Lee’s Six Word Saturday – 12/10/16

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Momma Mallard and 2 Babies at Lake Morton

FOR THEY WATCH FOR YOUR SOULS

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“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17 KJV)

Momma Mallard and 2 Babies at Lake Morton by Lee

 

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SAFETY MONITORING by Canaries, Crayfish, and Brook Trout

SAFETY MONITORING by Canaries, Crayfish, and Brook Trout

Dr. James J. S. Johnson canary-caged-for-mines-heritagetrail

Canary “recruited” for Mining Safety    (U.K. gov’t/public domain)

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. (Ezekiel 3:17)

It’s good to have warning devices – like smoke detectors — that monitor environmental conditions, to give us an alarm if a deadly danger is imminent. However, long before humans invented mechanical safety monitoring devices, God had installed creatures all over the planet, with traits that equip them to serve us a safety monitors who can alarm us humans regarding environmental hazards.

island-canary-hbw-alive

ISLAND CANARY photo credit: HBW Alive

CANARIES, AS AIR QUALITY MONITORS

The Canary (Serinus canaria, a/k/a the “Island Canary” or “Wild Canary”) is an amazingly valuable finch.  For generations it has been commonly known, at least within the mining community, that canaries are good safety indicators  —  serving as caged air quality monitors  –  if the air is becoming dangerous, the Canary provides the alarm, signaling (by its distress) that it’s time to evacuate(!).

BIRDS AS DANGER SIGNALS – Until 1992 miners used to take a caged canary underground to warn them of dangerous gases [such as carbon monoxide] in the mine. The bird would react to poisons in the air before miners became aware of them.  …  Canaries were used to rescue teams in coal mines to detect poisonous carbon monoxide gas.  Reacting more rapidly than humans, their fluttering and other [behavioral] signs of distress gave warning when [dangerous] gas was present.  Oxygen was also carried to help birds recover.  No detecting apparatus was so reliable and canaries were used until 1992 when new electronic equipment, which can also meter the concentration of gas, was introduced.

[Quoting Colin Harrison & Howard Loxton, THE BIRD: MASTER OF FLIGHT (Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 1993), page 277.]  Perhaps we should not be surprised that canaries have been used as “watchdogs”, in mines, to give warning of dangers  –  the word “canary” points to the historic discovery of that species of yellow-and-brown finches, in the Canary Islands (and Madeira and the Azores), by Spanish conquistadores.  The term “Canary Islands” means “dog islands”, i.e., canine islands, so it makes sense, philologically speaking, that canaries have been harnessed to serve humans as air quality “watchdogs”.

On 1478, when the Spanish invaded the Canaries, they started to export these birds throughout Europe. There followed intensive rearing in captivity, giving rise to the remarkable varieties of forms with their great varieties of forms with their great variety of plumage coloration.

[Quoting Gionfranco Bologna, SIMON & SCHUSTER’S GUIDE TO BIRDS OF THE WORLD (London: Fireside Books, 1990; edited by John Bull), page 365-366.]

Yellow Canary (Crithagra flaviventris) Male ©WikiC

Yellow Canary (Crithagra flaviventris) Male ©WikiC

But what is a Canary? Do we see them – or their cousins – in America?

The original Canary (Serinus canaria) is a small yellow and brown species of finch with a lively manner and a cheerful song.  The familiar yellow bird of today is the result of controlled breeding [i.e., real “selection” of phenotype-coded genotypes, by human breeders] usually suppressing the dark pigments in the plumage.  Breeding has also produced a wide range of color in shades and mixtures of white, red (which needs a carotene-rich diet to maintain the color) green and brown, tufted headcaps and variations in body shape.  Birds produced by crossbreeding with Red Hooded Siskins (to produce red) and Mules (hybrids with other finches such as the Goldfinch and Linnet), are not taxonomically true canaries but are exhibited as such.  The Roller, Malinois and Spanish Timbrado are considered the most musical breeds.

