Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Black-winged Stilt or Common Stilt of Spain

Stilt (Black-winged) @ Val Lee

I shot this long, pink-legged ave in southern Spain, at the Fuente de Piedra Lagoon (Fountain of Stone).

Spain in May is quite nice. My husband, Al, loves to place me on a winged metal bird and soar me away to wondrous global scenes of the world. This time, massive wings set us down in Paris and Spain and we also drove to Gibraltar. If you would like to see my slide video of photos with music, you can click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKRiGLgu4pQ

Fuente de Pedra is a shallow lake, brimming with remarkable birds, and functions as a migrating flyway. It is the place to go in Spain to view migrating birds and stationary.

My video of the bird  grabbing bug-bites at the lake:

When shooting shots and videos of Stilts in water and in flight, a thunderstorm snuck in without me noticing. Al and I had walkie talkies to keep in touch, but I had turned mine off, being the battery was low. Al had tried to SOS me, but it was useless. Finally, when I noticed lightning bolts uncomfortably close, I turned on the WT and spoke to him. I told him to get inside the building and not wait for me. I did not want him struck down dead. I was quite afraid and had to run a distance to get cover in the interpretive center. I tell you, I was praying to the Creator of every one of those electric sky strikes. In tears and in fear I begged Him to preserve me! Needless to say, He did.

Black-winged Stilt @ Val Lee

(Job chapter 37, verses 2-5, teaches mankind regarding the LORD God of the storms, who directs His lighting unto the ends of the earth.  He thunders the heavens with His voice.  The thunderous storms speak of  the excellency of His ways that we cannot comprehend.)

As I drew near the interpretive building, I noticed Al was still outside waiting for me. I once again told him emphatically to “get inside.” (I must say I am not normally in the habit of ordering my husband about ☺)

When I reached the building, Al was still outside waiting, to my deep disappointment! He let me know, he was not going anywhere without me.

After we both entered together, it started to pour rather large hailstones. It was thundering, lightning, hailing and windy—the essential parts for a genuine storm exhibit. The curator was quite surprised by it all, being it was May and warm.

Leaving this rabbit trail and getting back to birding, you may have noted from the video, this winger walks miraculously well with those strong, pink bending stilts. He wades effortlessly through the waters of motion with those wire-like limbs. What man could design such walking stilts? What man could design their perfect feet—partially webbed for such action? They are marvelously designed for their role in the world.

Black-winged Stilt @ Val Lee

Stilts, like most aves, are of the gregarious sort—most friendly within their own species—though they can expose an aggressive temperament at times and will engage in aerial combat for property rights.

They might be noticed feeding in Stilt flocks of several thousand … amazing.

If they are made to feel frightened, they will head-bob. Their call is a sharp “yep” or “kek.” They sometimes perform a high-leaping display with an air floating descent.

Men do not understand these artful performances, but the LORD Jesus Christ created Stilts with agility that marvels the mind.

The Black-winged Stilt or Common Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is a widely distributed skinny-legged wader in the Avocet and Stilt family (Recurvirostridae). God placed on them extraordinary legs—7 to 9 inches—the longest relative to body size. Ostriches have the longest legs of any bird, though they do no fly. There are four other species of Stilt.

Stilt (Black-winged) @ Val Lee

Adult Stilts are 12-14 inches long. Their wingspan is from 26 to 32 inches. Along with their pink legs, they display a long thin black bill. They are blackish above and white below, with a white head and neck displaying a varying amount of black. Males have a black back, often with greenish gloss. Females reveal a back with a brown hue, contrasting with black remiges (flight feathers).

Males and females are often hard to distinguish. Slight head hue alterations can occur with the seasons. Immature Stilts have grey flight wings instead of black and a sandy hue on the wings, with light feather fringes.

Stilts fly with body fully outstretched. Legs are straight as a board stationed behind tail wings. This flyer represents quite the elongated flight form as seen in my second video, also shot at the lake:

They can be spotted in Europe, Southern North America, Central America, Peru and Brazil, and in the lovely Caribbean. Northernmost populations migrate south in winter. Those of Spain and of other parts of Europe might migrate south to Africa in winter.

These stilted marvels shop for their provisions in sand or water. Their diet mainly consists of insects, fish, crustaceans, worms and seeds. They feed in both salt and fresh water on half-webbed feet that allow them to swim—although this is a rarity.

Stilt (Black-winged) @ Val Lee

God equipped them with day and night vision and day and night alertness. Implementing their remarkable nocturnal vision, these agile, rapid dabblers will feed on a windy, moonless night. I am sure they get some shuteye sometime.

Dating commences in late winter. When a Stilt locates that special someone to mate with for life, they might hug each other … head and body hugging—one head under the other in sweet unity. They demonstrate affection quite well without arms.

Regarding their reproductive biology, Stilts usually breed in colonies of two to 50 pairs. Sometimes with other members of the Avocet family.

By God’s design, all Avocets are faithfully monogamous.

Timing of breeding varies over ranges. They make a nest scraped with mud or plants piled up in a mound near marshes, shallow lakes and ponds. At times, it may be a well-lined, floating mass of water weeds. Females generally lay 3 or 4 eggs. Both father and mother incubate the eggs for 25 days. Fathers will spend more time than the mothers at the nest, mostly building the nest and covering the eggs. They are dutiful dads. Mothers spend more time foraging than the fathers.

During late incubation, moms spend significantly more time at the nest than the dads. After hatching, both parents attend to their young. Fledging (flying) takes place at 28–37 days.

Lifespan is up to 12 years.

Black-winged Stilt @ Val Lee

Various male birds can represent the faithfulness of God for His children—that is born again Christians who have yielded their lives to Jesus Christ of the Bible. If you do not know Jesus Christ personally, you can learn about His personal love for you, and His desire to give you an abundant fulfilled life. please click here: How to get to heaven

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.

Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Hummingbirds

Hummingbird, Rufous, (female) @ Val Lee

 

Male Rufous © Val J. Lee

Male Rufous © Val J. Lee

 

This is a female Rufous Hummingbird I shot in my backyard.  Look at those cute little feet!

