Airplane Fingers – Creation Moments

AIRPLANE FINGERS

” Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.'” Genesis 1:20

Aerodynamics, the science of flight, is a highly complex science. This is because many complex forces are acting on anything in flight. These forces include the power available for flight and drag produced by the flying object. Each of these categories include many additional forces that depend on the shape of the flying object, the shape and length of the wings, the speed and the altitude. This is why, for example, high altitude planes have very long wings.

Learjet 60 with winglets ©Myfreewallpapers

One critical force that has been under recent study is the turbulence that forms at the tips of the wings. The shorter the wing, the more energy consuming turbulence forms at the tip of the wing. Different wing designs have been tried to decrease this turbulence. Engineers have had some success reducing this turbulence with winglets. You may have seen these small vertical wings on the wingtips of some airplanes. Swiss researchers have been studying vultures with the hope of finding a better solution to this problem because vultures have a relatively short wing span that has proven to be surprisingly efficient. They discovered that this is because the feathers at the vultures’ wing tips spread out. They then tested a wing with a finger-like cascade of blades at the end.

Turkey Vulture in flight ©World Bird Sanctuary

Their new wing was more than four times more efficient than the average wing design in use today! It takes a great deal of faith in evolution to think that natural selection possesses such knowledge of aerodynamics. Clearly the vulture was designed by an intelligent Creator Who understands aerodynamics even better than we do!

Prayer:
I thank You, dear Father, that we can see Your wisdom in the creation. Amen.
Notes:
Wingfingers, Flying/January 1999, p.108. Photo: Learjet 60 with winglets. Courtesy of Adrian Pingstone. (PD)

©Creation Moments, with Permission, 2017

Wingtip Device – Wikipedia

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King Vulture Brevard Zoo 120913 by Lee

THE VULTURE’S EYE HATH NOT SEEN

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“There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen:” (Job 28:7 KJV)

King Vulture Brevard Zoo by Lee

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Cinereous Vulture Chick -  ©Lincoln Park Zoo

IS IT I?

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“And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?”  (Matthew 26:22)

Cinereous Vulture Chick – ©Lincoln Park Zoo

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Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida I

PondsideBirdwatching.photo1

Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida,

from Chaplain Bob’s Backyard: Part 1

  by James J. S. Johnson

He turneth the wilderness into a standing water [’agam = “pond”], and dry ground into water-springs.  (Psalm 107:35)

Another wonderful morning in St. Petersburg (Florida), gazing at the duck pond and its marshy shores, with mocha coffee, buttered rye toast, and my feet propped up, birdwatching from the pond-side backyard of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel   —   under a huge beach umbrella, shielded from the occasional post-digestion droppings (!) from several ibises and ospreys perched in branches that hung over where were sat, birdwatching, properly outfitted with binoculars, coffee mugs, breakfast foods, and a bird-book. That is what I was doing, by God’s grace, on Monday morning (2-9-AD2015) during February (which, by the way,  is officially “National Bird-Feeding Month” – see 103rd Congress, Volume 140, Congressional Record, for 2-23-1994, U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. John Porter speaking on “National Wild Bird Feeding Month”).

The lacustrine birds (in this backyard-and-pond setting) were busy, busy, busy,  —  and noisy!  — with their morning activities.  Most of them were ducks (mallards and lesser scaups).  These lentic water-loving birds were busy:  some were paddling across the pond, quacking, splashing, dabbling or diving, others were perching on shoreline tree branches, or loitering in the pond-edge marshy plants.  Most of them were sporadically flying here and there, sometimes alone, sometimes as a group.  (And they noticed the presence of turtles in the water, as well as a dog on the shoreline.)   Sometimes tall wading birds (e.g., egrets and herons) perched atop the roofs of houses near the pond-shore. In that one morning, in just an hour or two, I saw at least 14 different birds, plus we heard the distinctive cooing of a mourning dove!

To memorialize the happy experience (which was all the more enjoyable because it was shared with my good friends Bob and Marcia Webel), please appreciate this quick report on those pond-side birds, blended with a few thoughts about those fair fowl —  all of which birds were so carefully made and maintained by our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, it would take too long to report, now, on all 15 birds that we then observed.  So this report  (God willing)  will be just the first installment – reporting on the Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican, Mallard, Double-Crested Cormorant, and Black Vulture,  —  within what should be a mini-series, eventually covering  all 15 of those beautiful-to-behold  backyard-pond-birds.

