Bible Birds – Swift Introduction

Bible Birds – Swift Introduction

Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba) ©WikiC
Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba) ©WikiC

“Even the stork in the sky Knows her seasons; And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush Observe the time of their migration; But My people do not know The ordinance of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:7 NASB)

The different versions of the Bible, translate this verse with different birds named. Many use either the Swift or the Swallow. They are similar but are in different bird families. The Swifts are in the Apodidae family and Swallows are in the Hirundinidae Family. Mainly, the verse is saying that the birds have more wisdom than some people.

Resemblances between swifts and swallows are similar because of their lifestyles based on catching insects in flight. They were both created with that ability. Both of them migrate or fly to other areas during the seasons. They need warmer weather to have an abundance of flying insects to feast on. [eat]

Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta) by Nikhil Devasar
Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta) by Nikhil Devasar

The family name, Apodidae, is derived from the Greek ἄπους (ápous), meaning “footless”, a reference to the small, weak legs of these most aerial of birds. The tradition of depicting swifts without feet continued into the Middle Ages, as seen in the heraldic martlet.

Some species of swifts are among the fastest animals on the planet, with some of the fastest measured flight speeds of any bird. “Swifts are the fastest of birds. Larger species are amongst the fastest fliers in the animal kingdom, with the white-throated needletail having been reported flying at up to 169 km/h (105 mph). Even the common swift can cruise at a maximum speed of 31 metres per second (112 km/h; 70 mph). In a single year the common swift can cover at least 200,000 km.” [Wikipedia]

See Swift – Creationwiki

Bible Birds – Swift

Bible Birds

Making a Joyful Noise in Estonia’s Tallinn: A Quick Memoir of Common Swifts

Making a Joyful Noise in Estonia’s Tallinn: A Quick Memoir of Common Swifts

James J. S. Johnson

commonswift-jiribohdal-photo

COMMON SWIFT (Apus apus)    photo credit: Jiri Bohdal

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.   (Psalm 100:1)

What is making a “joyful noise”? It is commanded is Scripture, whatever it is – see Psalm 66:1; 81:1; 95:1-2; 98:4; 98:4; 100:1.

To many, the noise of circuitous swifts is just that, a screeching-like screaming noise — not the kind of “music” that King David would have included in his orchestra-supported choir (1st Chronicles 15:16). But to a bird-lover, the aerial call of this air-zooming insectivore is a “joyful noise”, installed and directed by the Composer and Giver of all birdsong (and other avian vocalizations).

Yes, as other ignore them, I enjoy hearing the energetic calls of Common Swifts (Apus apus), as they zip around, in hunting packs, de-bugging the lower airspace during the bug-filled days of summer.

commonswift-flock-in-air

COMMON  SWIFT  flock  in  air   (photo credit:  Biopix; J C Schou)

On July 10th of AD2006 I was watching a flock of swifts circling above the rooftops in Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia. The flock’s high-speed-choreography included swerving, veering, soaring, turning, rolling, and circling maneuvers — always in graceful curves, yet nonetheless amazingly quick – in a word, “swift”. It was done so fluidly that it compares, though at a smaller-group level, with the carefully choreographed flock-flights of starling murmurations (which are described elsewhere at “Choreographed Choir on the Wing: Birds of a Feather Flock Together:).

It was a privilege to see such a lively and speedy display of God’s bioengineering, a fly-by performance, like a high-speed aerial parade. And the quaint old-town venue, Tallinn’s “Old Town”, still includes walls and towers from the Hanseatic League era (some 2 or 3 centuries older than the Protestant Reformation), providing an air of calm busyness that matched the swifts’ quick-turning air-dance.

The COMMON SWIFT (Apus apus) is, as its name suggests, a bird that is both common and quick. As a true “swift”, having wings curved like a parenthesis (or boomerang, or crescent-sliver), it somewhat resembles a short-legged version of a Barn Swallow or Purple Martin, colored in black and grey, although its wings are narrower and more sickle-shaped in flight. When viewed from beneath, a swift’s silhouette (against the sky) almost looks like an anchor, as it glides. And swifts often glide, often circling above or near rooftops and other objects. When they want to accelerate, their wingbeats are thorough and (unsurprisingly) swift. The super-short legs are used for clinging to walls and other vertical surfaces, matching the German name for this bird, Mauersegler (“wall-glider”). Don’t expect to see this bird sitting on the ground – if it is “grounded” there is probably an involuntary explanation.