[Quoting Colin Harrison & Howard Loxton, THE BIRD: MASTER OF FLIGHT (Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 1993), page 236.]  Thus, within the extended “family” of finches, the American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) is a cousin to the wild Canary (Serinus canaria) of the Canary Islands.

crayfish-at-shoreline-aaronlesieur

CRAYFISH crawling out of drainage ditch water    photo credit: Aaron LeSieur

CRAYFISH, AS WATER QUALITY MONITORS

While caged Canaries can monitor the underground air quality, Crayfish (e.g., Procambus, Orconectes, Cambarus, Fallicambarus, & Faxonella species) serve as water quality monitors.  (This is a service that I especially appreciate, having previously served the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission and the Trinity River Authority of Texas, as a Certified Water Quality Monitor, and having taught a course in Environmental Limnology at Dallas Christian College, back in the AD1990s.)

Just as canaries are sensitive to airborne poisons, crayfish (called “crawfish” by Louisiana Cajuns, as well as “mudbugs”) serve as indicators of lotic freshwater quality, as well as indicating the freshwater quality of lacustrine margins and muddy-water bayous.

[C]rawfishes have proved to be good indicators of the health of streams and other aquatic ecosystems [such as drainage ditches] and are of great interest to environmental biologists. Because the lives of these creatures are tied so closely to water, pollution and lowered water quality often lead to loss of crawfish populations over both small and large areas.  Some studies suggest tha talmsot half the species of eastern American crawfishes suffer from increasingly poor water quality and rapid loss of their aquatic habitats to agriculture or human housing development.  A few species in other states appear to have become extinct [i.e., locally or regionally extirpated], and several others – including some in Louisiana – could disappear within the next few decades.

[Quoting Jerry G. Walls, CRAWFISHES OF LOUISIANA (Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State University Press, 2009), page 1.]  For further (and very comprehensive) details, on the need for relatively pure freshwater, for successful crayfish habitats, see Walls’ book (CRAWFISHES OF LOUISIANA), at pages 34-37 & 52-54.

As a youth, I learned to observe and appreciate (and  catch) crayfish, in rural Baltimore County (rural Maryland), as reported elsewhere — see “Catching Crayfish, a Lesson in Over-Reacting”.  These wetland-loving decapods are truly shellfish, creative constructions of crustacean beauty, exhibiting God’s bioengineering brilliance.

So America’s Crayfish, which come in a variety of species, are water quality monitors, indicating by their presence (or absence) whether the freshwaters in streams and drainage ditches are relatively healthy.

Consequently, in recent years, I have been glad to see the mud chimneys of crayfish, on the sides of a drainage ditch that runs runoff rainwater alongside my front yard, in the shadow of my mailbox. Even gladder, I was, when I saw active crayfish, darting here and there in the pooled up rainwater-runoff water that accumulates in that drainage ditch.  In other words, the crayfish in my front yard’s drainage ditch are (by their very lives!) signaling me that the drainage ditch has fairly “healthy” freshwater quality!  As a former Certified Water Quality Monitor, I was happy for the crayfish’s monitoring “report”.

Brook-Trout-in-Manitoba.troutster.jpg

BROOK TROUT    ( photo credit:  troutster.com )

BROOK TROUT, AS WATER QUALITY MONITORS

Of course, the Crayfish  is not the only indicator of freshwater quality.  Another example is the Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis – a/k/a “brook charr”, “speckled trout”, “mud trout”, etc.), a salmonid famous for inhabiting freshwater streams, as its name suggests. It prefers ponds and streams with clean, clear, cold waters.

The importance of Brook Trout, to mankind, is illustrated by the fact that it is the official fish of 9 states: Michigan (where a potamodromous [fish that migrate only within contiguous freshwaters] population in Lake Superior is called “coaster trout”), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia – plus it is Nova Scotia’s official “provincial fish”.

Since the Brook Trout thrives only in clean freshwater, it too is an indicator – a water quality monitor of sorts – whose presence exhibits that its home-waters are relatively healthy, i.e., unpolluted.

The brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is a small, brilliantly colored freshwater fish native to clear, cold streams and rivers in the headwaters of the [Chesapeake] Bay watershed. … There fish thrive in clear, silt-free, well-shaded freshwater streams with numerous pools and a substrate made of mixed gravel, cobble and sand.  Because brook trout are not tolerant of water temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, they are rarely found in developed areas. . . .

In addition to being noted for their recreational value [as a “prized game fish”], brook trout are also very significant biologically [i.e., ecologically]. Because they require pristine, stable habitat with high water quality conditions, brook trout are viewed as indicators of the biological integrity of streams.  As the water quality in headwater streams has declined so have brook trout populations.

[Quoting Kathy Reshetiloff, “Got Brook Trout?  Then You’ve Also Got a Healthy Stream”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 26(8):40 (November 2016).   For further (and more comprehensive) details regarding how urban, agricultural, and/or industrial development routinely reduces water quality in affected stream-waters, review Kathy Reshetiloff’s article (cited above), regarding streamside vegetation impacts, sedimentation, rate changes to waterflow, water temperature impacts, acidic runoff, erosion impacts, etc.

In sum, if your stream-water hosts healthy Brook Trout, the stream-water itself is healthy!  Like a water quality monitoring device, these salmonids detect and report (by their populational successes or failures) lotic freshwater quality.

It’s good to have an “early warning” system, a safety monitor who provides a timely alarm of approaching danger. And yet we who have God’s Gospel, the Gospel of Christ’s redemptive grace, are obligated to warn others about the realities of eternity – woe to whoever shuts his or her ears to the good news of Christ the Redeemer.  The time to secure one’s relationship to God is now:  today is the day of salvation!

He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him; but he who takes warning shall deliver his soul.   (Ezekiel 33:5)

Whom [i.e., Christ] we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (Colossians 1:28)

For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation(2nd Corinthians 6:2)

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Catching Crayfish, a Lesson in Over-Reacting

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Lee’s Five Word Friday – 12/9/16

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Mute Swan and Escorts

NOW THOSE WHO ESCORTED PAUL

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Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.” (Acts 17:15 NASB)

Mute Swan and Escorts

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Latest Birdwatching Adventure to Lake Morton

View at Lake Morton

View at Lake Morton

We made a short birdwatching trip over to Lake Morton in Lakeland, FL recently. Dan wanted to check out something with his camera and of course I tagged along. As I have mentioned lately, my back is acting up, so I just walked about 40 feet and sat on a bench. It is amazing what you can see at the lake just sitting in one spot. I was about that far from the shore to watch all the activity swimming by.

First I was greeted with a momma Mallard swimming with her to babies.

Momma Mallard and 2 Babies at Lake Morton

Momma Mallard and 2 Babies at Lake Morton

Then a Black-necked Swan went the other way.

Black-necked Swan at Lake Morton

Black-necked Swan at Lake Morton

White Pelican made several circles over head:

White Pelican Flying Overhead

White Pelican Flying Overhead

A Male Ring-necked Duck swam by:

Ring-neck Duck Swimming

Ring-necked Duck Swimming

My attention turned to one of the Avian Wonders I am so amazed at watching. “Big Foot” Coot came by. I always like to watch their feet. Then a group of them came by and while watching them walk away from me, I actually saw a bit of the underside of those amazing feet. Here is a series of photos of the Coots:

It always amazes me how they can walk without stumbling over their own feet. Their feet are so useful in the water, but on shore they seem “weird” to me. See Birdwatching – American Coot.

Took this photo from the internet:

Lobed Feet of American Coot - Underside ©Beakycoot

Lobed Feet of American Coot – Underside ©Beakycoot

The last bird we watched before leaving was a favorite around here. A Great Blue Heron stopped by.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

There were other birds around, but for now, this gives you a little bit of my latest blessings from birdwatching. Not bad birdwatching for just sitting in one spot. The Lord is Good.

