Voices that Carry

Joshua 6:20 “…and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, and they took the city.”

It is political season in the United States. From now until November all the media outlets will be saturated with political ads as every advocate for every cause will be projecting their voices in an effort to be heard. Some days, I just have to pull away from all those voices and go for a birding walk. But as a Christian, should I pull away? Should I remain silent?

As I stepped outdoors to get away, my attention was immediately drawn to a noisy bird circling overhead; his loud voice was carrying on the wind. One of the Killdeer birds that is normally darting around in our parking lot was flying through the air and shouting its name: Kill-deah! Kill-deah!!! The voices of the other plovers are more pleasantly described as ‘a plaintive or musical whistle.’ But not the Killdeer, of which Peterson’s Field Guide gives a one-word description: “noisy”.

Killdeer plover bird flying

Killdeer; Walton County, Georgia. www.williamwisephoto.com

So, just like the political activists, the Killdeer too wanted his voice to be heard! And perhaps I should take a lesson from the Killdeer. As Christians, in the interest of peace and harmony, do we remain quiet as the special interest groups shout aloud in support of their own, often unrighteous, causes? Do we let their voices carry louder than ours? The last time that happened, the outcome wasn’t so good. “And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed” (Luke 23:23).

This Killdeer was exemplifying his boisterous description, and simultaneously living up to his species name: Charadrius vociferous. Vociferous is from the Latin, meaning “to shout, yell.” If you break it down, vox means “voice”, and ferre, meaning “to carry”; therefore, vociferous describes ‘voices that carry’. Aptly describing my little plover flying overhead!

Killdeer plover bird

Killdeer; Walton County, Georgia. www.williamwisephoto.com

As the other voices carry along on the winds of social media, radio and television, our Christian voices in support of righteousness should also be heard! What if William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln had remained silent? Instead, they let their voices carry on the wind, like the vociferous Killdeer, and changed our society!

Joshua 6:20 “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s creation. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Oriental Plover

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Oriental Plover by Ian Montgomery

 Newsletter – 12/10/14
_
You may remember that we had Oriental Pratincole as bird of the week early last month as I couldn’t fulfil a request from a local birder for Oriental Plover. Since then, Rex Whitehead, a bird photographer in Mt Isa, 900km west of Townsville as sent me some lovely Oriental Plover photos that he took very recently on Lake Moondarra, a reservoir just outside Mt Isa.
The first two photos are of adult birds in non-breeding plumage. These are elegant mid-sized plovers slightly smaller than Golden Plovers with a length 22-25cm/8.5-10in. The second photo shows the slim profile well. The third photo is of a juvenile bird, and like many plover species it has buff fringes to the dorsal feathers.
The entire population of about 70,000 birds breeds in Mongolia and adjacent areas of southern Siberia and northwestern China and migrates to northern Australia for the northern winter. In both regions it is a bird of dry arid areas and in Australia it visits the coast less frequently and in response to severe drought inland. Some birds reach the southern states, but it’s main range is north of the Tropic of Capricorn. On migration in both directions it appears in large numbers in the Yangtze Valley but records are rare both in more northerly parts of China and in Indonesia. So it is assumed that it is a long distant migrant and does the entire journey in two hops.
In breeding plumage it has a chestnut breast-band with a dark lower edge which forms a sharp border to the white breast. With some reluctance I’ve included a poor distant shot of mine taken at Norfolk Island airport in March 2012 to illustrate the breeding plumage and do a size comparison with the Pacific Golden Plover. if you look carefully you can see the chestnut breast-band on the Oriental Plover and the Pacific Golden Plover is also coming into breeding plumage. Oriental Plovers can run swiftly and the specific name veredus is the Latin for a swift horse.
I’ve been busy working on the website to make it ‘mobile friendly’ so Christmas has approached stealthily and more-or-less unnoticed. I did see in my calendar program yesterday that there is a full moon on Christmas Day and the same program reminded me today that there is a New Moon tomorrow. That gave me a shock as it means Christmas only a couple of weeks away. So, don’t forget the gift giving facilities on the Apple Store and Kobo Books and the ebooks Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland and Diary of a Bird Photographer! Use the Gifting Gifts section in the Publications Page for links and instructions. Both the thumbnails below are linked to their newly mobile friendly pages on the website.
    