commonswift-range-map-wikipedia

COMMON SWIFT range map (Wikipedia)

And “common” it is, in summer, all over Europe (and ranging from west to east across the middle band of Asia, as well as much of the Mideast and India). This insect-gobbling bird is a migrant, going where the bugs are plentiful — before the “bug famine” of Eurasia’s winter months the Common Swift migrates to the southern half of Africa, where bugs teem (during Africa’s summer months). Swifts and swiftlets are found all over the inhabited words, i.e., anywhere that flying insects are available for “eating on the fly”. Consider these illustrative examples: Black Swift (all over North America, from Canada to Costa Rica and Brazil), White-fronted Swift (forests in Mexico), Great Dusky Swift (many forests of South America), Sooty Swift (many forests of South America), White-chinned Swift (Central and South America), Cave Swiftlet (caves and woods of India, Indonesia, and Malaysia), Himalayan Swiftlet (common to the Himalayan range and Southeast Asia) — just to list a few. One of the rarest swifts is the Seychelles Swiftlet (a subspecies or cousin of the smaller Mascarene Swiftlet of Mauritius and Reunion (both being east-of-Madagascar islands in the Indian Ocean). The Seychelles Swift is found only on the Seychelles Islands east of Africa (and north of Madagascar), in the Indian Ocean. (See postage stamp – public domain image)

seychellesswift-postage

SEYCHELLES  SWIFTLET       [public domain]

An even rarer swiftlet is the Atiu Swiftlet, endemic to the small island of Atiu (in the Cook Islands archipelago). That cave-loving swiftlet has been described in connection with appreciating Gospel Days in the Cook Islands.

 

Atiu Swiftlet (Aerodramus sawtelli a.k.a Kopeka)

Atiu Swiftlet (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now back to the COMMON SWIFT, such as those who circled the air near the rooftops of Old Town, Tallinn (Estonia), that summer afternoon in AD2006.

The Common Swift’s visible physical and behavioral traits have been aptly summarized by the co-authors whose bird-book I used on that summer afternoon in Tallinn:

 Dark, scythe-winged aerial feeder seen careening through sky in characteristic noisy, screaming parties. Flies in lower airspace early and late in day [when flying insects are out and about], and in wet weather. Spends virtually entire life … on the wing, coming to land only to nest. Larger than Barn Swallow, unlike which it never perches on wires or vegetation. Adult [has] uniform blackish-brown plumage relieved only by whitish chin. Very long, narrow, swept-back wings and [relatively] fat, cigar-shaped body give illusion that bird is bigger than it really is. Clearly forked tail lacks Swallow’s streamers and is often held tightly closed. Bill tiny. Sexes alike; similar juvenile has narrow pale feather edgings.

Nest colonially beneath eaves of buildings, less often in caves or hollow trees.

Enters site at breakneck speed and is only rarely seen perched below, clinging to walls with tiny legs and feet (unusually, all four toes face forwards).  Breeds commonly in built-up areas, but travels huge distances to feed. Typically seen in parties of 10—100 birds, but congregates in massive swarms on spring and autumn migration, especially over wetlands and reservoirs. Flight action varied: either very fast with twinkling wingbeats or slower, with sudden flurries of wingbeats and glides on wings stiffly outstretched and slightly bowed down. Jinks, rises and falls with quick flick of wings and briefly spread tail as it gulps insect prey in [relatively] huge, gaping mouth.

Shrill, piercing screaming call, sree, is the essence of warm summer evenings.

[Quoting Chris Kightley, Steve Madge, & Dave Nurney, POCKET GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF BRITAIN AND NORTH-WEST EUROPE (Yale University Press, 1998), page 174.]

And what kind of town is Estonia’s Tallinn? It is the main port and capital of Estonia, a land weary of foreign occupations.

tallinn-oldtown-estonia

Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia (photo credit: Wikipedia)

The native Estonians (who maybe felt like helpful bugs, trying to escape hungry predators), century after century, has been parasitized (and preyed upon) by many opportunists who — like busy Common Swifts — swiftly (or sometimes slowly) inserted themselves onto Estonia’s Baltic coastland, sometimes colonizing and sometimes content with controlling the flow of trade.