These extremely petite, nectar-sipping New World birds, bring joy to my heart. I love these delicate appearing creatures that are noted for their flight agility—hovering, ascending, and descending. No survival of the largest and fittest is on their agenda. They will show you, God’s smallest bird can travel through the ages through its intelligence, endurance and stealth.

These helicopter-like creatures effortlessly move backwards, forwards or maintain a horizontal position. In flight, they own the highest metabolism of all fauna, which supports the rapidity of their beating wings. Their average wingbeat is 70 per second. Their heart rate can reach 1,260 beats per minute. They are amazingly crafted by Jesus Christ!

Hummingbird, Rufous (female) @ Val Lee

At any given moment, they can be only hours away from starvation. Providentially, they are capable of slowing down their metabolism at night, or any other time, food is not readily available. They enter the hibernation zone, or the state known as “torpor.” It might be compared to a relaxed, lethargy body condition. They exert no energy that would rob them of life. God has provided them the wisdom within to deal with every situation that may bring harm.

Hummingbird (Rufous) @ Val Lee

Hummingbirds own a unique flying hum that you can hear. I don’t know exactly how to describe it in total accuracy. It sounds abnormally rapid and precise. I know when a Hummingbird is flying near, being I have never heard anything soar so swiftly. At various times, when sitting in my backyard, these tiny ones will rhythmically zoom right up to my face, engaging in still flight, and mute conversation. They look me over to decide if I am a friend or foe, engaging in a character, assessment conversation in their mind.  Once they determine I am simply a harmless human, they will rotate their torso and flitter to my trumpet vine for a nectar sip.

Hummingbird (Rufous) @ Val Lee

What visual discernment these tiny ones own—placed within by the LORD! Jesus Christ is completely amazing in all His works!

Here is a video I shot in my backyard of the Rufous:

Do you notice the pollen on the nose of my little friend in the first photo? Hummingbirds own long, slender bills which are combined with an extendible, bifurcated (two-forked) tongue; whereby, they feed upon nectar deep within blooms and pollinate. The lower bill flexes downward to create a wider bill opening, facilitating the consumption of flying insects in the mouth rather than at the tip of the beak. They typically consume more than their own weight in nectar each day by visiting hundreds of God’s vividly painted flowers.

Hummingbird, Rufous (female) @ Val Lee

Humming flyers are one of the world’s most uniquely, created creatures. They only measure from two to eight inches in length, and weigh in from two to six grams. Their wingspan is a slight three to four inches. They are unbelievably winsome.

There are approximately 330 species of Hummingbirds in the world and they are only located in the Western Hemisphere. The majority of species are located in the tropical forests of South and Central America. Seventeen species of Hummingbirds are bred in America—the greatest number being found along the American-Mexican border, from Arizona to Texas. All Hummingbirds winter in southern regions.

Rufous Display 

The widespread Rufous males display a brown back, iridescent ruby-red gorget (throat) that may appear black within some lighting reflections. It owns gray flanks and forked tail.  Males are smaller than females and display a great deal of brown on their bodies.

Females present an emerald-green back, with a white breast and throat. Their tail is rounded with white tips. Females are identified by their magnificent, green, back display.

~

Courtship of Hummers is similar to other birds, with a great aerial show! A courting male will dive toward the ground with his tail wings making a whistling sound for full effect. He will even engage in shuttle flights, wings held close to his body as he flies in swift motion like a rocket! The gal he is trying to impress, will observe and grade him on a nearby limb. If his show is a success, her heart will be won.

Hummingbird, Rufous, juvenile (male) @ Val Lee

Female Hummingbirds make a cup-shaped nest (about half a walnut-shell in size) on a tree branch or shrub. Almost impossible to spot.

She is the most gifted of artisans! She with extraordinary flair, creates a nest to blend in perfectly, with the rest of the tree so it appears to be one with the tree. She weaves it in absolute perfection! If she nests in a pine tree, her tiny cup looks just like a tiny pine knot on the tree. It could not be crafted better by any human.

She will lay two extremely tiny white eggs, with incubation lasting 12–19 days. Upon hatching, the born weigh approximately 0.62 grams—that is one-third the weight of a dime.

Mom, will defend the nest at all costs and will even fight off prey birds such as Hawks and Crows. Female hummers are quite military-minded, when it comes to defense. She is like David; and the Hawk, like Goliath. She can win with her tactful maneuvering! She is the small stone in the sling.

The itsy bitsy, wee ones fly from the nest at three weeks and never return. The mother, however, stays nearby to reveal all the best places to obtain insects and nectar. She then chases off her young to live on their own. She refuses to be one of those controlling mothers who tries to manipulate her adult children so they remain at home.

Hummers can survive in captivity for many years, as long as seventeen years. In the wild, they live an average of 3 to 5 years. In very rare cases, as long as 10 years.

Hummingbird, juvenile, female (Rufous) @ Val Lee

The Bible states God’s ways are past finding out. Job 5:9 states, God does

“great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number!”

The rest of chapter 5, explains how mighty God truly is.

You do not have to search far to know man can explain very little concerning our massive cosmos, let alone the smallest critter.

He miraculously formed you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139), and He died in your place that you might have eternal life.

Please click here to learn more about His personal and precious love for you: letter-to-bird-enthusiast

Extra video of Hummingbird in my backyard:

*Information gratefully gathered from various websites.

Through Looking Glass of Val Lee – Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Black Bird (male) @ Val Lee

My husband and I were surprised to hear the Red-winged Blackbirds when we strolled through the park last week. It seems early for them to be migrating to their spring and summer romping grounds. We are still in the midst of freezing weather. We have noticed a few other early bird arriving species as well. Where we have a small population of Canadian Geese all winter, they are now arriving in large formations, covering our southern winter skies at times.

The Red-winged male Blackbird reveals red on its wing, underlined with a yellow bar, as you can see from my photo. The female is nondescript dark brown. This black silken avis proclaims a long explosive call—a throaty “check” and a high slurred whistle, “terrr-eeee.”

