“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17 NKJV)
SHADES OF SNOWIES !
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season… (Hebrews 11:25)
Sometimes it seems like “a little pleasure” could be enjoyed, for a little while, somewhere else. As the happy little fish swam, toward a shady spot in the pond-waters near shore, that was his last voluntary thought! (But why?)
Snowy Egrets are famous for their “golden slippers”, i.e., their black legs contrast with the gold-yellow color of their feet. Nicknamed “Snowies”, these small-sized egrets have all-white plumage that is extra bright, like soft new-fallen snow, hence the name “Snowy Egret“.
But, to some hapless fish, another trait of the Snowy might be more important – the behavioral trait of “shading” that Snowy Egrets are known for, in order to entice shallow-water fish into their bill’s striking zone. Consider the following descriptive report, by ornithologists Wayne Petersen and Roger Burrows:
“The elegant, snow white plumage, black legs and bright yellow feet of the Snowy Egret are … mainly wanderers to inland areas, although they breed along the coast …
Herons and egrets, particularly Snowy Egrets, make use of a variety of feeding techniques. By shuffling their bright-yellow feet in the much of shallow wetlands, these birds attempt to spook potential prey out of hiding. In an even more creative hunting strategy, they are known to create shade by extending their wings over open water. When a fish succumbs to the lure of the cooler shaded spot, it is promptly seized and eaten.” [Quoting Wayne R. Petersen & Roger Burrows, BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND (Lone Pine Publishing, 2004), page 94.]
That poor hapless fish, who only sought some comfortable shade (i.e., just a little “pleasure” for a “season”), in the shallow water of a pond – snatched by the Snowy’s bill, in an eye-blink ! — in other words, before the swamp-critter ever knew what hit him, he was strzok!
Of course, it might also be the case that “shading” shallow water makes it easier for a Snowy to survey its near-surface prey, in order for the Snowy to know where to aim its bill thrust.
The lesson here is a lesson we can trace to the Old Testament book of Jonah, namely, if you are inclined to wander from your properly assigned place of service, as Jonah was, don’t be too surprised if there’s a “ship” waiting for you, to take you away from where you should be (Jonah 1:3).
As poet Gertrude Grace Sanborn once wrote, “there is always a ship at Joppa” – waiting to take to farther into a big mess of trouble!
REMAIN IN YOUR PLACE
If you’re discontented and unhappy And your place and purpose grows dim,
There is always a ship at Joppa If you don’t want to stay and win.
If you turn from the task of the present To follow a beckoning star;
There is always a ship at Joppa To take you from where you are.
But you’ll miss the blessing He gives you If you wander away from His place;
For there’s a fare to be paid at Joppa If you do not remain in your place.
[Quoting Gertrude Grace Sanborn, “Remain in Your Place”, WITH TEARS IN MY HEART: POETIC MEDITATIONS OF A CHRISTIAN WOMAN (Bible for Today product # 3196), posted at https://www.biblefortoday.org/Articles/tears.htm .]
So, if you are tempted to stray from the Lord’s present assignment for your life, and you find yourself allured toward a substitute “opportunity”, and then you see a convenient ship docked “at Joppa” (just waiting to take your fare, so that you can thereby “escape” God’s will for your life) — don’t naïvely interpret that the Joppa ship’s availability is “confirming” that this is your “lucky day” (to escape your proper assignment)!
In other words, beware! What looks comfortable, convenient, and pleasurable may not be so good as it appears to the eye (or to the imagination)!
Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God. Those by the wayside are they who hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the Word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that [seed] which fell among thorns are they who, when they have heard, go forth and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to perfection. But that [seed] on the good ground are they who, in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)
When we were at Gatorland a few weeks ago, I noticed two Great Egrets on the walkway rail. I zoomed in to get a better view of them. There were actually two Great Egrets and a Snowy Egret in between them.
By the time we arrived at their location, one of the Great Egrets had flown off to check something out. There sat the Great Egret and the Snowy Egret side-by-side. I thought maybe that Snowy was thinking he would like to be tall like this friendly Great Egret.
The Great Egret is tall and nice looking with his long yellow beak and black feet.
