Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Penguins (Magellanic and Gentoo)

Magellanic Penguin © Val J. Lee

Magellanic Penguin © Val J. Lee

 

Penguins (Juvenile)

Seeing the Penguins of Patagonia in South America was a dream come true. The LORD God was completely gracious to allow my husband, Al, and I, this blessed experience. We departed from Ushuaia, Argentina, in an enclosed, water tour craft to see the wonders of the Beagle Channel, within the Straights of Magellan. This is called the “End of the World.” The Beagle Channel, or Beagle Canal, is 150 miles long, encompassing both Argentina and Chile. It runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, east to west or visa versa. In this area of the end of the world, you round the cape (Cape Horn) by ship,

Cape Horn © Val J. Lee

Cape Horn © Val J. Lee

And later view the Andes Mountains in the Strait of Magellan.

Strait of Magellan © Val J. Lee

Strait of Magellan © Val J. Lee

Magellanic Penguin © Val J. Lee

Magellanic Penguin © Val J. Lee

These little Penguin guys are just all too cute.

Video: 

Jesus Christ certainly blessed mankind when He created these multifunctional bird/fish creatures. He gave us countless animals who own captivating attributes that thrill our hearts.

Magellanic Penguins © Val J. Lee

Magellanic Penguins © Val J. Lee

It was such a joy to have a Penguin jumping in and out of the water next to our boat like a dolphin for a short period, as we traveled the Beagle Channel.

Magellanic Penguin © Val J. Lee

Magellanic Penguin © Val J. Lee

Magellanic is strictly a South American Penguin, breeding in coastal Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands. A few do migrate to Brazil. The Magellanic Penguin breed was named after the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan who first spotted this bird in 1520. Of course, the Strait of Magellan was named after him as well.

Magellanic Penguin © Val J. Lee

Magellanic Penguin © Val J. Lee

These bird/fish travel in flocks when merging with ocean waters when on the hunt. They swim like fish as perfect underwater divers who love to catch and eat their fill of petite sea-creatures in God’s life-springing blue waters that provide them with cuttlefish, squid, krill and crustaceans. Great things to munch on. Bon-appetit.

There are 12 types of Penguins. They all ingest salt water with their prey food, their salt excreting glands cleanses the salt from their bodies. No one who has common sense, can absolutely declare that absolutely nothing created these magnificently crafted creatures. Evolution is the god of the foolish. As the Bible states, the fool says in his heart there is no God. (Psalm 14:1)

The Magellanic swimming birds are 24 to 30 inches in length and can weigh up to 14 pounds—weight can vary. The weight of both parents drops significantly during the feeding of their young.

Magellanic Penguins are migratory, some birds traveling as far north as Peru and Brazil to winter.

Parents feed their chicks by regurgitating partially digested food; this is the way of all Penguins. As we note often in wildlife, the males are larger than the females.

You can view from the photos the fact the adults have black backs and white abdomens. They possess a black stripe that runs from their beak upward. It then travels down the back on their heads, and then, wraps like a necklace about their throat.

Penguins (Juvenile)

Chicks and juveniles display grey-blue backs, with a more faded grey-blue color upon their chest. (See photo above)

Magellanic Penguins can live up to 25 years in the wild; however, as long as 30 years in captivity. God is gracious with the years of life He grants them.

Akin to other Penguin species, the Magellanic, has very rigid wings, implemented to cruise under water, as if in flight. They also own the best manufactured eyes for hunting in water and living on land … an amazingly crafted bird for land and sea; though not for air flight as they are a non-soaring bird.

Magellanic Penguins are faithful for life in union. They have been utilized for illustration, to explain how people should be faithful in marriage for life, including one European, secular news source: “Nature’s most loyal lovers: Magellanic Penguins always return to same mate after solo journeys totaling 200,000 miles.” One unique couple remained faithful for 16 years.  This was remarkable as Penguins can easily perish due to the many hazards they encounter.  Many Penguins have to locate new mates as many do not survive the year.

