Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill – Cincinnati Zoo

Trying to get through the fence/cage Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) Cincinnati Zoo 2016
If you followed the posts while we were on our trip, you are aware that we skipped going to the Cincinnati Zoo because of weather. Home Again After 2,000 Mile Trip
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (Romans 5:3-4 KJV)
Since we have been there twice already, I decided to see if there were some birds that were not written about from those trips. Actually, there are quite a few. This Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill’s photo caught my attention. It is so hard to get a photo through the cages of the zoos. This Avian Wonder was just as hard to capture. After several tries, the Hornbill came into focus and I still remember my excitement. Patience is hard at times, but it does pay off.
Yeah! I got through! Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) Cincinnati Zoo 2016
“But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:25 KJV)
Here are some more articles written about our visits to the Cincinnati Zoo: Here is a video by another visitor to the Hornbills:

The Eagles and Allies Have Landed

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) by Margaret Sloan

Finally, the Eagles and Allies have arrived and landed back on their Family Page. The Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles family album has been giving me a fit. As you know from the last two post, An Apology, Plus Much Work At Hand and Rounding Up Those Eagles and Allies, I have been trying to fix 111 broken links on the page that lists the whole Accipitridae family.

WordPress is a great Blogging provider, yet, there are times a blogger feels like pulling their feathers (hair) out. After searching the forums and the internet for possible answers, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer as to how 111 photos disappeared from the Media area. Many were downloaded back in 2011 through 2016, and have been working fine.

Life is like this at times. Problems arise out of nowhere, yet, how we handle them, is a test of our character. Thankfully, we have the Lord to lean on when we need wisdom. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7 KJV)

Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis) ©WikiC

Not so sure my “faith” is being tested, but the following verses are always a comfort when I am faced with challenges. Also, maybe, I am being challenged to review and rework parts of Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures. It is coming upon 10 years old after the New Year, and often items need to be repaired and painted. Even the birds go through a renewing of their feathers. Praying for the Lord’s wisdom on this issue.

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:3-5 KJV)

What else is there to show you today, but some of the rest of the birds that returned. Thankfully, most of the Family pages do not have such enormous clans of relatives.

Lee’s Seven Word Sunday – 5/21/17


Tufted Duck Zoo Miami by Lee




Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” (Psalms 37:7 KJV)

Tufted Duck Zoo Miami by Lee


More Daily Devotionals

WHY BIRDWATCHING IS WORTHWHILE — 3 Lessons from a Box Turtle: Independence, Patience, and Frugality


3 Lessons from a Box Turtle: Independence, Patience, and Frugality

Dr. James J. S. Johnson


Peter seeing him [i.e., the apostle John] saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man [i.e., John] do? Jesus saith unto him [i.e., Peter], If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?   Follow thou Me.   (John 21:21-22)

Peter was quick to check on what others would or should be doing, but the Lord reminded Peter that personal accountability is more important. Yes, our lives are interdependent – however, practicing independence (especially as it applies to individual accountability) is an important life skill.  And that is also true of how box turtles live their humble lives, providing an object lesson to birdwatchers. Plus, turtles provide 2 more lessons for birdwatchers, as we shall see.

Turtle traits and birdwatching? Life lessons?

Recently I was reading an ecology perspective (a few excerpts of which are quoted hereinbelow) about the life of a Box Turtle  –  and it reminded me of 3 reasons why I enjoy birdwatching. [By the way, for a short video on Eastern Box Turtles, see  .]

Specifically, birding is a worthy investment for economic reasons – and because it encourages recreational independence, and patient resilience. More on those three reasons below.  (Of course, there are other worthy reasons for birdwatching  –  perhaps I will address them some other time.)



Imagine driving down a country road, where a turtle is slowly crossing – you try to avoid squashing the poor reptile, by swerving to miss it. Being a slow pedestrian, in traffic contexts, is a distinct disadvantage.  However, the turtle’s slowness is more of an advantage, most of the time, because its independent lifestyle is never in a rush to “keep up with the Joneses”.

