A Bobolink’s Story

Proverbs 24:
1 Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
2 For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.


Birds do not think like humans.  I know that. But when I saw this voiceless beauty, I had to think…

“I just returned from weeks of roaming.  This is the place where I raised a family the last two summers.  This year I went elsewhere. Why did I have to look for greener pastures?

I came back this spring, all ready to find a mate or two and have some children, but noticed some changes. Part of my land was cut down, some trees were a little larger. That curly dock and thistle is really getting out of hand.

I left.

I went down yonder where the tall grasses were blowing. A perfect place without many little two-leggeds roaming about with their course, spontaneous songs.  Such loud unseemly bursts of noise hurt my ears.  At times, there were loud things connected to the two-leggeds. They did not often come too close, but they left destruction in their path, cutting down those grasses and plants we like to hide and feed in.  I wanted to raise my family in peace.

I found a lovely dear who was very impressed with my song and flight.  Not only one, but three wives to give me a large family.  I have my favorite and it is her young that I help most with the feeding.  Oh, don’t give me that look… this is how I was made;  it’s what I do.  You enjoy the song God gave us, right?

Soon the eggs were going to hatch, and I expected to be quite busy for a while.   I hear a strange noise, but I ignored it, figuring it would stay out of my territory like at the other place. I continued guarding the ladies.  Or tried, I had never heard anything quite like this and oddly, this noise was getting louder.

OH! It’s coming here!  Right in my territory!  It barrels right in!  Just in time the ladies flee, but the eggs, the nests…  they must remain.   How could this be?!

I found a metal post and sat there alone, mourning all my unseen children.  Another beast follows throwing the grasses and nests around a bit.

I didn’t go far, staying here overnight.  Another roaring beast comes the next morning, but I didn’t have the heart to move.  What more can these beasts do?  I shortly found out.   All those grasses are swallowed by the beast and spit out as huge rolls.   Why must all these grasses, nests and eggs be tightly wound up?

Eventually, these rolls were taken away.  To where, I don’t know.  The grasses are beginning to grow again, but what is the point now? This might happen again and really, it’s too late to start another family.

My ladies left to parts unknown.  Now I just wander, eating what I can until the South calls again.  I’ll see my pals there.  I look forward to that, one in particular.  He will understand.  His story is different, but still an ending of loss.

He found a nice quiet spot, fairly close to a creek.  He enjoyed harmonizing with the flowing water.  His ladies built their nests and most of the eggs hatched.  The children’s feathers came in, but they could not yet fly.  When they were so close to taking wing, big black four-leggeds came over and started munching the grass.  Their heavy feet tromped here and there without a thought and some of the young were crushed.  Others were able to scamper around avoiding the footfalls.

Those little ones no longer remember the horror and are now having their own families.  Some experience what their father and I did, but have no idea what to do about it.  What protection do our eggs and little nestlings have?  I do not have the strength to turn those things away.

Our friend, the Killdeer, always tries that silly broken-wing fit of his; it does nothing but tires him out.  The eggs are still smashed.  The Meadowlarks, Horned Larks, Grasshopper Sparrows…  they have similar stories.

Today, I decided to come back to this less than perfect place.  The area cut down was not so large even though it seemed huge this spring.  I overheard them talking about it.  They are trying to replace what has been lost.  It is not as easy as they thought and will attempt a little fire later on to see if this won’t help.  Those trees, yes, they are a little larger, but there are no more.  In fact, I noticed one of the two-leggeds cutting down some stray trees.

I should come back next year and not think too much about what might have been.”

The End.

I wrote this because it is possible not many know the cost for the birds and other wildlife just to get beef on our tables.  People eat the beef… the cattle eat this grass.    Hay is best gathered during nesting season so the farmer’s get the most nutrients for their herds.   I prefer grass-fed beef (link goes to where we got our latest batch) from cattle allowed to roam rather than the cows from feedlots that are fed who knows what.  There are no easy answers.  I wish there were.

I focused on the beef industry today, but energy in the form of wind farms also cause loss to birds and wildlife. 

Just some stuff for you to think about when you pick up that package of ground beef, or are convinced to buy a product because they boast of using wind power.   I cannot think of any energy we use that does not come with an environmental price.  Oil, wood, coal, natural gas, solarThe amount “needed” is continually rising.  Can these things be harvested in such a way to lessen the harmful impacts? 

God created the resources; He knew man would discover how to use them.   Yet He created beauty and wonderment in the form of plants and animals.  I cannot see that He would want us to destroy them in the use of the resources.

