“Flag That Bird!” (Part 4)
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; unto him who overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
The time will eventually come when the words “tree” and “paradise” coincide, in a truly heavenly way. But until then, we do have a bird of “paradise” that is known for habituating trees, especially the tropical trees of Papua New Guinea. Various birds, each known as a Bird of paradise, are known for their flamboyant color and beauty, especially long, thin, streamer-like tail feathers that show off the bird’s fancy status as a flying exhibit of heavenly design and construction.
The first of today’s featured creatures, the Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea raggiana), is a tropical rainforest bird with feathery flamboyance. Indeed, extravagant feathers are commonplace for birds-of-paradise, and this variety sports scarlet red, bright green, lemon yellow, black, combined to maroonish-mauve/rusty-brown, comprising a challenge for any wildlife painter!
However, as beautiful as Bird-of-Paradise feathers may be, be cautious about buying their feathers from any foreign vendors, because commercial exporting transactions involving these birds are regulated according to Appendix II of a wildlife protection treaty called “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora” (a/k/a the “Washington Convention”, usually abbreviated as “CITES” – opened for signature AD1973, adopted by USA in AD1975). The USA vigorously enforces CITES protections , internationally, by investigating, arresting, and prosecuting poachers who violate the endangered species provisions of the CITES treaty.
In “Flag Those Birds! (Part 1)”, we considered 4 “banner birds” – besides eagles – that appear on national flags: Belgium’s Wallonian Chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus); Portugal’s Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis); Burma’s Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus); and Dominica’s Sisserou Parrot (Amazona imperialis). In “Flag Those Birds! (Part 2)”, we reviewed 2 more “banner birds”: the British Antarctic Territory’s Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), and the Saint Helena Plover, a/k/a Saint Helena’s skinny-legged “Wirebird” (Charadrius sanctaehelenae). In “Flag That Bird! (Part 3)”, we showcased 1 more “banner bird”: Kiribati’s Great Frigatebird Emperor Penguin (Fregata minor), as well as the importance and popularity of Mother’s Day.
In this posting, we have two more “banner birds”: Papua New Guinea’s bird of paradise, featured on the flag of Papua New Guinea, and the ubiquitous dove, featured on Fiji’s flag (as well as on the royal standard of Tonga). God willing, we will subsequently review the black swan of Western Australia, the piping shrike of South Australia, the condor of Bolivia; and Uganda’s crested crane.
So for now, let us resume our series with Papua New Guinea’s Raggiana Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea raggiana).
Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea raggiana, f/k/a Gerrus paradisaea).
Birds-of-paradise routinely eat a diet of fruits and bugs, which are plentiful in New Guinea jungles, so no one should expect birds-of-paradise to miss a meal, much less to starve in their tropical habitats! Birds-of-paradise are known to hybridise, in the wild, wreaking havoc on taxonomy charts. [See David Chandler & Dominic Couzens, 100 Birds to See Before You Die: The Ultimate Wish List for Birders Everywhere (San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2008), page 207.]
Raggiana birds-of-paradise especially appreciate tropical fruit, including nutmeg. After eating jungle fruits the birds-of-paradise serve fruit-trees by dispersing the seeds, post-digestion, with natural “fertilizer”, and thereby promote the planting of the next generation of fruit trees, which eventually germinate and fruit somewhere within the range of the tree-planting bird-of-paradise.
The Raggiana Bird of Paradise (a/k/a “Count Raggi’s bird-of-paradise”, being named for Marquis Francis Raggi of Genoa, Italy) is the national bird of Papua New Guinea, since AD1971, when it was included on that nation’s national flag and coat-of-arms.
The next “banner bird” is a dove (which is really a family of similar birds), the most common species of which is the ubiquitous Rock Dove (Columbia livia), a species that includes within it a domesticated subspecies (i.e., breeder’s variety) called the homing pigeon (Columbia livia domestica – a/k/a “carrier pigeons” when they carry messages), many of which are completely white.
Of course the world is home to many other common doves and pigeons (e.g., Mourning Dove, Key West Quail-Dove, Inca Dove, White-winged Dove, various Turtle Doves, etc.), but earlier comments about doves and pigeons are now cited, rather than being repeated here, [See, for examples, Lee’s Birdwatching dove articles at Birds of the Bible – Dove and Turtle Dove, Birds of the Bible – Descending Like A Dove, and Birds of the Bible – Dove and Pigeon Distribution — as well as brief comments on the Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura), while recalling a wonderful morning of bird-watching (with Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel) in Pond-side Birdwatching In Florida III.]
A completely white “dove of peace” appears on the flag of Fiji. But what variety of “dove” is it? (Well, it looks like it could be a white homing pigeon, but is that what the Fiji flag designers had in mind?)
Fiji is a tropical archipelago (i.e., cluster of islands) in the South Pacific Ocean. Ironically, the special habitat of the Fiji archipelago is the only “home” for 3 endemic varieties of fruit-eating doves (a/k/a “fruit doves” or “fruit pigeons”): the Orange Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus victor, a/k/a Flame Dove), Golden Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus luteovirens, a/k/a Lemon Dove or Yellow Dove), and Whistling Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus layardi, a/k/a Velvet Dove or Yellow-headed Dove), — yet none of those doves are completely white.
So the Fiji flag’s white dove, which derives from the coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of Fiji (AD1871-AD1874), does not match any particular variety of dove that is endemic to the Fiji islands.
[ image taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doves_as_symbols ]
The olive leaf branch in the white dove’s beak suggests that the dove portrayed (in the flag of Fiji) is the olive-bearing dove that Noah released, received, and released again (see Genesis 8:8-12), which Ark-borne dove many have guessed was all white (although the Bible says nothing about that dove’s color). Likewise, the royal standard of Tonga depicts a similar all-white dove, bearing a green olive leaf.
There are, of course, some doves that are completely white. As noted above, one example of a pure-white dove is the white homing pigeon. That is as good a guess as many. After all, homing pigeons are famous for returning “home”, and the olive-bearing dove returned home (to its “house-boat”) after the Flood, — so maybe Noah’s famous dove was a homing pigeon!
But we probably need to wait — until we have a chance to speak with Noah, himself, because Noah was the bird-handling one (of only 8 humans) who personally knows which variety of “dove” brought back that famous olive leaf unto him, after the year-long global Flood. (What a voyage those 8 had!) And the world’s people-groups, to this day, have multifarious records (usually literary, but not always) of remembering the unique ocean voyage that those 8 survivors took, some 4½ thousand years ago — as is briefly illustrated in “Genesis in Chinese Pictographs” (posted at www.icr.org/article/8643 ). For a thoroughly researched and documented cornucopia of ancient flood accounts, see Dr. Bill Cooper’s THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS (Creation Science Movement, 2011 — available through http://www.csm.org.uk ), 424 pages.
And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off; so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. And he [i.e., Noah] stayed yet other 7 days; and sent forth the dove, which returned not again unto him anymore. (Genesis 8:11-2)
With those short comments, as Noah did centuries ago (Genesis 8:12), we now “release” the dove into the wide wild world, where many of that tribe thrive, faithfully being fruitful, multiplying, and filling the earth (Genesis 1:22 & 9:8-12).
Another day, God willing, we shall consider the black swan of Western Australia, the piping shrike of South Australia, the condor of Bolivia, and Uganda’s crested crane. So please stay tuned!
More Articles by James J. S. Johnson