Lee’s Four Word Thursday – 8/3/17


Birds Calling Out ©DailyMail



“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35 NKJV)

Birds Calling Out ©DailyMail


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Lee’s Five Word Friday – 5/12/17


Birds in Wheat Field ©WikiC



“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalms 126:6 KJV)

Birds in Wheat Field ©WikiC


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Teach Your Children The Right Passwords!

Teach  your  children  the  right  passwords!

~ by James J. S. Johnson

Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) Juvenile and Female ©WikiC

We will not hide them [“them” refers to God’s prophetic words – see verses 1-3] from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and his wonderful works that He hath done.  For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our [fore]fathers, that they should make them known to their children,  that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born [יִוָּלֵ֑דוּ — niphâl imperfect form of the verb yâlad], who should arise and declare [וִֽיסַפְּר֥וּ — piêl imperfect form of the verb sâphar] them to their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and [that they] might not be as their [fore]fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.   Psalm 78:4-8

Superb Fairywrens teach their children to use passwords, but how?

In this fallen world even bird families have troubles.

One kind of family problem, confronted by many bird parents, is the problem of “brood parasites”, which is really a sneaky kind of “home invasion”.

Brood parasitism” is not a problem of parasitic worms or bugs.  Rather, this is a different kind of parasite – a bold “home invasion” parasite – a “foster child”, from another bird family, who was dropped into a “host” family.  The “host” family is thereafter burdened (unless and until the newcomer is evicted from the nest) with the cost of nurturing the intruding stranger who “moved in” without an invitation.  Worse, the invasive “foster child” often competes with the legitimate nestling birds for food and shelter, sometimes even competing aggressively.

PAS-Icte Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) ©WikiC

Male Brown-headed Cowbird  (Molothrus ater) ©WikiC

One of the best-known examples of such “brood parasitism” practices is those of the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater), an icterid (i.e., member of the blackbird family) with a head that is distinctively chocolate-brown in color.

“A small, black-bodied [and iridescent-plumed] bird, a bit larger than a House Sparrow, with a brown head and a rather finchlike bill.  Females are nondescript gray [like the hue of female grackles] with a finchlike bill.

A brood parasite, the Cowbird lays its eggs in the nests of other birds.”

A Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) chick being fed by a Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia Capensis)

A Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) chick being fed by a Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia Capensis)

[Quoting from Roger Tory Peterson, PETERSON FIRST GUIDE TO BIRDS: A Simplified Field Guide to the Commonest Birds of North America (Houghton Mifflin, 1986), page 102.]

But cowbirds of North America are not the only birds that abuse the (involuntary) charity care of avian “foster parents”;  cuckoos (such as the Common Cuckoo of Eurasia) are known for the same “externalizing” of their parenting costs, producing nestling competitions that result in “changeling” conflicts.

“Once a brood parasite [mother] has managed to slip her egg into a host’s nest, her reproductive role is essentially over.  She leaves each chick to fend for itself, in a [bird] family that did not choose to raise it.

There’s no reason to feel [too] sorry for the uninvited foster chick, however; it is the unwitting adoptive parents that might soon face an unexpected brutality—the ruthless slaying of all their own offspring.

Many brood parasites, such as cuckoos, immediately dispatch of their nest mates [i.e., the children of the caring bird parents who built and maintain the nest that is now compromised] as soon as they hatch by summarily tossing them over the side of the nest.  [So much for refugee gratitude!]

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Egg in Eastern Phoebe Nest ©WikiC

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Egg in Eastern Phoebe Nest ©WikiC

African Honeyguides use far deadlier methods to eliminate their [nest] fellows.  Equipped from birth with hooks at the tips of their mandibles, they efficiently wield these needle-sharp barbs against their defenseless nest mates.

Cowbirds do not employ such direct methods, yet they just as effectively eliminate the competition.  Their companions often die of starvation because the larger, more aggressive cowbird grabs all the food [delivered by the nestling-caring parent birds].  It is a wonder that the adults still feed the chick when they realize the disparity in size.  Yet in most cases, the adults accept it [i.e., the cowbird “foster child”], even if it appears double the size of its foster parent and requires twice the care of its [foster] siblings.

Long-tailed Paradise Whydah by Dan

Long-tailed Paradise Whydah by Dan

Not all brood parasites oust their nest mates.  Parents of the whydah family choose species that closely resemble them, such as waxbills.  Not only do the eggs match in coloration, but the chicks resemble their hosts as well.  They even have the same markings in their gaping mouths which signal hunger to an observing adult.  Whylahs blend in with their adopted families instead of destroying them.”