Penguins are equipped by God with locating apparatus within. Among hundreds of thousands of birds, a male or female can home in on their special someone through their one of a kind, distinct call. And parents and their young can locate each other through voice recognition. Penguins can appear alike to us, but they recognize their differences. It is slightly similar to a racial group all appearing the same to a person of a different nationality, though they well distinguish themselves among themselves. Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no animal is totally like another. God is not known to make copycats in His animal kingdom and human kingdom.

We all know there will never be another Abraham Lincoln nor Bobbie the Wonder Dog. In 1923, Bobbie traveled with his family from Silverton, Oregon to Indiana for the family’s vacation. He was a two year-old Scotch Collie/English Shepherd mix. Sadly, during the vacation, Bobbie was separated from his owners. The family engaged in an exhaustive search. Unfortunately, they could not locate their beloved canine. They were forced to return to Oregon. Six months later, February of 1924, Bobbie appeared on the doorstep of his home in Silverton. He was extremely thin, dirty, and weak. His feet were worn to the bone. Bobbie had walked 2,551 miles (4,105 km) across the United States to return home. God was gracious to this family and dog.

Animals and mankind are handcrafted by God Almighty. God says of man that he is fearfully and wonderfully created from the time of conception in Psalm 139, within the Bible. Man is different from animals as man has an eternal soul. Animals do not. This is why Christ came and died for you that you might be saved from your sins and live eternally in heaven. Please click here to learn of God’s personal love for you: letter-to-bird-enthusiast

When Penguins are attracted to each other for a lifetime commitment, they will woo each other by performing a display stretch with their necks, point their beaks skywards, while spreading their wings and making a braying (donkey-like) noise. This is performed repetitively, over periods of an hour or more. Magellanic Penguins also perform allopreening (preening or grooming each other with their beaks). This serves a dual purpose, it reinforces bonds between Penguins and removes parasites; though the later is not romantic at all.

 

Nesting burrows of Magellanic Penguins © Val J. Lee

Nesting burrows of Magellanic Penguins © Val J. Lee

An Attached Penguin male will reclaim his nesting burrow (They dig holes with a mound at the top) from the previous year and await to reconnect with his lifetime mate—the mother of all their chicks.

The Penguins nest in communities, being most social.

Their nests are constructed under bushes if not burrowed. Two eggs are generally laid. God created them to lay the perfect eggs, which do not fall on ledges, they spin because they own one narrow end and balance themselves. The incubation period is 39–42 days. Mom and Dad take turns guarding the nest. While one takes the sentry position, the other sets out to sea for food. Eggs and young chicks can fall victim to various types of Seagulls so parents must always be on guard duty.

After hatching, Mom and Dad share in their task of chick care. Chicks are fed daily, with one of their parents leaving the colony in early morning and returning with food later the same day. Fledging (departing the nest) occurs at 9 to 17 weeks of age. The offspring are raised through adulthood.

Magellanic Penguins, at the Patagonian coastal areas, are classified as a threatened species due to the vulnerability of large breeding colonies to oil tanker discharges. Sea lions and Giant Petrels also prey on the young.

Sea Lions of South America © Val J. Lee

Sea Lions of South America © Val J. Lee

Petrels with Seagulls, Magellanic enemies © Val J. Lee

Petrels with Seagulls, Magellanic enemies © Val J. Lee

Additionally, heavy rain can lead to the flooding of burrows and killing of chicks, which have yet to develop waterproof plumage. And burrows can collapse when trampled on by guanacos (family of Lamas) or cattle. These aves also can be plagued by Penguin fleas, though this is not life-threatening.

Magellanic Penguins are considered relatively aggressive and can inflict a strong bite if handled. Although they can be approached, they are wary of unfamiliar people.

Magellanic Penguins with Guanay Cormorant © Val J. Lee

Magellanic Penguins with Guanay Cormorant © Val J. Lee

Guanay Cormorants were everywhere. They appear to be Penguins, when amongst the Penguins. You have to peer and observe to see the difference. (See photo above)

Gentoo Penguin © Val J. Lee

Gentoo Penguin in need of a bath © Val J. Lee

The Gentoo Penguins live amongst the Magellanic as if they were of the same family of Penguin. The Gentoo Penguin is easily recognized by the wide white stripe extending like a hat bonnet across the top of its head and its red bill. Also they display pale-pink webbed feet, and a fairly long tail—the most prominent tail of all Penguins.