My video captures their outstretched trilling:

It sometimes gets on my nerves, being slightly annoying, as it seems to never stop with many singing the tune. It breaks out in a continuous rhythmic long note; being loudly pronounced, carried on the outdoor airwaves to one another. God certainly equipped it with a unique call. All of His aves can be personally identified by their speech patterns. Humans also own a personal unique makeup. No one in the world can perfectly match up. We can be identified through our fingerprints and DNA structure. If our DNA body strands were stretched in sequence, they would reach the sun and back, 400 times. Earth to sun is 93 million miles. It amazes me to consider the complexity of man and beast.

Red-winged Blackbird (male) @ Val Lee

Throughout the Bible, we read of God’s expressions of love for the human race. When we understand our complexity, how can we begin to deny it? If God didn’t love us, He would not have formed each of us so distinctively and marvelously. He would not have bothered to give us limbs and a brain, let alone the breath of life.

I, at times, feel sorry for our Blue Herons that enjoy our wildlife park, as the tenacious red wingers will group and attack them when angling. They can be most cruel and relentless, harassing this large blue bird. They even follow the Herons, never-ceasing, always stalking and attacking. If the Heron settles in to fish elsewhere, they swoop and bombard again and again. I have never witnessed a Blue Heron avenging; it simply travels on. I guess the blues venture too close to the redwingers’ nests. These Blackbirds are even known to attack humans who approach their nesting areas, though I have not personally observed this.

Red-winged Blackbird @ Val Lee

I have surveyed the fact, Red-winged Blackbirds are water lovers. They enjoying being in cattails from which they often perch. This seems to be the best setting for our observation of them.

The Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a passerine bird (perching bird—half of all birds make up the passerine bird populace). This Blackbird is located in most of North and Central America. It breeds from Alaska, Newfoundland, south to the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico and Guatemala. It may winter as far north as Pennsylvania and British Columbia. However, northern populations are generally migratory, moving south to Mexico and the southern US. These birds are omnivorous, feeding primarily on plant materials, including seeds, berries, weeds, corn and rice. About a quarter of its diet consists of insects and other small animals. In late summer and in autumn, the Red-winged Blackbird will feed in open fields.

These birds can be drawn to bird feeders using bread, seed mixtures and suet.

My video of the female—puffed out and calling out:

Their average length is 8 inches, with a 14 inch average wingspan.

The Red-winged Blackbird is polygamous, with territorial males defending up to 10 females. Pairs raise two or three clutches per season, in a new nest for each clutch. Nesting takes place in loose colonies. The nest is constructed entirely by the female over the course of three to six days. It is a nice basket of grasses, rush plants, and mosses, lined with mud, and bound to surrounding grasses, or branches. Nests are so amazing and it is phenomenal to contemplate on the fact our LORD Jesus Christ implanted in birds the wisdom to construct, thinking of the arriving young and their needs.

Red-winged Blackbird (female) @ Val Lee

A nest is located 3 inches to 14 feet above water.

One nest (which are around 7 inches deep and 5 inches across) was separated, piece by piece by a birding enthusiast in the 1930s. He found it had been weaved of 34 strips of willow bark and 142 cattail leaves—as long as 2 feet. Simply amazing weaver-work!

A clutch comprises three or four eggs—being oval, smooth, slightly glossy, and measure 1 x .7 inches. They are pale bluish-green, marked with brown, purple, or black, with most markings around the larger end of the egg. Incubation is performed by the female, and eggs hatch in 11 to 12 days. The young fledge in 11 to 14 days.

Red-winged Blackbird (female) @ Val Lee

When breeding season is over, Red-winged Blackbirds gather in huge flocks, sometimes numbering in the millions. This is true of many aves.

Their average lifespan is 15 years.

In portions of America, these Blackbirds are considered pests because flocks can consume large amounts of cultivated grain and rice.

~

Regarding the dead bird incident of 5,000 birds falling from the skies of Arkansas on January 1, 2011, the latest news reveals nothing more than speculation regarding the Redwing Blackbirds. Sources stated there was no poison found in the birds. I wonder if we will ever know the reason for the death of the birds and the 100,000 drum fish.

*Some info from Wikipedia and other web sources.

Please click here: letter-to-bird-enthusiast

Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – The American Black Vulture

American Black Vulture @ Val Lee

Bet you’ll never guess where I shot this Black Vulture? Ummmmmmm. Give up? I shot it at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida.

Through the bird area refuge, that surrounds the space center, you can see astronauts are not the only created beings that love to be launched above the earth. Vultures are one of the loftiest aeronautical bird flyers.

NASA Vehicle Assembly Building (Largest single-story structure in the world) by Val Lee

To tell it like it happened, I was observing the many displays, including the historic astrovan that was long employed for transporting astronauts to the launching pad.

Vehicle Assembly Building @ Val Lee

This astrovan represents commemorative memories and heartbreaking ones. Many explorative accomplishments arose from the launched lives. The lost lives from failure flights can still jolt our hearts.

NASA Moon Van @ Val Lee

Behind the astrovan, I noticed something odd out the massive rear windows of the visitor room. Large, strange birds that resembled turkeys were lurking outside. Upon closer inspection, I determined they must be Vultures. It was quite the large flock with some, roosting in a tree. I stepped outside, not realizing it was an emergency exit only. Oh my, oh well. No harm done—no arrest. I had my eyes on these birds, not the small sign.

I had never been in such a situation so it was quite a blessing to observe this unique, strange acting creation of God, the American Black Vultures.

American Black Vultures @ Val Lee

These Vultures, like the Cormorant, stand often with wings outstretched, the “spread-winged stance” or “horaltic pose.” They can cool off, dry off, and bake off bacteria—not a pleasant thought; no, indeed not.

My video of these Vultures:

I am not sure what attracted them to this spacey local. I am sure they did not hear about it on the news, though there were various reports regarding the preparation of the last Atlantis Shuttle launch that was scheduled for July 8, 2011.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6308516608498324470

We were there in June and it was quite intriguing to view Atlantis from afar.

There have been 135 missions performed by five shuttles.

“Shuttle flights deployed more than fifty satellites for military, governmental, and commercial clients. Three interplanetary craft were launched from shuttles: the Magellan spacecraft that traveled to Venus, the Galileo spacecraft that traveled to Jupiter, and the Ulysses spacecraft that traveled to the sun. Shuttles also deployed important observatories into space, including the Hubble Space Telescope, Gamma Ray Observatory, the Diffuse X-Ray Spectrometer, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.”