“He does great things past finding out, Yes, wonders without number.” (Job 9:10 NKJV)

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Birdwatching – American Coot

C is for Coot and Corvids: “C” Birds”, Part 2

Child’s Book of Water Birds ~ The Coot

Rallidae – Rails, Crakes & Coots

Lee’s One Word Monday – 10/17/16

Lee’s Five Word Friday – 7/22/16

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Lee’s Four Word Thurday – 12/8/16

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Green Jay (cyanocorax luxuosus) by DavesBP

COAT OF MANY COLORS

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“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. (Genesis 37:3)

Green Jay (cyanocorax luxuosus) by DavesBP

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CHICKADEE-DEE-DEE DANGER – Repost

Black-capped Chickadee on snowy conifer

Black-capped Chickadee on snowy conifer

CHICKADEE-DEE-DEE DANGER

“And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)

Millions of North Americans are familiar with the call of the Black-Capped chickadee: “Chicka-dee”. However, most bird-watchers know that the little chickadee communicates danger with its “chickadee-dee-dee” call. Bird-watchers also know that chickens use different warnings for dangers from the air or from the ground.

Scientists decided to see if chickadees used specialized calls for different dangers. In their first experiments they used a stuffed hawk to see what the chickadees in an outdoor aviary would do. However, they were only fooled once, and after that researchers had to use live hawks. After studying over 5,000 responses, a pattern emerged. Small, agile raptors like hawks are more dangerous to chickadees than, say, a large, horned owl, which the chickadees can easily evade. When confronted by a smaller raptor, the birds’ “chicka” call added up to four “dee”s in rapid succession, instead of two more leisurely “dee”s. Even more “dee”s might be added if the chickadees evaluated the danger as greater. Most frightening to the little birds was a pygmy owl that rated 23 “dee”s.

God cares for all His creatures and, knowing that predation would enter the creation with man’s sin, provided them with ways to warn each other. He also gave man His Word to warn us how to avoid sin and how to escape from it through Jesus Christ, should we become entrapped.

Prayer:
I thank You, Lord, for Your protection from all the dangers we face, especially the danger of our sin. Amen.

Notes:
Science News, 6/25/05, pp. 403-404, S. Milius, “Dee for Danger.” See also: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/black-capped_chickadee/sounds

Creation Moments ©2016 – Used with permission

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) ©WikiC

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) ©WikiC

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More articles about these Avian Wonders:

Tiny Yet Tough: Chickadees Hunker Down for Winter

Black-capped Chickadees Fed by Hand

Sunday Inspiration – Tits, Chickadees and Penduline Tits

Birds Vol 1 #5 – The Black-capped Chickadee

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Lee’s Three Word Wednesday – 12/7/16

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Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) ©WikiC

FAITH GROWS EXCEEDINGLY

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“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,” (2 Thessalonians 1:3 NKJV)

Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) ©WikiC

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Lee’s Two Word Tuesday – 12/6/16

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Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) Male©WikiC

PUFFED UP

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“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;” (1 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV)

Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) Male©WikiC

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Lee’s One Word Monday – 12/5/16

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Smith's Longspur (Calcarius pictus) ©WikiC

HIDING

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“Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.” (Psalms 32:7 KJV)

Smith’s Longspur (Calcarius pictus) ©WikiC

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Lee’s Seven Word Sunday – 12/4/16

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Birds building mud nest on window sill ©©

CLAY SAY TO HIM

THAT FASHIONETH IT

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“Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isaiah 45:9 KJV)

Birds building mud nest on window sill ©©

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Sunday Inspiration – Diving Ducks and Allies

Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) at Lowry Park Zoo by Lee

“He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into watersprings. There He makes the hungry dwell,…” (Psalms 107:35-36a NKJV)

Today we will continue through the Anatidae family of Ducks, Geese, Swans and allies. We start off with these neat Marbled Ducks that greet us when we visit the Parakeet Plus Aviary at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, FL.

Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) at Lowry Park Zoo by Lee

Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) at Lowry Park Zoo by Lee

“The marbled duck, or marbled teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris), is a medium-sized duck. It used to be included among the dabbling ducks, but is now classed as a diving duck. The scientific name, Marmaronetta angustirostris, comes from the Greek marmaros, marbled and netta, a duck, and Latin angustus, narrow or small and rostris billed.The marbled duck is approximately 39–42 cm (15–17 in) long. Adults are a pale sandy-brown colour, diffusely blotched off-white, with a dark eye-patch and shaggy head. Juveniles are similar but with more off-white blotches. In flight, the wings look pale without a marked pattern, and no speculum on the secondaries. These birds feed mainly in shallow water by dabbling or up-ending, occasionally diving. Little is known of their diet.”

Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea) Specimen Extinct ©WikiC

Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea) Specimen Extinct ©WikiC

“The pink-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea) was (or is) a large diving duck that was once found in parts of the Gangetic plains of India, Bangladesh and in the riverine swamps of Myanmar but feared extinct since the 1950s. Numerous searches have failed to provide any proof of continued existence. It has been suggested that it may exist in the inaccessible swamp regions of northern Myanmar and some sight reports from that region have led to its status being declared as “Critically Endangered” rather than extinct. The genus placement has been disputed and while some have suggested that it is close to the red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), others have placed it in a separate genus of its own. It is unique in the pink colouration of the head combined with a dark body. A prominent wing patch and the long slender neck are features shared with the common Indian spot-billed duck. The eggs have also been held as particularly peculiar in being nearly spherical.”

Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) by Dan at Zoo Miami

Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) by Dan at Zoo Miami

The next genus, Netta, and the Aythya genus, together make up the: “Subfamily: Aythyinae, diving ducks (Some 15 species of diving ducks, of worldwide distribution, in two to four genera; The 1986 morphological analysis suggested the probably extinct pink-headed duck of India, previously treated separately in Rhodonessa, should be placed in Netta, but this has been questioned. Furthermore, while morphologically close to dabbling ducks, the mtDNA data indicate a treatment as distinct subfamily is indeed correct, with the Tadorninae being actually closer to dabbling ducks than the diving ducks)”

  • Netta, red-crested pochard and allies (four species, one probably extinct)
  • Aythya, pochards, scaups, etc. (12 species)
Rosy-billed Pochard (Netta peposaca) ©WikiC

Rosy-billed Pochard (Netta peposaca) ©WikiC

Netta is a genus of diving ducks. The name is derived from Greek Netta “duck”. Unlike other diving ducks, the Netta species are reluctant to dive, and feed more like dabbling ducks. These are gregarious ducks, mainly found on fresh water. They are strong fliers; their broad, blunt-tipped wings require faster wing-beats than those of many ducks and they take off with some difficulty.

They do not walk as well on land as the dabbling ducks because their legs tend to be placed further back on their bodies to help propel them when underwater.”

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) at Lake Morton by Dan

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) at Lake Morton by Dan

“Aythya is a genus of diving ducks. It has twelve described species. The name Aythya comes from the Ancient Greek word αυθυια, aithuia, which may have referred to a sea-dwelling duck or an auklet.” The Aythyas are the; Canvasback (A. valisineria), Common pochard (A. ferina), Redhead (A. americana), Ring-necked duck (A. collaris), Hardhead (A. australis), Baer’s pochard (A. baeri), Ferruginous duck (A. nyroca), Madagascar pochard (A. innotata), New Zealand scaup (A. novaeseelandiae), Tufted duck (A. fuligula), Greater scaup (A. marila), Lesser scaup (A. affinis)”

[all quoted material is from Wikipedia]

“Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.” (Genesis 8:17 KJV)

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“And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.” (Genesis 8:18-19 KJV)

“How Can I Keep Singing” ~ The 3+1 Trio (Pastor Jerry, Reagan Osborne, Caleb and Jessie Padgett)”.

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More Sunday Inspirations

Anatidae – Ducks, Geese and Swans

Pastor Jerry Smith – Testimony

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Lee’s Six Word Saturday – 12/3/16

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Birds building mud nest on window sill ©©

THAT DWELL IN HOUSES OF CLAY

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“How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?” (Job 4:19 KJV)

Birds building mud nest on window sill ©©

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