Raptor Rapture

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Hawk catching prey at Panola Mountain State Park, Georgia. November 3, 2014 ©www.williamwisephoto.com

Who isn’t enraptured by raptors?  With their first-rate flight, outstanding optics and on-target talons, they grab our attention and seize our fascination. The ability to swiftly and silently swoop down and snatch up prey unawares – like a thief in the night – is where this group of Birds of Prey receives their name.

A raptor is defined as a carnivorous bird that has large, sharp talons used to seize prey. It comes from the Latin word rapio, meaning to snatch, grab, carry off or abduct. The speed at which these hawks, eagles, kites, owls and falcons can clutch an unsuspecting victim is what makes them so impressive.

Red-tailed Hawk talon characteristic of Raptors. Walton County, Georgia. August 2017 ©www.williamwisephoto.com

This same word is also used in the 4th century Latin Vulgate translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In this scripture, the Apostle Paul describes the Lord as “catching up” the saints from off the earth to meet with Him in the air. It is from here that we receive the doctrine of The Rapture.

As the age of man upon earth nears midnight, Jesus Christ Himself will snatch His people away from impeding Tribulation, as swiftly and unexpectedly as a raptor descending upon its prey. But we won’t be carried off for lunch like a fish in an Osprey’s claws, we’ll be carried away to supper… the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! Revelation 19 describes a heavenly wedding reception where we, the church, are clothed in beautiful, clean bridal garments to worship the Bridegroom for eternity.

Seats on this Last Days flight called the Rapture are booking now. You can’t purchase this ticket online through Travelpediocity, but it is available for free through the blood and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Wherefore comfort one another with these words!

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.  — “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.

Bird of the Week – Bonelli’s Eagle

Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata) by Ian

This is the last in this series of raptor photos from the Pyrenees: Bonelli’s Eagle taken at another feeding station managed by Birding in Spain. Like last week’s Northern Goshawk feral pigeons from a local council culling programme are used to attract the eagles. It’s brown and white plumage reminded me rather of the similarly sized Osprey particular that of the male, first photo, which is paler than the female. In size it has a length of up to 73cm/28in, a wingspan to 180cm/71in and weights up to 2.4kg/5.3lbs. That makes it much smaller than most of the other Aquila eagles, such as the Golden and Wedge-tailed but larger than the Little Eagle of Australia.

View From The Hide in Spain by Ian

View From The Hide in Spain by Ian

There the resemblance to ospreys ends, as Bonelli’s Eagle is found in hilly or mountainous country in warm regions and eats mammals and birds – in Spain it eats mainly rabbits and partridges. The second photo shows the view from the hide. The stone wall on the left is where the food is tied in place, as is done with the goshawks to prevent them from carrying the food away. The bird arrived quite promptly after set up: you can see in the first photo that the reflection of the sun in its eye is just above the horizon.

Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata) by Ian

The third photo is another one of the male with the remains of a pigeon. On the back just below the neck a white spot is visible – this is a diagnostic feature of adult Bonelli’s Eagles and fairly conspicuous in flight though the birds arrived and departed so quickly from the rocky ridge in front of the hide that I didn’t get any decent flight shots.

Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata) by Ian

They were fast eaters too. The fourth photo was taken 25 minutes after the third: very little of the pigeon remains and the crop of the bird is quite full. The adult goshawk also took about half an hour to demolish a pigeon, but the immature goshawk took the best part of two hours and remained long after the adult had left. Despatching prey at speed would appear to be a skill that takes raptors a bit of practice. Both these photos show the feathered legs or ‘boots’, characteristic of ‘true’ eagles. They’re not exclusive to eagles though. The goshawks had impressive trousers too as do some falcons such as the Brown Falcon of Australia.

Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata) by Ian

Once fed, the male seemed more aware of what was going on around it and in the fifth photo is peering at the hide, presumably in response to the sound of the camera shutter.

Meanwhile, the female, sixth and seventh photos, was getting stuck into the other pigeon. She was a fine-looking bird too, larger than the male, with hazel eyes and identifiable by much stronger streaks on the breast. The female had much darker trousers, seventh photo, but I don’t know whether that’s generally the case or peculiar to this bird.

Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata) by Ian Female

Bonelli’s Eagle is widely but sparsely distributed through southern Europe, northern Africa, parts of the Middle East, South and Southeastern Asia as far east as Timor. The European population is about 900 pairs, of which about 700 are in Spain. They are sedentary, keeping to their large home ranges throughout the year. Satellite tracking in Spain has shown an average home range of 200sq km/77sq miles with a core range of about 45sq km/17 sq miles.

Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata) by Ian Female

The generic name ‘fasciata’ comes from the Latin fascia meaning stripe, band or sash. It’s usually used in birds to refer to horizontal bands or barring but maybe Veillot, the taxonomist responsible, was referring to the barring on the ‘trousers’ rather than the streaks on the breast. Veillot, Jean Pierre that is, was an important French avian taxonomist, 1748-1831, who extended the three-level Linnaean classification of order-genus-species into order-tribe-family-genus-species in his Analyse d’une nouvelle Ornithologie Elémentaire (1816). Franco Andrea Bonelli was, unsurprisingly, an Italian ornithologist 1784-1830 and discovered both this eagle and Bonelli’s Warbler in 1815. He worked at the Natural History Museum in Paris 1810-11 before returning to Italy to take up the position of Professor of Zoology at the University of Turin. Interestingly, he published his main works in French.

What would we do without Wikipedia?

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:

They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey. (Job 9:26 KJV)

Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. (Habakkuk 1:8 KJV)

What an amazing set of photos of this magnificent Eagle. Thanks again, Ian, for sharing these fantastic glimpses of the Bonelli’s Eagle. Pretty fast eaters, it appears.

This Eagle is a member of the Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles Family and a Bird of the Bible also. Eagles are mentioned over thirty times in the Bible, plus they are included in the various “birds of prey” verses.


Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Eagle Family pages

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles Family

Birds of the Bible – Eagle


Ian’s Bird of the Week – Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanIan’s Bird of the Week – Northern Goshawk  by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 11/17/14

I got so absorbed in recounting my experiences in Catalonia, that I forgot to mention that I’ve been home in North Queensland for several weeks.

The piece about the effects of diclofenac prompted some interesting responses. It was pointed out that it causes kidney not liver failure in vultures, my apologies, and that a safe and effective substitute in both humans and livestock is the anti-inflammatory meloxicam. It’s sold here as Mobic, which I take sometimes when I wayward spinal disc misbehaves. I also received a link to this article by the Vulture Conservation Foundation which has managed to get the EU to do an investigation into the effects of diclofenac: http://www.4vultures.org/our-work/campaigning-to-ban-diclofenac-in-europe/.

On the second day of our stay in raptor country in the Pyrenees with Birding in Spain we – my sister Gillian joined me for this one – were taken by Steve West to a hide at a Northern Goshawk feeding station before sunrise – goshawks are earlier risers than I am normally and are shy. Here the goshawks are fed regularly on chicken carcasses and fresh pigeon, the product of a culling programme by the local council. It was a misty, chilly, gloomy morning – sunrise was the time of day rather than an event – and the first bird to arrive, the adult female in photos 1 and 2, was barely visible. The second photo was taken at 1/3 of a second exposure at 1600 ISO and my tripod, inconvenient for travel, proved its worth yet again.

Adult females are more strongly barred and much larger than males (to protect succulent-looking nestlings). This one is partially spreading its wings and tail near the food in a posture that looks like a rudimentary ‘mantling’ display. This is usually used by hawks as a threat display to discourage other ones from interfering with their prey. In this case, I suspect it was signalling the presence of food to the juvenile goshawk, third photo, who appeared shortly afterwards. First year juvenile Northern Goshawks are brown with buff, almost cinnamon underparts and are streaked rather than barred. Similar juvenile plumages occur in other close relatives in the Accipiter genus such as the Brown Goshawk (A. fasciatus) and Collared Sparrowhawk (A. cirrocephalus), both common in Australia; see http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/brown_goshawk/source/brown_goshawk_32464.htm and http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/collared_sparrowhawk/source/collared_sparrowhawk_62859.htm for examples of their juvenile plumage. Note, incidentally the ‘beetle-brow’ characteristic also of the Brown Goshawk that gives the larger goshawks their fierce expression.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanThe adult female moved aside and let the juvenile have the pigeon prey and the juvenile then adopted the possessive mantling display with spread wings and tail and fluffed-out feathers of the mantle, just below the neck.

