Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Birds and Me

BE FOREWARNED:  many photos and two short videos  : )

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I have been watching birds on cameras through Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology or American Eagle Foundation/USDA.  I watch the Albatross in Kauai, Hawaii, the Bald Eagles in Washington, D.C., Ospreys in Missoula, Montana, and the Red-Tailed Hawks in Ithaca, NY.  There are others as well, but these have been my favorites to watch.  Yes, I am a birdwatcher in real life too, but these birds either do not visit South Texas or they are hard to spot.  I certainly do not get to watch them raise their young.

Birds species can be so unique in the way they care for their young.  These that I am watching have laid the eggs and then sat upon them, frequently tidying up the nest around them.  The mate that is off the eggs goes hunting or fishing, bringing the feast back to the nest.  With some species, only the female sits on the eggs while the male hunts and gathers, whereas other species share in both the nest and hunting duties.  It is quite interesting to me.  These same ways continue once the eggs have hatched and they have their nestlings.  When very young, the parent continues to sit upon the babies until food arrives.  The parents are so careful in the way they straddle and finally sit over the young.  Take a look at this video to see this phenomenon.  Those large yellow talons never touch the chicks.  (The video is only 53 seconds.)

As they grow, there is less sitting over the nestling and more sitting with the nestling.  This young Laysan Albatross cuddles up to a parent in the nest.

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Red-Tailed Hawk parent gently feeds first of three born to this family in Ithaca, New York on the Cornell University campus.

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Mr. President and The First Lady in the National Arboretum — 2016 with Freedom and Liberty:

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From tiny (above) to juvenile (below)

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Parent birds teach their young.  The juvenile bird begins to imitate the parents in feeding themselves with food brought by a parent, flapping their wings and hopping, practicing for that day when they will fledge (fly on their own).

This is Liberty and Freedom dancing in the rain.  The video is 9:35 minutes long, but just watch the first few minutes of practice and more practice.  It will make you smile when they begin hopping too:

 In the case of Albatross, the parents head to sea, leaving their young to practice alone for their big day of flight before heading out to sea.  It is on its own for food for a time as well.

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One of the three Red-Tailed Hawks takes flight from near the nest:

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A fledgling often stays near the nest, continuing to be fed by the parents for some time.  Once flying becomes second nature to the juvenile bird, most receive lessons in hunting and fishing.

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“The eagle is observed to have a strong affection for her young, and to show it, not only as other creatures by protecting them and making provision for them, but by educating them and teaching them to fly.  For this purpose she stirs them out of the nest where they lie dozing, flutters over them, to show them how they must use their wings….”  Matthew Henry

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“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”  Matthew 6:26

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We are similar in a number of ways:

  • Parents care for their young: both may be involved, but not always.
  • As infants, we depend upon our parents to feed us, change us, place us into bed.
  • As children, we continue to depend upon our parents for many years, although we begin to spread our wings, gaining some feeling of independence.
  • One day, when we are old enough, and, hopefully, mature enough, we spread those wings and take flight.
  • …to name a few

Parents teach their young, guiding them to walk by holding their hands, eventually stepping out away from them so they begin to take steps toward the parent.

‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.  Exodus 19:4

God is our Father, teaching us.  He is a patient Father.  He waits as we take steps.  He reteaches, if necessary (usually so! at least for me!).  He draws us out to walk in His Way, to be obedient to His commandments.  He loves us and nurtures us.  He keeps His hand in ours.

And God said, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth Genesis 1:26

I ponder the ways of these birds and my own existence.  You created me…ME!

For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  Psalm 139:13

Father God, You blessed me with wonderful earthly parents who cared for me tenderly and dearly.  They loved me.  They raised me up that I could fly.  And I have flown and hope I will continue to fly.  My earthly parents are with You now, yet their love is still with me.  Thank You for them, Father.  You care for me so much more than I can know…yet one day, I will know You, Your Holiness, Your Sovereignty, Your Love.  You are my God. 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  Matthew 6:33-34

I seek Your Kingdom, Father.  Show me the way. 

But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah  40:31

I want to fly with You for the rest of my earthly life and then on to Heaven to be with You…one day. 

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I’LL FLY AWAY by Albert Brumley **

Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away.

CHORUS:
I’ll fly away, O glory,
I’ll fly away;
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away.