Great Blue Heron by Dan

Great Blue Heron

GREAT  BLUE  HERON   (Ardea herodias). The Great Blue Heron is a tall, majestic egret-like bird, poised and dignified.  It can stand still as a statue for a long time, waiting for its food to become snatchable.  When the heron spies its prey (likely a fish or frog – but maybe a small mammal, bird, lizard, or even a snake!), at the side of a pond, it stabs with sudden speed – the prey never saw that powerful, sharp, dagger-like beak coming – till it was too late! When in flight, the Great Blue Heron is graceful, purposeful, and dignified.  The National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to North American Birds – Eastern Region (Alfred A, Knopf, 1994 revised edition), co-authored by John Bull & John Farrand, Jr., reports (at its page 367) this description of the Great Blue Heron:  “A common, large, mainly [Confederate] grayish heron with pale or yellowish bill.” Its most habitat – which changes with seasonal migrations — is a pond’s edge, or that of a lake, stream, river, or marshland.  What a regal bird!  “For most of us, sightings of great blue herons are confined to a glimpse of the bird as it flies slowly and steadily overhead, wings arching gracefully down with each beat, neck bent back, and feet trailing behind.  At other times we see it on its feeding grounds, standing motionless and staring intently into shallow water, or wading with measured steps as it searches for prey.” [Quoting from “Great Blue Heron”, by Donald W. Stokes & Lillian Q. Stokes, in Bird Behavior, Volume III (Little, Brown & Co., 1989), page 25.]

Brown Pelican and Laughing Gull by Dan MacDill Shore 2014

Brown Pelican and Laughing Gull by Dan MacDill Shore 2014

BROWN  PELICAN   (Pelecanus occidentalis). In their Field Guide to North American Birds – Eastern Region (noted above, in the Great Blue Heron entry), Bull & Farrand describe (at page 359) the Brown Pelican as a “very large, stocky bird with a dark brown body and a long flat bill”.  The adult storks have an ivory-white head, dark throat pouch, with dark brown hindneck coloring during the mating season.  The immature storks have dark brown heads and ivory-white breasts. These pelicans are year-round residents of Florida’s coastlands.  Bull & Farrand (on page 359) also report that the Brown Pelican is the “only nonwhite pelican in the world”, describing its eating habit as follows:  “…this marine bird obtains its food by diving from the air, its wings half folded as it plunges into the surf.  During one of these dives, the pouched bill takes in both fish and water; the bird drains out the water before throwing its head back and swallowing the fish.”  Donald and Lillian Stokes contrast this eating habit with that of the American White Pelican, which “feeds while floating on the water”.  (See Donald W. Stokes & Lillian Q. Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region [Little, Brown & Co., 1996], page 25.) One characteristic behavior of pelicans – the world over (including the Holy Land) – is the practice of adult pelicans regurgitating partially digested food into the mouths of their young.  “Pelicans” (Hebrew noun: qa’ath) are mentioned in Leviticus 11:18, Deuteronomy 14:17, and Psalm 102:6 [v. 7 in the Hebrew Bible’s verse numbering] – and apparently also in Isaiah 34:11 and Zephaniah 2:14.  George Cansdale says: “All pelicans feed their young by partly digested food, taken by the chick as it puts its head down the parent’s throat.  This regurgitation was the basis of the LXX and [Vulgate translation for] pelican, for [the Hebrew noun] qa’ath is said to mean ‘vomiter’.” (Quoting George S. Cansdale, All the Animals of the Bible [Zondervan, 1976], page 157.)  Cansdale rightly notices this, because the Hebrew noun for “vomitus” is qa’ (an etymologically related noun, which appears in Proverbs 26:11).

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) at Lake Parker By Dan'sPix

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) at Lake Parker By Dan’sPix

MALLARD   (a/k/a “GREEN-HEAD”:  Anas platyrhynchos). Mallards are nicknamed “green-heads”, due to the males’ iridescent green heads (which are bordered by a white neck ring).  The mallard male’s breast is chestnut-hued. Mallards live both on the coasts and inland (at ponds, lakes, prairie potholes, marshlands, including saltmarshes), including the entirety of America’s lower 48 states, so they are common (and well-known to American birdwatchers), so commonly known facts about them will not be repeated here.  Bull & Farrand [noted above, in the entry on Great Blue Heron] reports that the Mallard “is undoubtedly the most abundant duck in the world” (quoting page 392). Mallards are not only relatively ubiquitous, in their migratory or residential ranges (living or visiting in America, wherever migratory or residential ducks might be found), they are not shy around the habitat “edges” of human settlements.  Mallards frequent parks and backyards near ponds or other water bodies (including manmade reservoirs), often learning (and anticipating) that humans might provide bread crumbs or popcorn.  (But if you throw a piece of rotten banana into pond-water the mallards will not eat it.)  Donald Stokes reports that males and females make different noises:  “The quacking sound, which I had assumed that all Ducks made, can be made only by the female.  The male has two other calls of his own – a nasal rhaeb sound and a short Whistle-call, the latter accompanying all of the group courtship displays.”  (Donald W. Stokes, A Guide to Bird Behavior, Volume I (Stokes Nature Guides, Little, Brown & Co., 1979, page 31) Stokes goes on to say (pages 31-32) that this pattern of vocal behavior is not limited to Mallards – it also is observed in similar ducks including Gadwalls, Widgeons, Teals, Black Ducks, and Pintails.  Remember, therefore, if you see a large group of Mallards on a pond, and you hear a lot of quacking, it’s the females who are making all that noise.  (They might be trying to frighten of a turtle or other animal that is getting too close to their ducklings!)

