, so many academics sought a humanistic theory that explained Earth’s uglier features—disease, deprivation, dying—without resorting to God’s revealed answers in Genesis.

Enter Charles Darwin’s magic mechanism of “natural selection”!—an animistic theory invented to substitute for God role as Creator.  This now-popular form of quasi-polytheistic animism often uses the alias “survival of the fittest.”

Darwin and his followers imagined the global ecosystem as a closed “fight-to-the-death” arena, swarming with vicious creatures scrapping for limited resources.  In a one-sum game (“red in tooth and claw,”4 adopting a phrase from Tennyson to fit Darwin’s theory), gain by one competitor meant loss to another.  This selfish competition was quickly heralded as “nature’s law”, so explaining wildlife interactions soon required interpretations based on that brutal assumption.2

But real-world data routinely refuse to fit the evolutionary paradigm. Yet like today, the  embarrassing and uncooperative facts were routinely dismissed and ignored during the 1800s and 1900s.5

Embarrassing Darwin’s theory, even moreso than a lack of wasteful competition, is the prevalent reality of mutual aid, also called mutualistic symbiosis, where different life forms help each other, such as algae and fungus coexisting as lichen or bees pollinating the flowers from which they harvest nectar. Like noncompetitive eco-niche positioning,1 mutual aid doesn’t harmonize with Darwin’s antagonistic competition “song,” so mutual reciprocity (and self-sacrificing altruism) displays are also censured from or marginalized by academics who are gatekeepers of science education curricula.6

Consequently, field studies are often skewed by researchers who quickly jump to conclusions that endorse antagonistic survivalism—as if “natural law” always requires adversarial competition.

Even today, modern Darwinians (both atheistic and theistic), lauding mystical “natural selection”, trumpet creation’s fallenness as Earth’s foremost feature — all the while discarding or disparaging or detouring the historical documentation that God has provided in Genesis regarding what triggered Earth’s undeniable fallenness.

Meanwhile, creatures like tree-snacking Trinidad tanagers make a mockery of Darwinian dogma, as they peaceably share food.


  1. Philip Whitfield, Peter D. Moore, & Barry Cox, The Atlas of the Living World (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989), pages 100-101 (quotation taken from page 100; picture portraying non-competitive eco-niche positioning on page 101).
  2. Deists believe in an intelligent Creator God, so they expect Him to make a “perfect” creation. However, because they dismiss the Bible, they imaginatively philosophize about what they think a perfect God would do with His creation—as they self-confidently assume that they know how a perfect God would think and act. Accordingly, deists are quick to recognize God’s caring handiwork in nature; they see orderliness, logic, beauty, and many good things — but they totally miss God’s wisdom as it is displayed in allowing Adam’s choice to trigger the earth’s present “groaning”, which is a temporary condition that (due to redemption in Christ) will be succeeded by a better-than-the-originally-perfect situation (that then needed no redemptive restoration by Christ). See James J. S. Johnson, Misreading Earth’s Groanings: Why Evolutionists and Intelligent Design Proponents Fail Ecology 101. Acts & Facts. 39 (8): 8-9 (August 2010).
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:26.
  4. Darwinists hijacked this phrase from Lord Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam A. H. H., Canto 56 (1849).
  5. James J. S. Johnson, Jeff Tomkins, & Brian Thomas. 2009. Dinosaur DNA Research: Is the Tale Wagging the Evidence? Acts & Facts, 38 (10): 4-6 (October 2009); James J. S. Johnson, Cherry Picking the Data Is the Pits, Acts & Facts, 44 (7): 19 (July 2015).
  6. Gary Parker, 1978. Nature’s Challenge to Evolutionary Theory, Acts & Facts, 7 (10), July 1978; James J. S. Johnson, “Providential Planting: The Pinyon Jay”, Creation Ex Nihilo. 19 (3): 24-25 (1997); Steve Austin, Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe. Santee, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1994), pages 156-159.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson formerly taught ornithology/ avian conservation, as well as courses in  ecology, limnology, and bioscience, for Dallas Christian College, and continues to be a “serious birder”.  A condensed version of this creation science article appears as James J. S. Johnson, Tree-Snacking Tanagers Undermine Darwin, Acts & Facts, 45 (6):21 (June 2016).


Be Thankful for Pollinators!

Be Thankful for Pollinators!

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Purple-throated Hummingbird (Carib) ©WikiC

Purple-throated Hummingbird (Carib) ©WikiC

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matthew 6:26)

Imagine the mathematics of a nectarivorous hummingbirds’ metabolism, as it busily accumulates food energy form flower nectar, as it visits one flower after another. The flowers are benefiting the high-energy hummingbird – yet the hummingbird itself, by pollinating one flower from another, is also benefiting the flowers, helping them to successfully reproduce. There is a balance in all of this.