Nests for their offspring consist of a roughly, circular pile of stones and can be on the large side. The stones are jealously guarded! Their acquired ownership can be the subject of noisy disputes between individual Penguins. The stones are prized by the female Gentoos. A male Penguin knows he can strand in good favor of a female by offering her a nice stone. Needless to say, a great deal of theft takes place during nesting season. They lay two eggs and both parents care for the young, same as the Magellanic.

Gentoo Penguin © Val J. Lee

Gentoo Penguin © Val J. Lee

As the Gentoo Penguin waddles along on land, its extended tail sweeps from side to side like a broom. This visualization explains their scientific name “Pygoscelis,” which translates—”rump-tailed.”

The Gentoo Penguin can reach speeds up to 22 miles per hour, swimming under water. (The Magellanic can reach speeds of 15 mph.) They are not tortoises when it comes to motoring through the oceans. Top Olympian swimmers can swim in the ocean at 2 miles per hour.

Gentoos are also jumping Penguins. God masterfully created them to jump and run quickly over the rocks where they live. They can even outrun people.

Side note: Sailors discovered Penguin eggs could be kept 6 months when rubbed with oil and placed in sand for a future food source.

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.

Please click on blue to view my South American slide video:  South America – Beautiful Scenery Slide Show

Please click on blue to view my Sea Lion video: Sea Lions at the end of the world in Ushuaia

*Advertisements are not placed by me, they are placed on the post by Word Press. I apologize for anything inappropriate. 

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Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Merganser (Hooded)

Hooded Merganser (Male) © Val J. Lee

I photographed this distinct drake at my favorite park—Katherine Albertson. This is a Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) and it can cause quite the upset for any photographer. These non-quacking ducks are always on the move as agile swimmers and divers. When on a fishing expedition, they will submerge for a long stretch in time and emerge at a distant local. You can never guess where that odd, adjustable head will pop up next! They can hold their breath for as long as is needed. Wow! God is amazing in His creation; He provided all that is necessary by design for survival.

The pronounced ID on male Hooded Mergansers is the crest at the rear of the head which can expand or contract. This collapsible pinnacle is a large white patch when in full diadem array. You cannot help but be amazed by God when you see all the various ways the intricate beauty crest, glowing white, with black, can maneuver by the whim of the Merganser. Jesus Christ, out of His goodness, has made His created elegance everywhere present in the wilds of North America. The male Merganser is a true representative of this fact.

Hooded Merganser (male) © Val J. Lee

The crest can even fold into a marked out, artistic triangle (photo above). No man manufactured, transformer toy can maneuver and perform like the male Merganser crest can! It is my favorite American duck when it comes to loveliness. I am also impressed by their stately manner when they glide through the water.

Females display a crest as well; however, not as near impressive. They can throw it about and maneuver it in other ways, but it cannot beat their counterpart’s crowning agility of appeal.

This angry gal is the mate of the Male Merganser in my first video. Notice her unusual webbed feet. These ducks are prettier when their feet are hidden when floating on ponds.

The eighteen inch Merganser, with a wingspan of 27 inches, inhabits swamps and wooded ponds in America and Canada, bursting with tasty, aquatic life. They breed in northern locals and winter in the southern US.

Though this bird is on the shy side normally, this all changes during courtship. Males will involve themselves in a number of elaborate display expressions. What also surfaces is the definitive vocalizations—chattering or grunting, but never quacking in conversation.

Hooded Mergansers (female and male) © Val J. Lee

Their courting habits remind me of an ancient, native American war dance, waged against pioneers. Male suitors will surround a single gal, and each hopes to win her heart. They all attempt to impress with their vibrant, white crests in full expansion (akin to white and black feathered, native warbonnets); their necks bobbing their heads. They sometimes place their faces toward the sky, as they uplift themselves out of the water—an added, tasteful touch to a gala performance. As they seek to own, they will act like Indians on horseback, circling a wagon train in full determined expression. She is the center of attention and she shines.