Mallard Duck army marching (I know it's not a King, but it's cute) ©WikiC

Mallard Duck army marching ©WikiC

Mallards have good memories (as do all birds, I assume), and I have personal knowledge of that fact.  More than 15 years ago, my son and I would regularly feed the ducks (mostly mallards, plus lesser scaups during the winter months) at a pond near Furneaux Creek (in Denton County, Texas), in the evening. But one day we were in a hurry — I don’t recall why — so we drove straight home, bypassing the pond, then driving about a block, taking a right turn, then after another block taking another right turn, then driving down the hilly street to near the end of the cul-de-sac in our neighborhood, parking the car by our mailbox. However, as we got out of the car (and I approached our mailbox at the edge of our small front yard), and as we stepped onto the sidewalk toward our home’s front yard, we were greeted by a host of energetically quacking ducks! — apparently they wanted to know why we didn’t make our usual stop to feed them at the pond. Embarrassed, we quickly found something to feed them, and we quickly scattered food scraps on our front yard, to satisfy our avian guests (and they gobbled up all the bread scraps)! Yes, I felt a bit ashamed of myself, that day, for disappointing the mallards that day — but I’m pretty sure that they “forgave” us. Life gets busy — but that should not become an excuse for ignoring those whom we have an opportunity to be kind to (Galatians 6:10), even if they are mallards who live at a nearby pond.

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) by Lee at Honeymoon Is SP

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) by Lee at Honeymoon Is SP

DOUBLE-CRESTED  CORMORANT   (Phalacrocorax auritus). The male of this bird is basically black, like a super-sized crow, with a goldish-orange bill and throat pouch, featuring a long neck that is usually posed in an S curve if perching.  (The female’s coloring is lighter – somewhat brownish-grey.)   But why is this bird called “double-crested”?   Don’t expect to observe any “crests” on its head (like a cardinal or a Steller’s jay), much less two of them!   Donald and Lillian Stokes inform us that the description “refers to crests that grow during breeding” that, even then, are “hard to see”.  (Stokes & Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on Brown Pelican], page 27.)  Stokes & Stokes also note (on page 27) that this cormorant is the most common cormorant seen in the Eastern region of  America, on Atlantic (and Gulf of Mexico) coasts and farther inland, often wintering throughout the eastern half of Texas, and residing year-round in Florida.  (For example, the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary — located in McKinney, Texas — is a good place to view these cormorants.) Cormorants are known to live in the coastal areas of the Holy Land.  The darting-to-its-prey habit, of diving cormorants, fits the Hebrew noun, shalak, often translated as “cormorant” (see Leviticus 11:17 & Deuteronomy 14:17). Like anhingas, these dark birds perch with outstretched wings, to dry out their wings after diving into and swimming in water for food (usually fish).  Like vultures, eagles, and hawks, these large birds have a bit of difficulty launching their heavy bodies from the ground, so after they do ascend high enough, to reach rising thermal air currents, they position themselves to “ride” those air currents (sometimes ascending as if riding an elevator), soaring and gliding whenever those air currents are conveniently available.   The double-crested cormorant’s neck is crooked in flight, unlike other cormorants.   These are gregarious birds – they nest in colonies and they often fly in groups, either in a straight line of in V formation.  (See Stokes & Stokes, page 27; see also page 361 of Bull & Farrand [noted above, in entry for Great Blue Heron].)

Black Vulture by Lee Myakka SP

Black Vulture by Lee Myakka SP

BLACK  VULTURE (Coragyps atratus). This eagle-like scavenger’s grey face distinguishes it from its cousin, the Turkey Vulture, which has a reddish-pink face Both of those faces are wrinkled, somber-looking, and – to put it bluntly – ugly.  The Black Vulture is distinguished by its conspicuously “short square tail that barely projects from the rear edge of the wings and by a whitish patch toward the wing tip”.  (Quoting Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to the Birds Eastern Birds:  A Completely New Guide to All the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, abbreviated as “Eastern Birds” [Peterson Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin, 1980] page 160, with illustration on page 161.)  Black Vultures are somewhat feistier than their slightly larger cousins; they are known to scare off Turkey Vultures when there is competition for carrion.  (See Bull & Farrand [noted above, in entry for Great Blue Heron] at pages 416-417.   On the average, a Turkey Vulture grows about 4 inches larger than a Black Vulture, — yet both are about 2 feet long, from bill tip to tail tip.  Anyway, a vulture (sometimes colloquially called a “buzzard”) is a vulture is a vulture, and this is a vulture!   Vultures eat dead stuff – and sometimes even defenseless live animals.   Scavengers by God’s design (serving as garbage collectors/processors for this fallen world), vultures love to pick over and eat dead stuff!  God gave it a “naked” (featherless) head, which may be an advantage for keeping rotten food from besmirching its head with contagion, which might be more likely if its head was covered in feathers.  But Black Vultures   —   like other vultures  —   routinely consume flies-infested, rotting, bacteria-breeding dead animal carcasses  — why do they not get sick and die themselves of botulism or some other kind of food poisoning?  Dan “the Animal-man” Breeding has the answer:

“What is a vulture’s job? They find and eat what I call “road pizza.” They basically help keep the environment livable by limiting the build-up of dead animals and the spread of disease. God carefully designed vultures, giving them the needed tools to find, digest, and keep clean after eating dead animals.  Most meat-eating animals can find their dinner because it is mobile. Movement makes finding things easier. Have you noticed that when someone walks through your peripheral vision, you are acutely aware of it? But if you’ve misplaced your keys, it can take hours before you find them. God gave Buzz and vultures like him two special designs to help them find their motionless dinner—keen eyesight and an extraordinary sense of smell.