“The rate at which such a flower supplies its nectar has to be carefully controlled [i.e., fine-tuned by God]. If the plant is miserly and produces very little [nectar], a bird [such as a hummingbird] will not find it worthwhile calling.  If it is too generous, then the bird might be so satisfied after its visit that it will not hurry to seek more nectar elsewhere and so fail to deliver the pollen swiftly.  Many [flowering] plants have arrived [i.e., have been made by God to arrive] at such a perfect compromise [i.e., mutualistic equilibrium] between these two extremes that the hummingbirds pollinating them are compelled to keep continuously active, rushing from one flower to another, getting just enough each time to fuel their high-energy flying equipment with just sufficient calories left over to make the trip [metabolically] profitable.  At night, when they cannot see to fly and the flowers have closed, the birds have no alternative but to shut down all their systems [“torpor”], lower their body temperature and, in effect, hibernate until dawn.”  [Quoting David Attenborough, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF PLANTS (Princeton University Press1995), page 119.]

Firey-throated and Volcano Hummingbird ©Raymond Barlow

Firey-throated and Volcano Hummingbird ©Raymond Barlow

In a recent article of the CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, wildlife biologist Kathy Reshetiloff stresses the importance of animals that pollinate plants:  “Pollinators are nearly as important as sunlight, soil and water to the reproductive success of more than 75 percent of the world’s flowering plants.  They are crucial to the production of most fruits, nuts and berries that people and wildlife depend on.  More than 150 food crops in the United States depend on pollinators, including blueberries, apples, oranges, squash, tomatoes and almonds.  Worldwide, there are more than 100,000 different animal species that pollinate plants.  Insects [like bees] are the most common pollinators, but as many as 1,500 species of vertebrates [like bats] also help pollinate plants.”(1)

And truly, the role of pollinators is critically valuable for flowering plants to successfully produce the next generation.

Allen's Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) at flower ©WikiC

Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) at flower ©WikiC

Yet not all pollinators serve the same flowering plants, so pollination is another one of the countless examples of God’s variety. “Different types and colors of flowers attract specific pollinators.  Hummingbirds are attracted to scarlet, orange, red or white tubular-shaped flowers with no distinct odors.  Bats are attracted to dull white, green or purple flowers that emit strong, musty odors at night.  Bees are attracted to bright white, yellow or blue flowers[,] and flowers with contrasting ultraviolet patterns that have fresh, mild or pleasant odors.  Flies are attracted to green, white or cream flowers with little odor[,] or dark brown or purple flowers that have putrid odors.  Butterflies are attracted to bright red and purple flowers with a faint but fresh odor. …  Beetles are attracted to white or green flowers with odors ranging from none to strongly fruity or foul.” [Quoting biologist Kathy Reshetiloff.(1)]  In other words, the “courier service” of pollination may be provided by bugs, bats, birds, or other beasts.(1),(2)

But what is “pollination” and how does it facilitate reproduction of flowering plants? “Pollination occurs when pollen grains [male gamete-bearing particles] from a flower’s male parts (anther) are moved to the female part (stigma) of the same species.  Once on the stigma the pollen grain grows [i.e., extends] a tube that runs down the style of the [plant’s] ovary, where fertilization [i.e., joining of male and female gametes] occurs, producing [fertilized] seeds.  Most plants depend on pollinators to move the pollen from one flower to the next, while others [i.e., other types of plants] rely on wind or water to move pollen.” [Quoting biologist Kathy Reshetiloff.(1),(3)]

Bee - On a Flower ©WikiC

Bee – On a Flower ©WikiC

All of this is wonderful information, but the obvious question remains – how does that fascinating process – that occurs daily around the world – fit the journal article’s title, “If You Like Plants, Bee Grateful for Pollinators This Month”?  The information surely proves that we should appreciate the genius of the pollination process, as well as the variety of details that accompany it in its multitudinous applications, — but word “thankful” presumes that someone is due our gratitude, i.e., that we should express our appreciation for pollination to that someone who deserves to be thanked for arranging pollination to work, worldwide, as it does.

Yet Kathy Reshetiloff’s CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL article never mentions who should receive our thanksgiving, for the many magnificent and beneficial services that these pollinators provide.  But are we really expected to “thank” the pollinators themselves – the hummingbirds, bats, bees, and beetles?  (Doing that would be like ancient polytheism, although the pagan animism mythology of today’s anti-creationists usually goes by the Darwinist mantra “natural selection”.)

Obviously, we should be thankful for pollinators – especially if we like to eat on a regular basis!  But the One Who is rightly due our gratitude should be rightly identified.  Accordingly, there is “something wrong” with the “picture” portrayed in the above-quoted CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL article, because something most important is missing – in fact, it is the Someone Who is not mentioned, but Who should be: God, the author and sustainer of all pollination arrangements.

