“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalms 107:8 NKJV)
I trust you are enjoying our “Start Birdwatching Today!” series. We have been trying to motivate you to go out and observe the many birds around you. This is the second article about “Enjoying The Lord’s Paintbrush” Click for first one.
Seeing as our subtitle is “Birdwatching from a Christian Perspective,” I want to do a few articles that you won’t see in most birding books. We believe that the world and all that its critters were created by the Lord and not evolved.
For thus says the Lord–Who created the heavens, God Himself, Who formed the earth and made it, Who established it and did not create it to be a worthless waste; He formed it to be inhabited–I am the Lord, and there is no one else. (Isaiah 45:18 AMP) O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions— (Psalms 104:24 NKJV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28 NKJV)
While creating the birds, the Lord has used a fantastic array of colors and designs. I can imagine Him using a fine brush when some of my favorite birds here in America were being dressed for “His pleasure.” Zoos are a fantastic place to see birds that you would have to travel to other countries to see. It is more economical to travel to a Zoo nearby.
The birds at zoos are well cared for and many are being bred to preserve their species. Some birds are so endangered by loss of habitat and other causes, that the only birds left are the ones in the zoos or preserves. We are fortunate to have some very super zoos right here within a day’s drive and our country has many others that are first class also. The birds seen here in this article are some of the fantastically painted birds created by the Lord that Dan and I have seen in Zoos.
Look at the Mandarin Duck at the top. He is related to the Wood Duck up there last week. Another beautiful bird that likes to hide and make it difficult to get a good photo of him. The male is the colorful one and the female is a plain brownish to protect her while on the nest. She is in the background and you can see her painted eyelines.
Now if you have an ugly vulture and want to pretty it up, look at this design on the head of a King Vulture.
Here are a few more beauties by their Creator: How about these feathers on the Scarlet Macaw?
Or the gorgeous Blue-and-yellow Macaw?
My favorite “painted” bird at the Brevard Zoo was this one:
Wow!!! Down in Miami at the Wings of Asia aviary at Zoo Miami we were able to see these beautiful birds: The Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo
Or this cool bird which I call “Joe Cool.” Looks like the Lord painted sunglasses on it.
An Inca Tern seen at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA:
This Victorian-crowned Pigeon is at most of the zoos we have visited. They look like lace was placed on its head.
Back here locally to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, there are many birds to enjoy. We met a group of our Homeschoolers over there on Friday and had the pleasure of introducing them to my avian friends there. They enjoyed all of them, but had the most fun feeding the beautiful Lorikeets.
There are many more that could be shown, but if you”Start Birdwatching Today” with a trip to a zoo or somewhere similiar, you might just be surprised by the beauty and magnificence of the birds. Then thank the Lord for His many blessings to us.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33 NKJV)
See the whole “Start Birdwatching Today” series *
Last week while Dan and I were visiting the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, FL, the idea for this article began. We were watching the Birds of Prey show that they have daily. We had also watched the Bird shows at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA back in August.
Both places present some very interesting birds and they are not on leashes. The birds have the freedom to move around on their own, yet they do not run or fly away. They may have been spooked at times, in Pittsburgh, and they may have to go get them, but they eventually get them back. Both places had birds flying over the heads of the spectators and doing stunts, yet they were being controlled by the trainers. In other words, they were “tamed.”
Listening to the trainers, they tell how the birds are trained by “positive reinforcement.” The birds are encouraged to perform for a “reward” for doing it right, but are never “punished” for not doing it right. They are just not given a “treat.” So none of the birds are mistreated.
What they do is encourage the bird to perform something that is already one of its behaviors. For instance, both places brought out the Red-legged Seriema, which is a bird of prey, and gave it a plastic lizard. Both birds picked it up and slung it to the floor several times. This is the normal way they kill their prey. So this was an easy task for the birds, yet the trainers had to “train or tame” the bird to where it would do its behavior on command.