I released the new mobile friendly home page a few days ago. This involved breaking it up into smaller parts to make it more manageable – it had grown to become a monster over the years. The home page now has links to all its erstwhile components like thumbnails to bird families (‘Visual Links’ in the menus), the bird of the week index page, and recent additions. The alphabetic and taxonomic indices are collectively called Text Links, and like the Visual Links are all inter-connected. The move to a mobile world has provided an opportunity for a complete redesign to make the website more consistent and easier to use but, given its size, it will be many months before all the family and species pages get updated but I’ll keep you posted.
Greetings
Ian

Lee’s Addition:

[Even the migratory birds are punctual to their seasons.] Yes, the stork [excelling in the great height of her flight] in the heavens knows her appointed times [of migration], and the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane observe the time of their return. But My people do not know the law of the Lord [which the lower animals instinctively recognize in so far as it applies to them]. (Jeremiah 8:7 AMP)

Wow! If you looked at all the links Ian shared, he has really been busy updating his Birdway website. I’m impressed! The Oriental Plover is also very interesting.

*

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Charadriidae – Plovers  Family

Wordless Birds

*

 

 

“Flag That Bird!” (Part 2)

“Flag those birds!”  (Part 2)

And Moses built an altar and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi [i.e., the LORD is my banner]. (Exodus 17:15)

Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan

Orni-Theology

In Flag that Bird! (Part 1)”, we considered 4 “banner birds”  –  besides globally popular 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).

As promised, this mini-series will continue with more “flagged birds”, namely, British Antarctic Territory (penguin);  Saint Helena, British crown colony in the southeastern Atlantic Ocean (Saint Helena Plover, a/k/a “wirebird”);  Kiribati (frigatebird);  Papua New Guinea (bird of paradise);  Fiji, as well as the royal standard of Tonga (dove);  Australian state of Western Australia (black swan);  Australian state of South Australia (iping shrike);  Bolivia (condor);  and Uganda (crested crane).

In this particular installment, 2 more (of those just listed) will be introduced.

So now, consider the penguin – avian icon of the British Antarctic Territory.

Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) ©WikiC

 

Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri).  There are a variety of penguins that live in the Antarctic regions, yet it is the Emperor Penguin featured on the official coat-of-arms of the British Antarctic Territory, and that coat-of-arms is what appears on the territory’s official flag, next to the Union Jack (on a white background).

British Antarctic Territory - Union Jack with Emperor Penguin ©PD

British Antarctic Territory – Union Jack with Emperor Penguin ©PD

The British explorers of the Antarctic regions include Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, who led an expedition using their research ship RRS Discovery (AD1901-AD1904), a symbol of which ship appears on the heraldic crest of that territory’s coat-of-arms.

Captain Scott’s second expedition (using the Terra Nova, AD1910-AD1913), to explore Antarctica, was disappointing for two reasons: (1) Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian exploration party had just “beat” the Brits to the South Pole, on 14 December of AD1911; and (2) Scott’s expedition party died in the wild weather of Antarctica near the end of March that year, on the Ross Ice Shelf, about 150 miles from their base camp.

Of interest to Biblical creationists, Captain Scott collected about 35 pounds of plant fossils in Antarctica, proving that Antarctica was previously forested (obviously under milder climate conditions!).  Regarding the importance of forests in Antarctica, see Buddy Davis’s article “Forest in Antarctica After the Flood?”, citing National Science Foundation Press Release (8-4-2008), “Antarctic Fossils Paint a Picture of a Much Warmer Continent”.