Instead of allowing the image of a lethargic, indifferent creature to mislead you [as you consider the lifestyle of a rural turtle], envision these pedestrians as animals enviably insulated form [most of ] the vagaries of their setting. In fact, land tortoises seem more divorced form environmental stresses than any other Appalachian vertebrate.

The turtle’s habitat provides our first hint of its independence.  Box turtles live in a variety of terrestrial situations—though permanent water does not seem to be a requirement.  High densities of these reptiles commonly occur in woodlots with large trees, canopy gaps, and a diversified ground cover.  The turtles bask in openings in the canopy and munch on a variety of short plants.  The close ground cover of woody shrubs and leaf litter provide shelter.  To feed and bask, box turtles also frequently enter open areas adjacent to the woods.  . . . .

[Quoting  George Constanz, “Box Turtle’s Independence”, in HOLLOWS, PEEPERS, & HIGHLANDERS:  AN APPALCAHIAN MOUNTAIN ECOLOGY, 2nd ed. (W. Va. Univ. Press, 2004), page 127, emphasis added.]


Another one of the box turtle’s built-in advantages is its patient resilience – it can survive a “tough neighborhood”, climatologically speaking.   (Patience, of course, is a benefit for any birder.)

One environmental condition [that] turtles do respond to is a cold snap in autumn. Box turtles enter hibernation with the first killing frost.  A wet fall [i.e., a rainy autumn] without a sudden freeze provides good conditions for entering hibernation.  Dry weather, which makes digging difficult, and a sudden freeze may trap some individuals above ground.  Surprisingly, box turtles do not hibernate below the frost line, but remain dormant at depths of up to five inches below the leaf litter.  . . . .

Members of the genus Terrapene, which includes the eastern box turtle, hibernate in shallow terrestrial burrows that feature a vertical extension to the surface.  In cold spells, turtles turn their heads farthest from the opening.  In Ohio, the average turtle spends 142 days in a burrow under three inches of leaf litter with its plastron [i.e., the ventral (“belly”) surface of the turtle’s shell] recessed two inches into the soil.  In such shallow retreats, box turtles are exposed to freezing temperatures, yet they usually survive.  Able to supercool to only -1.1 C [i.e., just below freezing] this strategy cannot be its entire secret [of winter weather survival]. . . .

In an astounding adaptation [i.e., an amazing design-feature that fits the turtle for filling that habitat], the box turtle is able to survive the freezing of 58 percent of its body water for seventy-three hours, making the box turtle the largest animal known to exhibit freeze-tolerance. . . . .

[Quoting  George Constanz, HOLLOWS, PEEPERS, & HIGHLANDERS:  AN APPALCAHIAN MOUNTAIN ECOLOGY, 2nd ed. (W. Va. Univ. Press, 2004), pages 128-129.]  In other words, turtles wait during “tough times” – and their patience is routinely rewarded.  (Likewise, birdwatchers who are patient and still are more likely to enjoy seeing the birds, especially if binoculars are handy – as opposed to scaring the birds off (by movements that startle them) due to spectator impatience.


A third advantageous trait of the box turtle is its metabolic frugality – turtles are slow to spend their energy, so that means they don’t need to eat a lot to replenish spent energy!

A box turtle’s daily behavior seems to be divorced form the caprice of its immediate environment. The condition of a turtle at any particular time appears more an integration of its past experiences than a reflection of its present stresses [due to three of the turtle’s  anatomical/physiological design-features].  . . . .

Most obviously, a box turtle’s shell takes the edge off environmental extremes by buffering its body from environmental stresses such as heat and drought. During severe drought, the tortoises do not concentrate around creeks—they merely seek moist sites within their home ranges, make a form [i.e., a depressions in surface vegetation, descending into only about one inch of topsoil] under a pile of leaves, and rest peacefully.  Second, their forms and hinged plastrons protect and conceal them from what few predators they do have, such as raccoons.  And third, box turtles have a low metabolism. Coupling that with omnivorous food habits, they enjoy a high supply—low demand economy and do not need to hustle.  They eat insects, earthworms, strawberries, [other] fruits, mushrooms, and many other foods, yet they burn these calories slowly.  In these ways, box turtles enjoy a tremendous hedge against environmental stresses.