It is God Who feeds the birds (Matthew 6:26) —  sometimes using the pollination process to do so,  —  and it is that same God Who feeds us, both physically and spiritually (Acts 14:17; Matthew 4:4).

><> JJSJ


  1. Kathy Reshetiloff, “If You Like Plants, Bee Grateful for Pollinators This Month”, Chesapeake Bay Journal, 26(4):40 (June 2016).
  2. “Most insects have a highly developed sense of smell, so they can be attracted by perfume. Many also have excellent vision. Their eyes, however, are very different from ours, being made up of a mosaic of several hundred tiny elements. Each of these receives a narrow beam of light and registers no more of it than its intensity, but all together they produce a complete if somewhat granular picture. And there is a further difference – in the perception of colour. At the red end of the spectrum, the insect eye is not as sensitive as ours. Most insects are unable to distinguish between red and black as we can. At the other end [of the spectrum], the blue end, they are very much more sensitive than we are and can detect ultra-violet colours that are totally invisible to us.” [Quoting David Attenborough, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF PLANTS (Princeton University Press, 1995), page 98.] Besides bugs, other pollinators include mammals, especially bats, — yet pollination is performed even by pygmy possums, lemurs, rock mice, and shrews [Attenborough, pages 121-124], and birds, such as hummingbirds, sunbirds, and honey-eaters [Attenborough, pages 114-121], and even reptiles, such as gecko lizards [Attenborough, pages 112-113].
  3. “Wind is a very efficient transporter. It can take the tiny dray grains as high as 19,000 feet and carry them for three thousand miles or so away from their [plant] parents.” [Quoting David Attenborough, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF PLANTS (Princeton University Press, 1995), page 98.]



James J. S. Johnson


Cattle Egrets, Cattle, and Other Herbivore Neighbors

Cattle Egret In Breeding Plumage by Dan

Cattle Egret In Breeding Plumage by Dan

Cattle Egrets, Cattle, and Other Herbivore Neighbors

~ by James J. S. Johnson

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Romans 13:9)

Being a good neighbor is a standard to live by. And good neighbors help one another. As Romans 13:9 indicates, it’s a norm for how to treat one’s neighbors.

To some extent, this type of “win-win” situation sometimes occurs in nature, as is often (though not always) illustrated by the relationships of some birds — the best examples are Cattle Egrets with domestic Cattle, as well as with other large mammal herbivores (such as bison, water buffalo, bison, horses, zebras, giraffes, antelope, etc.), as the large mammals graze in tall grasses where bothersome insects and parasitic ticks abound.

Cattle Egret picks bugs off face of bovine “neighbor” (cow)

It should be no surprise that Cattle Egrets associate with cattle, picking (at and eating) bugs that pester those noble (and vulnerable) bovines.

The term used by ecologists, for this “win-win” relationship, is mutualistic symbiosis. In other words, they help each other as good neighbors should!

When cattle egrets tag along with cattle, whose quadrupedal movement through pastures (or non-agricultural grasslands) stir up insects or all kinds, the cattle egrets opportunistically snap up the dislodged bugs. Likewise, Cattle Egrets are not shy about perching atop cattle, to eat whatever insects or ticks (or insect larvae) may be trespassing on beleaguered bovine bodies.

The benefit to the birds is obvious – convenient meals, either on the bovine skin or in the stirred grasses that bovine feet brush against (causing bugs in the grass to show themselves as moving targets as they flee the bovine hooves). Yet the benefit inures to the cattle, too, because they have no hands to dislodge the pestering bugs (many of which are noxious parasites) off their backs – or to shoo away bugs that initially flit about near their feet, perhaps soon to light upon the bovine’s legs or back, to do what many bugs do – such as blood-sucking fleas or ticks or mosquitoes. The bugs really bug the bovines! – some are annoying parasites! – so the insectivorous habits of the bug-munching birds are a welcome-relief-providing blessing to the cattle.

Actually, the Cattle Egret is an African emigrant – Cattle Egrets migrated from Africa to South American almost a century ago. (See range map showing migration.) Migrating northward, Cattle Egrets quickly colonized the southern regions of North America too.

[Fair Use image credit: ]
A few examples are given below, using a “photo-journalism” approach – the pictures tell it all, or at least tell a lot!

Click on a photo to see the Gallery.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis), of North and South America, most of Africa, and parts of southern Asia and coastal Australia .

More examples could be given – but this is enough to illustrate the trend!

Cattle Egret in breeding plumage – that’s a wrap! ©

Cattle Egret in breeding plumage – that’s a wrap! ©

(Surely God smiled, when He thought that one up!)

><> JJSJ