Black Vultures at Saddle Creek by Lee

Black Vultures at Saddle Creek by Lee

Vultures have very sharp eyesight. Even when they are soaring high above the ground, they can still see everything below them. God even provided them with sunglasses to protect their eyes against the sun’s harsh light. Vultures have dark lines around their eyes, which work the same way as the dark lines underneath a football player’s eyes. The dark color absorbs sunlight, reducing glare.  This way, vultures don’t have to worry about missing a single detail.  The lesser yellow-headed vultures have another advantage over most birds: a keen sense of smell. Their nares, or nose openings, look like holes in their beak. Wind from any direction funnels through the nares, which leads to the largest amount of sniffing possible. Each breeze is loaded with information, so God equipped these vultures with a very large olfactory lobe, able to handle all that information. Once the vultures find their dinner, how can they possibly eat it? Most other animals would get sick from eating dead animals. Why don’t vultures get sick all the time?  God gave them a very special digestive system. The acid in their crop (which functions like our stomach) is one of the strongest in the natural world. Strong enough to kill the harmful bacteria found in their dinner, it keeps them from getting sick from pretty much anything! In fact, vultures can use their digestive juices to defend themselves. If you were to startle a vulture while it was eating, you’d better back up quickly—vultures will vomit on you if you’re not careful. This not only makes them lighter (so they can more easily escape), but with the addition of the digestive acid, their lunch now smells much worse.”

(Quoting from  Dan Breeding, “Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture” [Answers in Genesis, 3-14-AD2012], posted at https://answersingenesis.org/birds/lesser-yellow-headed-vulture/ .)

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) by Nikhil

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) by Nikhil

In the Holy Land proper (i.e., Israel), as well as in southwestern Europe and northern Africa to India, there is a vulture – the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus – a/k/a White Scavenger Vulture) – that appears to match the Hebrew nouns rachma in Leviticus 11:18 (q.v.) and rachamah in Deuteronomy 14:17 (q.v.), and that same bird is nowadays known in Arabic as rachmah, essentially the same word.  (See, accord, George S. Cansdale, All the Animals of the Bible [Zondervan, 1976], pages 145-146.) The Black Vulture soars high in the sky, with a wingspan of about 5 feet (!), often in wide circles, scanning the ground for carrion – something dead yet nutritious to eat.   Scouting for rotting animal carcasses, vultures monitor the land below them:   marshy coastlands, tree-spotted hillsides, grasslands and other open fields, not-so-dense forests, riparian shore-banks, bushy thickets, — and but I’m not sure about the famous Hinckley under-brush of Minnesota (that we have heard so much about from Dr. Stan Toussaint — although he has confirmed that at Hinckley “the men are men, pansies are flowers, and the women are slightly above average”).  The Black Vulture’s body is heavy – like an eagle – so its wing-flappings are few, if possible, to conserve energy.  “Note the quick labored flapping — alternating with short glides”, notices Roger Tory Peterson (Eastern Birds, at page 160).  Its black-to-grey wings are two-tone-colored, with the flight feathers that trail behind the wings being paler (Peterson, Eastern Birds, page 160;  —  see also page 91 of Stokes & Stokes, Eastern Region, noted above in entry on Brown Pelican).  These scavengers are both residents and migrants:  they reside in most of the southern half of America’s lower 48 states, year-round, and summer in the northern half of those states.  Vultures are not picky eaters!  Roadkill, or even a partially picked-over animal carcass, is a wonderful “fast food” for a vulture.  If the roadkill (or other available animal carcass) is large enough it might provide a quick picnic for a family of vultures.

Wow!  That’s just 5 of the 15 birds we observed that morning, in the Webels’ pond-side backyard.   Stay tuned!  God willing, the other 10 birds will be given their proper recognition, at this excellent bird-site!

(On the morning of February 9th, AD2015, from the pond-side backyard of Bob & Marcia Webel (while enjoying breakfast and Christian fellowship with the Webels), I saw 14 birds:  Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican, Mallard, Double-Crested Cormorant, and Black Vulture  –  as reported above – plus Wood Stork, Lesser Scaup, Osprey, Muscovy Duck, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, Common Tern, and Florida Gallinule, — plus the cooing of a nearby Mourning Dove was clearly recognizable.  It is hoped (D.v.) that later reports can supplement this one, so the latter-listed 10 birds will be properly recognized for their lacustrine appearances that morning.)