[Quoting  George Constanz, HOLLOWS, PEEPERS, & HIGHLANDERS:  AN APPALCAHIAN MOUNTAIN ECOLOGY, 2nd ed. (W. Va. Univ. Press, 2004), page 131, emphasis added.]

In other words, the box turtle is frugal about metabolically “spending” its food energy – if it doesn’t spend a lot it doesn’t need a lot to live on. As the old saying goes, which surely applies to animal metabolism:  “if your output exceeds your input, your upkeep is your downfall”.

So how does this apply to birdwatching?

First, just as turtles are relatively independent, birdwatching is a pastime for those who are independent – there is no need for popular approval for birdwatching. Birdwatching can be done as a group, yet it also can be done individually.  Is birding “popular”?  Forget about “peer pressure” or “fashionableness” – birdwatching is worthwhile whether it is “in season” or “out of season”.  Independent-minded people are often birdwatchers, because birding is a wonderful avocation regardless of whether others do or do not appreciate it.

Second, just as turtles are patient and calm, birdwatching requires patience for best viewing results.

Third, just as turtles are economical in their metabolic “spending” habits, birdwatching is a pastime that is perfect for people of modest means, as well as for people of surplus means who are frugal with their resources. Many “hobbies” are expensive – but not birdwatching!

Although it is certainly possible to spend a lot of money (as a birdwatching), such as by taking a birding vacation to Costa Rica, a lot of birdwatching opportunities can be enjoyed with just a bird-book, binoculars, notepad, and pen.  Having an inexpensive “hobby” provides a very real economic freedomso one need not worry about the cost of birdwatching!  Furthermore, many educational resources, about birds, are available (free of charge) on the Internet, including the God-honoring blogsite LEESBIRD.COM !

So, enjoy your birdwatching opportunities – it’s good for practicing independence (instead of trying to “keep up with the Joneses”), it develops your patience, and it’s economically responsible!

><> JJSJ


Box Turtle on cloudy day: Animal Hub

Eastern Box Turtle near grass: Mark Swanson

Eastern Box Turtle close-up: Matt Reinbold

Eastern Box Turtle in leaves: Wikipedia

5 Eastern Box Turtles video:

Lee’s Five Word Friday – 6/24/16


Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) with Young ©WikiC



“And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (Hebrews 6:15 KJV)

Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) with Young ©WikiC


More Daily Devotionals


Lee’s One Word Monday – 4/25/16


Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) rookery ©USFWS



“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) rookery ©USFWS


More Daily Devotionals


Birds of the Bible – Heron Update

Tricolored Heron at Gatorland (5)

Tricolored Heron at Gatorland by Lee

And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 KJV)

Great Blue Heron 2

Great Blue Heron camouflaged by Lee

And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:18 KJV)

The original Birds of the Bible – Heron article was posted on July 17, 2008. Seems like it’s time for an update and to keep our Heron family visible. Actually, some of the family members are very good at hiding or blending in with their surroundings. Their Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, designed them to be slim like the reeds they hide in, called camouflage, and gave them the ability to move back and forth again like reeds. Notice the Tricolored Heron in the first photo. Even though he is blue, the sky color reflecting in the water actually is helping keep him “hidden in plain view.”

CLASS – AVES, Order – PELECANIFORMES, Family – Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns, Egrets

Here in central Florida we can see many Herons, such as the:
(Click link for photo from Dan’s website)
Great Blue Heron (L46″ Wingspan 72″)
Little Blue Heron (L24 Wingspan 40″)
Tri-colored Heron (L26 Wingspan 36″)
Green Heron (L18″ Wingspan 26)
Black-crowned Night Heron (L25″ Wingspan 26″)
Yellow-crowned Night Heron (L24″ Wingspan 42″)

Around the World the Ardeidae family, now with 72 species, includes Herons (46), Egrets (9) and Bitterns (15). From Thayer Birding Software, “Most herons nest in dense or dispersed colonies; a few species, including most bitterns, are solitary. Nests are platforms of interlocked sticks in trees or piles of vegetation in reeds or on the ground, built mainly or entirely by the female of material brought by the male.”