The Serierma was just one of many birds doing “behaviors on command” at the Zoo and the Aviary. I felt the breezes of hawks, owls, and an eagle flying just over my head. Below is a Slide show of some of the “tamed” birds at both places.
The Bible only mentions “tame” or “tamed” in two different places. The first is mentioned in Mark 5:3-4 when a man with an unclean spirit, who dwelt in the tombs, “and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.” Jesus healed him.
For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit! (Mark 5:8 NKJV)
In James, we find the verses that tell about the birds being tamed. When we look around, we all can see many incidences of tamed critters and birds. Have you ever seen a critter tame a person? Man was given dominion over the critters in Genesis. Dominion did not mean what some think of today as subjugation, but it was more of use of, care of, learning from, and protecting them. Yet, God made man in His image, therefore man and woman are higher than the critters (all of them), not equal with them as some teach. Man has a “soul” which is accountable to God, the critters do not have a “soul.”
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. (James 3:7 NKJV)
The one thing that has a problem is the “tongue.” James goes on to say,
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:8-10 NKJV)
These are some of the birds used in the shows or out and about with their trainers.
One of the special privileges at the National Aviary was the behind the scenes places we were allowed to visit. Sarah, the “Bird Nurse” (Head Keeper of Hospital Care), that we had met the day before, and Steven, the Director of Animal Programs, gave us a grand tour. (See Introduction)
We started off by visiting the “Geriatric Hospital” where the retired or aging bird’s care is provided. We met, Jamie, the Vetenarian Technician, who works with the birds also. We met “Skippy”, the 23 year old Black-necked Stilt. There were other birds there like, “Gracie”, a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, which I got to scratch her head. She had performed well over the years, but now is retired. Other retirees were “Smiley”, the White-tailed Trogan; “Stevie”, the Boat-billed Heron; “Hermie”, the Montezuma Oropendola; a Blue-naped Mousebird, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Black-naped Oriole, Goldie’s Lorikeet, Spangled Cotinga, Superb Starling, Collared Kingfisher and one or two others that I missed writing down. My excitement was way up there.
Down in the basement also was their hospital area where they do any surgery and take x-rays. It was quite well equipped and the physical needs of all the aves that live at the National Aviary are well provided for.
Steven, the Director, then met us and took up to the 2nd floor where his “pride and joy” are housed. That is where the breeding birds were kept. As you may know, many of the zoos and aviaries goal is to help preserve species that are endangered or close to extinction. Not all the birds being bred there were in those categories. The were pairs of Blue-fronted Amazon Parrots, Green Aracaris, Grossbeak Starlings, Cape Thicknees, Palm Cockatoos, Turquoise-fronted Amazons, Golden-crested Mynas, Bali Mynas and Rainbow Lorikeets. Wow! Saw all of them close up. What a thrill.
During that day and the next, we also visited the regular aviary hospital and some more “behind the scenes” places. At the Hospital, Sarah showed us some of her current patients like the Black-headed Woodpecker, Pearl-sided Owlet, Call Duck (broken wing), Runner Duck (broken hip), Rhinoceros Hornbill, Micronesian Kingfisher, White-crested Laughingthrush, and a Silkie Chicken.
Who gives food to all flesh, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalms 136:25 NASB)
All of these birds and the one mammal (2-toed Sloth) need to eat. Do they ever eat well! In the Kitchen area they were preparing the next meal for them. Wow! What great looking fresh fruits and vegetables were being prepared. Of course, there are different kinds of bird foods and seeds. We were shown the different crickets, worms and “Super Worms” which are the “worm of choice” by many of the avian eaters. The fresh and frozen “meat” (mouse, chicken, fish, etc.) are kept in walk-in coolers and freezer. These feathered critters are well supplied with their daily bounty.