Two Christian astronauts, Commander Richard Husband and Michael P. Anderson, perished during the Columbia Shuttle reentry disaster on February 1, 2003.

Actual Apolo 14 Capsule, Third Moon Landing @ Val Lee

God’s universe is beyond comprehension and probes to endless galaxies or so it appears. Men can only explore a minuscule segment of its vastness. Privileged Planet Video with the Hubble Heritage Team:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6308516608498324470

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The Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) or American Black Vulture is an ave of the New World Vulture family whose range extends from the southeastern United States to South America, and the Caribbean Islands—a landing local for those buzzards who relish the perfect vacation spots. It inhabits relatively open areas, which provide forests and vegetation. They love perching in dead trees, imagine that.

“Vulture” is derived from the latin word vulturus, which means tearer. This is an ugly picture of its necessary, vulgar habits. Its latin name Atratus, means “clothed in black,” The genus name, Coragyps means “raven-vulture.” The family name, Cathartidae, means “purifier.” It is also identified by the names, Carrion Crow and Black Buzzard.“

Its wingspan is quite large—five feet. As you can from the photos, this bird is as large as a turkey. It is classified as a smaller species of Vulture.

Males and females reveal no distinguishing differences in appearance. Their plumage is black. They display a featherless gray head and neck. This allows these buzzards to probe into carcass’ without getting too yucky.

Their face displays a short, hooked beak and we all know what that is for.

It exhibits grayish white legs. Their flat, weak, blunt talons are long and consist of two front webbed toes. They are not constructed for grasping.

Primary feathers display a white underside at the baseline, visible in flight. The tail is short and square, nothing attractive.

I did notice one positive thing, their brown eyes appeared kind of sweet looking. I was quite struck when peering at one of my photos.

Black Vultures are non-threatening to any human population. They never attack live mortal beings. Contrary to belief, they do not leave bacteria, not even in their feces. God manufactured their systems to be totally self-cleaning. They do leave uric acid (urine) that can kill trees and vegetation; however, decaying dead carrion is more harmful to the environment than Vulture acid that can be washed away by a rainstorm or a good hosing.

Like all New World Vultures, the Black Vulture often defecates on its legs, using the evaporation of the water in the feces and/or urine to cool itself, a process known as urohidrosis. It also kills bacteria as the feces and urine contain a cleaning acid. No, this is not the most pleasant bird on God’s green earth.

The generally displeasing appearance of the Black Vulture matches its prescribed work on this sphere. Besides being a flesh scavenger, this Vulture of black deeds, will seize nest eggs, kill newborn animals and small animals. I viewed a video where they slew and consumed a gray kitten. Not a pleasant scene.

One Black Vulture will devour in one swallow, a newly hatched Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, as it attempts to rush to ocean’s safety. Ridleys are dispersed around the world and eggs are laid in the sand, a distance from the ocean so they are not washed away.

Animal carcass’ are easily spotted by the specialized eyes of this Vulture from a good distance of up to four miles. Though the Black Vulture is smaller than the Turkey Vulture, it is more aggressive and will let the Turkeys know they are not invited to dinner. They win the food fights.

Though the American Black Vulture is not a pretty bird that we like to maintain in our minds’ eye, such as the cute Yellow Warbler, its vacuum cleaning job for the earth is essential. God is astonishing in correlating prey animals for remain disposal. Of course, His bug life can take care of any tiny, unsightly leftovers.

In Revelation chapter 19 of the Bible, we read that Jesus Christ before His millennial reign, will enlist His army of Vultures (there are at least 25 species) to eat the remains of His enemies. He may call other prey birds as well to assist in the feast of human flesh. He will destroy His enemies before He takes His throne in Jerusalem, whereby He will rule the earth as a lowly King, though He is the Creator and ruler of the universe. Perfect peace, harmony and righteousness will rule the world under His power.

The American Black Vulture soars into the heavens in flight artistry. It is one of the most skilled pilots in the world. They fly slightly lower than the Turkey Vulture. Black Vultures are called the “flying wing,” since they mainly fly without exerted effort.

When someone peers into the air and sights Vultures hovering, they might think, “What’s this all about, a bunch of buzzards overhead?” It can be thought of as a nightmare moment since it usually signals a death of something or someone. Black Vultures dress in black for all funerals, but they are not the mourning type. They are into holding wakes, installing the dead.

American Black Vulture @ Val Lee

Black buzzards migrate over North and South America with minimal energy output. Vultures often take to flight a few hours after sunrise, after the morning air has been warmed by the glowing sun. Vultures frequently circle and gain altitude on pockets of rising, warm thermals of air. Topping the thermal, they can glide across the sky at speeds of 60 miles per hour. Upon natural descent, they will locate another thermal for another sequences of circling dance; rising, and then gliding again, implementing the wonders of heavenly air.

Vultures can cover many air miles, advantaging each thermal, never needing to beat a wing. The LORD’S amazing ways of birding design are past finding out. He equips His aves with the right equipment for their designed service on this earth. He even includes break times.

In human populated areas, this ave is not above robbing garbage dumps. It is equipped with a remarkable nose for tracing anything that smells foul, though its snout is weaker than the Turkey Vulture.

Do not expect to hear anything resembling the song of the Nightingale coming from this buzzards’ vocal cords, being it was manufactured without a music box; oops, voice box. It can, however, produce offensive grunting and hissing noises, which God corresponded to its occupation. It seems to be in perfect sync.

It is known to regurgitate food when approached or disturbed. This act displays strategy survival maneuvers. This lightens the air freight load of the bird for fast take offs. And the returned to earth food, at times, can be viewed as a present offered to a prey animal; whereby it might forget the Vulture and eat the fast food. Fortunately for this bird, it has no natural enemies.

American Black Vulture @ Val Lee

Black Vultures are of the friendly sort, owning they are gregarious, roosting in large groups with friends and family. Young stay with the parents in a social group or “kettle” for years or for life.

They fly low to the ground to pick up the scent of ethyl mercaptan—a decay gas emitted from dead animals.