Couples pair in early winter, nesting in tree cavities adjacent to water. (also characteristic of Wood Ducks) Between 10 to 12 spherical, thick-shelled eggs are laid. They are either white or green-blue; though an occasional black is laid.

Mom Merganser incubates the eggs for about a month. (Fowl eggs are completely amazing. God creates young within protective shells and He tells moms how to perfectly care for the unborn young through incubation, rotation, etc. Some male birds also assist on the nest.)

She solely tends the young until 10 weeks of age, when they are able to fend for themselves.

Male Hooded Merganser © Val J. Lee

What ushers in further amazement with this ave, is its eye equipment. The Merganser can change the refractive properties of its eyes to enhance its underwater vision. Their eyes are itsy-bitsy-cute; yet masterfully designed for underwater and above-water usage. The nictating membrane (third eyelid) is transparent, implemented for eye protection when diving, akin to donning a pair of goggles.

Its thin, black, long bill is a resourceful sawbill—a serrated cutting beak with edges—ideally suited for capturing and controlling slippery fish (their staple diet) and other aquatic delicacies such as crustaceans and insects.

Hooded Merganser (male) © Val J. Lee

Wow, isn’t God amazing in composing? And just think, Mergansers never have to plant fields, gather into barns or worry about having enough money for their next meal (Matthew 6:26). God has created all they require in abundance. Those who love Jesus Christ need never worry as well—birds bearing the mental picture of this truism. (Matthew 6:27-30 and 7:7-11)

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Males display brown/reddish flanks with two black vertical bars at the front, black upperparts, a black face; and of course, a varying crest. Flight feathers are black and white striped with matching distribution. Under-layers are old barn brown. In all loveliness, this ave is designed for earth and sky.

Females own brownish flanks and darker brown upperparts, a brown head, and a brown/reddish to gray crest that can be raised or lowered, like the male. And her’s often bobbles. She exhibits a brown beak and her body can appear more grayish in fall, wearing her winter dress.

God grants them, on the average, ten years of life.

Additional photo showing the Hooded Mergansers with American Mergansers (Though it is stated, the two species do no mingle, I have seen them cruising together, as viewed in the photo.)  The American is a far larger Merganser.

Hooded Mergansers and American Mergansers (males and females) © Val J. Lee

*Info gratefully obtained from various web sources.

Please click here to learn of God’s personal love for you: letter-to-bird-enthusiast

Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Sugar Bird, Bananaquit or “Honeycreeper” of the Caribbean

Bananaquit or Sugar Bird © Val J. Lee

“Sugar Bird” and “Honeycreeper” best describes the fact these birds feast on nectar.

I shot this cute, yellow fella in Antigua—a plush Caribbean Isle. My husband enjoys flying me to distant lands, and he just happens to tag along. He is the romantic.

Here are three of my photos of this floating paradise area on the sea.

Antigua Sail Boat © Val J. Lee

Antigua © Val J. Lee

Antigua Sunset © Val J. Lee

I was most taken when I spotted this bright, feathery ave lurking here and there on this island stationed southeast of Cuba. I certainly consider birds a blessing from the LORD, being they are lovely, complex, intelligent, and resource the earth and sky as they desire.

Bananaquit or Sugar Bird © Val J. Lee

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Over a month ago, my marvelous husband and I landed on Grand Cayman Island, and I spotted the Sugar Bird here as well (photo below). Unfortunately, this song bird appeared to prefer to be hidden in the tropical forests on this isle. On Antigua, they were more readily sighted.

Bananaquit or Sugar Bird of Grand Cayman © Val J. Lee

Aves certainly appear to rejoice in the life the Creator has provided them through their tweeting repertoires.

Here is my very short video of a Bananaquit singing on Grand Cayman:

My photo of Grand Cayman:

Grand-Cayman © Val J. Lee

My video of the Caribbean Sea stretching from Grand Cayman’s beach:

From the first Bananaquit photo you notice it is a passerine or perching bird. God provided it with four special toes to wrap around branches—3 forward and one that extends backward.