[Quoting from Sharon A. Cohen, BIRD NESTS (Harper Collins, 1993), page 110.]

So cowbird “parenting” is a short-lived experience, somewhat like clandestinely depositing a newborn on the front steps of an orphanage, trusting that the baby will be nurtured (successfully) by others.  But is this surreptitious forced-fostering habit a guarantee of avian reproductive success, at the populational level?

“At first, you may wonder why more birds are not parasites—after all, parasites don’t need to build a nest [for raising their babies], and once they have laid eggs there is no more to it [i.e., to parenting responsibilities on a daily basis]; but there are hidden costs [and risks] to being a [brood] parasite, mainly that the [child-abandoning] bird gives up control over its eggs and young.

Female cowbirds lay an average of forty eggs per year, but only two or three [on average] mature to adulthood.”

[Quoting from Donald Stokes & Lillian Stokes, A GUIDE TO BIRD BEHAVIOR, VOLUME II (Little Brown & Company, 1983), page 213.]

So what does this have to do with avian parents teaching “passwords” to their natural progeny? 

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) by Ian

Male Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) by Ian

Consider this amazing news about the Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) of Australia, which is forced to react to the “child-abandonment” brood parasitism habits of the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo. (Chrysococcyx basalis).

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx basalis) by Tom Tarrant

Male Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx basalis) by Tom Tarrant

The Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo deposits its somewhat elongated pink-white egg, with rust-colored spots, into the nest of a fairywren.  The rust-speckled egg looks like a fairywren egg, confusing the fairywren nest owners of its true biogenetic identity.  (This is an avian version of family “identity fraud!)  The fairywren’s upside-down-dome-shaped nest is often dark inside, so visual confusion about which eggs really belong there is common – hence Horsfield’s bronze cuckoos often get by with their “changeling” deceptions, recruiting fairywren parents into fostering cuckoo eggs that hatch into cuckoo nestlings.

After a dozen days of incubation, in a fairywren nest, a bronze cuckoo chick hatches – 2 days before the hatching of fairywren eggs.  The “older” nestling often ejects the fairywren eggs from the nest, displacing the rightful “heirs”.  (What kind of “refugee gratitude” is that?!)

What can fairywrens do about this parasitic (and quasi-predatory) menace?

Is there a way to avoid the involuntary “home invasion” of such Trojan horses?

Yes, there are a few defensive habits that help to protect the fairywren from such home hijackings, including:

(1) nesting in fairywren colonies – so that teamwork is employed to drive off trespassing cuckoos when cuckoos fly near the fairywrens’ nesting colony;

(2) females attend their nests with vigilance, usually, limiting the opportunities that stealthy cuckoos have to access unattended fairywren nests;

(3) when female fairywren recognize a “changeling” in the nest, prior to laying any fairywren eggs therein, the fairywren female may abandon that (cuckoo) egg and build herself a new nest elsewhere;

(4) female fairywrens “teach” their eggs vocal “passwords” to use, to prompt being fed by their mother.  It is this last habit that demonstrates communication from (fairywren) mother to child, before the chick is hatched from its egg!

A few years ago, Diane Colombelli-Négrel, Sonia Kleindorfer, and colleagues from Flinders University in Australia discovered a remarkable way one bird fights back against brood parasites. Female superb fairywrens teach their embryos a “password” while they’re still in their eggs. Each female’s incubation call contains a unique acoustic element. After they hatch, fairywren chicks incorporate this unique element into their begging calls to ask for food. Colombelli-Négrel, Kleindorfer, and colleagues showed that chicks whose begging calls most resembled their mothers’ incubation calls received more food. But the brood parasites of the fairywren, Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos, produced begging calls that did not so closely resemble the parental password.

[Quoting  Mary Bates, “To Beat a Parasite, Birds Teach their Young a Secret Password”, posted at http://www.wired.com/2014/06/to-beat-a-parasite-birds-teach-their-young-a-secret-password/ , accessed 11-23-AD2015.]

If fairywrens observe cuckoos in the neighborhood they become more diligent in their efforts to teach the “please-feed-me” passwords to their unhatched progeny, increasing the likelihood that the babies will successfully beg for food (using the vocal “password”) when they soon become hatchling chicks.

In a new study, Colombelli-Négrel, Kleindorfer, and colleagues again looked at the relationship between superb fairywrens and Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos to see if a greater threat of brood parasitism would cause the fairywren to up its teaching efforts.