The American Black Vulture occasionally sets its binocular eyes on livestock and deer. This is not a pleasant thought for ranchers. It is the only species of New World Vulture which preys on cattle. Occasionally, it harasses birthing cows; however it primarily preys on newborn calves. Unsuspectingly, young caves will allow the dark Vultures to approach them. In ghastly, black heart fashion, a venue of Black Vultures will swarm a calf. The dressed in black gang will then move in to peck at the calf’s eyes, nose or tongue. The calf eventually goes into shock, and the rest is unspeakable.

Black Vultures have been known to pick ticks from resting, cute Capybaras; a uniquely created, manifold animal:

http://animal.discovery.com/videos/pets-101-capybaras.html

I guess this might be considered a good deed, if you don’t get too technical. They will also try and kill young Capybaras.

The USA Peregrine Fund, located just south of Boise, Idaho, in 2006 discovered why vulture numbers were declining in the nation of India that depends upon vultures for clearing the dead. Vultures were dying from kidney failure that arose from an anti-inflammatory drug administered to cattle. Upon this discovery, the drug was outlawed in order to reestablish vulture numbers. In this pagan land where animals are worshipped as sacred, many people die of starvation. Hindus cannot eat meat.

(My father was stationed in India during WWII working as a lineman with the rank of sergeant. He told of the large carts that were wheeled through cities every morning to pick up the accumulated dead who had starved because heathens maintain a meatless diet. Today one-fifth of India’s population is chronically hungry—200 million people. This land is not abundantly blessed of God because these people refuse to worship their Creator. Instead, they worship cows and other animals that the LORD created to sustain them.)

They soar higher than eagles. They are perfect gliders and rarely have to flap their wings. They display a tremendous wingspan and lofty, aerial abilities. In 1973, a vulture collided with a commercial aircraft off the Ivory Coast. At the time, the plane was flying at 37,000 feet. The plane was able to land safely with one engine.

August 2010: “Warnings were issued to air traffic over Scotland and England yesterday after a vulture, which is capable of soaring at heights of more than 30,000 feet, escaped during an air show. Britain’s air traffic control group issued the warning. ‘We made pilots aware of the possibility of seeing this bird as it has a three-meter wingspan and can fly at altitudes used by commercial aircraft,’ a British air traffic control spokesman says to the Telegraph of London.”

There are a couple attractive vulture species in the world. The Griffin Vulture (Old World) that is not bald; it displays beautiful fluffy white head feathers.

Vultures can be synchronized in their eating habits. Many African species of vultures dine on the same carcass, arriving and feeding at various times, employing regimented dismemberment tactics. The powerful White-headed Vultures usually arrive first on the scene, cautiously approaching the carcass before tearing apart the tough hide. White-backed Vultures arrive soon after, assisting in exposing the carcass’ entrails. Ruppell’s Griffon Vultures may be next in the chow line, thrusting their long necks into the open carcass to obtain pieces of soft flesh. Lappet-faced Vultures typically feast last, eating the remaining skin, tendons, and ligaments. Bearded Vultures feed on bone marrow by breaking open large carcass bones by flying them high into the air, hundreds of feet, and dropping them onto rocks.

God is astonishing in correlating prey animals for remain disposal.  Of course, bug life can take care of any tiny, unsightly leftovers.

Mating for life is the American Black Vultures’ most renowned attribute.

Pairs are formed following a courtship display. Several males will encircle a female, while strutting and bobbing their heads, as if grooving to a love song. They, at times, will perform courtship flights, diving and chasing each other over their chosen nest site. It is always pleasant to fly somewhere for a honeymoon. These show-off guys can afford it.

Once a bond is formed, it is time to raise a family. Bird moms believe in home birth so they lay their one to two eggs in caves, hollow trees, other lofty places or even on the ground. No, not much in the way of a crib. However, some do love exterior decorating and will adorn the nursery area with glass chips, brightly colored plastic, shiny metal objects, such as bottle caps, etc. They lay eggs of various hues—gray-green, blue, or white. The shells are blotched or spotted with lavender or pale brown around the larger end. Both parents incubate the young for 29 days.

Upon hatching, the young are covered with white down, but are still not very cute. Both parents caringly nurture their young.

Vultures feed their young regurgitated carrion (dead meat), a vile smelling substance. It takes the young about 75-80 days to manage the skies as gifted pilots. The entire family remains together throughout the summer.

American Black Vultures lifespan averages 25.5 years.

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.

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My Revelation commentaries for chapters 1-10 explained, please click here: revelation-chapters-1-10-explained

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Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Eclectus Parrot (Solomon)

Barbados Eclectus Parrot (Female) @ Val Lee

When my husband and I were in Barbados, I found it bewildering to see the Solomon Eclectus (Pronounced “ek-lek-tus”)Parrots standing on the ground and peering out of holes like ground hogs. In my mind’s eye, wild Parrots should always be perched in high trees. It is true; they are often spotted in lofty positions in tropical trees in arid climates. They can also be spotted on the ground and at times nest in holes as I have learned.

The Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus Roratus) is native to the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, northeastern Australia and the Maluku Islands (Moluccas). It is arguably the most noticeably dimorphic bird species in aviculture today. Up to the early 20th century, the cock and hen had been wrongly grouped into two different Parrot species.

It is unusual for females to be more colorful in the wild kingdom, and the striking female Grand Eclectus supplants her duller male counterpart. She wears a bright red headdress, complimented by a lovely royal blue shawl-like covering about the neck, being accented through her wine-tinted back feathering. She displays an unusual blue eye-ring and her beak is black.

The cock reveals varying shades of vivid green with some yellow tinting, with a bright candy corn colored upper beak and a black lower mandible. He poses with blue or red tail and wing feathers. No doubt, females find the males to be quite attractive. The flight wings of both sexes are gorgeous when displayed in the air, being rainbow-like.

Barbados Eclectus Parrot (Male) @ Val Lee

All Parrots have a strong curved bill, sturdy legs, and upright stance. Their feet maneuvering reveal extreme power. It is possible for them to hang upside down from a branch for long periods. Their claw-like feet have two outer toes that point backwards. These nimble toes are formed to grip with the two forward pointing inner toes. Quite the mechanics! This toe grasping enables them to hold and manipulate objects close to their bill. It is like fork to fork union when placing food in their mouths.