Ironically, the Discovery and Terra Nova research ventures were both intended to support Darwin’s theory of evolution, but the evidence refused to cooperate!  This surprise (to the evolutionists) is summarized by a BBC reporter, Megan Lane (in BBC News magazine, 2 November, 2011), as follows: “Of the 2,000 specimens of animals collected by Scott and his team – 400 of which were newly discovered – the jewel in the crown was a trio of Emperor penguin eggs.  It was hoped [by Darwinism supporters] that these would provide long-awaited proof of Darwin’s theory of evolution.  At the time, it was thought [by evolutionists that] an embryo passed through all [“phylogenetic”] stages of its species’ evolution as it developed.  And as the [British evolutionists] assumed the flightless Emperor penguin to be the world’s most primitive bird, they hoped the embryos in these eggs would show the link between dinosaurs and birds.  The birds had been seen before, but never with their eggs.  ‘It was the greatest [sic] biological quest of its day,’ says polar historian David Wilson, whose great-uncle, Edward Wilson, was Scott’s naturalist. ‘Then they collected the eggs, and all the theories turned out to be wrong’.”  [Quoting BBC’s Megan Lane.]  Amazingly, the “dinosaur-morphs-into-modern-birds” fairy tale is still being fabricated today, through science fiction movies (like Jurassic Park) and via dinosaur DNA evidence spoliation.  [Regarding how dinosaur DNA evidence is being censored, in academic/research circles, to avoid spoiling evolutionist mythology, see the multi-authored ICR article posted at www.icr.org/article/4947 .]

The next bird on this list is the Saint Helena Plover, locally nicknamed the “wirebird” (due to its wiry-thin legs).

St. Helena Plover (Charadrius sanctaehelenae) ©WikiC

St. Helena Plover (Charadrius sanctaehelenae) ©WikiC

Saint Helena Plover (Charadrius sanctaehelenae).

The Saint Helena Plover appears on the flag of Saint Helena, as well as on that small nation’s official coat-of-arms.  The plover is Saint Helena’s national bird as well.  Saint Helena is an island territory  —   in the South Atlantic Ocean (about midway between South America’s Brazil and Africa’s Angola) — administered by the United Kingdom, having been formally claimed by Great Britain when Oliver Cromwell (in AD1657) granted a charter to the East India Company, to settle the South Atlantic island.  Politically speaking, Saint Helena is grouped with Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, as a British overseas territory (formerly known as “Saint Helena and Dependencies”).

Flag of Saint Helena with Saint Henea Plover ©PD

Flag of Saint Helena with Saint Henea Plover ©PD

This little plover is a year-round resident, endemic to this island (although it is similar to other plovers).  This endemic invertebrate-consuming landbird is a small “wader”’, i.e., a shorebird capable of wading in coastal tidewaters, yet it mostly habituates other open areas of the island, such as pasture-like grasslands.  Its eggs are mostly light-brown in color, with dark-speckled mottling.  Its populations are declining, according to monitoring (which includes motion-sensor ultraviolet cameras positioned near nesting grounds), apparently due to predation (by rodents or feral cats) or due to other kinds of nest disturbances (such as sheep that step on plover nests). Conservation efforts are underway, in hopes of restoring the population growth of this island’s humble symbol.

Stay tuned!  God willing, the next installment in this mini-series will cover more of these “banner birds”, now that a penguin and a plover – both of which birds live only in the Southern Hemisphere, are properly “flagged” and accounted for.

*

“Flag That Bird!”  (Part 1)

More Articles by James J. S. Johnson

Orni-Theology

*

Pacific Golden Plover’s Teamwork

Pacific Golden Plover

Pacific Golden Plover

James J. S. Johnson

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost [psêphizei tôn dapanên], whether he have sufficient to finish it?  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish’.”  (Luke 14:28-30)

Imagine how inconvenient it would be for a bird to emigrate from Alaska, to Hawaii, only to run out of fuel en route, fall out of the sky from exhaustion, only to drown in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere north of Hawaii.  What a shame that would be!  And yet the Golden Plover’s pre-winter migratory mission, each year, would seem doomed from the start for that very reason – yet the little sandpiper-like migrant survives the journey on less fuel than seems possible.  How do they do it?