First, the researchers recorded calls from 17 fairywren nests in South Australia. They found the similarity between the mother’s password and the chick’s begging call was predicted by the number of incubation calls produced by the mother: If females made many incubation calls, their chicks ended up producing more similar begging calls.

Next, the researchers conducted a playback experiment at 29 nests. They broadcast either the song of Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo or a neutral bird. After the cuckoo calls, but not after the neutral bird calls, female fairywrens made more incubation calls to their embryos. In other words, female fairywrens that heard a cuckoo near their nest increased their efforts to teach their password to their embryos.  Colombelli-Négrel and Kleindorfer say their results provide a mechanism for how fairywrens could get better at decision-making and lower the probability of committing an acceptance error for a cuckoo chick or a rejection error for one of their own chicks.  ‘When there are cuckoos in the area, you should call more to your eggs so that they have a higher call similarity after hatching and you can decide if the offspring is yours,’ Colombelli-Négrel and Kleindorfer wrote in an email. ‘We show a mechanism that starts in the nest and involves active teaching and sensorimotor learning in embryos.’”  [again quoting Mary Bates, supra]

This is truly amazing!  Anyone who is not amazed at how God programmed parenting skills into Superb Fairywrens is blind to the facts.

Also, by analogy, there may be a lesson for humans:  be careful about vulnerabilities to intrusive “foster children” that are “accepted” without informed consent  —  your own legitimate children may be put unfairly at risk.

Meanwhile, just as fairywrens teach “passwords” to their children, so should we humans.  But it is much more than “please feed me!” that we must teach our children, and our children’s children.

The vital “words of life” that we must teach, repeatedly, as the words of God, the Scriptures without which there is no real life, because mankind cannot live by physical bread alone, but by every Scriptural saying – every word that proceeds from God (Matthew 4:4).

We will not hide them [“them” refers to God’s prophetic words – see verses 1-3] from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and his wonderful works that He hath done.  For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our [fore]fathers, that they should make them known to their children,  that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born [יִוָּלֵ֑דוּ — niphâl imperfect form of the verb yâlad], who should arise and declare [וִֽיסַפְּר֥וּ — piêl imperfect form of the verb sâphar] them to their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and [that they] might not be as their [fore]fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.   Psalm 78:4-8




Maluridae – Australasian Wrens

James J. S. Johnson’s Articles


Nuggets Plus – The Weaver, The Caller (Ready)

Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) by Bob-Nan

Nuggets Plus – Nuggets Plus – The Weaver, The Caller

by a j mithra

Nuggets Plus

Nuggets Plus

Male weaver bird displays
partially built nest
and gives out
mating calls to passing female
with stretched wings and
hanging the nest!
JESUS stretched His hands
and hung on the cross
to call us!
Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Mathew 11:28)
Have a blessed day!

a j mithra


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The Northern Wheatear – The Incredible Migrator..

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) Breeding male ©WikiC

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) Breeding male ©WikiC

A migratory species, the northern wheatear breeds across northern Europe, North Africa, Asia, Alaska, north-eastern Canada and Greenland. After the breeding season, it migrates to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is found across a broad belt that stretches from Mauritania and Mali through northern Nigeria, Central African Republic and Sudan, to Ethiopia and southern Somalia. It is possible that the northern wheatear is the only regularly breeding passerine of North America that migrates to wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa, crossing either the Atlantic Ocean or Eurasia.

With a length of about 14.5 to 15.5 centimeters and weighing just about 18 to 33 grams that would just run to about the weight of two table spoons of salt, this bird flies to places where the other song birds have never ventured.

This is another amazing example of how God uses tiny beings to finish mighty tasks.

  • If you feel that you are small, not-fit-for-anything type or useless, just take inspiration from these tiny creatures.
  • Remember, we would soon take off for the final migration to the wedding banquet of Jesus, the King of kings, who is going to fill heaven, our final destination with redeemed sinners, weak and weary, lonely and lost and those of whom the world calls good for nothing.
  • It is for this reason we need to rejoice Him at all times even during times of trouble.

Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. (Mathew 22:8-10)

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) Breeding male ©WikiC

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) Breeding male ©WikiC

During the breeding season, the northern wheatear is typically found around habitats with short turf, such as moors, cliff-tops,tundra and rocky fields. It uses a variety of open habitats whilst migrating, including cultivated areas and desert, as well as human settlements.

In its winter range, the northern wheatear favours short grass steppe and degraded savanna, but may also be found on cultivated land, on barren rocky hills and among coconut palms.