I revel in their golden splendor and their white crowned heads—the authentic regal beauty of the Bananaquit. I always stand in awe of Jesus Christ’s inspiring, artistic creations of wonder, even the minutest.

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Sugar Bird Basics:

The Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) is a petite bird (4.5 inches long). It displays a slender, curved bill—uniquely created to obtain nectar from flora.

This Honeycreeper can be spotted in common wooded areas and gardens of the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America. Southern Florida is occasionally blessed by their presence.

At times, this yellow flyer will pierce flowers from the side, removing the nectar without pollinating the plant. It also partakes of fruit and insects. It relishes garden life and can become quite tame. One might even wiz through a front door of an Island home to nab a taste of sweetness from a sugar bowl as a surprise guest. (I know I certainly wouldn’t mind). Its nickname, Sugar Bird, comes from its affinity for bowls or bird feeders stocked with granulated sugar or Hummingbird nectar. (Living in Northwest America, I can’t imagine filling a bird feeder with plain sugar. My goodness the bees!)

The Bananaquit, its formal name, supposedly arose from the fact, it would pierce the flowers of Banana plants.

A rachis (resembles a rope or cord with rings) extends downward from a cluster of bananas and is adorned with a large purple flower on the end. It makes me think of a rope that rings a bell.

My photo of Bananas with purple closed flower on end of the rachis:

Antigua Bananas © Val J. Lee

Amazingly, over 100 billion bananas are consumed each year throughout the world. God has blessed this planet with this abundant yellow fruit that matches the small, yellow bird that enjoys its flowers.

The LORD’S magnificent, dainty, sugar flyer has dark grey upperparts, predominate yellow belly and rump, with a black head crowned with white markings. It also displays a red mark behind the bill. Males and females are matching pairs.

The Bananaquit owns a preen gland (uropygial gland) at the base of its tail. This gland produces a perfect mixture of waxes and oils that the are dispersed by the beak to coat feathers; maintaining flexible, resilient, and water-resistant wings. It also provides basic protection against parasites and bacteria. (God has created this gland in most birds.)

This Honeycreeper’s breeding season commences in resounding beauty—the most productive, flowering period of the year, March and April. The guy and gal’s courtship rituals of play includes bowing, bobbing and exhibiting brilliant, yellow tail feathers.

Once committed, the blond couple weaves a spheric nest of grass, narrow leaves, and twigs. A soft lining is added (the downy blanket). It may consist of many materials, including downy feathers. Bananaquit thieves have been known to steal rag material from mops left on porches. They also will implement the thread-like fibers of coconut husks that also afford many uses for men. One new business implemented the threads for a unusual, hanging ceiling.

At one time ornithologists studied a large range of their nests and “found them to have as many as 404 to 650 items used for nesting materials.” (I know my yard birds will find and sew my long red hair into their nests.) A side or bottom entrance concludes the construction.

The couple may choose to place the nest next to neighbors we would never want—wasps. Yes, if they place their nest adjacent to a wasp nest, they gain protection from predators. God did provide these lovely aves with observation reasoning.

The female will lay several clutches of two to three pale eggs with brown and red tinting. The babies hatch in 12-13 days and the fledglings fly from the nest in 15 to 18 days. A couple may raise 3 to 4 broods a year.

Their lifespan is around 7 years.

Following breeding season, the birds return to separate roosting, sleeping quarters, that are also nests. They do have brooding nests and roosting nests. This is unusual. The roosting nests house several yellows and the nests might be considered condo complexes.

We should never neglect giving thanks for the abundant winged life that sores across our globe. We need to be grateful for all created wonders. We need to offer thanksgiving to Jesus Christ, the Creator of all (Colossians 1:13-19), who died on a tree for every sin. He died for everyone, and whoever sincerely asks Him, in humility, to save them from their sins, can obtain eternal life and a personal relationship with Him. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

*Info gratefully obtained from various web sources.