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) by Ian

“The average weight of the golden plover before it leaves Alaska to fly to Hawaii is 200 grams.  It is a small bird about the size of a pigeon.  It is also a bird that does not swim!  Researchers have concluded that 70 grams of its 200 grams is burnable energy. The rate at which the bird burns fuel when flying is about one gram per hour.  This means right at 70 hours of flight is possible. Now we have a potentially disastrous situation.  The flight to Hawaii takes 88 hours of  continuous, non-stop flight!  The little bird must fly for 3 days and 4 nights without food or rest or stopping at all. Impossible! How does it do this?  The birds fly in a formation that breaks the wind, taking [~1/4] less energy to fly.  New leaders are constantly rotating in and out. Formation flight saves energy and when the birds arrive in Hawaii, they have as much as 6 grams of fuel left over.  God must have built the reserve fuel supply into the plover in case of a strong head wind along the way.   Scientists are not certain how the plovers navigate from Alaska to Hawaii and back, since there is no land under their flight path.   Utilization of earth’s magnetic field seems to be the best solution at this point.  Some have suggested that they use the sun and stars.  And how do the young birds find their way to Hawaii without an experienced adult guide, weeks after their parents have already flown back to Hawaii?  A one degree mistake in navigation over the more than 4,000 kilometer flight and the birds miss Hawaii completely!  But they never miss!”

[Quoting Dr. Jobe Martin, The Evolution of a Creationist, rev. ed. (Rockwall, TX: Biblical Discipleship Publishers, 2004), page 203, emphasis added.]

Pacific Golden Plover Map

That’s amazing!  Due to their instinctive behavior to “take turns” as “point man”, the migrating plovers use only ¾ of the food energy they would need to use if flying solo.  Birds display God’s providential programming in their anatomies and physiologies!  Why is that?  Because God carefully planned them before He created their original ancestors on Day 5 of Creation Week (Genesis 1:21).  God planned their genetics, their bio-diversity potentials and limits, their developmental biologies, and all of the bio-engineering needed to accomplish all the contingent details, —  and God has been actively participating in and regulating their lives and world ever since.

As humans we often need to plan out projects before we undertake them; we need to “count the cost” before embarking on an expensive and risky undertaking.  Yet God has already done this for the Pacific Golden Plover, to ensure its successful migrations twice a year.   And notice how God designed teamwork to be part of His plan – and that teamwork involves bearing one another’s burdens.

Bear  ye  one  another’s  burdens,  and  so fulfil  the  law  of  Christ.        (Galatians 6:2)

In sum, collaborating with teammates is usually a good idea, — so long as your colleagues are aimed at the same goal as you (see Amos 3:3.)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson has served as a lecturer (on ecology, geography, and history of Alaska) aboard 4 cruise ships visiting Alaska and the Inside Passage (Norwegian Wind, Norwegian Sky, Radiance of the Seas, and Rhapsody of the Seas).  During those trips he tried valiantly to (and did) eat lots of finfish, such as Pacific salmon and halibut, and shellfish, such as Dungeness crabs – but no Golden Plover.

*

I asked Dr. Jim to post this article because of the devotional emphasis he used. We have used the Plover before, see Incredible Pacific Golden Plover, which is all about the science and creation aspect of this remarkable Plover. Just wanted to review for you an amazing bird our Creator has created for us to learn about and from.

Orni-Theology

Incredible Pacific Golden Plover

Charadriidae – Plovers

Wordless Birds

*

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Greater Sand Plover

Looking South from Croquette Point by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Greater Sand Plover ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 4/14/14

As I mentioned in the last email, I took advantage of a spell of reasonable weather to make a trip to Cairns to take location photos for Where to Find Birds in Northeast Queensland. On the way back, I visited Coquette Point near to check it out as it is listed in the book as a good spot for both mangrove birds and waders. Coquette Point and Flying Fish Point are the charmingly named headlands on the southern and northern banks of the mouth of the Johnstone River on which Innisfail, 100 km south of Cairns, is situated.