A quick [i.e., “swift”] summary of Estonia’s serial occupations by neighboring armies follows. Perhaps the reader can consider these back-and-forth conquests of the Estonian lands, and imagine how the “caught-in-the-middle” Estonians, of generation after generation after generation, lived, as their land changed from colony to battlefield to colony, etc.

Estonia’s sequence of political phases may be condensed to 24 episodes, namely: (1) the Viking era … (800s through 1200); (2) wars with Germany’s Bishop Albert of Livonia and the Sword Brethren (1208-1227); (3) Denmark intervenes and begins to rule Tallinn [from taani linn, meaning “Dane fort”, with the city continuing to be called by its German name, “Reval”], due to Danish King Valdemar II’s conquest … [resulting in] Estonia being occupied by a mix of Danes and Germans by 1220); (4) political decline of the ethnic-German “Sword Brethren” of Livonia, due to Lithuanian militarism … followed by merger of the Livonian Sword Brethren with Prussia’s Teutonic Knights [as Lithuania flourished]; (5) Danish-German domination of Estonia [with the Hanseatic League controlling Estonia’s economy] ; (6) decline of the militaristic Prussian Teutonic Knights, due to Russian militarism aided by Estonian and Latvian conscripted soldiers … [e.g., Alexandr Nevskii’s “Battle on the Ice” victory in AD1242]; (7) political association with, and domination by, the plutocratic “super-merchants” of Germany’s Hanseatic League (with Lübeck Law adopted for Tallinn in 1248, with Tallinn’s trade featuring Estonian rye [!], barley, oats, honey, bearskins and other furs, exchanged for imported herring, salt, precious metals, and clothing materials); (8) Danish relinquishment of troublesome Estonia (prompted by the bloody Jüriöö Mäss rebellion of 1343-1345 … resulting in Denmark’s “sale” of Estonia to the Prussian Teutonic Knights in 1346 … [so Estonia and Latvia were ruled by ethnic-Germans form the mid-AD1300s through the mid-AD1400s]; (9) Old Livonia declines, as Prussia’s Teutonic Knights decline, due to military defeats [e.g., Tannenberg, in AD1410] by the rising empire of Poland-Lithuania … {and Russia unsuccessfully tries, in AD1502, to grab Estonia from Poland-Lithuania]; (10) Estonia is touched by the Reformation, with Luther’s “use-of-the-language-of-the-common-people” policy beginning to change Estonia, planting the first seeds of Estonian cultural identity restoration (Reformation first arrives in Estonia during the 1520s; 1525 sees first book printed in Estonian language [and during that year Walter von Plettenburg, Rome’s “Master of the Livonian Order”, converts to Lutheran Christianity, heavily impacting the launching of the Protestant Reformation in Estonia]; first-Estonian-language church services in the 1530s); (11) the Livonian Wars (1558-1583) reveal Russia’s ambitions for the Baltic lands … followed by Estonia being “sold” to Denmark, who opposed the Russians (1560); (12) Old Livonia disintegrates, as the Swedes arrive to oppose Russia, and Tallinn becomes a Swedish land … (1561); (13) meanwhile, the Livonian lands south of Tallinn become Polish possessions (1561); (14) Livonian resistance to Russia, well into the mid-1500s, permitted the Germany-based Reformation to take root among the Estonian people (often aided by Swedish military action, combined with Lutheran education reforms led by Swedes, Germans, and Finns … for example, Tartu University [was founded] by Swedish King Gustav Adolphus, in 1632, to promote Lutheran education and culture); (15) Russia competed with Sweden for Estonia … complicated by Poland joining the fray (in 1579), resulting in Sweden successfully holding onto Estonia [AD1586]; (16) however, Sweden and Russia resumed war in the 1590s … as tension between Sweden and Poland, regarding who gets Estonia, continued to rise; (17) Sweden continued to dominate the Baltic lands … (from 1600-1629), somewhat resolved by the “Peace of Altmark” [AD1629]; (18) Denmark increased its ascendancy in the region … Denmark’s remaining portion of Estonia [i.e., Saaremaa] was transferred to Sweden (1645); (19) [Estonia suffers, due to war-ravaged agriculture] the Great Hunger of the 1690s (1695-1697); (20) Sweden’s domination in the Baltic [is lost in] the “Great Northern War” of 1700-1721 (with the last fighting of this war, on Estonian soil, occurring in 1710); (21) 300+ years of domination by Russia, with the last portion (from the mid-1800s onward) seeing a growth of national patriotism and a recovered sense of the Estonian language and cultural identity (1710-1918); (22) the first taste of Estonian independence (1918-1940); (23) interrupted by Soviet Russia’s re-conquest and cultural suppression of Estonia (1940-1991); and (24) Estonia’s post-Soviet experience of national independence [which was triggered by Estonia’s “Singing Revolution”], which is ongoing (1991 to present).

[Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “Heritage Highlights: Estonia”, BALTIC HERITAGE REVIEW (June AD2006), pages 2-4.] Surely you became weary (if not also wary), if you actually read all of that listing of 2-dozen political turnovers (flying over 12 centuries of political history), so imagine what native Estonians must feel like – having been occupied and re-occupied by foreigners, generation after generation.

Maybe the Estonians feel like little flying insects, the easy-prey targets for ever-hungry (and fleet-flying) Swifts, coming at them, from all directions, chasing what could have been tranquility from Tallinn’s lower airspace.

tallinn-olafkirk-olevistekirik-estonia

Olaf’s Church   [Oleviste kirik]   in Tallinn:
Roman Catholic, later Lutheran, now Baptist
(photo credit: Wikipedia)

And that description well fits the memory that I still retain, of the speedy, quick-turning, aerial acrobatics  —  of noisy Common Swifts  —  that I saw near the rooflines and rooftops of the ancient-looking building in Tallinn’s Old Town, likely displaying what those same birds’ ancestors did centuries before, when Tallinn (then called “Reval”) was an old Hanseatic League trading port city.

When it comes to bird behavior, some things don’t change all that much. Of course, European trade has now returned to the old Hanseatic port-city of Reval – or Tallinn (as it is called today, and has been for centuries) — and much of that trade comes today in the form of cruise ship passengers and European Union commerce.

If you are ever in the neighborhood (of Tallinn), check it out; there is a lot of history to see there, and to appreciate, as you think about what all has occurred there, century after century.  So visit Tallinn at a relaxed pace – don’t just whizz by, like a Common Swift.

tallinn-port-cruiseships-estonia

Tallinn port, where cruise ships visit Estonia (photo credit: Wikipedia)

But this nostalgic report began with a quote from Psalm 100, about singing.  There is one habit that the Estonians are especially famous for, maybe moreso than any other habit – despite their long years (and centuries) of being suppressed as a Baltic people, they never gave up their songs.

estonia-singers-folk-costumes

Estonian choir in Tallinn
(photo credit: JJSJ in AD2006, actually a photo of a large sign in Tallinn)

Estonians love to sing, especially in their own native Estonian language. And now, years after the tense days of Estonia’s “Singing Revolution”, they can sing with a freedom that is relatively new to their land. May God bless them – and may He keep their songs in their hearts, as they look up to Him  — because He alone is the ultimate Giver of all good songs, even the diverse songs (and chirps, and other vocal noises) of the busy feathered creatures whom we call “songbirds”.

And may each of us, who has the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Redeemer, live each day with a song in our hearts, singing with grace and gratitude (Colossians 3:16).

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. (Psalm 98:4)

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More From James J. S. Johnson

Apodidae – Swifts Family

Birds of the Bible – Swifts

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A Swallow and One Who Isn’t – Chapter 15

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) in box ©USFWS

A Swallow and One Who Isn’t

The Tree Swallow and the Chimney Swift.

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The Burgess Bird Book For Children

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Listen to the story read.

CHAPTER 15. A Swallow and One Who Isn’t.

Johnny and Polly Chuck had made their home between the roots of an old apple-tree in the far corner of the Old Orchard. You know they have their bedroom way down in the ground, and it is reached by a long hall. They had dug their home between the roots of that old apple-tree because they had discovered that there was just room enough between those spreading roots for them to pass in and out, and there wasn’t room to dig the entrance any larger. So they felt quite safe from Reddy Fox; and Bowser the Hound, either of whom would have delighted to dig them out but for those roots.

Right in front of their doorway was a very nice doorstep of shining sand where Johnny Chuck delighted to sit when he had a full stomach and nothing else to do. Johnny’s nearest neighbors had made their home only about five feet above Johnny’s head when he sat up on his doorstep. They were Skimmer the Tree Swallow and his trim little wife, and the doorway of their home was a little round hole in the trunk of that apple-tree, a hole which had been cut some years before by one of the Woodpeckers.