Their nourishment consists of seeds, nuts, fruits, leaf buds, blossoms, and nectar.

The LORD created Parrots with unique characteristic features and an intelligence that speaks in more ways than one. They are generally classified among the top three Parrots for talking ability when nurtured as pets.

The Eclectus is a medium-sized parrot. The length of the commonly available Eclectus subspecies ranges 12 to14½ inches and the wingspan is from 2 to 2½ feet.

The birds will cry loudly in flight. While feeding they discharge a mellow fluting type call. They fly in pairs or small parties in search of food. In the evening, they engage in display flights before gathering in large groups, up to 80 birds, to roost and echo their final night call.

Eclectus Parrots are monogamous (united for life) according to sources. However, some report they are not. Most parrot species are lifetime committed and I guess I have to leave it at that. It is amazing that God created many avis’ that commit for life as mankind should. These wingers mainly mate between August and January. They are cooperative breeders. Fellow Eclectus lend aid to new parents. Is this not interesting? Christians (Those who love Jesus Christ and have accepted His forgiving love) are called to minister to one another, assisting one another. Every believer is to consider each person as being more important than themselves; Philippians 2:3-4. These Parrots willingly assist one another as the need arrives; revealing a helpful nature.

Because they are gregarious, you can locate four nests in one tree. Most Parrots make simple nests in tree holes (one of a few avis’ that do). However, they will also construct nursery homes in the ground, among rocks or in termite mounds. The hen delivers a clutch of two to five white eggs. Only the female sits on the nest. She only leaves the brood when she needs to be fed by her mate. The incubation process is 28 days. The feeble young are fed by both parents with predigested food that is regurgitated. The young birds leave the nest about 12 weeks after hatching.

Their average lifespan in the wild is 30 years.

The Master Artisan exquisitely designed Parrots to reveal majestic palette hues. God has miraculously provided us with 372 known Parrot species. There are seven colorful subspecies of the Eclectus. The Lord created Parrots to be stunning for the watching world.  He “saw” His animal kingdom, and affirmed, “it was good.” (Genesis chapter 1)

Remarkable Parrot Talk:

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* Information gratefully gathered from various web sources.

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Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – The Greater Flamingos (White) of Spain

Flamingoes (White) @ Val Lee

My husband, Al, and I flew to Spain in May. Al spoils me with exotic adventures! We also savored Paris and Gibraltar during the trip. Spain in May is most lovely. When in Spain, at Fuente de Piedra (“fountain of stone”) Lake, I was surprised to view these white Flamingos with salmon pink wings with black wing tips. I thought the LORD God only made Flamingos in stately bright orange or pink from simply viewing the Caribbean or American Flamingo.

There are actually six species of Flamingos found throughout the world. The Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) are the most widely spread, but not found in the Americas. Besides Spain, these white great beauties reside in parts of Africa and in southern Asia—the coastal regions of Pakistan and India (It is the state bird of Gujarat, India). They are also nestled in southern Europe—in Sardinia, Albania, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, and in France. They group in large flocks that often show-off thousands of pomp members. In Kenya Africa, four million will gather at Lake Bogona. Flamingos are a distinct bird family. They are classified as the Greater Flamingo being their height averages 50 inches—tallest of all Flamingos.

The great whites’ plumage is stunning to behold! They do display some pink but it definitely is overshadowed by a downy-white petticoat look as seen at Fuente de Piedra Lake.

They are never referred to as white Flamingos, but this is what I call them. How could I not? I guess I must be proper and call them pink and they are very pink in some locals.

The Greaters love the wetland of Fuente de Piedra in the Málaga province of Spain. This is where I shot my photos and videos for this article. Here you can locate the largest colony of these white long-neckers within the Iberian Peninsula. The shallow lake is fed by underwater springs that pass through mineral salt deposits. God made it perfect for these saline thriving aves that are attracted by the seaweed and crustaceans, which flourish in these rich brackish waters.

Flamingos Greater (White Plumage) @ Val Lee

My first video of Great Flamingos at Fuente de Piedra Lake shows them flying and their daily water sporting routines. They display white radiance, swan-lake-like, as they float.

During the Roman Empire era, nearby townsfolk frequented the Fuente de Piedra Lake to bathe and recuperate, believing the lake held medicinal qualities. During this period, Flamingos were hunted for their tongues—considered a tasteful delicacy. Yuck! Salt was also extracted from the lake during Roman times and until recently for table salt. In the 1930s, a salt company that owned the lake undertook a campaign to reduce the Flamingo population, which was threatening their salt production. However, the salt lake attracted so many birds and birders that in 1988 it was declared a zone of special birding interest (ZEPA) in protection of wildlife.

The Fuente Lagoon is not more than 3 1/2 feet deep. The Greater Flamingos need a certain amount of water to breed and will desert their eggs if aqua supplies evaporate due to drought. 2008 was a drought year and no eggs were hatched. 2009 was a significant year for the Greats, being over 5000 young fledged.

Flamingos beautify themselves 15 to 30 percent each day. Their large slightly curved bills, displaying white, pink and black hues, smooth and clean their elegant plumage with oil pulled from a gland located near their pretty tails for this preening process that also involves waterproofing their countless feathers.

Zoologists believe the Flamingo’s favorite resting position is their one leg stance. Supposedly, pulling one leg upward assists Flamingos in the conservation of energy, enabling them to stay warm. Greater Flamingos have three forward-pointing toes and a hallux or hind toe.

Flamingos implement their feet to stir up mud to gather their desired delicacies for their palate. The webbing between their toes assists their stance in soft mire. Flamingos eat with their head upside down and hold their breath in the water, siphoning the water through their bills, filtering small shrimp, seeds, blue-green algae, microscopic organisms, and mollusks. Mud and water drain out the back of the bill. The food is captured in their beaks with finger-like projections called lamellae.

Flamingos Greater (White Plumage) @ Val Lee

Here is my second video shot at Fuente de Piedra Lake showing a Greater Flamingo long-necker descending into very shallow waters to feed.