Categories: bird facts, Creation, dangers to birds, ponder | 1 Comment

A Darker Side of Birding

2 Timothy 3:
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

If you are doing any kind of serious birding, you know that bad weather is often the best time to find birds.  For example, migration comes to a halt when there are storms.

It is now hurricane season along the east coast and some birders thrill at the opportunity.  I read in forums people heading out behind the destruction to find rarities and there are web pages devoted to “how tos.”

One year, a hurricane or tropical storm brought something nearly unheard of into Central Iowa.  We happened to be there the last day a Roseate Spoonbill was seen at Saylorville Lake.   That must’ve been some storm.

Here’s a picture, not from any hurricane but after a thunder storm that passed through one day.  I went out to look for any young fallen from their nests.


Back to the point of this posting, I just wanted a photo on here.

When I was reading comments from those who rush out after a hurricane just to find unusual species, something felt wrong.   What about those whose lives are radically changed by these storms?  Or those who might have lost family members?

There are many people who will quickly come to the aid of the humans and wildlife in need.  I do not doubt this, but how sad it is that some do not care about anything, but an addition to their list.

We do not keep up with the news, so I just searched and found out Hurricane Arthur caused no deaths, injuries or major damage.   That is wonderful news.  But more hurricanes might come this year. What will be more important, human lives or a brief look at a White-tailed Tropicbird?

Categories: dangers to birds, ponder | 4 Comments

Enjoy Birds?

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Job 12:
7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?
If you enjoy birds, you may…

  • get involved in conservation.
  • start feeding the birds.
  • take part in the bird counts in your area.
  • recycle. (I recently learned we were not recycling as much as we could. Paper milk/soup cartons and tin foil can be put in the big bin! YAY!)
  • donate your time and money.
  • go birding, Or…
  •  stop birding.

In October I mentioned we sat in on a presentation about raptors. This was one thing he talked about.  I do not remember all the suggestions he listed, but I think I got most of them. That last one threw me for a loop. Why would you stop birding if you enjoy the birds?! But it didn’t take me long to figure it out, even before he said anything more.

Cost, not only of equipment, but gas to get to those birding hot spots or while aimlessly driving around to look for a species found in some rural area. Or the cost of airplane and pelagic trip fares for the more extreme birder.

Disruption of the birds and their environment.  Walking around the yard disrupts the birds.  This cannot be avoided, so I am not really referring to that.

Nesting birds need space and did you realize you leave a scent for a four-legged predator to follow at some late night hour when you are tucked away in your bed?  After learning this tidbit, I wonder if that is what happened to the Mourning Doves in one of our trees back in Omaha.   We didn’t know anything about birds then and didn’t even realize it was a Mourning Dove at the time.  We just thought it was special there was a nesting bird in our yard and went close to the nest to investigate.  The next day bird and eggs were gone.

Birds have been harassed* just to get the perfect photo or that number on the life/year lists. One most disturbing case is when birders form tight lines to flush  Yellow Rails. Common birds or not, this behaviour is deplorable.

I am going to add one more to this list.  If you enjoy the birds, you may…

stop eating fake sugars.  I do not need to explain what I mean, you know what they are.  I will just focus on one, Splenda AKA sucralose because of what I read recently.

I found a blog about frugal living that had some interesting blurbs in it.  One was an article about fake eggs being developed. She mentioned fake sugar not breaking down in the body, so it is just eliminated. Then it becomes food for the fish.  That sounded odd.

I did a quick search today and found this… Splenda’s Dirty Little Secret  

For a long while, we have avoided using any product with fake sugar in it.   There were just too many questions with the safety, but I never heard of any environmental impacts of them before.  If you enjoy nature, enjoy those birds that visit your yard or the majestic Bald Eagles… whatever affects one animal of any type, will in turn affect the others.
In boring blog news:
You may have realized I have not posted at this site in a while. If you read my last entry, I basically decided to stop posting here except for the more important issues relating to birds.  Theses postings could be wordy and possibly boring.  :)  Instead I started an email list to send to those who are interested . If you want to receive these emails and are not already, please leave a comment and make sure you fill in the email address you wish for me to use.

*One of my readers says there is a pop-up on that site.  I looked through other pages and nothing came up.  I have a good ad/pop-up blocker and this usually will tell me when it blocks a pop-up.  No notice came at the top like it would normally.  I do not doubt them, but if you do not wish to risk going to the site, I found another site with the same topic. Snowy Owl Photography Ethics

Fine print  :D
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Categories: dangers to birds, ponder | 1 Comment

Mites’ Effect on Birds

Romans 8:
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
This was written months before Google withheld the info about search terms.  It has been sitting in Drafts and it is time to set it free.  :)  I believe I mentioned that my earlier post gets a lot of visitors from search engines.  A lot.  Most often it is people dealing with mites of unknown type (They just assume “bird”.) on themselves or in their homes, but now and again there are searches from those wondering about the birds.

