Category Archives: Bird Photos

If Only I Could Fly Like a Bird!

While Alan attended the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatrists  meeting in Honolulu recently, I spent my days writing, and from our balcony, I could see three snowy white pigeons far below, roosting in the park just across from Waikiki Beach.  They rose and dived with grace and apparent ease, flitting and fluttering on the breezes.  I watched them soar joyously in the bright morning sunshine and thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to fly like a bird?!”  In Hawaii, it’s warm and humid, so people practically live outside. They also keep their doors open as much as possible, and we were no exception. The sliding glass doors on our balcony were open almost all the time, bringing in balmy air until our entire hotel room felt like a bit of private, outdoor paradise…literally 50° warmer than the freezing air had been in Michigan when we left!  Having a six-hour EST (Eastern Standard Time) advantage, we woke up well before sunrise every morning and sipped tea while enjoying leisurely devotional times together.  After prayer and Bible reading, we enjoyed breakfast. Most mornings it was granola and bananas, but this particular morning we had garnered some legendary malasadas (Portuguese, custard-filled donuts) from Honolulu’s most famous bakery: Leonard’s. We relished the rosy sunrise, and then Alan began washing up before leaving for his conference. I made a cup of Jasmine tea in preparation for settling down to write.   To my delight and surprise, I found that not only had I been admiring the birds, they had apparently been admiring us too…or at least our breakfasts!  Apparently a crumb or two had fallen under the table, which one pigeon quickly devoured,                           and another pigeon came inside to check us out!

I wonder, do pigeons watch humans and think about they way we sit down with apparent ease and feast on a lovely breakfast just the way I admire their ability to flutter on the breezes?  It’s all too natural to see and long for the advantages of others while not considering the difficulties of their lives.  The pigeons on Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach scavenge hard to find enough to eat, and they coo contentedly when they discover a few drops of fresh water in the cracks of sidewalks!  Is it possible they say to themselves, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to eat like a human?!”   It’s perfectly normal to notice and admire what others do well—great writers, artists, scientists, orators, doctors, lawyers…Indian chiefs. Do you find yourself admiring some wonderful ability that another person possesses? I certainly do. And yet, would I really like to be the person I admire?  My guess is that if I knew everything about that person, the difficulties in his life and the challenges he faces, I would be content to be myself. On the other hand, if we admire someone else enough, perhaps it will motivate us to work harder to become the best we can be!  What do you think? Ready to be content, or are you ready to make the sacrifices to be something more? I gather from the scripture that God wants us to be content with the outward circumstances which are beyond our control: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”  (Philippians 4:11), but I think He wants us never to be content with where we are spiritually: I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do,  forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus(Philippians 3:8-14, emphasis mine).

Has Spring Failed to Install in Michigan?

While my brothers are sending me photos of glorious spring weather
in California and New York City, I’m singing “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” Because, here in Michigan there are still snowflakes sifting down from heaven! There were power outages over the weekend, and over 200 churches closed
(ours included) due to  dangerous, “almost impossible” driving conditions. In Williamston, MI, east of Grand Rapids, my friend, John Bjorlie, posted these three photos from the ice storm that hit their area, with the following caption: “Excellent crop yield this year from our Ice harvest.
The Ice plants were full and fruitful.”  🙂 Yes, if ice were a cash crop, he’d be in the money! Last week our lake was reflecting dreamy blue sky eyes, and our cherry tree was beginning to bud. This morning all our hopes for spring have been put on hold. Our lives are like this sometimes, too, aren’t they? Stormy, fragile, and uncertain. And yet, I believe God cares for us and will continue to provide for us. If you feel like your life is on hold because of unexpected storms—
Be patient and hang tough! Spring will come again!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12)

 

P.S.—A big thank you to John to sharing his photos with me. By the way, if you’re looking for an idyllic, rural setting for an event in the Lansing area, John and his wife have a new venue that is open for business. They’ve christened it Rosrmål Barn, after the Norwegian painting style of Rosemåling, so if you’re looking for a place to celebrate, let me know, and I can put you in contact with them!