Jesus Christ created the Flamingos in Spain at Fuente de Piedra Lagoon to be white bodied. He created them with salmon and black flight feathers. They are perfectly color coordinated as revealed when they fly past. We know by observing animals that their coloring cannot always be diet-oriented as brown, black and gray squirrels maintain the same diet and many animals eat foods that do not correspond to their color. And don’t forget the magnificent eyes on so many animals that have no resemblance to the color of their food. I might add, my orange and white cat, Alfredo, does not eat orange and white food; only dull brown. It is all by God’s orchestrated design and plan whatever that entails. Everything is masterly crafted by Jesus Christ the Creator of all that is natural in origin.

In the Bible, In Revelation chapter 5, verses 11-14, we learn someday the Flamingos will speak the praises of Jesus Christ who was slain and rose again that He might “receive power, riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” We learn from this passage that every created thing in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea and in the sea will give praise to Jesus Christ.

Flamingos Greater (White Plumage) @ Val Lee

A Flamingo will run to acquire speed for jetting off into the wild blue yonder for a solo flight. The flying Flamingos flap their wings almost continuously in flight. They will take to the air when startled or to migrate. The speed of a flock can reach 31 to 37 miles per hour. They can fly 300 miles to reach a new habitat.

Flamingo research proves them to be completely monogamous—mating for life, having eyes only for each other, as decreed by the LORD. Male and female Greater Flamingos appear the same. They woo each other with a variety of love notes in vocal speech. They implement head and wing flaunting to capture the attention of that special vain one. What has produced immense notoriety is their expertly synchronized courting marches. Flamingos have distinct march maneuvers that take place when the flock walks as one in a single direction, then quickly turns in another direction. They would make a perfect military marching regiment and they even have a “wing salute” in honor of the Air Force (I’m kidding, of course). “They show off their colors with cocked tails and outstretched necks, and ‘head flagging’ in a rhythmic side-to-side head turn.” They can appear to be most vainly dignified. “Vanity, Thy Name is Flamingo.”

A mother Flamingo will lay one or two eggs on a mound of mud that can be a foot tall. The eggs are incubated for about a month. Both parents incubate the eggs. Mom and Dad will feed their young by folding their long legs and straddling the nest. Both parents nourish their nestlings with crop milk—a dark red, high fat, enriched-protein liquid secreted from their upper digestive tracts. Our blessed God is totally amazing in understanding the needs of His created young.

Chicks are downy gray and have a straight bill upon hatching. The chicks fledge (fly) in 70-75 days. The young reach their full adult size at 1½ to 2 years and they receive adult plumage at 2-4 years. Some Flamingos can live for 20 years in the wild.

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.

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Here is a link to my video slideshow of Spain, Gibraltar and France, simply click with your mouse:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKRiGLgu4pQ

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Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker (female) @ Val Lee

I shot this female Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) in the Payette Lake area of Idaho. (My video link of lake at bottom of article) It was a joy to spot her on the dirted pathway. She would also be classified as a western Hairy Woodpecker.

Hairy Woodpeckers are so-called due to the long whitefeathers that run down the middle of their back.

The LORD Jesus Christ created these wood maneuvering stately beings to be amazingly equipped. This Woodpecker’s tongue can be extended at least three times its beak length; a significant distance beyond the bill for probing deeply to catch a mouthful of delectable bugs. Here the capabilities of the Woodpecker tongue astound. Tree trails formed by wood-boring beetle larvae or other insects can be extensive. Located beneath the outer layer of bark, these shallow subways can extend for several inches or even feet. When the Hairy Woodpecker’s bill infringes upon an insect passage, it extends its tongue and probes about for a tasty morsel. If located, it skewers its prey with its sharp barbed tongue tip. This contented ave will then withdraw its happy tongue full of delicious protein.

These aves can also consume at hummingbird feeders by extending their tongues into the holes for bottom feeding, being drenched in all that succulent nectar.

Many people sit in awe regarding this flexible tongue that is somewhat like fishing reel line, like leader extending or receding back into the mouth. Tiny flexible tongue bones (hyoid) allow the tongue to exit from the Woodpecker’s right nostril. It circles around behind the head and neck, and enters into the beak on the other side of the head. Circling around behind the head and neck under the loose skin gives the tongue enough extra length so it can shoot out into a tree trunk like an arrow. It is like an arrow, as it possesses a barbed sharp end. No man-made contraption can match it!

Though the hairy’s tongue is long, it does not dangle down nor tangle around branches like regular fishing line. The slack is held under the skin behind the neck. “Within the entire length of the Woodpecker’s tongue lies the ‘hyoid apparatus,’ a linear series of tiny bones sheathed in muscles and soft tissue.” These ultra-thin hyoid bones amazingly fold up like an accordion. This design is so remarkable that it is hard to comprehend. What scientist or doctor would imagine such a thing on his own volition?

The hammerhead’s tongue and beak are synchronized for success. The bill is long, tough and chisel-like. Though it does not resemble a chisel, it maneuvers like one. It forages on trees, often turning over bark—excavating—to uncover the insect’s hidden world. No man can create such a tool, only God. When man manufactures a chisel, knife or saw, it must be sharpened. The LORD created Woodpecker beaks to be self-sharpening and they never need to be replaced. Brain-filled man has never manufactured such a tool.

This Woodpecker skull encloses the brain in a tight grip so it cannot shift, thus avoiding concussions. Its proficient neck muscles produce a continual series of rapid movements for drilling. What human brain could endure such continual thrusting?

Their diet consists of seeds, nuts, fruit, caterpillars, moths, ants, grasshoppers, wood-boring beetles, spiders, crickets and flies.

My video of a hungry Hairy:

   

They can dodge prey critters by swiftly maneuvering sideways behind a trunk of a tree. They can hang upright off the side of a timber using their sharp minute claws to grip the bark. Their starch-like physique and tail feathers also assist their steadfast balance, whereby they can maneuver every which way. They have the sharpest known nails (toes) on their continually moving feet. They have two toes pointing forwards and two backwards. Jesus Christ provided everything they could ever need to survive.

There are 17 species of Hairy Woodpeckers. Northern Harrys tend to be larger than southern. East of the Rockies, they have white bellies with extensively spotted wings. Western birds display less spotting on wings and narrower facial stripes. Aves in the Pacific Northwest are brown and black (rather than white and black). Interestingly, the similar Downy Woodpeckers show these same regional patterns of variation. Downys are considered a smaller edition of the Hairys.