Most of the Herons rest and fly with their necks in an “S” curve. They can be seen along or in the edges of water fishing. Many stand perfectly still looking in the water and then thrust with a quick movement to either spear or catch their prey. You can see that in the video I posted yesterday.

This video of a Great Egret was watching something so intently. Also, notice how his neck sways like they do in the tall grass or reeds. Egrets are part of the Heron Family group.

Herons amaze me in how perfectly still they stand and wait. They seem so patient to me. Herons are on the “unclean” list of birds found in Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18. Because they are so “patient” and “wait,” it reminds me of:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (Psalms 37:7 KJV)
And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6:15 KJV)
The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season (Psalms 145:15 KJV
And of course our great verse from last week:
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

Hymns mention “waiting” and being “still” and “patient. Here is a favorite:

Be Still, My Soul by Katharina von Schlegel,
1697-Trans. By Jane L. Borthwick, 1813-1897

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.


Birds of the Bible – Herons

Birds of the Bible

Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns, Egrets


“Flag That Bird!” (Part 5)

Black Swan ©WikiC
“Flag That Bird!”  (Part 5)

by James J. S. Johnson

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.  (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

This is the fifth and last article in this “Flag that bird!” series, on various birds that appear on national flags.  (In other words, this is this mini-series’ “swan song”.)

All of us know enthusiasm-fueled folks who proudly launch into a new project – yet they soon falter, when the initial excitement fizzles, and they somehow fail to employ the prolonged patience to follow a long-term project through to completion.  (But, as we all know, “a job half-done is a job undone”.)  Thankfully, this blogsite mini-series, on “flag birds”, has now reached its proper closure!  Of course, there are other flags (such as state and provincial flags) that depict birds, but this set of articles has predominantly focused on birds portrayed on national flags.  Accordingly, as promised before, this final sequel features two huge birds, a swan and a crane, plus another bird whose identity is less than fully certain.

For a quick review, these vexillology-related birds were previously featured, as follows:

Part 1, posted at Flag That Bird – Part 1  — 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);

Part 2, posted at Flag That Bird – Part 2  — 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);

Part 3, posted at Flag That Bird – Part 3  — Kiribati’s Great Frigatebird Emperor Penguin (Fregata minor); and

Part 4, posted at Flag That Bird – Part 4  — Papua New Guinea’s Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea raggiana, f/k/a Gerrus paradisaea), and the ubiquitous Dove, best illustrated by the common pigeon, a/k/a Rock Dove (Columbia livia).

In this article, three remaining birds will be introduced:  (1) the black swan of Western Australia (Cygnus atratus); (2) the black and white “piping shrike” of South Australia, the exact identity of which is questionable, although this article will assume it is the same bird as the Australian magpie, perhaps more particularly the subspecies known as Cracticus tibicen telonocua, f/k/a Gymnorhina tibicen leuconota (e.g., by explorer Charles Sturt); and (3) Uganda’s crested crane (Balearica regulorum gibbericeps).

Black  Swan (Cygnus atratus).

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) Ruffled ©WikiC

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) Ruffled ©WikiC

Western Australia’s Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) appears on the official state flag of Western Australia (sometimes contracted as “Westralia”), which occupies the western third (i.e., almost a million square miles) of that island-continent country.  The Black Swan also presents prominently on Western Australia’s official coat-of-arms, flanked by two kangaroos.

Flag that bird - Flag of Western Australia

The Black Swan is well-named – their feathers are black (or black-grey, depending on how the sun shines on them), with a few white flight feathers.  Their bills are mostly bright scarlet, with a whitish bar near the tip.  And they are huge birds – adults can weigh between 8 to almost 20 pounds!  The wingspan breadth is between 5 to 6½ feet, like the length of a human lying down!  Their babies (called “cygnets”), however, are fuzzy white chicks, with dark bills, cute as they can be.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) with Cygnets ©WashPost

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) with Cygnets ©WashPost

The first time that I ever saw Black Swans, excluding the confined context of a zoo’s aviary, was at The Broadmoor hotel complex in Colorado (located at the edge of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, within view of Pike’s Peak – an area perfect for viewing magpies).  But the Black Swan is not native to North America – it is an Aussie native.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) with Cygnets ©Broadmoor

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) with Cygnets ©Broadmoor

Like other swans (e.g., the Trumpeter Swan, described at Trumpeting A Wildlife Conservation Comeback, its neck is S-curved and very long – in fact, the Black Swan has the longest neck of any swan.

Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen, a/k/a Gymnorhina tibicen).

The official state flag of South Australia features a bird called a “piping shrike”, but what bird is that?  Many have analytically identified it as the species now called the Australian Magpie, (Cracticus tibicen), perhaps more particularly the subspecies once called the “White-backed Crow Shrike”, which his now called the white-backed magpie (Cracticus tibicen telonocua, f/k/a Gymnorhina tibicen leuconota).

Flag that bird - Flag of Western Australia - Magpie

The Australian Magpie has several subspecies nowadays, nine according to some taxonomists – although ornithologists know that such lump-or-split classifications are vulnerable to slippery subjectivities.  [For an insight into the arbitrary subjectivity of “lumper”-versus-“splitter” taxonomy, see Footnote #2 within .]

Australia Magpie on Dead Branch ©WikiC

Australia Magpie on Dead Branch ©WikiC

The Australian Magpie is deemed a type of “butcherbird” as opposed to the “corvid” category that includes the “magpies” of Europe and America.  The Australian Magpie is famous for its singing, entertaining (those with ears to hear) with a complex repertoire of vocalizations.  The black-and-white opportunist has habituated to human-dominated habitats, such as the agricultural fields of farms, gardens, and even wooded parklands.

Australia Magpie ©WikiC

Australia Magpie ©WikiC

The Australian Magpie is not a picky eater – its diet includes both plants and animals.  Its preferred diet, however, is dominated by a variety of larval and adult invertebrates, such as insects (like ants, moths, beetles, bees, wasps, cockroaches) and arachnids (like spiders, scorpions), as well as earthworms, millipedes.  The Australian Magpie is also known to eat some small vertebrates, such as rodents (like mice), lizards (like skinks), and/or amphibians (like frogs and toads).

Some compare the problem-solving resourcefulness and the brash cockiness – of this bird – to the national “reputation” displayed by many Aussie ex-patriots.  (Maybe Ken Ham should set the record straight on that topic!)  The Australian Magpie is quite a clever problem-solver  — it has been observed breaking off the stingers of bees and wasps, before swallowing such otherwise-dangerous bugs!  The Australian Magpie is not timid – it will defend its territory against raptors trespassing therein, such as Brown Goshawks.

Crested Crane (Balearica regulorum gibbericeps).

The official flag of Uganda sports a stylized depiction of a Crested Crane, a/k/a “East African Crowned Crane” (Balearica regulorum gibbericeps), which is a subspecies of the Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum).  The same crane appears on the Ugandan coat-of-arms.

The Ugandan coat-of-arms provides a more realistic picture of a Crested Crane.

Ugandan coat-of-arms Crested Crane

The East African Crowned Crane (a/k/a Crested Crane) is a tall bird, standing up to 4 feet tall!  It can weigh 6 to 8 pounds, while sporting a wingspan breadth of 6½ feet.  The plumage is dominated by slate-grey feathers, with wing feathers of white and chestnut orange.  The Crested Crane’s black head is adorned by white cheeks (accented with red) and a showy 3D “fan” crest, of golden top feathers, somewhat resembling fireworks.

Grey Crowned Crane ©WikiC

Grey Crowned Crane ©WikiC

Cranes – of various species – are famous for their long necks and long thin legs. Unlike herons (which fly with their necks “pulled back”), the Crested Crane (like other cranes) flies with its neck straightened and outstretched.  Like other cranes, the Crested Crane is gregarious – their aggregate nesting territories may host a flock of up to 200 residents.  These cranes are typically monogamous and territorial.  These socially stable birds are known to live as long as 20 to even 40 years of age.