 

 

Offerings for NaPoMo (National Poetry Month)

Do you enjoy poetry? Write poems? Since 1996, April has been designated as National Poetry Month in America to celebrate and encourage the enjoyment of poetry. Usually I take the opportunity to write a few poems, but so far this spring I’ve not slowed down enough to allow literary creativity to send up any new shoots from my soul. Nevertheless, I’m a believer (in good poetry), so I’m going to share 10 quotes on poetry with 10 poetic photos from around my home in the hopes of inspiring us all to poetic endeavors, and if you write any lovely poems between now and then that you’d be willing to share, please add them in the comment box below or send them to me via email (or message me on FaceBook), and I’ll reserve April 30 for sharing what we create. Sound like a plan?

“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.” Plutarch   “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” Carl Sandburg   “Always be a poet, even in prose.” Charles Baudelaire   “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings:
it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” William Wordsworth  “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought
and the thought has found words.” Robert Frost   “As to the pure mind all things are pure,
so to the poetic mind all things are poetical.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow   “A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out
in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times;
a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.” Randall Jerrell   “Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal
down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.”  Don Marquis   “Why should poetry have to make sense?” Charlie Chaplin   “If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.” David CarradineAnd so, I’ll await with great expectations for any expression of emotion
mixed with bits of wisdom or puzzlement that blossom from our hearts.
May we all find some quiet time for reflection and meditation this spring! “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure” (Proverbs 4:26).

(As might be obvious, the last photo was not take around my home. 🙂  Rather, it’s from Meijer Garden, where “the butterflies are blooming” through April.)

A Few (Dozen) of My Favorite (African) Birds (42): A Pictorial Guide to Exotic African Birds

Last fall in Africa, I saw dozens of gorgeous birds. (Okay, some were really ugly too.) Many were familiar, but even more of them seemed exotic and strange. I took photos until I was dizzy from my head spinning ’round, and although our guide was an able ornithologist, after we returned home, I couldn’t remember the names for many of my new-found feathered friends. Worse yet, there’s no Complete Idiot’s Guide for Identifying African Birds, so it took me a long time (too long to admit) to figure out their names. For any of you who’d enjoy a birds’ eye view of African exotics, or for any of you who’ve been to Africa and are trying to figure out what you saw, I’ve catalogued 30+ birds alphabetically by name and where I saw them. Some of them have interesting stories, but that will have to wait for another day… Hope you enjoy!  🙂

African Fish Eagle (Choebe River, Botswana)

“The first law of success is concentration – to bend all the energies to one point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.” ~William Mathews


African jacuna (Also known as “Jesus Bird.”Choebe River, Botswana)

“Perseverance is not a long race: It is many short races, one after another.”

~Walter Elliot   African openbill stork (Choebe River, Botswana)

“We must accept finite disappointment,
but never lose infinite hope.”~ Martin Luther King, Jr.  Black skimmers (Choebe River, Botswana)

“Who, being loved, is poor?”
~Oscar Wilde 
Red-winged starling (Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

~Henry David Thoreau  Blacksmith lapwing (or “Plover.” Choebe River, Botswana)

“I am a leader by default, because nature abhors a vacuum.” ~Desmond TutuCape Glossy starling (Swaziland)

“I remind myself every morning: ‘Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.'” ~Larry KingCape Weaver (South Africa)

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.”  Egyptian Geese (South Africa)

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”~Marcel Proust
Golden-breasted bunting (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”
~Ralph Waldo EmersonGoliath heron  (Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)

“Beautiful light is born of darkness, so the faith that springs from conflict is often the strongest and best.”~R. Turnbull  Great heron (Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)

“Concentrate all your thoughts on the task at hand.
The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”~Alexander Graham Bell  Hadada Ibis  (aka/Threskiornithidae, Zambezi River, Zimbzbwe)

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid,
but he who conquers that fear.”~Nelson Mandela   Blue Helmeted guinea fowl  (Kruger National Park, S.A.) 

“Integrity is never being ashamed of our reflections.”~David Cottrell  Little bee eater (Very little! Choebe River, Botswana)

“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” ~John Wooden  Marabou stork (Very big! Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) 

“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.” ~Winston Churchill  Ostrich (The biggest! Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

“Humor is our way of defending ourselves from life’s absurdities by thinking absurdly about them.” ~Lewis Mumford   Spotted Eagle Owl and Owlet
(Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Capetown, S.A.)