Johnny and Skimmer were the best of friends. Johnny used to delight in watching Skimmer dart out from beneath the branches of the trees and wheel and turn and glide, now sometimes high in the blue, blue sky, and again just skimming the tops of the grass, on wings which seemed never to tire. But he liked still better the bits of gossip when Skimmer would sit in his doorway and chat about his neighbors of the Old Orchard and his adventures out in the Great World during his long journeys to and from the far-away South.

To Johnny Chuck’s way of thinking, there was no one quite so trim and neat appearing as Skimmer with his snowy white breast and blue-green back and wings. Two things Johnny always used to wonder at, Skimmer’s small bill and short legs. Finally he ventured to ask Skimmer about them.

“Gracious, Johnny!” exclaimed Skimmer. “I wouldn’t have a big bill for anything. I wouldn’t know what to do with it; it would be in the way. You see, I get nearly all my food in the air when I am flying, mosquitoes and flies and all sorts of small insects with wings. I don’t have to pick them off trees and bushes or from the ground and so I don’t need any more of a bill than I have. It’s the same way with my legs. Have you ever seen me walking on the ground?

Johnny thought a moment. “No,” said he, “now you speak of it, I never have.”

“And have you ever seen me hopping about in the branches of a tree?” persisted Skimmer.

Again Johnny Chuck admitted that he never had.

“The only use I have for feet,” continued Skimmer, “is for perching while I rest. I don’t need long legs for walking or hopping about, so Mother Nature has made my legs very short. You see I spend most of my time in the air.”

Skimmer The Tree Swallow and Forktail The Barn Swallow

“I suppose it’s the same with your cousin; Sooty the Chimney Swallow,” said Johnny.

“That shows just how much some people know!” twittered Skimmer indignantly. “The idea of calling Sooty a Swallow! The very idea! I’d leave you to know, Johnny Chuck, that Sooty isn’t even related to me. He’s a Swift, and not a Swallow.

“He looks like a Swallow,” protested Johnny Chuck.

“He doesn’t either. You just think he does because he happens to spend most of his time in the air the way we Swallows do,” sputtered Skimmer. “The Swallow family never would admit such a homely looking fellow as he is as a member.

“Tut, tut, tut, tut! I do believe Skimmer is jealous,” cried Jenny Wren, who had happened along just in time to hear Skimmer’s last remarks.

“Nothing of the sort,” declared Skimmer, growing still more indignant. “I’d like to know what there is about Sooty the Chimney Swift that could possibly make a Swallow jealous.”

Jenny Wren cocked her tail up in that saucy way of hers and winked at Johnny Chuck. “The way he can fly,” said she softly.

“The way he can fly!” sputtered Skimmer, “The way he can fly! Why, there never was a day in his life that he could fly like a Swallow. There isn’t any one more graceful on the wing than I am, if I do say so. And there isn’t any one more ungraceful than Sooty.”

Chimney Swift of Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Chimney Swift of Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Just then there was a shrill chatter overhead and all looked up to see Sooty the Chimney Swift racing through the sky as if having the very best time in the world. His wings would beat furiously and then he would glide very much as you or I would on skates. It was quite true that he wasn’t graceful. But he could twist and turn and cut up all sorts of antics, such as Skimmer never dreamed of doing.

“He can use first one wing and then the other, while you have to use both wings at once,” persisted Jenny Wren. “You couldn’t, to save your life, go straight down into a chimney, and you know it, Skimmer. He can do things with his wings which you can’t do, nor any other bird.”

“That may be true, but just the same I’m not the least teeny-weeny bit jealous of him,” said Skimmer, and darted away to get beyond the reach of Jenny’s sharp tongue.

“Is it really true that he and Sooty are not related?” asked Johnny Chuck, as they watched Skimmer cutting airy circles high up in the slay.

Jenny nodded. “It’s quite true, Johnny,” said site. “Sooty belongs to another family altogether. He’s a funny fellow. Did you ever in your life see such narrow wings? And his tail is hardly worth calling a tail.”

Johnny Chuck laughed. “Way up there in the air he looks almost alike at both ends,” said he. “Is he all black?”

