Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
I have started to see a few Hooded Mergansers on lakes here in South Dakota. The Hooded Merganser happens to be MY FAVORITE DUCK! I am always thrilled when they start showing up in my area during migration. While looking up some information on these birds, I came across a story in which the author called the Hooded Merganser the "second cutest duck". The author's choice for "cutest duck" was the Wood Duck. Now take a look at the Wood Ducks below. They're fancy, sure... but don't you think they are just a bit ostentatious and over-the-top to be called cute? Wouldn't you feel a little silly wearing an outfit like that?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Two Harris's Sparrows were gleaning the seeds that the nuthatch knocked out of the feeders. The sparrow on the left is in nonbreeding plumage, but the one on the right is still pretty much in its breeding attire.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
“I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
Several years ago I was startled to see a strange-looking bird perched in a tree above a small pond. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at, but I knew I had never seen a bird like that before. What struck me was the bird’s nervousness at my presence, yet its refusal to fly away from the branch where it was perched over the water. It kept twitching its tail and raising the feathers on its head as it moved up and down on its legs. Later, when I was back in my car and excitedly paging through my field guides, those jittery movements were what confirmed the identification: Green Heron.
The Green Heron is a lovely, small, green and brown heron that breeds across most of the United States and spends the winter along the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific coast. Like many other birds, this heron eats fish, insects and crustaceans. However, the Green Heron has one trait that sets it apart from similar species. Green Herons are known to sometimes use a small object like a twig or dead insect to lure a fish to the surface of the water. The heron will carefully place the lure on the water and wait until a fish comes up to investigate. Then the bird will plunge to catch the fish using its strong, pointed beak.
Just as Green Herons have been “called” by God to catch fish, Christians are called by God to “catch” people. In today's verse Jesus told some of his disciples, life-long fishermen, that from that point on they would be, “fishers of men.” What lure have we been given in our quest to catch people for God? In John 6:44, Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Fishing is sometimes hard and frustrating work, as illustrated by this example from John 21:3, "So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing." They fished all night and had nothing to show for it! Then Jesus appeared to them and things changed in a hurry: "He called out to them, 'Friends, haven't you any fish?' 'No,' they answered. He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish" (John 21:5-6). Wait for the Father to draw people to His Son, and then be ready to pull them into the boat.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
“As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.” Mark 4:4
While many birds eat seeds, few are as strictly oriented to eating seeds on the ground as the Lapland Longspur. They breed on the tundra of far northern Canada and Alaska, and spend the winter in open, barren areas of the northern United States. In the winter they are nearly always seen in large flocks, occasionally with many thousands of birds. While most of my first-time sightings of a particular kind of bird were of a single individual, my first-ever Lapland Longspur was accompanied by at least a thousand of its closest friends. The flock was constantly on the move. A few hundred birds would rise from a harvested soybean field, whirling and twisting for a few seconds, only to rapidly descend nearby. Then another part of the flock would rise and turn, looping and swirling as though functioning with a single brain, but always returning to the ground. While feeding, longspurs walk along the barren ground, searching endlessly for one more seed or the occasional insect or spider. Strikingly marked in their breeding plumage with black, white and chestnut coloration, the winter birds are more drab and sparrow-like with streaks in shades of brown.
We have all seen birds eating seeds on the ground. Whether they are pigeons on a city street or longspurs on a harvested farm field, birds eat seeds. The sight is as familiar today as it was two thousand years ago. Jesus used this image in the Parable of the Sower to encourage us to receive the Word of God into our hearts. In explaining today's Bible verse, "...some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up," Jesus said, "Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them" (Mark 4:15). But then He describes others who gladly receive the Word of God: "Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop--thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown" (Mark 4:20). Let us be like those who receive God’s Word as described in James 1:21, “humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Do not let the enemy steal that seed and rob you of the blessings it can produce in your life.
Father, I gladly receive your Word. Let it not be stolen from me, but planted and growing in my heart. Amen.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
“If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10
I always hear it first: woik-woik-woik-woik, the “jungle monkey call” that sounds like a bad sound effect from an old Tarzan movie. If I’m lucky I will see movement in the trees, and a black and white, crow-sized bird will fly out of the woods and into view, showing off its wild, red crest. It is a Pileated Woodpecker, second in size among North American woodpeckers only to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker of southern swamps.
When walking through forests in regions inhabited by Pileated Woodpeckers, you know you are in “pileated country” by the signs the birds leave behind. Pileateds excavate large oblong-shaped holes in mature trees while hunting for their favorite food: carpenter ants. These prodigious cavities, and the large pile of woodchips on the ground below, are evidence of the bird’s hard work and tenacity. They are also testimony to the Pileated Woodpecker’s amazing physical structure. It has a large, chisel-like bill that is perfectly built for carving holes in trees. The feet are designed for clinging to tree trunks, and the stiff tail serves as a prop to keep the bird supported upright as it goes about its work. This woodpecker is found year round in forested areas of northern and eastern North America, but is secretive and wary. It requires a feeding territory of between 150 and 200 acres. In addition to carpenter ants, it will eat beetles and other insects as well as seeds, fruit and suet from bird feeders.
God has promised to provide for our needs in the same way He provides for the needs of birds. Today’s Bible verse proclaims, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” Genesis 3:17 reads, “through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” Those verses indicate that God’s provision for our needs is accompanied by responsibilities that He gives us to fulfill. Just as the Pileated Woodpecker works hard to find ants hidden in the trees, we must fulfill our responsibilities in order to fully receive the blessings God has stored up for us.
Dear Father, I am grateful for your provision for my needs. As I pray for you to “give us this day our daily bread,” help me also to be diligent in doing my work and in fulfilling the responsibilities you have put before me. Amen.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
“They make merry to the sound of the flute.” Job 21:12
It was driving me crazy. For several weeks I had heard a strange bird song every morning in the parking lot of my office. Each day when I arrived at work I searched in vain for the bird that was the source of the sound. The bird’s song was a strange series of descending notes, starting slowly and accelerating into a rapid trill. Listening to it, the picture I had in my head was of a flute player practicing scales. I finally gave up looking for the bird and started listening to a CD recording of bird calls. I made it deep into the sparrow section before I heard it, a perfect rendition of the sound in the parking lot at work: Field Sparrow.
The Field Sparrow is a common bird of the eastern United States and inhabits overgrown, brushy fields where it is more often heard than seen. The males return to the breeding grounds ahead of the females to establish territories. They will sing from prominent perches in order to both define their territory and to attract a mate. The singing of the males decreases considerably after the breeding season begins.
In today’s passage, Job questions why God allows the wicked to prosper: “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute” (Job 21: 7,12). At one time or another we all ask the same question as Job. We see other people prospering and living happy and carefree lives even though they do not honor God. It just doesn’t seem fair. The prophet Malachi records that the people of Israel said, “It is futile to serve God. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape” (Malachi 3: 14-15). However, Malachi later provides God’s word: “Surely the day is coming…every evildoer will be stubble…But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:1-2). Receive that Sun of Righteousness right now.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
- White outer tail feathers
- White eye ring
- White underparts with dark streaks on chest and sides
- Two pale wing bars
- Rusty patch on shoulder
- Conical bill
If you said "yes" to all of those, then you've identified a Vesper Sparrow!