Although it mightn’t live up to the dream of an idyllic tropical paradise – I’m still itching from some sandfly bites and there have been recent sightings of Saltwater Crocodiles in the neighbourhood – it did indeed turn out to be good for birds. As well as a pair of Beach Stone-Curlews in the mangroves, there were several pairs of Greater Sand Plovers feeding in the shallows. At this time of the year, many waders are migrating back to their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere and it is a good time to look for ones in breeding plumage, such as the one in the first photo.

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) by Ian

In non-breeding plumage most waders are, frankly, drab and often difficult to identify. Here is a Greater Sand Plover in non-breeding plumage on Cape York. This particular individual shows the characteristic long legs and large bill that distinguish it from the very similar Lesser or Mongolian Sand Plover, but Sand Plovers are quite variable in both size and bill length and I’m not always certain of identification, even with the aid of photos.

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) by Ian

Here, to illustrate the point, is a pair at Coquette Point. The bird in non-breeding plumage looks smaller than its companion, has the slightly hunched posture of the Lesser Sand Plover but its large bill, and guilt by association, would indicate a Greater.

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) by Ian

Finally, to complete the series, here is one of the Coquette Point birds in flight. The birds wintering in Australia belong to the nominate race leschenaultii and nest in Southern Siberia, Western China and Southern Mongolia. Their movements are not well understood but it is thought that they migrate non-stop, so this at least is one species of wader that doesn’t have to rely on the fast-disappearing mudflats of the Yellow Sea for refuelling stopovers.

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) by Ian 4

I’d always vaguely assumed that the person who named Flying Fish Point did so because he or she had seen Flying Fish there, but Coquette Point aroused my curiosity as there seemed nothing flirtatious about it. With the help of Google, I found out that George Dalrymple, one of the explorers in this part of the world was sent by the Queensland Government in 1873 to explore the inlets and rivers between Cardwell and Cooktown. His boats were two cutters, the Flying Fish and the Coquette and one of his companion policemen was Robert Johnstone. In Dalrymple’s report to Parliament he said “I therefore considered that I was justified in naming the river after Mr Johnstone, a gentleman who has become identified with discovery and enterprise on the north east coast and who first brought to light the real character and value of this fine river, and it’s rich agricultural land…”. This, incidentally, is what 19th Century cutters looked like.

Ancient British Navy Gun Cutter from Ian

Ancient British Navy Gun Cutter from Ian

Which, of course, begs the question of why a Queensland boat would be called Coquette. The only clue I could find was that the first Royal Navy ship called Coquette was a 28 gun one captured off the French in 1783 and put into service. After that the name ‘Coquette’ was used repeatedly for a series of smaller ships.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD. (Jer 8:7 ESV)

Thanks again, Ian, for sharing another interesting bird. I find it interesting that his birds are migrating, but for the opposite reason ours are migrating. Cold is coming on down there and our are heading home because it is getting warmer. Either way, the birds are on the “move.”

Plovers are members of the Charadriidae – Plovers Family.

*
More:

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Charadriidae – Plovers Family

*

Ian’s Bird of the Week – American (and Pacific) Golden Plover

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) by Ian 1

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – American (and Pacific) Golden Plover ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 11/29/13

Before we get onto Golden Plovers, here is some good news. The Pizzey and Knight Birds of Australia Digital Edition has now been published. The Windows PC version is available from www.gibbonmm.com.au and the iPad, iPhone and iPad version is available from the iTunes store. You can check it out here: www.gibbonmm.com.au/tour/PKBA_iOS.aspx and here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/pizzey-knight-birds-australia/id714625973?mt=8. The Android version has not yet been published but is due before Christmas.

It has been a long time coming, but a quick look at the reviews will show why. It’s very much more than just a field guide, though even the Field Guide/Bird Guide modules set new standards with very thorough descriptions, both illustrations and photos (including many of mine) of more than 900 bird species, sounds of more than 700 species, maps showing subspecies and seasonal variation and breeding and modules for Similar Birds, Identification, My Location, My Lists and Birding Sites. Check it out for yourself!