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James J. S. Johnson loves duck ponds, having formerly taught Environmental Limnology and Water Quality Monitoring for Dallas Christian College, as well as other courses on ecology and ornithology.  As noted in a recent comment to Emma Foster’s fascinating bird tale “The Old Man and the Ibises” (posted 2-11-AD2015), Jim enjoyed the habit of feeding ducks at a neighborhood pond during years when he lived near Furneaux Creek (in Carrollton, Texas).  Nowadays, from time to time, Jim feeds ducks (mostly mallards) and geese (mostly Canada geese) that visit the pond at the edge of his present home’s backyard.  Backyards and ponds are for bird-watching!

* Other Articles by James J. S. Johnson *

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Griffon Vulture

Boumort National Reserve

Boumort National Reserve

The first photo shows part of Boumort National Reserve in the foothills of the Pyrenees in Catalonia about 40km southwest of Andorra. A reserve since 1991, It has an area of 13,000 hectares and is of special importance as one of the only places in Europe where all four European species of vultures breed. Three occur naturally, while the fourth, the Eurasian Black or Cinereous Vulture has been reintroduced, after becoming extinct in the Pyrenees in recent decades. I made arrangements to visit it through Steve West of Birding in Spain, including getting the necessary permit to photograph these birds, accommodation and transport.

As part of the conservation effort, the vultures are fed three times a week and I was taken to the feeding site by two rangers who had collected carcasses and meat off-cuts from farmers in the vicinity. The site is equipped with a spacious and comfortable hide, complete with toilet, and I was left there alone for the day after they had spread out the meat and carcasses in front of the hide. When we arrived there were already between one and two hundred vultures, almost all Griffons, soaring high above. I had been briefed beforehand that the first arrivals would be Griffons, with Eurasian Blacks arriving later in the morning when the crowds thinned, while the iconic Lammergeier could be expected, probably, in small numbers in the middle of the afternoon. The fourth species, the Egyptian Vulture is a summer visitor and had already departed for Africa.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

Sure enough, as soon as the rangers left, large numbers of Griffons glided in and squabbled noisily over the food. Griffons feed mainly on muscles and viscera and attacked the carcasses and pieces of meat with great gusto. The bird in the second photo showing its skill at balancing on a rock on one foot and waving the other is an adult, recognisable by its white ruff, horn-coloured bill and pale wing coverts. The one in the third photo is a juvenile, with grey bill, coffee-coloured ruff and darker wings. Juveniles generally had a covering of short plumage on the head and neck, while the adults often had relatively bare necks.

The breeding range of the Griffon Vulture extends from Portugal in the west to northeastern India and southwestern Kazakhstan in the east. Spain is its main stronghold in the west with about 8,000 pairs and the species is not considered under threat.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

These birds are huge and it was wonderful to observe them up close. The black bird in the fourth photo sneaking a mouthful from under the watchful eye of a Griffon is a Common Raven. This is the largest passerine in the world, with a length of up to 67cm/26in and wingspan of up to 130cm/51in, larger than a Common Buzzard, but completely dwarfed by the vulture. Griffons are up to 110cm/43in in length, with a wingspan of up to 280cm/110in and weighting up to 11kg/24lbs.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

In the air, they glide effortlessly and powerfully and the enormous wings make the body appear quite small by comparison. They come into land looking like parachutists under square canopies but with the ponderous, unwavering stability of a large aircraft like a B747 or an A380. Look how elegantly and precisely the toes are arranged with all the poise of an Olympic diver, fifth photo.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Ian

It really was an extraordinary experience watching the spectacle of these amazing birds, even if their table manners left much to be desired. The large amount of food disappeared at a great rate and the crowds started to disperse, leaving the scene, one hoped, for the later, rarer and more picky species. To be continued…

Greetings
Ian


Lee’s Addition:

Another neat adventure for Ian. Not sure I would want to be left all day by myself. Then again, Ian, is quite an adventurous birdwatcher and photographer. Patience is something he definitely has.

Thanks again, Ian, for sharing your adventure. I have a feeling you will soon tell us about some of those other Vultures that came to feed.

“There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: (Job 28:7 KJV)

The Griffon Vulture is a Bird of the Bible as Vultures are mentioned. One version of the Bible lists a Griffon.

“Of birds these are they which you must not eat, and which are to be avoided by you: The eagle, and the griffon, and the osprey.” (Leviticus 11:13 DRB)

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Bible Birds – Vulture Introduction

Vulture Introduction

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) WikiC

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) WikiC

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, (Leviticus 11:13 NKJV)

(RELOCATED – CLICK HERE)

Birds of the Bible – How Many Are There? I

Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Kent Nickell

The list of the Birds of the Bible varies according to which version of the Bible you use. We have discussed this in other articles, but don’t think I ever actually listed them all. An article from Birding and the Bible says there are 29 and then questions 2 of them, the Glede and the Ossifrage, adding the Swift, his lists is 28 or 29.