The Snowy though shorter has a nice black beak and cool yellow feet.
Knowing that the Lord created both of these fine birds, He made them just the way He wanted them. One tall, one short. One with a black beak and the other with a yellow one. And He may have given height to the Great Egret, but He gave the shorter Snowy those neat yellow feet.
Do we get envious and desire what someone else has? Maybe taller, more talented, sing better, etc? God has made us just the way He wants us, and has provided us with different bodies, talents, abilities, and directions to serve Him. Are we content with what He has given us?
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11 KJV)
“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:8 KJV)
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5 KJV)
I am sure are Snowy Egret was not the least bit jealous or envious.
More posts from Gatorland:
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
May you have a great day enjoying family, friends, and fine food. But please, do not bite off more than you should! [This video of a Snowy Egret was taken at Gatorland this week.]
“A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalms 100:1-5 NKJV)
HAIR OF MY FLESH STOOD UP
“Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:” (Job 4:15 KJV)
Snowy Egret by Ian
“E” is for Egrets and Emus: “E Birds”, Part 2
James J. S. Johnson
“Blessings are upon the head of the just, but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.” (PROVERBS 10:6)
Is that an egret, standing on top of my head?*
Photo credit: Marcia Webel (St. Petersburg, Florida)
(*Actually, the egret was perching upon branches behind me, not atop my head.)
It is a blessing to use our heads, to watch birds, such as egrets.
As noted in Part 1 of the “E” Birds “E” is for Eiders, Eagles, (of which there are many varieties), Eagle-owls, Egrets, Emus, Eagle-owls, Egrets, Euphonias, Elaenias, Eremomelas, Elepaios, Earthcreepers, and Emerald hummingbirds — plus whatever other birds there are, that have names that begin with the letter E.
In this Part 2 (reviewing “E” birds), 2 categories of “E” birds are considered: Egrets and Emus.
It is truly amazing to see egrets seeking food, at Florida’s Gatorland, while presumptively and precariously perched atop the backs of drifting/semi-submerged alligators. As ornithologist Lee Dusing once observed:
Most times these alligators and birds get along fine. People are tossing food to them and so they abide each other. It is amazing how different critters get along. I can only imagine how it must have been when they were first created. There was no desire of the gators to eat the birds. Today, under the curse, it is a totally different situation.
[Quoting Lee Dusing’s “Egrets and Heron Catching the Gator Taxis”, See also my report on how Cattle Egrets practice “mutual aid” with various terrestrial herbivores, in “Cattle Egrets, Cattle, and Other Herbivore Neighbors”.
Since those egrets have been described, as just noted, previously, not much will be added here, regarding them, except for a few comments regarding their distribution, i.e., regarding the ranges they inhabit.
The Great White Egret (Ardea alba) is well-known in North America, as the range map below shows, but most of America only hosts this tall egret during the winter months.
Great White Egret range map (Wikipedia)
Yellow = breeding; Green = year-round; Blue = wintering
Breeding occurs mostly in the Mississippi River watershed corridor states, with a swath of the Southwest and southern coasts providing year-round habitat of this long-legged shorebird.
A tall and stately bird, the Great [White] Egret slowly stalks shallow [waters of] wetlands looking for small fish [or frogs, or snakes, etc.] to spear [or grab] with its long sharp bill. Nests in colonies of up to 100 birds. Now protected [legally], they were hunted to near extinction in the 1800s and early 1900s for their long white plumage.
[Quoting Stan Tekiela, BIRD OF TEXAS FIELD GUIDE (Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, 2004), page 371.]
Another familiar white-feathered egret, in America, is the Snowy Egret.
The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) is a small-scale heron with snowy white plumage, famous for its “golden slippers”.
Snowy Egret (Wikipedia)
Like the resourceful Cattle Egret (mentioned above — see coverage of this wide-ranged and herbivore-helping egret,) the Snowy Egret is small in size, as herons and egrets go. However, unlike the Cattle Egret, its feathers are all white, and its feet are a mustard-yellow (or goldenrod yellow) in color. The Snowy Egret is a wetland bird – preferring swamps (including mangrove swamps), pondshores, marshlands (including saltmarshes), island shores, and estuaries (including tidal mudflats).