“He isn’t black at all,” declared Jenny. “He is sooty-brown, rather grayish on the throat and breast. Speaking of that tail of his, the feathers end in little, sharp, stiff points. He uses them in the same way that Downy the Woodpecker uses his tail feathers when he braces himself with them on the trunk of a tree.”

“But I’ve never seen Sooty on the trunk of a tree,” protested Johnny Chuck. “In fact, I’ve never seen him anywhere but in the air.”

“And you never will,” snapped Jenny. “The only place he ever alights is inside a chimney or inside a hollow tree. There he clings to the side just as Downy the Woodpecker clings to the trunk of a tree.”

Johnny looked as if he didn’t quite believe this. “If that’s the case where does he nest?” he demanded. “And where does he sleep?”

In a chimney, stupid. In a chimney, of course,” retorted Jenny Wren. “He fastens his nest right to the inside of a chimney. He makes a regular little basket of twigs and fastens it to the side of the chimney.”

“Are you trying to stuff me with nonsense?” asked Johnny Chuck indignantly. “How can he fasten his nest to the side of a chimney unless there’s a little shelf to put it on? And if he never alights, how does he get the little sticks to make a nest of? I’d just like to know how you expect me to believe any such story as that.”

Tree Swallows Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge by jeremyjonkman on Flickr From Pinterest

Jenny Wren’s sharp little eyes snapped. “If you half used your eyes you wouldn’t have to ask me how he gets those little sticks,” she sputtered. “If you had watched him when he was flying close to the tree tops you would have seen him clutch little dead twigs in his claws and snap them off without stopping. That’s the way he gets his little sticks, Mr. Smarty, He fastens them together with a sticky substance he has in his mouth, and he fastens the nest to the side of the chimney in the same way. You can believe it or not, but it’s so.”

“I believe it, Jenny, I believe it,” replied Johnny Chuck very humbly. “If you please, Jenny, does Sooty get all his food in the air too?”

“Of course,” replied Jenny tartly. “He eats nothing but insects, and he catches them flying. Now I must get back to my duties at home.”

“Just tell me one more thing,” cried Johnny Chuck hastily. “Hasn’t Sooty any near relatives as most birds have?”

“He hasn’t any one nearer than some sort of second cousins, Boomer the Nighthawk, Whippoorwill, and Hummer the Hummingbird.”

“What?” cried Johnny Chuck, quite as if he couldn’t believe he had heard aright. “Did you say Hummer the Hummingbird?” But he got no reply, for Jenny Wren was already beyond hearing.

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Even the stork in the sky Knows her seasons; And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush Observe the time of their migration; But My people do not know The ordinance of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 NASB)

Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. (Proverbs 26:2 ESV)

A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Proverbs 29:23 NKJV)

Both of these birds belong to avian families that are mentioned in the Bible

Questions to think about:

  1. Can you describe Skimmer the Swift?
  2. What color is his breast, back and wings?
  3. What is common about the legs of both Skimmer and Sooty?
  4. How do both these birds catch their food?
  5. Why was Skimmer showing a little pride?
  6. Should we be prideful?
  7. Can you describe Sooty the Swallow?
  8. Where and how do Chimney Swallows they make their nest?
  9. Are Skimmer and Sooty in the same bird family?
  10. Who is Sooty second cousins with?
  11. Are both of these birds mentioned in the Bible?

Links:

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Links:

  Next Chapter (A Robber in the Old Orchard)

 

 

 

Burgess-Bird-Book-for-Children

Burgess Bird Book For Children

 

 

 

  ABC’s Of The Gospel

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – White-throated Needletail

White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) by Ian

White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) by Ian

My (Ian’s) apologies for a late bird of the week – this should have gone out last week.

The White-throated Needletail is a large swift, length 20cm/8in, that visits eastern Australia in the southern summer. It’s main claim to fame is that, in level flight, it is one of the fastest, perhaps the fastest, bird in the world with a claimed top speed of 170km/105miles per hour. (The Peregrine Falcon can reach supposedly 300km/200miles per hour in a dive, but that’s a different event in the avian Olympics.)

Swifts are the most aerial of birds and feed, drink and maybe even sleep on the wing. It used to be thought that White-throated Needletails never landed in Australia, but recent studies with radio-tracking show that they can roost in trees, though it is uncertain how predominate this is. They follow weather systems and are often associated with stormy weather. The ones in the photographs appeared near my house last week during showery weather and the birds appeared to be feeding over trees.