The sidebar here has links to 33 pages of Bible Birds. There are a few more I am considering adding. After this study, I may find even more. I am going to write this as I do my research using my e-Sword program (free). Currently, I have quite a few versions of the Scriptures loaded and want to see what is listed. (Disclaimer About Bible Version Usage) Let’s get started.

The very first reference to birds or fowls, is in Genesis 1:21. That is where God created “every winged fowl after his kind” (KJV) or ” every winged bird according to its kind” (NKJV). Most agree with, “And God saw that it was good.” Here are some of the other ways of stating it:

  • “winged creature feathered  according to type.” (ABP+)
  • “every creature that flies with wings according to its kind,” (Brenton)
  • “every kind of bird that flies in the air.” (ERV)
  • ” all kinds of birds.” (GNB)
  • “He created every kind of bird that flies.” (NIrV)

So basically, all agree that the birds or fowls were created after their kind or type on the fifth day (1:23) and that God saw that it was good. That right there includes all the major families of birds, some have become extinct, some which interbred within their kinds, etc. until today we now have over 10,000 named species of birds. (Birds of the World)

In Genesis 1:25 God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion” over birds, etc. The term his is given as “dominion over”, “have rule over”, “power over” (GNB), “be masters over” (ISV), “So they can be responsible for” (MSG).

Then in Genesis 2:20, Adam named the birds that the LORD God brought to him. The version all agree that they are birds or fowls or the air or heavens.

In chapter 3, Adam and Eve sin against God and we all come under the judgement including the critters, birds included. By chapter 6, things are so bad that the LORD tells Noah to bring two of every kind of critter into the Ark and then in 6:20, the birds are again mentioned. They are to be preserved in pairs of sevens. Again, no specific named bird is mentioned throughout chapter 6 or 7.

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) by Lee

During and after the Flood, then we finally here of specific named birds. The first bird named in the Bible is the Raven. Noah opened the window of the ark and “sent forth a raven” and it flew back and forth “until the waters were dried up from off the earth.” (KJV) Other than spelling differences, they all agree on the Raven. The same is true of verse 8 where the Dove was released. The Dove kept coming back until the waters were totally dried up. The third time it was released, it did not return.

So now we have 2 Birds of the Bible – the Raven and the Dove.

The next reference to birds is in 9:2 where the birds now have a fear of humans placed on them. They, the birds, are told to multiply and fill the earth and are given a covenant or promise by God that the earth would never be destroyed by a worldwide flood again. Gen 9:10-17 – the Rainbow.

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. (Genesis 9:2 KJV)

King Vulture Brevard Zoo 120913 by Lee

King Vulture Brevard Zoo by Lee

In Genesis 15:9 we find the next birds, a Turtledove, young pigeon and in 15:11, the vultures. Two are sacrificed birds, the other is coming to take from the alter.

So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:9-11 NKJV)

Let’s see how these birds are given in the various translations. “dove” several, “turtle” (DRB), “mourning dove” (GW), “even a nestling” (LITV), and “young bird” (YLT). Most are in agreement with spelling differences from the old English of some of the translations.

Verse 11 has: birds of prey, birds, fowls, large birds (DRB), swoopers (ECB), Vultures (GNB, MSG, NKJV), and ravenous birds (YLT). Never heard of “swoopers”, so I guess that one doesn’t count. What you think? They all realize that some birds came swooping down trying to get at the sacrifice, but Abram drove them away.

Our list of Birds of the Bible so far:

Also mentioned:

  • Swooper (Gen 15:11)

For now, that is enough. To be continued in Part II.

Birds of the Bible

Wordless Birds

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Birds of the Bible – Gathering of Vultures or Eagles

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Nikhil Devasar

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Nikhil Devasar

Today while I was doing my reading of Scripture in the ESV (English Standard Version), I came across this portion:

So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:26-31 ESV)

In verse 3 of chapter 24, the disciples had asked the Lord to “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” He was telling of future events in answer to that question, when right in the middle of that dialog, He said, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” What? Where did that come from? So, here we are trying to figure out that saying.

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) by Nikhil

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) by Nikhil

Using my e-Sword program and searching for “vulture” in the ESV, the search shows that verse and Luke 17:37 saying the same thing.

And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:37 ESV)

This time the vulture statement is preceded by this:

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:33-37 ESV)

Using the Compare mode, the verses have either Eagles, Vultures, or Buzzards showing up. Reading the MSG’s version, it is starting to make some sense even before the commentaries are used.

The Arrival of the Son of Man isn’t something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it’s not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds. (Matthew 24:27-28 MSG)

Believer’s Bible Commentary – 24:27 Christ’s Advent will be un mistakable—it will be sudden, public, universal, and glorious. Like the lightning, it will be instantly and clearly visible to all.
24:28 And no moral corruption will escape its fury and judgment. “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” The carcass pictures apostate Judaism, Christendom, and the whole world system that is leagued against God and His Christ. The eagles or vultures typify the judgments of God which will be unleashed in connection with the Messiah’s appearing.

