Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
The Sandhill Cranes are the main reason Rowe Sanctuary exists, but there were many other birds there as well. I found this very cooperative Harris's Sparrow that was also resting and eating before its own migration to northern Canada.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
“I will come upon them like a lion, like leopard I will lurk by the path.”
The guidebook for California’s Big Morongo Canyon Preserve said there were Bewick’s Wrens in the marsh at the beginning of the trail. After searching for some time and not finding any, I walked on, disappointed that I had missed seeing a new life bird. I continued for another thirty minutes, observing many intriguing birds along the way. Then, I saw movement in a tree up ahead next to the trail. Swinging my binoculars into place, I saw two large, feline eyes glaring back at me. That’s when I recalled the sign at the trailhead: “WARNING! Mountain lions may be in the area. Do not allow small children to wander unattended.” The cat that was watching me looked more like a bobcat than a mountain lion, but I was taking no chances and decided to turn around and go back the way I came. When I reached the marshy area once more, there in plain sight, singing its heart out, was a Bewick’s Wren.
In today’s text, God spoke through the prophet Hosea of judgment facing the children of Israel like a lion or leopard lurking by the path. Hosea continued, “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall… I will heal their waywardness and love them freely” (Hosea 14:1,4). Have you sometimes taken the wrong path in life? Are there lions and leopards lurking by the path? Then turn around and go back the way you came. God has a wonderful new path He wants to show you. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” When I turned around at Big Morongo Canyon, I found a beautiful Bewick’s Wren. Who knows what beautiful things God has in store for you when you repent, turn around and, “Return…to the Lord your God.”
Father, I repent of my sin and return to you. Thank you for healing my waywardness and showing me the right path. Amen.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Reading about that man’s experience on the New Jersey jetty made me think about a favorite Bible passage from Ecclesiastes: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Most birders like to go out with a friend because it’s just more fun that way. You always see more birds when you are with a friend because two sets of eyes are better than one. Or as Ecclesiastes says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work.” But that business about falling down and your friend lifting you up…that is the real blessing of friendship. It is not just literal falling down that we’re talking about, either. How about when you are depressed, lonely and confused? Those are the times when friends are truly important. Think about those people in your life who are truly your friends. Do any of them need lifting up today? Go see them, give them a call, or write them an email. Tell them you were thinking about them. Then read them the passage from Ecclesiastes, and tell them the story of the man on the jetty in New Jersey.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
“Bear the names on his shoulders.” Exodus 28:12
Male Red-winged Blackbirds look like little military generals in sleek black uniforms, their shoulders adorned with red epaulets trimmed in gold. During the spring breeding season dozens of these birds can be seen evenly spaced along roadsides, guarding their territories. Red-winged Blackbirds are one of the most abundant and conspicuous of all American birds. They breed in marshes and grasslands in all but the most frigid parts of North America. The northernmost birds migrate to the southern part of the continent each fall. In the winter they often gather in immense flocks to feed in agricultural fields.
The Book of Exodus describes the special garment to be worn by the High Priest. Two onyx stones were to be placed on the shoulders of the garment: “Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones…Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the Lord” (Exodus 28:11-12). The High Priest bore the names of the twelve sons of Israel on his shoulders to symbolize that the people of Israel had a special relationship with God. This relationship was formed through a covenant established with Abraham. In the Book of Isaiah we read that God desires that same type of relationship with us, and that He even wants to bear our names: “I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16). The Red-winged Blackbird carries its name on its shoulders as part of the bird’s very being. If you have placed your trust in God, then God says that He carries your name, too. You are engraved on the palms of His hands.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for giving your Son, Jesus, and that through Him I can be so intimately identified with you that I am engraved on the palms of your hands.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Today is blog post number 50!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me, I was found by those who did not seek me.” Isaiah 65:1
Most people have seen and can identify a number of different types of birds. The vast majority, however, are content to merely “watch” birds. Avid birders go beyond mere “watching” and actively seek out birds in diverse and sometimes inhospitable locations. Most birders keep a “life list” of bird species they have seen. After a few years of birding, most of the “easy ones” have already been recorded, and it takes diligence, willingness to travel, and just plain luck to add additional birds to one’s life list. So, a few years ago it was quite a pleasant surprise on a cold and snowy December morning that I saw my “life” Brown Creeper from my living room window as it diligently searched for insects hidden in the bark of our ash tree. I experienced a little gift of grace as expressed in Isaiah 65:1: "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me.”