Please click here to learn of God’s personal love for you: letter-to-bird-enthusiast

Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Yellow-legged Seagulls

Yellow-legged Seagull @ Val J. Lee

I enjoyed observing these aves moving about the Rock of Gibraltar where Mediterranean Sea intersects with Atlantic Ocean … becoming one. You can view Africa from Gibraltar, specifically Morocco, and ferries run between. It is a famed limestone peak that was once a fortress.

Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

It is richly historical with an inner being that possesses 150 caves and one still holds ancient cannons that are focused on the sea straits.

Gibraltar west side cannon @ Val J. Lee

The City of Gibraltar, holding within the Rock of Gibraltar, is a territory of Britain though it is surrounded by Spain and Spain would like to re-seize it. Spain lost Gibraltar to Britain in the war of 1704.

The highlighted cave of Saint Michael’s, (named after Michael the Archangel in the Bible) was magnificently designed by Jesus Christ. It lodges many deep cavities and a crystal clear lake. The Greeks believed this cave led to Hades.

Barbary or Rock Monkeys freely roam about the Rock. No one knows for sure how these Moroccan monkeys came to Gibraltar; though one couple could have snuck aboard a cargo ship headed for Gibraltar, and over time, propagated  a colony of apes.

Rock Apes on Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

Here is my photo of a Barbary Monkey at the summit of Gibraltar and link to my video:

Monkeys (Barbary Macaque) Atop Gibraltar

Barbary Monkey on Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

Both the Barbary Monkeys and the Yellow-legged Seagulls (Larus michahellis) love leftovers and handouts. We saw the Seagulls fighting the monkeys for food. Surprisingly, the yellow legs won. It appears these seagulls and monkeys rule Gibraltar in a bi-partisan manner.

Yellow-legged Seagulls on Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

Gibraltar is quite the scene and I must say it was the monkeys I enjoyed the most even though they are an aggressive species of monkey.

@ Val J. Lee

This is my husband feeding a friendly rock ape from our car window with some bird seed I brought to feed flyers. A huge, baboon-like ape, noticed this happening, and seeming to come out of nowhere, came right through this window to rob us. I cried, “No” at him, as I do my cats on the rare occasions when they misbehave. But he didn’t care that I pleaded for him to reconsider. He grabbed the bird food bag forcibly from my hand. He knew he was far stronger and faster than I. My husband found it quite the joke, but I was infuriated.

Barbary Monkeys enjoying view on Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

You do have to walk cautiously, knowing these apes can bite hard if you do not let them have their way. You can end up spending your vacation in the hospital. They will even check your pockets for food. I must say I enjoyed the Green Monkeys of Barbados better, as they are sweet, shy and kind.

The Yellow-legged Gulls can be mistaken for the European Herring Gull that also displays a red mark on the beak during breeding season. This mark is the target that yellow-legged Gull chicks tap to incite their parents to regurgitate partly digested victuals. (See first photo) Now, who told them where to tap for food and who made that red mark? Yes, the LORD God! He cares for baby birds and makes sure they are wondrously provided for.

Can you imagine the lifelessness of our domain if God had created a black and white world with only black and white birds? Psalm 8, in the Bible, is a song of praise to God whose name is excellent in all the earth! In this song, the LORD proclaims men’s glory, honor and dominion over our prismatic earth, including the multihued birds of the air.

Yellow-legged Seagulls @ Val J. Lee

Both the Yellow-legged and Herring gull, peer with yellow eyes that are surrounded with an orbital eye-ring. When researching the species, I thought the yellow-legs were Herrings. One distinguishing characteristic, of course, is their skinny yellow legs. The Herring’s are dark grey with pink overtones. Outside of the limbs, I find them difficult to distinguish. Their eye-rings I cannot distinguish in photos, though God crafted the Yellow-legged Seagulls to have red eye-rings that match the mark on their beak during breeding; and the Herrings, a deep yellow ring. Yellow-legs also display a whiter head in autumn and disperse a deeper call that is nasal.

Yellow-legged Seagull at Rock of Gibraltar @ Val J. Lee

The yellow legs breeding range is centered around the Mediterranean Sea. Here is my video with them flying about Rock of Gibraltar with a view of the Mediterranean/Atlantic:

In North Africa, the yellow legs are common in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. “Recent breeding has occurred in Libya and Egypt. In the Middle East a few breed in Israel and Syria with larger numbers in Cyprus and Turkey.” European colonies run along the Mediterranean coast and have spread north into central and Western Europe.