In the wild, the Created Crane eats a mix of seeds (such as grains), other plant materials, insects, and worms.  Other foods eaten include eggs and fish, and even small lizards and frogs.  This diet is similar to the diet of other cranes (e.g., Sandhill Crane, Whooping Crane, Common Crane, etc.) around the world.  Cranes routinely eat whatever is available and convenient, so cranes are classified as “opportunist” feeders – consuming small mammals (like rodents), fish, snails, amphibians (like frogs), worms, insects, seeds (like grains, nuts, acorns), berries, root vegetables, and other plant materials (such as leaves.  As a matter of biome ecology, most cranes prefer wetlands, such as mudflats and other shorelands, or in wide open fields, such as prairies.

Common Crane in Estonia ©WikiC

Common Crane in Estonia Wetland ©WikiC

The “Common Crane” (Grus grus) is a cousin the these African cranes.  The Common Crane has a summer range, typically boreal forests (called taiga in Russia) that covered most of the top half of Eurasia, with blotches of winter ranges in Europe (Spain), Asia (e.g., China), and parts of Africa.

The zoologist George Cansdale [see his ALL THE ANIMALS OF THE BIBLE LANDS, pages 158-159] – after analyzing the mix of Biblical, ornithological, and biogeographical evidence – concludes that the Hebrew noun ‘agûr (e.g., in Jeremiah 8:7 & Isaiah 38:14) refers to the noisy Common Crane (Grus grus), an identification that the learned Hebrew scholar John Joseph Owens concurs with [see his ANALYTICAL KEY TO THE OLD TESTAMENT, volume 4, pages 116 & 242].  Matching the ‘agûr of Isaiah 38:14, the Common Crane is clamorously noisy, especially when agitated.  Cranes are also phenological migrants, a trait that accords with Jeremiah 8:7.

A review of our introductory verse provides another insight, the contrast between patience and pride:

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.  (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

In Ecclesiastes 7:8 the Hebrew adjective translated “patient” is ’erek – it denotes someone or something that is prolonged, drawn out, slow, longsuffering.  Accordingly, to be “patient in spirit” is to be willing to wait one’s turn, according to God’s providential line-up (and timing).  A humble person doesn’t butt in line; he or she patiently waits in the queue, for his or her turn.

In Ecclesiastes 7:8 the Hebrew adjective translated “proud” is gabah  — it denotes someone or something that is high, haughty, or high-minded, in some contexts what we sometimes call “uppity”.  Accordingly, to be “proud in spirit” is to regard one’s self as higher that one should, which is the opposite of what God (through Paul) commands us to be:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each [i.e., all of us] esteem others better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  (Philippians 2:3-4)

Interestingly, humility and patience go well together, because accomplishing a long-term project often requires interacting successfully with other people, and getting other people to coöperate with you (so that your goals can be furthered) routinely requires you to serve their needs and goals.  This is called mutual symbiosis when we see it in birds; we call it “win-win” coöperation when humans do it.  In win-win situations the coöperating parties both further their respective goals, so their interactive relationship is not one-sided. (Contrast this with “parasite”-like people, who habitually take, but won’t give).

Unsurprisingly those who are haughty-minded, being selfish, are slow to appreciate this life principle, because “uppity” people cannot understand or accept the law of Acts 20:35, that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (quoting the Lord Jesus Christ Himself).  Consequently, many who could help them, with their project checklists, may shy away  –  why host a parasite?   And so it is that many who are haughty are proud to assertively start – yet don’t finish – complex projects that require prolonged patience.   Why?  Part of the cost of succeeding was the cost of benefiting others who contribute to the project.  The end is predictable:  failure and shame.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  (Luke 14:28)

A sober lesson for long-term projects (including long-term relationships)!  Yet, this is a lesson much needed in America, nowadays, where impatient and high-minded “get-rich-quick” tactics all-too-often end in disappointment and discord.  (This author has seen many illustrations of this in business bankruptcy cases and in employment law contexts.)

In sum, thankfully, this “flags” the end of this mini-series on national vexillology-related birds.