The Brown Creeper is an inconspicuous, drab little bird that is perfectly camouflaged for a life on the trunks of trees. While feeding, it starts at the base of a tree and slowly works its way up the trunk as it seeks insects, spiders and larvae that are hidden in crevices of the bark. When it reaches the top, it flies to the bottom of the next tree and starts the process all over.
Seeking is a very natural human activity. We are naturally curious creatures and are continuously striving to learn something new, or to find the latest thrill. Even though Jesus tells us to seek and keep on seeking, He also reveals that He is the one who is actively seeking us. He tells us in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." We can search for God all our lives, but then ultimately we are the ones who are found by Him. Seek Him, and He will find you.
Heavenly Father, seek me out. I want to be found by you. Amen.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Photos by Paul Roisen
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Yesterday South Dakota experienced a late winter snow and ice storm. In spite of the weather conditions, I just had to make a slight detour and check for new birds at Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge. On a gravel road near the refuge I found a flock of Lapland Longspurs. I rolled down my car window and captured these photos from a distance of fifteen feet.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
“Go out to the open country to hunt.” Genesis 27:3
Three years before I became a serious birder, I spent a lot of time driving across the prairies of South Dakota. I began to notice a peculiar kind of hawk with long, narrow wings and a white rump patch that was visible every time the bird turned. This hawk would fly low, sometimes just above the ground, apparently searching for something in the grass below. My old bird book told me these were Marsh Hawks. Later, when I obtained a field guide with a more recent copyright date, I learned that the name had been changed to Northern Harrier.
Northern Harriers are birds of open country, hunting over prairies and marshes, as their former name suggests. They eat mice, rats, birds, frogs and snakes. There are at least four common uses of the word harrier in the modern English language: harrier is a breed of dog, similar to a foxhound; harrier is used by sportswriters to refer to cross country runners; harrier is an aircraft; and harrier is a type of hawk. All these usages have in common the idea of using speed and cunning to chase something down--whether that is a fox, a championship medal, enemies in combat, or small animals to eat.
In Genesis 27:3, Isaac, asked his son, Esau to, “go out to the open country to hunt.” Isaac was near death, but he wanted to enjoy the taste of wild game one more time. He also wanted to give the blessing to Esau, his eldest son, who outwardly exemplified everything a father wished his son to be. However, Jacob, the second born, tricked his father into giving him the blessing instead. Even though Jacob used trickery to obtain the blessing, it is clear that Jacob, rather than Esau, was God’s choice to receive the blessing. Isaac made the wrong decision concerning which son to bless because he was thinking of earthly things rather than spiritual things. The message for us is that we should not judge or make decisions based upon outward appearances, but we should look at the heart, and keep in close communication with God, our creator. We must focus our hearts and minds on God, and not out in the “open country” in order to keep walking down the path God has ordained for us.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
“Let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.” Isaiah 27:5
My father-in-law passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of a Sunday in November. Later that day, most of the family were gathered at my wife’s childhood home in Oklahoma City. As I happened to glance out the living room window, I saw a flash of gray and white in the trees. At first I thought it was one of the many Northern Mockingbirds that frequent my mother-in-law’s backyard. However, when I saw the bird land in a tree I could see it was some member of the dove family. It just did not have the right look to be a Rock Pigeon, and it seemed to be too large for a Mourning Dove. Soon the first bird was joined by a second, and slowly the realization dawned on me: I was observing my first Eurasian Collared-Doves.
Normally, adding a new bird to my life list is a time for celebration. Of course, on that particular day my excitement was tempered by the sadness of the loss that had come to our family. I recalled an e-mail message my wife had received from her dad just a week earlier: “I want you to know that my time here with you all is very limited. I thank the Good Lord for the time that He has given me and I am at peace with Him.” As I considered the Eurasian Collared-Doves I had seen that day, I had the very real sense that they were indeed doves of peace. The birds reminded me of the peace my father-in-law had received from his Lord and Savior. It is a peace we all can receive. As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). Is your heart troubled? Are you afraid? Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:14, “He Himself is our peace.” Receive the peace that Jesus wants to give, and you can say with my father-in-law, “I am at peace with Him.”