Yellow-legged Gulls courtship is similar to many birds. The damsel will beg food from her wooing suitor. The skinny yellow-legged gal will plead in a hunched-posture. She will toss her bright pretty head and move her bill up and down so her guy gets the message. These gulls mate for life by Jesus Christ’s design. Couples normally breed in colonies and females will lay three eggs from mid March to early May.

There have been reports of gulls attacking people who come to close too their nesting areas. In one area of London, postal deliveries had to be suspended. They are strong birds. I can testify to this from observing them war with apes.

Yellow leg nests are a sparse mound of vegetation built on the ground or on cliff ledges. Their eggs are incubated for 27–31 days and the hatched fledge or fly at 35–40 days. Nests are defended vigorously. This is true with most bird families.

If a couple makes a successful home, they will return the following season.

Seagulls start breeding when age three and can live for 40 years.

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Seagulls do like to be stationed near fast food suppliers and recent studies reveal many now prefer city-life to sea-life. A few will attack people for the delectables in their hands.

Here is a video of a Seagull robbing a store of its Cheese Doritos:

Yellow legs are omnivores (eating whatever is available). Of course, we all know they are a scavenger bird … I must be blunt. They love rubbish and hunting suitable prey in fields or in coastal areas. They will rob smaller gulls and other seabirds of their catches.

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Please click here to learn of God’s personal love for you:  letter-to-bird-enthusiast

My video of Gibraltar, France and Spain: Gibraltar, Paris and Spain:

Gibraltar, Paris and Spain

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.

Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Western Tanager

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

What a joy it is when I come across these spectacular, brightly hued birds. Until lately, there have been many in Idaho. This is where I shot the photos and video for this article.

My heart broke when it became known to me that a Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana, died in my yard courtesy of one of our two cats. My husband and son decided, minus any hesitation, that it had to be Cassidy who loves only me and hates everyone and everything else. They assumed that sweet Alfredo, who loves everyone and everything, would never kill such a pretty bird. I, of course, defended my cat with my two cents, being poor in defense, and simply let it be known that they are both avid hunters. This is certainly the case though they are declawed, that is, they cannot dispense their front claws. Being on the elderly side, and owning this deficiency, they can still pounce and kill in an instant.

Both cats covet trespassing birds and that cannot be denied. I love and feed the various flyers and consider them part of our property. I had no idea a Western Tanager had become linked to the bird gang on Lee’s land before its demise.

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

I tried to figure out why the ravishing Tanager had come our way. They are attracted to feeders holding oranges, grapes and dried fruits, but I do not provide these fruits for our outside, fly-by diners.

Tanagers also partake of growing berries; however, my raspberries had not yet ripened. Maybe I have plenty of insects in my yard, being they are a delicious delicacy of the Tanagers. They will gobble bugs, rushing upon them from behind, as the gourmet creatures soar through the air.

Western Tanagers love wasps and bees as well, this being their first choice in diet. They will get a belly full of them when my trumpet vine blooms, if they stick around for the feast.

They also eat plant matter, incorporating 15% of their diet.

All bug-gorging creatures are welcome in my yard. It certainly appears that I don’t need a sign to tell them so.

My video: 

When these gorgeous birds, crafted by God, arrived in our area about two weeks ago, people talked and wanted to know the species. When walking in the park, my friend Bev told me that she spotted this yellow and orange bird and wanted to know what it was. I wrongly replied that it was probably an Oriole. They can vary in color within orange and yellow tinting, and the Bullock’s Oriole resides here. Within a few minutes, another friend pointed out a Western Tanager that landed a few yards away. I quickly realized this was the type of flyer Bev had spotted originally. Within a day or so, we saw them flying everywhere in the park.

