Our Ducky Backyard

This week, our total of ducks visiting, or seen, from our backyard, just grew some more.

So far we had counted:

Muscovy Ducks

Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck

Pekin and Runner Ducks

Peking Ducks and one unknown Duck by Lee

Peking Ducks and one Runner Duck by Lee

Mallard Ducks

Mallard male non-breeding Apr 21 2021 by Lee

Mallard male non-breeding Apr 21 2021 by Lee

Mottled Ducks

Mottled Ducks by Lee

Mottled Ducks by Lee

Mottled Ducks by Lee

Mottled Duck by Lee

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in yard

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in yard

And now this week:

Wood Ducks

Needless to say, we have quite a “Ducky” yard, wouldn’t you say?

“Of all clean birds ye shall eat.” (Deuteronomy 14:11 KJV)

Our visiting ducks are for watching, not eating. The only ducks eaten here have been the ones the alligator chose to be his dinner.

Ducks belong to:

CLASS – AVES, Order – ANSERIFORMES, Family – Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans

Wordless Whistling Ducks

Ian’s Irregular Bird – Toco Toucan

Please forgive the shock of another Irregular Bird: I’m currently full of good intentions, which I’ll talk about later. I have Toucans on my mind at the moment, which I’ll also mention later, so here is the Toco Toucan which was well up on our list of wanted birds on our visit to the Pantanal in Brazil in September 2019.

Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) by Ian

We found our first one, above, on our first day driving into the Pantanal, feeding on a lone fruiting tree beside the road. This gave us the impression that this large species would be easy to find, but we saw very few after that and I photographed only this one other bird, below, feeding on another fruiting tree beside the river on the way from Porto Jofre to the Meeting of the Waters National Park (Encontro das Águas) to look for Jaguars. This species of Toucan is readily identified by its diagnostic yellow and orange, black-tipped bill and in the second photo, you can just see the red undertail coverts and white rump, both also characteristic of this species.
With a length of 60cm/24in and weight to 800gm/1.8lbs this is the largest of the seven or eight species of large Toucan (genus Ramphastos). It is also the only one that doesn’t inhabit forests; it occurs on forest edges and in grasslands. It has a wide range in South America from Guyana south to northern Argentina, avoiding the forested regions of the Amazon Basin. It nests in cavities in trees, river banks or termite nests. Both adults incubate and feed the young, predominantly on insects when very young but gradually switching to the adult diet of fruit such as figs as the nestlings grow older.
Guinness Toucan Poster from Ian

Guinness Toucan Poster from Ian

Toucans are strange and spectacular birds and it is not surprising that they have captured the popular imagination. I remember this poster for Guinness in the bar of Greystones Golf Club, Co. Wicklow, when I was a kid in Ireland in the 1950s. Guinness has used the Toucan as a mascot since the 1930s. Who knows, maybe Guinness helped spark my interest in birds, though there was another one about Gnus – “The New Gnu at the Zoo; Guinness is Good for You” – which aroused only a mild interest in even-toed, horned ungulates. The toucan artist has taken a bit of license with a slightly hybrid design (the black spot on the bill is missing, the patch around the eye is blue and green and the yellow and red breast bands are normally barely visible on the Toco Toucan) but it is certainly a Toco Toucan and not one of the other species (http://www.birdway.com.au/ramphastidae/).
The reason why I have Toucans on my mind is because I usually wear tropical shirts when I go folk dancing with the Townsville dancers, suitable for dancing in the tropics even if most of the dance originate in eastern Europe and the Middle East. One of the dancers gave me a pair of socks featuring flamingos to go with a flamingo shirt that I have, so I went on a search for suitable socks to go with another shirt with Toucans and Macaws. As you can see toucan on both the socks and the shirt is a Toco Toucan and I couldn’t resist sharing them and photos of the real thing with you.
One of the reasons the Irregular Bird has been very rare recently is that I started doing a series on island birding so we could get vicarious pleasure from pretending to travel when we were prevented from doing so by Covid-19. I got bogged down on a trip to Macquarie Island, preparing lots of photos and researching lots of species and never finished it. So, I’ve decided to go back to the original format of dealing with a single species at a time, and hopefully that will be easier to do and more frequent. I haven’t taken many photos since the pandemic started, but there are plenty of species left in the library to keep us going until and if things get back to normal.
Greetings
Ian


Ian Montgomery,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee Addition:

Toucans are part of the Ramphastidae Family.