Life Application Study Bible – Matthew 24:24-28 – In times of persecution even strong believers will find it difficult to be loyal. To keep from being deceived by false messiahs, we must understand that Jesus’ return will be unmistakable (Mar_13:26); no one will doubt that it is he. If you have to be told that the Messiah has come, then he hasn’t (Mat_24:27). Christ’s coming will be obvious to everyone.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary – That phrase, Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together,  is a proverbial speech, signifying that it will need no great labour to bring things together which are naturally joined by an innate desire either of them to the other; so that it is applicable in more cases than one.

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) ©WikiC

Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) ©WikiC

Matthew Henry – Christ foretells the rapid spreading of the gospel in the world. It is plainly seen as the lightning. Christ preached his gospel openly. The Romans were like an eagle, and the ensign of their armies was an eagle. When a people, by their sin, make themselves as loathsome carcasses, nothing can be expected but that God should send enemies to destroy them. It is very applicable to the day of judgment, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in that day, 2Th_2:1. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure; then may we know that no enemy or deceiver shall ever prevail against us.

F B Meyer – It is a matter of literal fact that there was compressed into the period of the Jewish War an amount of suffering perhaps unparalleled. Josephus’ history of the period abounds in references to these false Christs who professed themselves to be the Messiah.

J Vernon McGee – Matthew 24:28 – This is the most difficult verse to understand in the entire Olivet Discourse. After speaking of His coming in glory like lightning out of heaven, then to speak of carrion-eating birds seems strange indeed. But I believe it refers to Christ’s coming in judgment, because Revelation 19 tells us about an invitation that went out to the birds to come together for a great banquet, “And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army” (Rev_19:17-19). The birds that feed on carrion seem to be agents of divine judgment. When the Lord comes again, He will come in judgment.

Black Vultures at Saddle Creek by Lee

Black Vultures at Saddle Creek by Lee

This is only a few of the remarks. There are all kinds of interpretations of this verse and those surrounding it. Only a few were chosen to give a variety of the meaning. Whatever it is, apparently birds of prey will be there at the judgment. Maybe this will make you curious and encourage you to dig into the commentaries and do a little study. e-Sword is a very handy free Bible study tool.

The Vulture is of course a scavenger bird along with the Eagles and the Buzzards. There are other references to the Vulture in the Bible and therefore it is a Bird of the Bible.

See:

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Birds of the Bible – Griffon Vulture

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Nikhil Devasar

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Nikhil Devasar

Of birds these are they which you must not eat, and which are to be avoided by you: The eagle, and the griffon, and the osprey. (Leviticus 11:13 DRB)

The unclean eat not: to wit, the eagle, and the grype, and the osprey, (Deuteronomy 14:12 DRB)

While looking through the list of clean and unclean birds in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 to see if I could find a bird to write about, I found the two verses above in the DRB (1899 Douay-Rheims Bible). It is not a Bible I use other than comparing verses. Most of the other versions call it a vulture, ossifrage, gier-eagle, bearded or black vulture, buzzard and a few other things. The KJV calls it the ossifrage and the NKJV the vulture. What caught my eye was the grype. When I looked it up, the Griffon and the “gyps” genus were tied together. So, here is a little about the Griffon Vulture and the Gyps genus.

The Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) is a large Old World vulture in the bird of prey family Accipitridae.

The Griffon Vulture is 93–110 cm (37–43 in) long with a 2.3–2.8 m (7.5–9.2 ft) wingspan. In the nominate race the males weigh 6.2 to 10.5 kg (14 to 23 lb) and females typically weigh 6.5 to 11.3 kg (14 to 25 lb), while in the Indian subspecies (G. f. fulvescens) the vultures average 7.1 kg (16 lb). Extreme adult weights have been reported from 4.5 to 15 kg (9.9 to 33 lb), the latter likely a weight attained in captivity. Hatched naked, it is a typical Old World vulture in appearance, with a very white head, very broad wings and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff and yellow bill. The buff body and wing coverts contrast with the dark flight feathers.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) Dieren Park Amersfoort -adult and chick WikiC

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) Dieren Park Amersfoort -adult and chick WikiC

Like other vultures, it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals which it finds by soaring over open areas, often moving in flocks. It grunts and hisses at roosts or when feeding on carrion.

The maximum lifespan recorded for the Griffon Vulture is 41.4 years, for a specimen in captivity. It breeds on crags in mountains in southern Europe, north Africa, and Asia, laying one egg. Griffon Vultures may form loose colonies. The population is mostly resident.

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) by Bob-Nan

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) by Bob-Nan

There are 8 species in the Gyps genus. The Griffon being one of them. They are Old World vultures in the bird family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks.

These are the typical vultures, with bald head, broad wings and mainly dark plumage. They are large scavenging birds, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals. Old World vultures find carcasses exclusively by sight. Representatives of this group are found throughout warmer parts of the Old World.

The characteristic featherless head is because a feathered head would become spattered with blood and other fluids, and thus be difficult to keep clean.