White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) by Ian

White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) by Ian

The White-throated Needletail has a barrel-shaped body and a blunt tail, distinguishing it from the slimmer Fork-tailed Swift which also migrates to Australia. The name ‘needletail’ refers to short spiny ends to the tail feathers, just visible if you look carefully at the first photo.

Fast fliers are naturally a challenge to photograph. I practice keeping both eyes open so that I can track the bird until it becomes visible in the viewfinder. Camera settings that help are fast shutter speeds – 1/3000 and 1/5000 sec in these photos – obtainable by using maximum aperture with manual settings and aperture priority and/or high ISO film speed. Some telephoto lenses permit distant settings (eg > 5.6m) to aid automatic focusing and I use a single focusing point in the center of the field of view.

Recent additions to the website include photos of Black-necked Stork/Jabiru and the elusive Black Falcon .


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


Lee’s Addition:

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)

Here’s some additional information about these birds:

“These birds have very short legs which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces. They build their nests in rock crevices in cliffs or hollow trees. They never settle voluntarily on the ground and spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks.

These swifts breed in rocky hills in central Asia and southern Siberia. This species is migratory, wintering south to Australia. It is a rare vagrant in western Europe, but has been recorded as far west as Norway, Sweden and Great Britain.

The White-throated Needletail is a large bird, similar in size to Alpine Swift, but a quite different build, with a heavier barrel-like body. They are black except for a white throat, white undertail, which extends on to the flanks, and a somewhat paler brown back.

The Hirundapus needletailed swifts get their name from the spiny end to the tail, which is not forked as in the Apus typical swifts. “These are all part of the Apodiformes Order, which includes the Apodidae – Swift Family.

Hirundapus – Genus
White-throated Needletail
Purple Needletail
Silver-backed Needletail
Brown-backed Needletail
Birds of the Bible – Swift
Swift Photos
Swift Videos

Birds of the Bible – Swift

“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)

While working on an “Interesting Things – Chimney Swifts” blog, I discovered that I had not done the “Birds of the Bible” about the Swallow or the Swift (translated in the NKJV and the NASB as “swift”). So, here is the first one on the Swift and the Swallow will follow soon. The Chimney Swift is now part of this one. I originally thought I had been through all the “Birds of the Bible” at least once. Fortunately, even though I may have forgotten them, the Lord never forgets his created critters.

Swifts from PPeterson Field Guide to Western Birds

Swifts from Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds

During the Birding Festival last week, the Chimney Swift was mentioned as a bird that is always flying. That peaked my interest and started investigating it. Creation Moments did an article about it called “A Bird Always in Flight.

The swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. They are often described as a “flying cigar.” They belong to the Order – Apodiformes – Family Apodidae.  Many think that Swifts and Swallows are in the same family, but the Swift is related closer to the Hummingbird. “Swift” comes from the Greek apous which means “without feet.”  They all have feet, but prefer to land on a vertical surface like a chimney, clift, or bank.  Most of the Swifts travel in groups eating insects, flying most of the time – landing only to roost at night or for nesting. Their call is described as a chatter, twitter, or similar sound.”A group of swifts are collectively known as a “box”, “flock”, “screaming frenzy”, and “swoop” of swifts.” (from WhatBird.com, as are the following links)

Our North American Swifts are:
Chimney Swift is 5-6″ long with a wingspan of 11-12″ (When in a chimney they use their tail which has spines to help them stay put and they attach their nest using a saliva glue.)
Black Swift is 7-7.5″ with a wingspan of 15″
Common Swift is 6-7″ with a 16-19′ wingspan
Vaux’s Swift is 4′ with a wingspan of 11″ (the smallest North American Swift)
White-collard Swift is 8.75″ with a wingspan of 19-21
White-throated Swift is 6-7″, wingspan of 13-14″ (with a white throat)
White-throated Needletail (formerly Spine-tailed Swift) is 7.5-9″ with a 20″ wingspan


Articles and Sound from Cornell:

White-collared Swift from Wikipedia

White-collared Swift from Wikipedia

Chimney Swifts
Vaux’s Swift
White-throated Swift

Some Interesting Links:
For the Birds – Chimney Swifts
I Saw The Swifts

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