Love those Toucans. In fact, the Green-billed Toucan is one of the Wordless Bird posts.

Wordless Toucan

Tricolored Herons at Gatorland 2021

Tricolored Heron Nest – Well Hidden at Gatorland

On our last trip to Gatorland, I mentioned the Snowy and Great Egrets youngsters. [Poor Mama Feeding Chicks] There were other nest around of Tricolored Herons with chicks. Finding the nest were not as easy as the Egrets who seem to be less secretive about where the nest are placed. The Tricolored Herons on the other hand seem to like to hide them more.

Tricolored Heron Nest at Gatorland

Tricolored Heron Nest at Gatorland

I did manage to find one nest that was hidden, and took some video of them being fed. It is zoomed in and quite dark in there, but you can see them moving around. Occasionally, you can see the parent.

Also, there was a nest in a palm tree:

Tricolored Nest in Palm Tree at Gatorland

It was hard to focus on them through all the branches, but enjoy!

“Who provides food for the raven (and Tricolored Herons), When its young ones cry to God, And wander about for lack of food?” (Job 38:41 NKJV)
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26 NKJV)

More Gatorland Visits

Sharing The Gospel

Poor Mama Feeding Chicks

Great Egret Feeding Chicks at Gatorland by Lee

Great Egret Feeding Chicks at Gatorland by Lee

Yesterday we went back over to Gatorland to see how the chicks have been progressing. Here is a video of a parent feeding the growing chicks. I felt so sorry for her (I assume). It was an unexpected visit, because another plan for the day, of Dan’s, fell through. So, we decided to see how much the birds had grown since our visit in March. Needless to say, this should be the last on until fall. It was a BIT warm.

I still have articles and photos to show from our March visit, but an issue with my eye slowed me down. All is well now after a small laser treatment last week. My camera eye was blurry, but now all is clear again. So, stayed tuned as I try to get more tales out.

I guess because of my eye problem, I was so worried when one of the youngsters grabbed her beak and got mighty close to the eye. Because eyes are mentioned so many times in Scripture, here are a few promises:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” (Psalms 32:8 NKJV)

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy,” (Psalms 33:18 NKJV)

“The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalms 34:15 KJV)

Gatorland Trips

Good News

Dan’s Newest Gatorland Photos

Snowy Egret Strutting in Mating Plumage by Dan at Gatorland

I finally encouraged Dan to edit his photos from our latest visit to Gatorland. When I saw them, I knew we had to share them. He has a Zenfolio photo site, that he has sort of ignored lately, but with a little encouragement, he posted his newest photos from our Gatorland trip last month. I always shrink photos here so that they don’t eat up storage space, but there is no way these photos would give them justice. You just have to see them on Dan’s Pix.

With a new folder called Gatorland 2021, you will find these latest photos.

My version of this bird is not near as amazing, but I did try to capture this Snowy Egret. Of course he strutted or puffed up for Dan’s camera.

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

Of course in this case, the Snowy was not being prideful, he just doing what the Creator designed them to do to attract a mate.

Snowy Egret in Breeding Plumage by Lee

Dan’s Pix

Gatorland 2021

Snowy Egret in Breeding Plumage Struting

The Wise Owl

Baby Egrets at Gatorland

On our latest trip to Gatorland, March 23rd, one of my goals was to see if any of the baby Great Egrets had hatched. Great Egret Nest – Gatorland.