These are the members of the Gyps genus:

Gyps

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) by Africaddict – Video
White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis) by Nikhil Devasar – Video
Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus) by Nikhil – Video
Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) Drawing ©WikiC
Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) ©WikiC – Video IBC
____ (Gyps rueppellii rueppellii) IBC
____ (Gyps rueppellii erlangeri)
Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayensis) Imm by Nikhil
Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) by Nikhil – Video IBC
____ (Gyps fulvus fulvus) IBC
____ (Gyps fulvus fulvescens) OBI
Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) ©WikiC

Vultures are of course mentioned several times throughout Scripture:

There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate. (Isaiah 34:15 KJV)

There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: (Job 28:7 KJV)

See other Birds of the Bible Pages:

Birds of the Bible – Vulture

Birds of the Bible

(Various internet sources including Wikipedia)

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Birds of the Bible – Vulture Eyesight

Turkey Vulture at Circle B by Lee

Black Vulture (New World Vulture) at Circle B by Lee

In the first Birds of the Bible – Vulture the fact that the vulture was on the “unclean list” and possible why they were on that list. Now, I would like to explore another verse:

There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: (Job 28:7 KJV)

This is found in a passage that is talking about finding gold and silver underground, as in mining underground. In the darkness, no matter how superb their eyes are, they are ineffective in darkness.

We know that the Lord created everything and what amazing capabilities the eye has.

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them. (Proverbs 20:12 KJV)

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) by Nikhil

Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) {Old World} by Nikhil

“The vulture has a very keen eye, and, like the eagle, can see what is on the ground, even when it is very high in the air. This is referred to in the book of Job. “There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen.” It often happens in those countries that almost as soon as an ox, or a horse, or any other large animal has been killed, great multitudes of vultures will gather around, though not one could be seen in the sky before. they seem to fly down from every part of the heavens, and begin to pull and struggle for the flesh of the animal; until in the course of a few hours nothing is left but the bones. We read in Isaiah, “There shall the vultures be gathered, every one with her mate.” This must have been written by one who had seen these birds coming together, as they do in great flocks or companies.” (From The Vulture, Bible Study Tools)

“Vultures have keen eyesight. It is believed they are able to spot a three-foot carcass from four miles away on the open plains. In some species, when an individual sees a carcass it begins to circle above it. This draws the attention of other vultures that then join in.” (From Animals Vulture)

Old World Vultures (Accipitridae) unlike the New World Vultures (Cathartidae), do not have agood sense of smell and therefore do find their carcasses by sight or watching other birds to see what they are doing and have found to eat. Some of the species eat collectively while others use “kleptoparasitism” (stealing from others).

The Lord has created all the birds and has given them fantastic abilities that let them adapt to their role (carrion eaters) He has made for them. How well do we adapt to the ministries or jobs we have to do, even if it is only “taking out the trash?”

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.  (Ecclesiastes 9:10 KJV)

See also:
Vulture Pages

When I Consider! – Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture Tree at Saddle Creek by Lee

Turkey Vulture Tree at Saddle Creek by Lee

We get to see lots of Turkey Vultures in this area. I have seen trees just loaded with them. They are ugly to look at, but are very useful.

The following is the October 6th’s “Evidence from Biology” article from A Closer Look at the Evidence, by Richard and Tina Kleis:

“The Turkey Vulture has incredible farsighted vision capable of seeing dead or dying objects several miles beyond what the human eye can detect. Yet it is designed with dull, weak, talons and a thin beak, forcing it to eek out an existence eating rotting flesh or decaying vegetables. Since the vulture eats the remains of animals that have died of disease, it has a digestive tract designed to destroy deadly bacteria (including anthrax!). The Turkey Vulture also has the ability to sanitize itself and its surroundings using a special disinfectant found in its own excrement. The same chemicals which kill the deadly bacteria in its stomach continue to kill the germs outside its body!

Turkey Vulture by Ian Montgomery

Turkey Vulture by Ian Montgomery

Because the vulture’s head is usually covered in blood, pieces of rotten flesh, and bacteria, it is especially vulnerable to disease. Therefore, this particular bird was created without feathers from the neck up. As the turkey vulture stands in the sun, the ultraviolet radiation kills any remaining bacteria.

By removing the carcasses of decaying animals, the turkey vulture serves an important purpose of limiting the spread of disease and preventing potential epidemics among both man and beast. One wonders how the turkey vulture could have evolved all of the specialized characteristics. The creation solution is that they were created with the original vulture-type bird. The survival characteristics needed for our fallen world were either given after the Fall or developed from originally created abilities.”

Character Sketches, Vol. III, p. 121-124

The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. (Psalms 145:17 KJV)


Lee’s Extras:
We have mentioned the Vulture many times on the blog and especially in the places below. After all, they are one of the unclean birds that the Jewish people were not allowed to eat. After reading the above article, you can understand why they were off the “menu.”

There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: (Job 28:7 KJV)

Birds of the Bible – Vulture
Vulture
Vulture Photos
Vulture Videos
Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks & Eagles

More When I Consider! articles