As shown below, the Snowy Egret has a breeding range that includes some patches of America, mostly in part of the Northwest and in the drainage basin of the Mississippi River. Also, the Snowy Egret is a year-round resident of America’s Atlantic coast and America’s Gulf of Mexico coast.
Snowy Egret range map (Wikipedia)
Yellow = breeding; Green = year-round; Blue = wintering
More than a century ago the Snowy Egret (as well as the Flamingo, the Roseate Spoonbill, various cranes, ducks, geese, swans, other members of the heron-egret family, doves, as well as insectivorous passerine migrants, etc.) was wastefully being hunted for its fancy feathers, jeopardizing the entire American population — until the Migratory Bird Treaty was enacted (and was enforced).
Regarding the Migratory Bird Treaty’s historic importance, see “Looking Back 100 Years, at the Migratory Bird Treaty: A Bird’s-eye View of How It was Hatched”.
Great White Egret, Snowy Egret, White Ibis,Roseate Spoonbill, and
Great-tailed Grackle, flying over coastal marshland (Photo credit: Eric Ripma)
Thankfully, populations of egrets (and other long-legged, long-necked birds, such as cranes, herons, flamingo, roseate spoonbill, ibis, etc.) have rebounded, since passage (100 years ago) and enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty.
Regarding Australia’s Emu (as well as regarding other ratites, including the smallest ratite — New Zealand’s kiwi), see ornithology professor Lee Dusing’s “Sunday Inspiration: Ostrich, Rhea, Cassowary, Emu & Kiwi”.
Also, for a close-up (albeit abrupt) perspective on an Emu, see “Lee’s Five Word Friday: 9/16/16”.
Emu (Dromaius novahollandiae) in the wild (Wikipedia)
The Emu is the second-largest (non-extinct) bird, by height; only the Ostrich is taller. By weight the Emu is the world’s third-largest bird, weighing less than the Ostrich and anther ratite “cousin”, the double-wattled Southern Cassowary.
The Emu has an over-all height of about 180 cm. (70”); to the top of the back it measures about 100 cm. (40”); it can weigh up to 55 kg. (120 lbs.) and have a beak up to 12 cm. long (5”). The body is very bulky, the coloring of the plumage brownish. The feet have three toes [each]. … The nest [typically located in scrubby steppe grassland habitat] is a hollow in the ground near a shrub, and it is covered with leaves, grass, et cetera. Various females lay 15-25 eggs, which are incubated by the male for 52-60 days [during with time the male loses a lot of weight, due to not eating], depending on the interruptions made by the male to find food and water. The nestlings, which have a distinctive white and brown-striped plumage, achieve complete development and sexual maturity within 2 or 3 years. The Emu can run at speeds of up to 50 kph. (30 mph.).
[Quoting Gianfranco Bologna, SIMON & SCHUSTER’S GUIDE TO BIRDS (Simon & Schuster, 1981; edited by John Bull), page 143.]
Since the Emu was described previously (as noted in the previous sentence), no more will be added here, other than to note that the Emu’s native range covers most of Australia. (Also, emus have been, and now are, raised commercially in America, for their meat, for oil, or sometimes as part of investment scams.)
Emu range map (Wikipedia)
In recent years I have observed, in the wild, many varieties of Egrets – especially Great White Egret, Snowy Egret, and Cattle Egret. Also, on a few occasions I have observed (very close up) domesticated Emus – and they are not fully “tame” even when they are “domesticated”. All of these birds, which range in size, are marvels in motion — examples of God’s super-genius bioengineering.
Whenever we look at such feathered creatures, we should be amazed, and we should admire God’s handiwork, — because God has given us the ability to use our minds (which are somehow linked to the physical “hardware” of our heads, especially our eyes and brains). In a sense, we have such birds “on our heads”, as we think through the blessings God has given, due to Him creating such birds.
So, if our minds are renewed to proper reverence of God, as the Creator of all creation (Revelation 4:11), our “heads” can empirically accept and analyze these visual blessings, as feathered exhibits displaying God’s glory.
“Blessings are upon the head of the just, but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.” (PROVERBS 10:6)
God willing, the next contribution to this alphabetic series will be some “F birds” – perhaps some of these: Fairywrens, Falcons, Fantails, Fernbirds, Fieldwrens, Figbirds, Finches, Firetails, Fiscals, Flamebacks, Flamingos, Flatbills, Flowerpeckers, Flycatchers, Foliage-gleaners, Forktails, Francolins, Friarbirds, Frigatebirds, Frogmouths, Fruiteaters, Fulmars, Fulvettas, etc.! Meanwhile, enjoy using your eyes (and the rest of your head) to appreciate the blessings and privileges of daily life, including opportunities to observe God’s avian wonders, like egrets and emus.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)
Snowy Egret in Nest with babies by Dan
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)
While we were at Gatorland, I had the delight to be able to get really close to a Snowy Egret. I was taking a photo of him when he got so close I couldn’t focus the camera. I backed the zoom out and realized just how close we were.
I tried to give my camera to Dan to get a photo of me and the Snowy. That spooked him and he flew off a few yards. I coached him back and thankful he came.
This time I handed Dan my camera down low and he stayed put. The following photos are what Dan took of the close encounter with my Snowy Egret friend. I could have touched the bird, if I had wanted, but have you ever seen that beak up close? Looked like a sharp needle from my point of view.
I am very thankful that the Lord created such a neat bird and helped him not be afraid of me. I am glad the Lord lets us have joy from just watching His critters.
A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness. (Proverbs 12:23 NKJV)
Here are two more photos from Gatorland, FL:
Smart Snowy Egrets
Dumb Great Blue Heron
Below is a combination of ten short videos from Gatorland. There are several of the Great Egrets on the nest, and one Great Egret displaying. There were three Snowy Egrets youngsters in a nest and other happenings along the boardwalk.
There is also a video of the Flamingo and Parrot areas. Then you will see two gators that I was watching that kept trying to get into position to see each other “eye to eye.” They seem to be sweet on each other. (my interpretation)
You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You. (Nehemiah 9:6 NKJV)
Here are also some of the photos taken by Dan that Day:
We trust you enjoy the photos and video. This is just a few of the photos taken.
While walking around the rookery at Gatorland, we were able to view some Snowy Egrets at their nest. Dad was watching from above while mom was tending to the two baby “Snowies”.
Mom was keeping an eye on the little ones. (This is from my perspective – I could just see the tops of their heads)
Dan came along and I handed him my camera (to get a better view-he’s taller) Here is one of the babies on his camera:
and these are the ones we took with my camera and those with his:
As you view the chicks you will notice there is still an egg in there. That makes me think that these little “snowies” are maybe one or two days old at maximum.
Snowy Egrets are Birds of the Bible in the Heron family Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns and are on the “do not eat” list. Who would want to eat these cuties?
the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 NKJV)
the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:18 NKJV)
We also shot some video to share with you. The first part is by me and a photographer was beside me shooting in “burst” mode. Then Dan shot the second part and you can see in the nest better. – I’m short :)
We went over to Gatorland on Thursday last week to see what was happening in the rookery section. We have been trying all year to get there. I was able to take over 300 photos, but haven’t had the energy to work on them. After my stay in the hospital, I do things and then wear down quickly. So, I just keep doing and draining, and collecting photos.
Anyway, just wanted to get something up and share some Snowy Egrets in breeding plumage that look like they are having a bad hair day. The photographers were all around and I had a Snowy land on the rail between me and a photographer.
Here is a slideshow of just entering Gatorland and then where you start the boardwalk along the rookery. Actually, the Alligators are the main attraction of course, but they patrol those ponds. That gives protection to the birds to make nest and raise their babies, because land critters choose not to deal with the Gators. Unfortunately, an occasional chick falls and the gators get a “small” snack. I have plenty more photos to share, but that will be later. Even have video of two, 1 or 2 day old, Snowy Egrets.
It was a great visit getting to see more of the Lord’s Creation up close and doing what they were told to do. Reproduce.
Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 8:17 NKJV)
Other Birdwatching Trips to Gatorland