Eggs in Great Egret Nest Gatorland 02252021 by Lee
Eggs in Great Egret Nest Gatorland February 25th by Lee

As I expected, there were still some babies there, but it appears by the age of some of them, that many had already fledged. Yet, there were enough to check out. This nest pictured above, was right next to the rail, and to my dismay, it was empty except for one little fluffy chick that did not appear to be alive.

Great Egret with Dead Chick

I met Cathy McArthur there, and we were both watching this young chick. There was no breathing, so we both came up with the same conclusion. The reason I mention her name, is she has agreed to allow me to use some of her photos she also took that day.

There were plenty of other active chicks to try to get a photo of, but of course, I got my fair share of branches. :)

Baby Great Egret
Baby Great Egret
Another chick acoss the water
Two of the Great Egret Chicks by Cathy McArthur
Great Egret Chick by Cathy McArthur

They have quite the hair do’s, don’t you think?

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

Egrets and Herons are in the same family, Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns, and therefore a Bird of the Bible – Herons member. Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns make up the Ardeidae family.

I did shoot a few videos, but they are a bit shaky because I was quite away from the nest. Here is one of them:

Stay tuned for more nesting birds. The Tricolored Herons and Snowy Egrets were busy preparing nest, laying eggs, and sitting on them.

Bird of the Bible – Herons

Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns

Cathy McArthur

Birdwatching Trips Around Florida – Gatorland

10 Reasons Jesus Came to Die

[I attempted writing this post with just the Block Editor.]

Great Blue Herons – Gatorland

Great Blue Heron Gatorland 03-23-21

We walked Gatorland in the opposite direction that we normally take. This Blue Heron had just landed and was walking on the rail.

Great Blue Heron Gatorland Cropped

Even though we see Great Blue Heron often, it is always great to watch that stately pose they present. As we have mentioned before, the Heron is mentioned in Leviticus and Deuteronomy as birds to not eat. Birds of the Bible – Herons

“the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.” (Lev. 11:19 NKJV)
“the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat.” (Deut. 14:18 NKJV)

Later on, we encountered another “GBH” [Great Blue Heron] near the other end of the boardwalk. I saw Dan watching something, and then as he started taking photos, I realized it was the Heron.

Dan Watching Great Blue Heron (On rail near the tree)

Dan Taking Photo of Great Blue Heron

Not to be out done, I took out my camera and zoomed in on the Heron.

Great Blue Heron Gatorland

Great Blue Heron Gatorland

Great Blue Heron Gatorland 03-23-21

Great Blue Heron Gatorland 03-23-21

What was the highlight of this encounter was when this bird was chased by another GBH, and caught the heron with its wings fully extended.

Two Great Blue Herons Flying

Two Great Blue Herons Flying – Cropped

Great Blue Heron Flying at Gatorland – Cropped More

What beauty and majesty that the Lord used when He created the flying Avian Wonders for us to enjoy, and realize His awesome power. In church Sunday we sang the hymn, “I Sing The Mighty Power Of God.” This verse expresses some of what I feel when we are out bird watching.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

Stay tuned for more of this latest trip to Gatorland.

Catbird At Gatorland

Birds of the Bible – Herons

Other Gatorland Posts:

Great Egret Nest At Gatorland

Gatorland Again – February 2021

Flamingo Filtering at Gatorland – 12/30/20

Gator Tail Anyone?

Our Gatorland Welcome 12-30-20

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Black Vultures Up Close At Gatorland

Wishful Thinking

Dan’s Photos – Wishful Thinking Flamingo and Vulture

Birdwatching and More Photos by Dan

Good News

 

Catbird at Gatorland

Gray Catbird Gatorland 03-23-21 by Lee

Today we took another ride over to Gatorland to see how the eggs had developed. As we were heading back to the “rookery,” we were surprised by a rare find in a tree as we were walking there.

Catbird – Zoomed

As is typical of Catbirds, they are quick movers and like to stay hidden as much as possible. This one was all over the place until he finally came out on a branch where I could get a decent photo.

Catbird at Gatorland – by Lee

Had this bird not let out one of its soft “cat call,” We would have probably walked right by it.