Mother, I presume, tackled a piece of chicken carcass and carried it down onto the ground closer to the hide, but partially obscured by dried grass and other vegetation.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanThe sixth photo shows the juvenile somewhat later with the remains of the pigeon. This was a very large bird too, as you can perhaps judge from its appearance, so I concluded that it was female too. ‘Huge’ is perhaps a better description, as the Northern Goshawk is easily the world’s largest of the nearly 50 or so species of Accipiter – (typical hawks comprising larger goshawks and smaller sparrowhawks, though ‘hawk’ is also used in North America to name other raptors such as those in the genus Buteo aka ‘Buzzard’ in British English). The female is up to 65cm/26in in length with a wingspan of up to 120cm/47in and a weight of up to 2.0kg/4.5lb, comparable in size with many Buzzards. All the Accipiter hawks tackle relatively large prey, mainly birds and some mammals. They hunt by surprise and pursuit and have rounded wings, long tails and fast reflexes for great manoeuvrability in forests. I suspect that Linnaeus used the specific moniker ‘gentilis’ in the sense of ‘noble’ rather than ‘gentle’. ‘Goshawk’ comes from the Old English ‘göshafoc’ meaning goose hawk, no mere chicken hawk.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanThis was another species that had aroused my interest in my field guide as an Irish teenager, and hadn’t seen before this trip. It’s a very rare vagrant in Ireland and was then only an occasional breeder in Britain though widespread if uncommon elsewhere in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Since then it has become re-established in Britain with a breeding population of 300-400 pairs.

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) by IanBoth birds lightened their load, as many raptors do, before taking flight, as the juvenile is doing in the seventh photo. There’s a photo on the website of the female doing the same thing: http://www.birdway.com.au/accipitridae/northern_goshawk/source/northern_goshawk_161882.htm. Even nobles have to perform basic functions: don’t stand behind or below a well-fed raptor :-).


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:

“And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; (Leviticus 11:13-16 NKJV)

What a beautiful family of birds. Ian always has such great photos and adventures to share with us. Thanks, Ian.


Ian’s Bird of the Week

Birds of the Bible – Peregrine Falcon and Goshawk

Ian’s Accipitridae Family

Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles


Secretary Bird – The Walker

Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) by Bob-Nan

Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) by Bob-Nan

Secretary Bird – The Walker ~ by a j mithra

The Secretary bird is a bird of prey, but unlike other raptors it has long legs, wings and a tail.

The single species of its family, the bird gets its name from its crest of long feathers that look like the quill pens 19th century office workers used to tuck behind their ears.

A more recent hypothesis is that “secretary” is borrowed from a French corruption of the Arabic saqr-et-tair or “hunter-bird.” The generic name “Sagittarius” is Latin for “archer,” perhaps likening the Secretary Bird’s “quills” to a quiver of arrows, and the specific epithet “serpentarius” recalls the bird’s skill as a hunter of reptiles This is the only member of the family Sagittariidae.

Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) at Lowry Pk Zoo by Lee

Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) at Lowry Pk Zoo by Lee

The bird is basically dove-grey in color, with black on the wings, thighs and elongated central tail feathers. The short, down-curved bill is backed by an area of bare, red and yellow skin. The Secretary bird stands three feet high.

The Secretary bird is widespread throughout Africa south of the Sahara. It is found in open areas of plains and savanna country, and often congregates at areas that have been recently burnt, where mammals are deprived of cover and often injured. These birds are basically terrestrial, taking to flight only when hard-pressed. Usually only single birds are found, with members of a pair some distance apart.

The Secretary bird walks well on extremely long legs, and a bird may plod up to twenty miles in a day. When pursued, it relies on its speed to escape.

  • If these birds can walk twenty miles a day, how far do we walk for the Lord?

The Bible says,

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. (Mathew 5:41)

  • Jesus has never compelled us to walk with Him, did He?
  • Unless we walk in THE WAY, to fly high like an eagle can never be possible..
  • His rod and His staff, they comfort those who walk through the valley of the shadow of death..
  • He is the light to those who walk in the darkness..
  • He is the shield to those who walk through the fire..
  • He is the spring of joy to those who walk through the valley of tears…

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. (Psalm 1:1)

Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) by Bob-Nan

Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) by Bob-Nan

In addition to finding food with its beak, the Secretary bird will also stamp on grass tussocks with its feet to scare up lizards, grasshoppers, and small mammals or birds.It is a large bird of open country, savannah and steppe, which can be seen stalking across the plains in search of rodents, reptiles, large insects and, famously, snakes…

It has a surprisingly powerful kick which it uses to stamp on larger prey.

Do you remember where God has called us to stamp and walk?

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. (Psalm 91:13)

This privilege is not for everyone, because, God has kept a price tag for every blessing..

The price tag for the above privilege is tied to the first verse and the ninth of the same chapter..

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; (Psalm 91:9)

  • Where is your secret place, your refuge and your habitation?
  • When you make Jesus your habitation, you know what will happen?

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 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 40:30-31)

In addition to its normal “raptor” type diet it is also attracted to bush and grass fires, where it feeds on the small animals which fail to escape the blaze. It finds most of its food on the ground and has a partiality for snakes. It grabs the snake with its strong toes and beats it to death on the ground, while protecting itself from bites with its large wings. Finally, it seizes its prey and hurls it into the air several times to stun it. In South Africa, these birds are kept in captivity to destroy snakes and rats.

Satan thought that he can put an end to Jesus, the Creator, but, Jesus claimed victory on the cross, so that we may live under the protection of His wings forever and ever..

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:18)

Although it is usually seen walking it does have very large, broad wings and is an accomplished flyer, using thermals to gain height and soar across distances. Secretary Birds are territorial, normally occupying areas of around 45-50 square kilometers, Interestingly in Kenya they occupy smaller territories.

Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) with open beak©WikiC

Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) with open beak©WikiC

Secretary Birds associate in monogamous pairs. During mating season there is heavy competition between males, with birds doing acrobatic flights, climbing high into the sky, then suddenly dropping down..

During courtship, they exhibit a nuptial display by soaring high with undulating flight patterns and calling with guttural croaking. Males and females can also perform a grounded display by chasing each other with their wings up and back, much like the way they chase prey. Once paired up they are devoted and remain together for life…  They usually mate on the ground, although some do so in Acacia trees.

  • Jesus gave His life so that we may remain devoted, loyal and remain together for life…
  • He knew that we would walk away from Him from time to time..
  • Is that the reason why He said,

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Mathew 24:13)

If we cannot walk with Him on earth all through our life of may be about eighty years, do you think it is possible for us to live with Him in heaven forever and ever?

So as Secretary birds pair for life, they are remarkably faithful to their nest site too. The nest is generally placed low in the fork of a tree, usually an acacia. The huge bundle of sticks grows year by year in the manner of an eagle’s eyrie. Nests are built at a height of 5–7 m (15–20 feet) on Acacia trees. Both the male and female visit the nest site for almost half a year before egg laying takes place. The nest is around 2.5 m (eight feet) wide and 30 cm (one foot) deep, and is constructed as a relatively flat basin of sticks.

  • God is remarkable faithful to finish the good work which He has started in you..
  • But, how faithful are we to Him?

These birds visit their nest site for almost half the year..

  • You know, Jesus is preparing a kingdom for us since the foundation of the world..
  • What a loving God we have!!!!

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Mathew 25:34)

Secretary Birds occupy an ecological niche similar to that occupied by Peafowl in South and South east Asia, Roadrunners in North and Central America and Seriemas in Soth America.

The Secretary Bird is the National Emblem as well as a prominent feature on the Coat of Arms of Sudan. In Sudan, it is featured in the middle white strip of the Presidential Flag; it is the main object on the Presidential Seal, and features heavily in Sudanese military insignia. The Secretary Bird on the Presidential Flag and Seal has its head turned to the right, with its distinctive crest clearly visible and its wings spread out with a white banner between its outstretched wings reading “Victory is Ours”.

We are the crown of the King of kings and the Lord of lords..

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. (Isaiah 62:3)

We shall be victorious because we have a God who said

And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands. (1 Samuel 17:47)

Yahweh Nissi- The Lord is our banner..

Have a blessed day!

Your’s in YESHUA,
a j mithra

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Accipitriformes Order of the Sagittariidae Family