Adults are mainly black on upper parts and wings, with white and back spotting. Their throat and belly vary from white to sooty brown. A white bar is displayed above and one below the eye. They exhibit a black tail with white outer feathers. Females and males look-alike outside of the fact that males display a small patch of red on rear of crown as do Downy Woodpeckers.

Hairys reside in deciduous forests, suburbs, and parks in the Bahamas, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Turks and Caicos Islands, Canada and the United States.

Hairy Woodpecker (female) @ Val Lee

They are an abundant Woodpecker of nine million or more. It is a medium-sized Woodpecker, about the size of a robin—9 to 13 inches, with a 15-inch wingspan. Hairys have a slow and uneven flight pattern like most Woodpeckers.

Rex Brasher (1926) writes on the courting Hairy: “Seated under a cluster of small maples, one day in early May, I watched the interesting courting antics of the pair (Hairy Woodpeckers). The jaunty male’s favorite position was one in which he appeared to be almost standing on his tail. With bill upright, wings thrown forward, and tail widespread, he repeated over and over what was undoubtedly intended for a love-song, a series of notes divided between chuckles and whistles. But the strangest, most mystifying performance was a series of backward drops on the under side of a limb inclined about forty-five degrees. . . . Why didn’t the little acrobat fall when he released his claws? Studying his movements carefully through the binoculars, I came to the conclusion that at the instant of releasing his grip he jerked his body toward the limb with sufficient impetus to catch the bark six inches or so below.”

Mr. Hairy Woodpecker engages in a slow courtship that commences in the depth of winter after establishing his territory. Yes, burr! He begins drumming his heart with his beak on a favorite post to proclaim a dating announcement. An interested gal will drum “rat a tap tap” in reply, letting him know his announcement was delivered in Native Indian-like style. The lengthy duet drumming expresses their love and commitment to one another. When they finally meet, after days or weeks of drumming (being a bit on the shy side), they perform aerial displays of wonder—striking their wings against their sides to produce a clapping sound (perhaps to applaud their joyful union). They may also flutter their wings like butterflies, seeming to almost hover in the air (a heavenly floating romance).

Their fast paced drilling can reach an intense state and be prolonged when the male favors one nest site and his mate another. They drum until one drummer wins over the other.

If a couple has been separated for a period, they will rejoice upon seeing each other again with lively and exuberant love song notes. They do strive to remain close to one another during the breeding season. If one cannot locate the other, they will drum for a period of time for a GPS location.

Christian Husbands and wives should also possess such a bond; whereby, if they are away from one another for an extended period, they rejoice upon reunion through various ways of communication. Birds and other wildlife can teach us lessons as the Bible reveals.

The book of the Song of Solomon teaches that a dating type love that never ends is most necessary in a marriage. Husbands and wives should always eye each other as sweet lovers. A man should never require that his wife treat him like a son nor should he treat her as an unwanted child—always verbally belittling her in his arrogance, as if she was not a responsible adult, as if she was not a co-heir of the grace of life—1 Peter 3:7. She is to be her husband’s queen.

The wife too has her role, that being of respect and obedience. She must not disrespect her husband in any way, but love him unconditionally as her king. Esther excelled in this being her husband was the king of Persia and Media. I explain this in my book, Queen Esther/Looming Holocaust: You can read the book without charge here: http://vallee7.wordpress.com/2009/01/01/estherlooming-holocaust%e2%80%94the-entire-book/  or purchase it through Amazon for a pittance; whereby, you can also listen or read the book via a BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android or Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Queen-Esther-Looming-Holocaust-ebook/dp/B001NXBQL0

The Bible is the best guidebook on marital bliss. If couples neglect its inerrant teachings, everyone suffers. We all fall short at times but God restores and forgives the believer.

Lawrence Kilham noted that a hand-raised Hairy Woodpecker couple appeared to enjoy not only the company of each other, but also of those who cared for them. They would express their communal happiness through outbursts of intimate vocalization.

A true and lasting relationship is firmly bonded when two hairys begin nesting. They begin forming a nest in a tree hole, 3 to 55 feet above ground level, by hammering and twisting their heads from side to side in militaristic determination and rhythm. They do not stop and smell the roses as they drill. It is as if they are on a mission that will not cease for any real break time.

In fortitude of duty, they fling woodchips out of the starter nest cavity. Making a mess on the ground is not their concern. Upon completion of the rounded hole and inner home space, the mom to be lays 3 to 6 white eggs on a bed of woodchips (not very downy). Both parents incubate and brood the young. Papa sits on the eggs during the night, and mama relieves him every morning after sunrise. They alternate these duties throughout the day. After the cute woodys are hatched, both parents engage in nest sanitation (discarding the droppings of their young, keeping the log home nice and tidy). Egg incubation is 11-12 days and the nestlings depart in 28-30 days past hatching.

 

Hairy Woodpecker, female juvenile, © Val J. Lee

Hairy Woodpecker, female juvenile, © Val J. Lee

Interestingly, the tongue of a newly hatched Woodpecker is most short, making it easy for parents to place food in the mouth of a crying hungry one. God formed everything just right for every situation.

A couple will defend their nestlings. Their bill is their master weapon. They will strike fast with hard blows. They can even repel a raccoon.

The nesting Sparrow is one of the enemies of the nesting Hairy Woodpecker, and Sparrows like to cease their nests for their own. B. T. Gault wrote: “I once saw one of these sparrows enter the hole of one of these birds (a Hairy Woodpecker) and take a newly hatched bird out in its bill, flutter for an instant over the water (the nest was in a dead willow snag standing in the overflowed Illinois River bottom), and drop the young bird into the water to drown. (My, oh my) It then returned into the nest and soon appeared with another newly hatched woodpecker in its bill…”

Woodpecker couples live fairly separate lives outside of copulation season; however, both will remain in the same territory.
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Attracting: You can attract them to your backyard feeders by offering black oil sunflower seeds and suet. However, remember, they can create holes in home siding.

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My video of Lake Payette: https:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHAzZ0-A4fg

*Information gratefully gathered from various web sources

Please click here: letter-to-bird-enthusiast

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