“This species is named for its cat-like call. Like many members of the Mimidae (in particular mockingbirds), it also mimics the songs of other birds, as well as those of Hylidae (tree frogs), and even mechanical sounds. Because of its well-developed songbird syrinx, it is able to make two sounds at the same time. The alarm call resembles the quiet calls of a male mallard.

A gray catbird’s song is easily distinguished from that of the northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) or brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) because the mockingbird repeats its phrases or “strophes” three to four times, the thrasher usually twice, but the catbird sings most phrases only once. The catbird’s song is usually described as more raspy and less musical than that of a mockingbird.

In contrast to the many songbirds that choose a prominent perch from which to sing, the catbird often elects to sing from inside a bush or small tree, where it is obscured from view by the foliage.” (Wikipedia – Gray Catbird)

Catbird at Gatorland 03-23-21

Our Catbird find was encouraging, as it was sort of quiet today, until we got near the few hatch-lings. But, that will have to wait until the next post.

As the Catbirds call out, it can remind us of Psalm 91:15:

“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”

Considering we haven’t been birdwatching in some time, other than out the back door, I thought I would share the Catbird, while I check the rest of the photos. It was just about a month ago that we were last at Gatorland, and there is a new group of birds laying eggs. Stay tuned!

Gatorland Again – 2021

Wordless Birds

Turf War Whistlers

Duck Fight Posture

Our Black-bellied Whistling Ducks have continued to stay with us since showing up March 1st. I originally thought that they flew off that evening to migrate north. Since then, I admit I made a false assumption. The Florida flocks of Whistlers do not basically migrate. What they do in the evening, is take flight to find a place to feed.

Apparently, the Texas Whistling Ducks do some migration, and are showing up in more southern states. About the only migration here in Florida seems to be around the Sarasota area. Why? I haven’t found out yet. So, since the first of March, we have had a constant flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks outside our back door and on the retaining pond. Anywhere from 100-300+ daily. It’s like living at a wildlife refuge. I LOVE IT!!!!

My camera is just about worn out taking so many photos and videos. [of course, I’ve thrown many photos away] We have had more laughs watching the “turf wars” between the different groups within the group. According to All About Birds – Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, this is common:

Duck Fight – Here We Come

“Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks have long legs and spend more time than other ducks walking on land or perching in trees. You may see them perched on fences, telephone lines, or in Spanish moss. They are gregarious year-round, forming flocks of up to 1,000 birds. They form lifelong pair bonds and breed in their first year of life. Males spar by chasing or nipping at each other, or with a threat display that involves stretching their neck forward and opening their bill.

Duck Fight – On The Attack

Here are some of the videos of them and their “Turf Wars.” I tried to stay silent while filming, but it was too interesting. I kept chuckling.

The first video was started to record that injured Whistler when the war broke out. That duck will be written about later.

A few days later, they were still having their “Turf” discussions:

Hope you enjoyed this birdwatching adventure. Apparently, they seem to be sticking around our neighborhood. Who know what will happen next?

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1 NKJV)
“But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.” (Mark 13:7 NKJV)

Birds of the Bible – Birds “Singing”?

Whistling Ducks Encountering A Turtle

All About Birds – Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Good News Tracts – Various Topics

Hair Like Eagles’ Feathers Revisited

Steller’s Sea-eagle at San Diego Zoo 2015 by Lee

Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:33 NASB)

In the Birds of the Bible, we’ve written about this verse before Birds of the Bible – Hair Like Eagles Feathers, but it came up again today. In our devotions this morning, we read chapter 8 of Daniel. Along with the reading from it, we were reading our notes from various Study Bibles.

Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) ©Wiki

Actually, the original article covers most of this about the king, but we read an interesting fact about his behavior. The fact that Nebuchadnezzar was eating grass like cattle is amazing.