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

These elegant, western beauties are classified as a Tanager (Thraupidae). They have flip-flopped between being Cardinals (Cardinalidae) and Tanagers. I must say, they certainly do not own the distinctive Cardinal cone-shaped beak. They were thus categorized due to their plumage and vocalizations, which was supposedly found to be similar to Cardinals.

There were 240 birds that were classified as Tanagers, but things are in a muddle currently. Apparently some of these birds require new name tags. They are being shoved from one bird family to another, being reassessed via the AOU—American Ornithologists’ Union.

Despite how man classifies or un-classifies this ave, I have to confess, I do not see why they dubbed the Western Tanager as a Cardinal. I observe their plumage not being similar to Cardinals, but actually to Golden Finches. To me, the Western Tanager is simply a medium sized, colorfully crafted, American songbird, graciously provided for us by the LORD Jesus Christ.

God has manufactured Western Tanagers and all His creatures with unique dissimilarities. He did not form birds so they could fit perfectly into ornithologists’ classifications.

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

Western Tanager adults can be described as displaying a pale, stout, pointed bill. Their underparts and wing bars are yellow. Males expose a bright red to bright orange face and a yellow nape, shoulder, and rump, with black upper back, wings, and tail. In their duller, non-breeding plumage, the head has no more than a reddish cast and the body possesses an olive tinge.

Females display their own distinctions with a yellow head and an olive hue on their back, with dark wings and tail. When shutterbugging, I never noticed any females. Perhaps they were tending the home nest. I say this, noting the male birds were flying in and out of a coniferous fir tree, and it is in these trees that these lifetime lovers prefer to nest.

The dead, male Western Tanager in my yard was found next to our blue spruce. I wonder if the poor fellow had a family.

The Western Tanager’s song consists of short phrases and you might think you are detecting an American Robin; however, the Tanager voice is hoarser and rather monotonous. They seem to say “pit-er-ick.”

The Western Tanager flies northward to its happy nesting grounds in May, making their homes in coniferous or mixed woods across western North America, from the Mexican-American border. They can migrate as far north as southern Alaska. It can be noted that they are the northernmost breeding Tanager.

Like many aves, the Western Tanagers mate for life. You will view no elaborate aeronautical courtship display. They are not showoffs. However, a flirting female will flutter her wings toward a suitor to gain his attention. This type of sign language can also be implemented as the queue for him to personally feed her during their courting days. This “feed me,” dating behavior, is common among birds.

The book of Ruth, in the Bible, is a romantic book. You find the story of a godly man by the name of Boaz, a land owner. One day his heart goes out to an impoverished woman by the name of Ruth. He extends kindness by offering her some bread and dip. Having been informed of her unfaltering reputation, he praises her for being a woman of chastity, and a woman who exercises sacrificial love. Later, she flitters his way, letting him know she is interested in a marriage proposal, at which time, he cheerfully complies. Unfortunately, a villain lies in the way. Once “he” is removed from the picture, they marry and live happily, ever-after.

This divinely, appointed relationship was completely orchestrated by God. Because this couple feared God, He allowed them to be grafted into the ancestry line of Jesus Christ.

The vibrant, happy, singing couple of Western Tanagers will engage in tweet talk with short, song notes of admiration. Their solid lifetime bond may form on wintering grounds or during migration.

The enthusiastic pair will build a flimsy cup nest on a tree branch, usually in a conifer for their arriving, sweet, wee bairns. They lay four bluish-green eggs with brown spots. The papa of the nest eggs, establishes and defends home and property (territory) by singing and chasing away intruders. Gestation or incubation is 13 days, and the young fledge or fly at seven days of age.

These birds migrate south in August, wintering in Southern California, Central Mexico and Costa Rica.

Their life expectancy is around eight years.

Western Tanager (male) @ Val Lee

Psalm 104, in the Bible, uplifts the God of creation who sends forth springs in the valleys that flow between the mountains and provides drink for every beast of the field, including the birds of the heavens that lift up their voices among the branches. To learn more about God who created you uniquely, and provides for you, please click here:

letter-to-bird-enthusiast

I have a couple of cat stories about Cassidy and Alfredo at my other website under the category of “cat story.”  Please click here: vallee

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.

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.

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