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)
For ushering in this year of our Lord 2020, below follows the eighth 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 V is illustrated by Vasa Parrot, Vireos, and Vultures. The letter W illustrated by Wood Duck, Waxwings, and Whinchat. The letter Xillustrated by Xavier’s Greenbul, Xingus Scale-backed Antbird, and Xantus’s Hummingbird.
“V” BIRDS: Vasa Parrot, Vireos, and Vultures.
“W” BIRDS: Wood Duck, Waxwings, and Whinchat.
“X” BIRDS: Xavier’s Greenbul, Xingus Scale-backed Antbird, and Xantus’s Hummingbird.
Birds are truly wonderful — some are gracefully beautiful, like Xantus’s Hummingbird, — and some, like the Vultures, 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].
Waxwings are characterised by soft silky plumage. (Bombycilla, the genus name, is Vieillot’s attempt at Latin for “silktail”, translating the German name Seidenschwänze.) They have unique red tips to some of the wing feathers where the shafts extend beyond the barbs; in the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its common name
Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher (Ptilogonys caudatus) by Michael Woodruff
The silky-flycatchers are a small family, They were formerly lumped with waxwings and hypocolius in the family Bombycillidae, The family is named for their silky plumage and their aerial flycatching techniques, although they are unrelated to the Old World flycatchers (Muscicapidae) and the tyrant flycatchers (Tyrannidae).
They occur mainly in Central America from Panama to Mexico. They are related to waxwings, and like that group have soft silky plumage, usually gray or pale yellow in color. All species, with the exception of the black-and-yellow phainoptila, have small crests.
Grey Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus) by Nikhil Devasar
The Grey Hypocolius or simply Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus) is a small passerine bird species. It is the sole member of the genus Hypocolius and it is placed in a family of its own, the Hypocoliidae. This slender and long tailed bird is found in the dry semi-desert region of northern Africa, Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and western India. They fly in flocks and forage mainly on fruits, migrating south in winter.
The Palmchat (Dulus dominicus) is a small, long-tailed passerine bird, the only species in the genus Dulus and the family Dulidae. It is thought to be related to the waxwings, family Bombycillidae, and is sometimes classified with that group. The name reflects its strong association with palms for feeding, roosting and nesting. The Palmchat is the national bird of the Dominican Republic.
Kauai Oo (Moho braccatus) WikiC
Mohoidae is a family of Hawaiian species of recently extinct, nectarivorous songbirds in the genera Moho (ʻŌʻōs) and Chaetoptila (Kioea). These now extinct birds form their own family, representing the only complete extinction of an entire avian family in modern times, when the disputed family Turnagridae is disregarded for being invalid.
The Hylocitrea (Hylocitrea bonensis), also known as the yellow-flanked whistler or olive-flanked whistler, is a species of bird that is endemic to montane forests on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Has traditionally been considered a member of the family Pachycephalidae, but recent genetic evidence suggests it should be placed in a monotypic subfamily of the family Bombycillidae, or even its own family, Hylocitreidae.
Stenostiridae, or the fairy flycatchers, are a family of small passerine birds proposed as a result of recent discoveries in molecular systematics. They are commonly referred to as stenostirid warblers. This new clade is named after the fairy flycatcher, a distinct species placed formerly in the Old World flycatchers. This is united with the “sylvioid flycatchers”: the genus Elminia (formerly placed in the Monarchinae) and the closely allied former Old World flycatcher genus Culicicapa, as well as one species formerly believed to be an aberrant fantail.
Nicator is a genus of songbird endemic to Africa. The genus contains three medium sized passerine birds. The name of the genus is derived from nikator, Greek for conqueror. Within the genus, the western and eastern nicators are considered to form a superspecies and are sometimes treated as the same species. The nicators occupy a wide range of forest and woodland habitats.
Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus biarmicus) by Peter Ericsson male
The bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus) is a small, reed-bed passerine bird. It is frequently known as the bearded tit, due to some similarities to the long-tailed tit, or the bearded parrotbill. The bearded reedling was placed with the parrotbills in the family Paradoxornithidae, after they were removed from the true tits in the family Paridae. However, according to more recent research, it is actually a unique songbird – no other living species seems to be particularly closely related to it. Thus, it seems that the monotypic family Panuridae must again be recognized. The bearded reedling is a species of temperate Europe and Asia.