What an amazing place and honor to be shown so many areas of the National Aviary. Our hearty thanks to Steven, Sarah, Jamie, and all the trainers and staff that made our visit “super special.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall; he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish. Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:32-34 NASB)
Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. (Psalms 150:2 NASB)
Hope you enjoy the slide show below. Not all the photos are great, but they will give you an idea of what the visit was like. FABULOUS!
This article is about the numerous birds found in the Tropical Forest Free-flight section at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA. It has taken awhile to find the names of the birds in the pictures we took while we were there. My enthusiastically taken 600 photos has turned into a real challenge. That, and I do have a life.
The Tropical Forest section has some really interesting birds that I had read about or seen in photos. It was great to be able to get so close to the birds. About the time we arrived there, they were getting ready to do one of the feedings. This really brought the birds out of the trees. Some, the Common Starling, landed right on the bin with the food and started helping himself. My favorite bird there was the Hammerkop, who many got to feed by hand and a close second was the Blue Rollers. They seemed right personable. Of course, I enjoyed all of them and was thrilled to get to watch them.
Probably one of the most colorful birds in the Tropical Forest was the Golden-breasted Starling who was nothing like the Common Starling above. The feathers are iridescent and just shine.
I am adding a Slide collection of the birds in the Tropical Forest. They are not of everything, but the ones that turned out good enough to show.
The National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA is divided into different habitats. The National Aviary, they opened their Grassland exhibit in March of 2010 and here is their description of it. “Inhabiting the Grasslands exhibit are an array of delicate and colorful birds, including Gouldian finches, paradise whydah, Sudan golden sparrows, shaft-tail finches, melba finches, and blue ground doves. The exhibit’s plantscape comprises sea oats, bayberry, birch and dogwood as well as other greenery.”
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. (Psalms 147:7-9 ESV)
Grasslands (also called greenswards) are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous (non-woody) plants. However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica. In temperate latitudes, such as northwest Europe and the Great Plains and California in North America, native grasslands are dominated by perennial bunch grass species, whereas in warmer climates annual species form a greater component of the vegetation.
Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass? (Job 38:25-27 ESV)
There are several types of Grasslands throughout the world. They are basically the: Tropical and subtropical grasslands, Temperate grasslands, Flooded grasslands, Montane grasslands and Desert and xeric grasslands. The Aviary has birds that represent these areas of the world.
Following is a list of the birds that we encountered in the Grasslands at the aviary:
From the Phasianidae – Pheasants, Fowl & Allies Family:
Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar)
Crested Partridge (Rollulus rouloul)
From the Charidridae – Plovers Family:
American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica)
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
From the Psittacidae – Parrots Family:
Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) (African Grey Parrot)
From the Columbidae – Pigeons, Doves Family:
Inca Dove (Columbina inca)
From the Muscicapidae – Chats, Old World Flycatchers Family
White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus)
From the Passeridae – Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches Family
Sudan Golden Sparrow (Passer luteus)
From the Estrididae – Waxbills, Munias & Allies Family:
Green-winged Pytilia (Pytilia melba) (Melba Finch)
Long-tailed Finch (Poephila acuticauda) (Shaft-tailed Finch)
Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae)
From the Viduidae – Indigobirds, Whydahs Family
Long-tailed Paradise Whydah (Vidua paradisaea) (Paradise Whydah)
From the Icteridae – Oropendolas, Orioles & Blackbirds Family
Scarlet-headed Blackbird (Amblyramphus holosericeus)
From the Thraupidae – Tanagers and Allies Family
Saffron Finch (Sicalis flaveola)
I use the I.O.C.’s names, but they are the same birds. I have put the aviary’s name at the end, if it differs.
I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. (Psalms 50:11 ESV)
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! (Deuteronomy 32:1-3 ESV)
Of David. Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. (Psalms 37:1-5 ESV)
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth (Psalms 104:14 ESV)
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8 ESV)
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:30 ESV)
(Various quotes are from the Scripture, National Aviary website and Wikipedia. Some of the shots by me are just “proof shots”. They were taken to prove I saw the bird, and some didn’t come out well.)