“Flag That Bird!”(Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4) 


James J. S. Johnson’s Articles


Birds of the Bible – Patience Of…. A Duck?

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) and Pintail by Lee at ZM 2014

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) and Pintail by Lee at ZM 2014

But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, Who gives songs in the night, Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?’ (Job 35:10-11)

We know that God has given us more insight and wisdom than the animals and birds. Unfortunately, sometimes we need to observe the birds to see how we should behave. There are many times we can learn from watching their behaviors.

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; (Job 12:7)

While at the Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia aviary, this behavior was captured on video. It’s between Ferruginous Ducks and a Mandarin Duck.

Can you think of some lessons that can be observed and learned? Are those ducks patient? Was one, the Mandarin Duck, jumping the line? What can be seen in their behaviors? Did you notice the eyes of the waiting duck? He wants it, but he is waiting. He even keeps his beak shut. Do we complain when things don’t go right? etc.

Here are some verses about patience, waiting and kindness that we can be taught from the birds.


These all wait for You, That You may give them their food in due season. (Psalms 104:27)

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You. (Psalms 25:21)


Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. (1 Corinthians 11:33)

Breaking in Line – Mandarin:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. (Psalms 37:7-8)


The Ferruginous Duck, also Ferruginous Pochard (Aythya nyroca) is a medium-sized diving duck from Eurasia. The species is known colloquially by birders as “Fudge Duck”. They are members of the Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans Family.

Their breeding habitat is marshes and lakes with a metre or more water depth. These ducks breed in southern and eastern Europe and southern and western Asia. They are somewhat migratory, and winter farther south and into north Africa.

The adult male is a rich chestnut colour with a darker back and a yellow eye. The pure white undertail helps to distinguish this species from the somewhat similar Tufted Duck. The female is similar but duller, and with a dark eye.

These are gregarious birds, forming large flocks in winter, often mixed with other diving ducks, such as Tufted Ducks and Pochards.

These birds feed mainly by diving or dabbling. They eat aquatic plants with some molluscs, aquatic insects and small fish. They often feed at night, and will upend (dabble) for food as well as the more characteristic diving.


Birds of the Bible – Patient Herons

Tricolored Heron at Vierra Wetlands, Vierra, FL

Tricolored Heron at Vierra Wetlands, Vierra, FL

I watch Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons and Green Herons which are quite common in our area. They are all in the same family and all seem to have a characteristic of being very patient. Have you just sat and watched them? When you are out birdwatching it is a habit of those in the Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns Family to stand very still and wait for some food to swim by or to lean over and strike a pose. They freeze other than a side-to-side movement of their neck.

Herons are mentioned twice in the Bible, and only in a list of unclean birds to not eat. Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18.

the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 NKJV)

the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:18 NKJV)

Here is a video of a Great Egret at Lake Parker looking for something in a tree. I strung three short videos together. Taken back in 2008.

The Herons are so patient it reminds me that I need to be more patient. So, here are some of the verses in Scripture that tell us to be patient or to wait:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. (Psalms 37:7 NKJV)

…I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. (Psalms 40:1 NKJV)

The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NKJV)

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, (2 Timothy 2:24 NKJV)

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) ©WikiC

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) ©WikiC

Here’s a good one for us and the heron when he catches his fish:

And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6:15 NKJV)

And then one of my favorite passages that has to with waiting, even though the Eagle is mentioned instead of the Heron.

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. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV)

Other links:

Birds of the Bible 

Birds of the Bible – Herons

Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns Family


Nuggets Plus – Herons – Patiently Waiting

Heron Waiting For Lunch by Lee at Viera Wetlands

Heron Waiting For Lunch by Lee at Viera Wetlands

Nuggets Plus – Herons – Patiently Waiting ~ by Lee

Nuggets Plus

Nuggets Plus

The Heron family
Has very patient members.
They wait very still with
Their head and neck
Poised for action.
Then at the right time,
They grab their opportunity..

Are we as patient
As the Herons
Or do we run ahead of the Lord?

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
(Psalms 27:14 KJV)

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