(All data from Wikipedia)
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)
Listen to Megan Fee (Violin) and Jill Foster (Piano) as they play and watch the Lord’s beautiful avian creations.
“Oh The Deep, Deep, Love of Jesus” ~ Megan and Jill during communion.
Bird of the Week – Bohemian Waxwing ~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 7/5/12
Following on from the Black Woodpecker, here is the (Bohemian) Waxwing another unusual northern European species that has a 50 year connection for me.
The Bohemian Waxwing breeds across northern Eurasian and North America and moves southwards in winter in search of its staple winter food, berries. In Western Europe, it usually goes only as far as Germany and northern France, but in some years, driven by food shortages, it makes its way as far west as Britain and, more rarely, Ireland. That happened in the early 1960s when I was a schoolboy in Ireland, and I once saw several feeding on berries in a suburban street in Dublin (Eglington Road). I hadn’t seen them again since until my trip to Finland two weeks ago and I drove down that street a few days ago.
Bohemian Waxwing by Ian 2
These starling-sized birds are exotic by European standards and beautiful by any, so you can imagine my excitement all those years ago. It was good to catch up with them again in Finland, and this female, perched on top of a conifer, allowed me to approach fairly closely. They get their name from the red waxy-looking tips to some of the wing feathers, which you can see if you look carefully at the photos. These are more obvious in males, and the whitish stripes below the red spot are much yellower in males.
Bohemian Waxwing by Ian 3
In Europe, these birds are just called Waxwings, but in North America there are two species and this one is qualified with the Bohemian tag to separate it from the slightly smaller but otherwise rather similar Cedar Waxwing. This featured as Bird of the Week three years ago and here it is again:
Bohemian Waxwing by Ian 4
Waxwings have silky feathers, and the generic name Bombycilla means, in pigeon Latin, ‘silky tail’. There are only 3 species – the third being the Japanese Waxwing – and they were originally the only members of the family Bombycillidae. Recent genetic studies have shown that several other species are related to them and have been moved into the family. Interestingly, these include the three species of aptly-named Silky-Flycatchers (the ‘silky’ being apt, not the greatly overused ‘flycatcher’), such as the Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher and you’ll see the family resemblance if you follow the link.
Meanwhile in Dublin, my niece has given birth to a delightful baby girl, Aoibhinn, and both mother and child are doing well. Ancient Irish names are very fashionable here and ‘bh’ in Irish has a ‘v’ sound (strictly speaking it’s an aspirated ‘b’, traditionally represented by a dot over the ‘b’) so the name is pronounced something like ‘eaveen’. Aiobhinn timed her arrival well and waited until all the immediate members of the family were in Dublin, including my other niece who came over from Strasbourg with her husband.
An American birder once said to me something to this effect: “you’re so lucky in Australia, all our North American birds are so drab by comparison”. It may be the case that American Parrots are thin on the ground since the sad demise of the Carolina Parakeet, but I think, nonetheless, that there are lots of fascinating American birds, and I’ve expressed regret in the past for the lack of Woodpeckers in Australia, for example. Here is one that is exotic by any standards, the Cedar Waxwing, and is quite common across the United States and, in summer, southern Canada.
This bird was one of a flock in a small reserve (McClellan Ranch Park) on the edge of Cupertino in the Bay Area last May. Waxwings are very partial to berries and range widely looking for food. The get their name from red, waxy tips to the secondaries, but these are often indistinct or missing, and are not visible in the photograph.
There are three species of Waxwings, the other two being the Japanese Waxwing and the (Bohemian) Waxwing of Western North America and northern Eurasia. The Bohemian Waxwing, slightly larger than the Cedar one, occasionally makes it to the British Isles in winter from northern Scandinavia and I remember seeing some once as a teenager in a suburban street in Dublin in the early 1960s. They looked very exotic to me then too.
Cedar Waxwings have a diet of “fruit, flower petals, and insects.” They sometimes pass fruit back and forth and have been known to become very intoxicated by eating too many ripe berries. They are about 7 in (17.8 cm) long with a wingspan of 11-12.25 in (27.9-31.1 cm). Both the Bohemian and Cedar have a yellow trim on their tails, whereas, the Japanese waxwing has a red-trimmed tail.