This is from the King James Study Bible for Daniel “4:33. Two important questions arise from this incident: (1) Could it happen to a man? and (2) Could it have happened to Nebuchadnezzar? The answer to both questions is Yes. There is a mental illness known as zoanthropy in which a man thinks and acts like an animal. It is also called boanthropy, more specifically, when a man thinks of himself as an ox. In answer to the second question, this illness is not mentioned in Nebuchadnezzar’s annals, but one would not expect such a humiliating experience to be chronicled. On the other hand, his long reign of 43 years (605–562 b.c.) is more than long enough to include the lengthy sickness.”

Philippine Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus philippensis) ©Flickr Billy Lopue

I am not sure what his hair looked like, so I have added these interesting eagles with feathers that might give an example of the kings hair.

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at Zoo Miami 2014

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by Lee at Zoo Miami 2014

As for what his fingernails might have looked like, here are some bird’s claws:

Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) Feet by Lee at National Aviary

Cape Eagle-Owl (Bubo capensis) on Right and Spotted Eagle-Owl on Left ©©

Cape Eagle-Owl (Bubo capensis) on Right and Spotted Eagle-Owl on Left ©©

The best part of this Bible story of Nebuchadnezzar, is how this ends. He come to his senses, and looks toward heaven, as we all should:

Daniel 8:34 “But at the end of [ae]that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my [af]reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account,
But He does according to His will among the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can [ag]fend off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

36 At that time my [ah]reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were [ai]restored to me for the honor of my kingdom, and my state counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my [aj]sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are [ak]true and His ways [al]just; and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Links and scripture from Bible Gateway)

Birds of the Bible – Hair Like Eagles Feathers

Birds of the Bible

Birds of the Bible – Eagles

The Wise Owl

Whistling Ducks Encountering A Turtle

Whistling Ducks Looking As Turtle Disappears

Our welcoming Whistling Duck provided some entertainment when they encountered our local Turtle. He was trying to mind his own business, but the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks where quite curious. Here is a video, I attempted to patch together. Still trying to learn the procedure.

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so.” (Genesis 1:24 NKJV)

Oh, the joys of looking out our back door! I hope the main flock that took off on Saturday are safely at their migration destination. Or at least, getting close.

If you missed the first part of this Whistling-duck adventure, see: Birds of the Bible – “Singiing”?

Birds of the Bible – Whistling Ducks

Birds of the Bible

Sharing The Gospel

Truly Strange Bird – Creation Moments

A Truly Strange Bird

Psalm 40:5
“Many, O LORD my God, [are] thy wonderful works [which] thou hast done, and thy thoughts [which are] to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: [if] I would declare and speak [of them], they are more than can be numbered.”

Though God created the entire living kingdom in only a few days, the variety and creativity of what He made seems nearly unlimited by our standards. One of the more unusual creatures He made was thought extinct until it was rediscovered in 1958.

The kakapo parrot lives in New Zealand. The most unusual parrot on Earth, it is one of only a few known parrots that prefers to sleep during the day and becomes active at night. Weighing in at five pounds, it is also the world’s heaviest parrot. It is, perhaps not surprisingly, the world’s only non-flying parrot.

The Creator’s unusual expression of inventive creativity in designing the kakapo did not end here. The mating habits of the kakapo are especially peculiar for birds. In mating season, the males gather in locations that are used year after year for mate selection. Female parrots come to these places to inspect the males to select a mate. However, in most un-bird-like fashion, the males provide absolutely no help building the nest or rearing the young.

The kakapo is remarkable because of its many strange traits, most of which would make it least fit for survival. In other words, not only is it an unusual creature, but its more unusual characteristics seem to put it at a disadvantage as far as evolution is concerned. So while evolution would not have made the kakapo, our inventive Creator did, perhaps as a witness against evolution.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I thank You for the beauty and creativity You have placed into Your work of creation and for the blessings these gifts add to life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Author: Paul A. Bartz

Ref: Discover, Mar. 1985. p. 36. Photo: Kakapo by Chris Birmingham CCA 2.0.xcf

© 2020 Creation Moments

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

Just thought you might enjoy reading about this uniquely created Avian Wonder from Our Creator.