I’ve just been down to Bowen and Ayr checking out locations and taking photos for the digital version of Jo Wieneke’s Where to Find Birds in North-east Queensland, and have visited beaches and mudflats I had waders on the brain when I was considering the choice of this week’s bird. So when I noticed in my iPad version of Pizzey and Knight, that the 2009 record of an American Golden Plover at Boat Harbour NSW – second photo – had been accepted by the BirdLife Australia Rarities Committee (Pizzey and Knight is very thorough!) I thought Aha, let’s do a comparison of Pacific and American Golden Plovers.

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) by Ian 1

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) by Ian 1

Waders in non-breeding plumage are often rather drab and very confusing for identification but some of them are sartorially quite splendid when breeding. To see Northern Hemisphere waders in breeding plumage, Australian birders need to be either lucky just before the birds leave Australia in March or follow them to their breeding grounds. I first photographed the American Golden Plovers beside an icy lake in Barrow on the northern tip of Alaska in June 2008, first photo. Gorgeous birds they are with striking black and white and gold spangled upper parts and black bellies and faces with a broad white band along the sides of the neck and upper breast.

In March the following year, I was in Sydney and visited my accountant in Sutherland at a time when there was an unconfirmed report of a non-breeding American Golden Plover at nearby Boat Harbour on the Kurnell Peninsula near Botany Bay. This bird was in a flock of about 30 Pacific Golden Plovers, the species that is the common one in Australia in the southern summer/northern winter. Non-breeding Golden Plovers are notoriously difficult to separate from one another and at that stage 5 out of 7 reports of American Golden Plovers submitted to the Rarities Committee had been rejected. Having both species together made it much easier, as one bird stood as clearly different from the others, with much greyer plumage and white rather than buff facial markings (comparing photos 2 and 4).

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) by Ian 2

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) by Ian 2

Plumage is variable, of course, and not enough for definite identification in this case. The situation was complicated by the Pacific Golden Plovers beginning to change into breeding plumage. The bird in the third photo, for example, is in nearly complete breeding plumage, though the black plumage still has grey patches. In this plumage, the most obvious field mark is the white band along the neck and breast. In the Pacific, it is narrower and much more extensive than the band in the American one and extends down the side of the lower breast to the undertail coverts.

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) by Ian 3

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) by Ian 3

There are differences in size too, the American being larger, heavier-billed and relatively shorter-legged but these are variable too and only reliable if you have birds in the hand and a statistically large sample. So, at the end of the day, the committee wanted to know about relative lengths of tails, primary and tertiary wing feathers of resting birds. These can be judged from photos as well as in the hand and the submitters of the rarity report included one of my photos. The wing tips of Pacific Golden Plovers do not extend much beyond the tail, but the wing tips of American ones extend about 50mm beyond it.

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) by Ian 4

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) by Ian 4

So, those are the lengths you need to go both literally and figuratively sometimes to identify rare birds! The Pacific Golden Plover nests mainly in northern Russia but its breeding range does extend to western Alaska and overlaps with that of the American Golden Plover, so there is no doubt that they are separate biological species. If all this seems a bit arcane, don’t worry: just enjoy the photos. Golden Plovers of any hue are lovely birds and I always enjoy seeing them.

Best wishes
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (Proverbs 25:11 KJV)

Thanks, Ian, for more lessons on how to identify birds, especially these two plovers. I have had the privilege of seeing the American Golden Plover, but not the Pacific one. It does look like specks of gold on their wings. The only bird mentioned with golden feathers in the Bible is the dove.

Though you lie down among the sheepfolds, You will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver, And her feathers with yellow gold.” (Psalms 68:13 NKJV)

Ian didn’t mention their songs, but here are the two from xeno-canto. Both by Andrew Spencer.

American Golden Plover – song

Pacific Golden Plover – call and song

There are actually three Golden Plovers:

See: