Jesus said: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink . . . Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, . . . your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
For ushering in the year of our Lord 2020, below follows the seventh installment of alphabet-illustrating birds of the world, as part of this new series (“Birds Are Wonderful — and Some Are a Little Weird“*). The letter S is illustrated by Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Stork, and Starling. The letter T illustrated by Turkey, Trumpeter Swan, and Turnstone. The letter Uillustrated by Ural Owl, Udzungwa partridge, and Umbrellabird.
“S” BIRDS: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Storks, and Starlings.
“T” BIRDS: Turkey, Trumpeter Swan, and Turnstone.
“U” BIRDS: Ural Owl, Udzungwa Partridge, and Umbrellabird.
Birds are truly wonderful — some are gracefully beautiful, like the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher — and some, like the bizarre-displaying Umbrellabird, are fascinatingly unusual, if not also a little weird! (Stay tuned for more, D.v.)
* Quoting from “Birds Are Wonderful, and Some Are a Little Weird”, (c) AD2019 James J. S. Johnson [used here by permission].
Storks (Ciconiidae on Birdway) are a small, varied, global family of 19 or 20 species depending on whether the African and Asian Woolly-necked Storks are split. Some like the Black-necked Stork of Australasia and Asia are striking in appearance while others such as the Marabou Stork of Africa perhaps qualify as the ugliest birds in existence.
This Marabou Stork, photo scanned from film, is hanging around near a buffalo carcass, killed by lions, waiting for its turn after the vultures have left some scraps it can pick up. Stork bills are designed for fishing, not dismembering carcasses. They also frequent rubbish dumps; no doubt they play an important role as garbage collectors but it doesn’t add to their appeal.
The Jabiru of South America was on the must-see list for the Pantanal and is, I think, bizarre rather than plain ugly, with its naked, swollen, black and red neck. It’s also impressive with its huge size, not quite as big as the Marabou but the tallest flying land-bird of the Americas (only the flightless Greater Rhea is marginally taller) and massive black bill. They pay a price for their bare skin. It may be good for personal hygiene but we often noticed that they were bothered by small brown biting flies like the bird below, and often swirled their heads in the water in an apparent attempt to get rid of them.
This one we saw on our first boat trip on the Rio Claro. We try to convince our boatman that we just have to find a Sunbittern (Birdway) but he has other tricks up his sleeve and we have to wait until the following day before he gets serious about the Sunbittern. This particular Jabiru is accustomed to being fed on frozen piranhas and makes sure we take notice by gliding low over our heads and landing in the water nearby.
Before swallowing the fish, the bird washes it thoroughly in the water, or so I assume: maybe it is thawing it. I don’t suppose swallowing a frozen fish is very pleasant but birds aren’t famous for savouring their food and usually just try to swallow it before anyone else gets it or it escapes.
Later in the day we are to enjoy a similar fish-feeding spectacle with well-trained Black-collared Hawk (Birdway) and Great Black Hawks (Birdway), so we are well compensated for the boatman’s initial reluctance to satisfy our lust for the Sunbittern.
Jabirus are strong flyers even if taking off requires a bit of effort. They are widespread through Central and South America, make local movements in response to the availability of water and food, and are known to cross the Andes in Peru. They are up to 1.4m/4ft 7in in length, with a wingspan to 2.6m/8.5ft and weight up to 8kg/18lbs. Greater Rheas (Birdway) have a similar length but can weigh more than 25kg/55lbs.
They build huge nests at the top of trees including palms. The same site may be used repeatedly and the tree, particularly if is a palm, may die. In this nest the two juveniles are nearly fledged though not yet as big as their parents. The adult on the left has a red patch on back of the head: the amount of red on the head and neck is quite variable. I can’t find any explanation for the function of the swollen neck, except perhaps for signalling, as the red gets more intense when a bird is “excited”.
The name Jabiru comes from the South American Tupi-Guraní languages and means “swollen neck” and it is used in the scientific name (Jabiru mycteria). “Jabiru” is also used as a common name for the Black-necked Stork (Birdway), the only Stork occurring in Australia. It would seem that the unrelated South American species has a stronger claim to the use of the name, making it preferable to use the alternative name of Black-necked Stork. I don’t suppose, however, that the town of Jabiru in Kakadu in the Northern Territory is going to be renamed any time soon.
We have not seen these Jabirus in a zoo, but we get to enjoy them through Ian’s lens in the wild. Ian’s trip to the Pantana has been providing many interesting avian wonders for us to enjoy. Also, he has been writing more often. Yeah.
Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria) by Ian
“Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven.” (Zechariah 5:9 NKJV)
“Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:7 KJV)
“Where the birds make their nests; The stork has her home in the fir trees.” (Psalms 104:17 NKJV)
Wow! While searching through the index of this blog, I realized that the “Sunday Inspiration” was started in January of 2014. I had no idea it has been that long ago. Also, I realized that we are just about back to where it began. Over the last three and a half years, you have been exposed to almost every family of birds in the world. They were randomly produced, then the Taxonomic order was begun with the Passerines, Singing and Perching Birds. It was finished up and then we started through taxonomically several months ago. Do you have any idea of the numbers of avian wonders that you have have been exposed to? Neither do I. :)
Currently, there are 10,681 species named with I.O.C., plus all the subspecies. I trust as you have seen their photos and listened to Christian music in the background, that it has been more pleasant than looking through guide books. :)
All of this has been said to let you know that if the “Sunday Inspiration” starts skipping over certain families, then it was already covered. The links to the skipped over ones will be listed. Most of you, like me, probably had no idea of what order the birds are listed in. We have all been learning as we have produced these Inspirations in order.
Marabou Stork LP Zoo by Lee
Storks are members of the Ciconiidae family and the only family in the Ciconiiformes Order. Storks are large to very large waterbirds. They range in size from the marabou, which stands 152 cm (60 in) tall and can weigh 8.9 kg (20 lb) the Abdim’s stork, which is only 75 cm (30 in) high and only weighs 1.3 kg (2.9 lb). Their shape is superficially similar to the herons, with long legs and necks, but they are heavier-set. There is some sexual dimorphism (differences between males and females) in size, with males being up to 15% bigger than females in some species (for example the saddle-billed stork), but almost no difference in appearance. The only difference is in the colour of the iris of the two species in the genus Ephippiorhynchus.
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) by Ian
The bills of the storks are large to very large, and vary considerably between the genera. The shape of the bills is linked to the diet of the different species. The large bills of the Ciconia storks are the least specialised. Larger are the massive and slightly upturned bills of the Ephippiorhynchus and the jabiru. These have evolved to hunt for fish in shallow water. Larger still are the massive daggers of the two adjutants and marabou (Leptoptilos), which are used to feed on carrion and in defence against other scavengers, as well as for taking other prey. The long, ibis-like downcurved bills of the Mycteria storks have sensitive tips that allow them to detect prey by touch (tactilocation) where cloudy conditions would not allow them to see it. The most specialised bills of any storks are those of the two openbills (Anastomus.), which as their name suggested is open in the middle when their bill is closed.
Saddlebill Stork at Lowry Park Zoo by Lee
“Even the stork in the heavens Knows her appointed times; And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow Observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:7 NKJV)
The storks vary in their tendency towards migration. Temperate species like the white stork, black stork and Oriental stork undertake long annual migrations in the winter. The routes taken by these species have developed to avoid long distance travel across water, and from Europe, this usually means flying across the Straits of Gibraltar or east across the Bosphorus and through Israel and the Sinai. Studies of young birds denied the chance to travel with others of their species have shown that these routes are at least partially learnt, rather than being innate as they are in passerine migrants. Migrating black storks are split between those that make stopovers on the migration between Europe and their wintering grounds in Africa, and those that don’t.
The Abdim’s stork is another migrant, albeit one that migrates within the tropics. It breeds in northern Africa, from Senegal to the Red Sea, during the wet season, and then migrates to Southern Africa. Many species that aren’t regular migrants will still make smaller movements if circumstances require it; others may migrate over part of their range. This can also include regular commutes from nesting sites to feeding areas. Wood storks have been observed feeding 130 km (81 mi) from their colony. [Information from Wikipedia, with editing.]
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39 KJV)
While we were on the same birdwatching trip to Circle B (American Bittern), we encountered a Wood Stork. There are five verses in the Bible that mention the Stork:
And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 KJV)
And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:18 KJV)
Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. (Psalms 104:17 KJV)
Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 KJV)
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. (Zechariah 5:9 KJV)
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) by Lee Landing
While we were birdwatching at Circle B just before Christmas, a Wood Stork flew over and landed in a tree a good way from us. Thanks to the zoom on my camera, I was able to capture its picture. They amaze me that they are “ugly” up close, but when they fly, they are so beautiful and graceful to watch. We see them quite often here and I have been known to feed them at Lake Morton. They also fly over our house and land in our community pond.
Lee feeding Wood Stork at Lake Morton by Dan 2011
As mentioned above, Storks are birds in the Bible and are members of the Ciconiidae – Storks Family. Currently there are 19 Storks in this family. The Bible does not tell which one is being mentioned, but most like one of the Storks that lived in Israel.
Our Wood Stork here is a broad-winged soaring bird that flies with its neck outstretched and legs extended. It forages usually where lowering water levels concentrate fish in open wetlands; it also frequents paddy fields. Walking slowly and steadily in shallow water up to its belly, it seeks prey, which, like that of most of its relatives, consists of fish, frogs and large insects. It catches fish by holding its bill open in the water until a fish is detected. (Wikipedia)
“Tall and long-legged, the wood stork is the largest wading bird native to America. It is white with black flight feathers, distinctive because of its dark, featherless head (down to the upper neck) and thick, down-curved bill. Wood storks fly with neck and legs extended, interrupting strong wing beats with brief glides; their wingspan is 5 1/2 feet.” (FL FWCC) Their length is 33.5–45.3 in (85–115 cm) and weigh between72.3 to 93.1 oz (2050–2640 g). (NatGeo)