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“A Regal Couple” —  http://www.eagles.org/dceaglecam/about.html

Video:   American Eagle Foundation/DCEagleCam — http://www.slate.com/articles/video/video/2016/03/bald_eagle_chicks_hatched_at_national_arboretum_video.html

Laysan Albatross by Linda van den Heever:  https://twitter.com/LindavdHeever/status/738811736409681921/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Red-Tailed Hawk feeding newborn by keysfishin:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/81381146@N06/26491567641/in/photostream/

Bald Eagles with two eaglets:  https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ckhh94GWUAA2AxS.jpg

Bald Eagle with Freedom and Liberty: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23dceaglecam&src=tyah

Video of Liberty & Freedom dancing in the rain/© 2016 American Eagle Foundation, EAGLES.ORG”

Laysan Albatross chick practicing wing-flapping skills:  https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CkiOKYCVAAAsLbL.jpg

Red-Tailed Hawk taking flight by keysfishin:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/81381146@N06/26953158963/

Bald Eagle adult with juvenile:  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=juvenile+bald+eagle+fishing+with+adult&view=detailv2&&id=B46BB7286E88F6C4170CC1682DC880085885587F&selectedIndex=1&ccid=NqGIBWck&simid=607997538543667549&thid=OIP.M36a188056724e13121ed5f3373687b56o0&ajaxhist=0

Baby Learning to Walk photo:  http://www.fellowship.ca/AWordFromSteve

Flying Bald Eaglehttps://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Free+Pictures+of+Bald+Eagles+In-Flight&view=detailv2&&id=371DEF5AFFC30C6C9055F494279CDFB0566974F0&selectedIndex=56&ccid=SSmBjioE&simid=608035965620391302&thid=OIP.M4929818e2a049a1f248cb977a990d061o0&ajaxhist=0

**  LYRICS “I’LL FLY AWAY” AS REPRINTED IN “ALBERT E. BRUMLEY’S OLDE CAMP MEETIN’ SONGS.” Camdenton, Missouri, 1971, p. 11;© 1932, renewed 1960 Albert E. Brumley and Sons.

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Birding Teaches Me about God

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I am a birder at heart although I must look in my bird book for the species-type more often than I actually know the bird I am looking at.  I love to see the winter migratory birds come through here each September-October and on their return flight in April-May.  Here in South Texas, we often see huge flocks of White Pelicans circling above so silently.  The Sandhill Cranes, the Whooping Cranes, Baltimore Orioles, Warblers, Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers and Hummingbirds of all types make this route fun for us.

About two years ago, I discovered Cornell University’s bird cameras.  They have a number of bird cams set up around the country and in Canada enabling us to look upon the feeding habits of many birds at a feeder near a pond and in backyards.  They also have cameras on nesting birds such as owls in Indiana, Texas and Georgia, Albatross in Kauai, and Red-Tailed Hawks in New York.  (I have a sister who lives in Kauai so I first found this site due to the Albatross camera.  What a unique bird that is!! and so fun to watch.  Plus I know what kind of weather my sister is having!!)  It is quite wonderful to see the babies grow up right before my (camera-) eyes!  These cameras can be found through the Cornell University AllAboutBirds.

Then there is the camera in Washington, D.C. where we are watching two Bald Eaglets in a high nest in a Tulip Poplar tree in the U.S. National Arboretum, operated by the United States Department of Agriculture.  We can watch the parents, named “Mr. President” and “The First Lady,” feeding, protecting and watching over them.  The babies were born March 18th and the 20th so they are quite young yet, but developing rapidly!  One parent goes out to fish while the other watches over the young.  Then a fish is brought in for feeding, and often, both parents will feed both babies.  They are both thriving at this time.  The parents are diligent to keep these two fed and protected.  This couple came to this spot to nest in 2014.  It was the first time since 1947 that Bald Eagles have nested here.  This family of Bald Eagles can be found at eagles.org…. 24/7…yes, even at night.  They have infrared cameras on them.

The care by various birds is a mirror-image of how our God cares for us.  He created us. He cares for us.  He protects us.  He loves us.  He is patient and kind.  He is our Shelter, our Refuge, our Guide, our Deliverer, our Life, our Provider.

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He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with His pinions,

and under His wings you will find refuge;

His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.  Psalm 91:1-6

…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

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Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,

that flutters over its young,

spreading out its wings, catching them,

bearing them on its pinions,

the Lord alone guided him,

no foreign god was with him.  Deuteronomy 32:11-12

As birds flying, so will the LORD of Hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it; and passing over He will preserve it.  Isaiah 31:5

“The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”  Ruth 2:12

…for You have been my help,
and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.  
Psalm 63:7

“For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.”  Psalm 50:10-1

And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.  Matthew 8:20

Father God, You are everything to me.  I am like these young birds who need to be brought up safely and with care.  You are my All in all.  I am so very thankful that You have always loved me so that I have not been left to go life alone (unless I chose that path…which I did).  But no more, Father.  I want to stay near and follow Your path for my life.  I want to be obedient to Your call.  The Albatross fledgling will learn to fly on its own as the parents have gone to sea by the time they need to learn to fly.  But You have given them an innate ability to fly.  I watched one go off the cliff, down, ending up walking back up the cliff to try again.  He made a few practice runs and then soared off the cliff and out to sea.  You have created all, Father.  I love watching these birds because they are Yours.  They show me the lovingkindness You have for me.  They show me that things are not always easy either.  Things do not always work out as we would like them, but Your ways are not mine nor are Your thoughts mine.  But I am in Your thoughts and I know You love me as I journey.  I thank You, Father.  In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

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Baltimore Oriole photo

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher photo

Swan photo

Eagle photo