This bird doesn’t seem to grumble but happily strives in almost any type of land.
Are we satisfied with the place where God has kept us? Or do we grumble that God has kept us in the wrong place?
Our God never makes mistakes.
He knows whom to choose, where to keep and when to keep..
He is always right..

There is a divine purpose in keeping you in a place where you are not happy..

  • Paul and Silas where in the wrong place but still they worshipped God and you know what?
  • God turned the wrong place into the right place for the world to know the extraordinary power of God.
  • Want to see the extraordinary power of God in your life?
  • Just stop grumbling and start worshipping God in the place where God has kept you.

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage (Psalm 16:6)

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) ©©

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) ©©

After sighting its insect prey from an elevated perch, such as a conspicuous rock, the Northern Wheatear bounds between vegetation and stones to catch its prey on the ground. It may also scoop slow low-flying insects from the air after a short run or a low jump. A largely solitary species, outside the breeding season the northern wheatear defends a small feeding territory against other wheatears .

Breeding birds tend to return to the same nesting site each year. The male arrives around one week before the female, and courtship begins soon after the arrival of the female. Breeding pairs engage in unusual courtship dances, usually in a depression in the ground, when the male flutters and glides in the air, singing constantly.

Jesus left this earth after resurrection not just to prepare a place for us but for the wedding banquet where He would make us His bride and we would be singing praises to Him forever and ever.

And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: (Revelation 19:1)
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (Revelation 19:6,7)

Once a pair bond is established, the female chooses a nest site and the pair set about constructing the nest, which is a simple unlined cup of leaves, stems, moss, lichen, feathers and hair, built on a foundation
of dried stems and grasses. The nest is usually placed in a well-sheltered rock cavity, narrow crevice, rodent burrow, hole in a wall or under stones. Between 4 and 8 eggs are incubated for 12 to 13 days. The chicks fledge at 15 to 17 days, but do not reach full independence for a further 12 or 13 days.

The Northern Wheatear makes one of the longest journeys of any small bird, crossing ocean, ice, and desert. It migrates from Sub-Saharan Africa in spring over a vast area of the northern hemisphere that includes northern and central Asia, Europe, Greenland, Alaska, and parts of Canada. In Autumn all return to Africa, where their ancestors had wintered. Arguably, some of the birds that breed in north Asia could take a shorter route and winter in south Asia; however, their inherited inclination to migrate takes them back to Africa.

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa) by BirdPhotos

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa) by BirdPhotos

Birds of the large, bright Greenland race, leucorhoa, makes one of the longest transoceanic crossings of any passerine. In spring most migrate along a route (commonly used by Wadersand Waterfowl) from Africa via continental Europe, the British Isles, and Iceland to Greenland. However, autumn sightings from ships suggest that some birds cross the North Atlantic directly from Canada and Greenland to southwest Europe (a distance of up to 2500 km).

Birds breeding in eastern Canada are thought to fly from Baffin Island and Newfoundland via Greenland, Ireland, and Portugal to the Azores (crossing 3500 km of the North Atlantic) before flying onwards to Africa. Other populations from western Canada and Alaska migrate by flying over much of Eurasia to Africa. Miniature tracking devices have recently shown that the Northern Wheatear has one of the longest migratory flights known – 30,000km (18,640 miles), from from sub-Saharan Africa to their Arctic breeding grounds. “The Alaskan birds travelled almost 15,000km (9,000 miles) each way – crossing Siberia and the Arabian Desert, and travelling, on average, 290 km per day.

“This is the longest recorded migration for a songbird as far as we know,” said Dr Schmaljohann..
Dr Schmaljohann added: “[In the past] we totally underestimated the flight capability of birds in terms of migration.”It seems that bird migration is limited by the size of the Earth. If the planet was larger, they would probably migrate even further.”

If these small birds can set a record for the longest flight,

  • flying over extreme conditions,
  • flying over an ocean and also
  • flying over one of the biggest desert,
  • how far have we traveled to share the word of God?

We find it ever so easy to give our money to send missionaries to remote places to preach the gospel, but, why we find it so difficult to even step out of our house to share the Gospel to our neighbor?

  • God does not want our money..
  • He wants us to stand in the gap for perishing souls..
  • How many of us are ready to obey to His call?

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Have a blessed day!

Yours in YESHUA,
a j mithra

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Lee’s Addition:

Wheatears are part of the Muscicapidae – Chats, Old World Flycatchers Family.