Back in August, I received two from the same individual.  I do not know their story, but assume it didn’t have a happy ending.

Day one: mites crawling on baby junco
Day two: mites kill baby juncos

Another search: how mites kill birds

I have written before that birds are given several means to deal with mites, but these are fully developed birds.  They preen, bathe, “ant”…    Sometimes they have more mites than normal and this will cause bald spots where they cannot reach.  This is usually the head area, and even under the wings.

Most, if not all, perching songbirds are altricial (blind and naked) when they hatch.  They are helpless to remove these mites.  In the cases of extreme infestation, the babies will hop out of the nest before they can fly.  We believe this is what happened to our one baby Barn Swallow. They are trying to remove themselves from the irritation, but this places them at risk for predation from outdoor cats, raccoons, and other birds that prey on the young, such as grackles.   Even if they do not hop out of the nest, the loss of blood from the multitude of bites can cause them to become weak and die.

In a quick search, I found a case where a family tried helping baby birds with mites, using the instructions rehabbers gave them.  What I learned is this takes care of the mites, BUT this can create a worse problem.  The parent birds, not seeing or hearing their young (The babes were taken into the house for treatment.) abandoned the nest.  The young were going to be placed in a new nest near the old, but unknown to the family, it was too late. After placing the new nest out, they saw the adults near the feeder and heard the young chirping. They believed all was well..  Later they discovered the truth; the young died from starvation.

One thing I was noticed while reading this whole story is yes, there were mites.  They were all over the little birds and hopping off after the spray from the pet store was applied.  They were on the humans.  The rehabber told the couple these mites will not harm them.  They just rinsed their hands and arms off frequently while dealing with the birds.  No infestation for the humans!

Something this brings out is nature is cruel at times.  Sin causes so much heartache for us and distress for flora and fauna.  I appreciate the couple’s attempt at helping the birds,  They contacted the proper people. They did the right thing, they followed the directions given.  Even so, the young did not survive.

We groan with creation…

Categories: bird facts, dangers to birds, di fekkel, ponder | Leave a comment

Big and Small

Ephesians 3:
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
A monster sized Harris’s Sparrow with a wee little Chipping Sparrow

No problem is too big for the Lord to handle.  Along side that, there is no problem too small in the eyes of the Lord.  He will carry us through and love us no matter what we are facing.

Categories: di shpatza, ponder

Rest, Little Friend

Hebrews 10:
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
We know we are helping the birds when we feed them. We buy feeders and set them up in such a way to make feeding easy for them. One example: Our hopper is meant for smaller birds, but we saw the Mourning Doves struggle to use it, so placed a board under it so they can easily stand to eat.

Wanting to get an easy to clean hummingbird feeder, I found one with perches. I didn’t give it much thought as hummingbirds do not need perches. There’s no perches when they feed from flowers. But I learned something…

If there is a perch, they will use it. We then started noticing the Hummies preferred using the feeders where they can rest to feed. We increased the sugar to water ratio because the season was getting late. The perches allowed them to gain calories without using so much energy.  This was good as they were heading south and needed all the calories they can get.

Recently the children were telling me about something they saw in a Christian nature magazine.   An article was talking about how to get photos of hummingbirds in flight.   The writer showed a hummingbird feeder with perches, but broke one off.  Then they covered all the feeding holes except for the one where the perch was broken so the hummingbird is flying as it is feeding.

It’s such a small, small thing but yet it bothered me.  I remember other photography articles in this magazine… the great cost, the vast amounts of effort to create the perfect setting and lighting.  Then it is all torn down when the photography session is done.  It seems such a waste.

I admit, we also feed the birds for our enjoyment and for photography, but we will not knowingly do anything to harass or endanger the birds.   They already are so frightened of us. (Genesis 9:2)  They already struggle to survive with predators, our activities, and weather.

The photo above is not crisp, it’s got the front end of a car for a background and probably a dozen or more other things wrong with it.  But this does not bother me.    I enjoyed watching this Ruby-throat sit for a while. I like that a small portion of its tongue sticking out.  I like that it chose to spend time at our place.  I can enjoy nature without creating a false setting.

Here is something us Christians should strive to do while photographing and enjoying animals. These are God’s creation. Proverbs 12:10 focuses on animals we may own, but very easily could apply to any animal we interact with.

Categories: dangers to birds, ponder