 “There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.”
~Buddha  Yellow-billed oxpeckers on a warthog’s back
(hitchhikers! Chobe National Park, Botswana)

“He who assists someone up the hill cannot help but get to the top himself.”
~Chinese Proverb  Peacock (most beautiful…as if you didn’t know! South Africa)

“God is a prolific artist. His paintings are everywhere.”  Penguins  (Boulders Beach, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” ~Margaret Thatcher  Pied kingfisher (eating an insect along the Choebe River, Botswana)

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan   Trumpeter hornbill (aka/Zuzu!  Chobe National Park, Botswana)

“You’re only given a little spark of madness.
You mustn’t lose it.”~Robin Williams 
Red-headed weaver bird (Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.”
~Chief Tecumseh 
Reddish egret (pair of them! Kruger National Park, South Africa)

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins… not through strength but by perseverance.”
~H. Jackson Brown  Saddle-billed stork (Mbabane, Swaziland)

“I’m far from perfect, but I’ll be perfect for
that imperfect person that’s perfect for me.”  ~Amanda Bynes  Southern masked weaver bird (Choebe River, Botswana) 

“If you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.” ~Normal Vincent Peale  Trumpeter Hornbill (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)

“Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”   White-backed Vultures (drinking water in Chobe National Park, Botswana)

 “We determine whether something will be a blessing or a curse
by the way we choose to see it.”~Kate Nowak  Whydah (Widow?) bird (Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa)

“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy.
It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~Sarah Bernhardt  Yellow-billed egrets with an openbill stork (Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)

“You can tell the value of a man by the way he treats his wife,
by the way he treats a subordinate,
and by the way he treats someone who can do nothing for him.”~Ken Babcock

Hope you enjoyed the “tour” of African birds. Africa is by far the most exotic place I’ve ever been, and I love being able to share with you a little bit of the blessing wherewith I’ve been blessed.

 “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High” (Psalm 9:1-2).

A Few of My Favorite Birds (37): Would You Rather be a Chicken, a Hen, or a Rooster?

handsome-rooster-kauai-01-2017According to Merriam Webster rooster-on-path-at-waimea-canyon(whose dictionary is the gold standard for literary editors, so I’m told), hens-in-hawaiia chicken can be a type of common domestic fowl used for food…or a coward. colorful-kauai-henA hen can be an older female chicken…or a “fussy, middle-aged woman.” rooster-in-kaloa-kauai Rooster refers an adult male chicken…or a cocky, vain man. chick-hen-roosters-togetherNow I ask you, who wants to be any of those?? rooster-tee-shirt-kaloa-kauaiAnd, how did chickens get such a bad rap, anyway? rooster-in-kaloa-mill-ice-cream-and-coffee-shopAmong my list of favorite birds, chickens never really made the grade…  rooster-by-captain-cook-memorial-kauaiuntil I came to Hawaii, but now I have a new fascination for these fine fellows. regal-rooster-reigns-at-kalalau-lookout-kauaiI saw a gorgeous rooster with iridescent green feathers as well as the usual kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows rooster-crossing-road-kauaitrying to cross the highway in Kauai not long ago, and I thought to myself, rooster-waimea-canyon-kauai“If I didn’t know what that was, I’d be agog with its size and brilliant plumage!” kauai-love-chickens-teeshirtIndeed, these cocky specimens of male finery are all the rage in Hawaii. couple-at-waimea-canyonRoosters adorn baseball capsrooster-napkin-holder-kaloa-coffee-shop-hawaii and napkin holders. rooster-walking-through-kaloa-mill-ice-cream-and-coffee-shopThey rule the roost, make themselves at home cleaning up waffle cone scraps in ice cream parlors, and slurp up puddles of shaved ice spilled from kiddie cones. rooster-posing-at-kalalau-lookout-hawaiiThey announce the coming dawn…
sometimes as early at 2:00 am but definitely by 4:00 am hawaiin-cock-rooster(and throughout the day whenever they’re startled). rooster-mating-dance-kauaiI noticed this ad today accompanying the photo of a rooster:
“Diamond Head home for sale with pool and built in alarm clock.” menu-offering-feral-chicken-in-kauaiMenus offer entrees of feral rooster stuffed with cactus. rooster-in-kauai-one-of-hundreds-copy(That one might be a joke; I’m told the reason they’re everywhere
is because they have parasites and aren’t fit to eat.) amazingly-colorful-plumage-on-rooster-in-kauaiDespite being the brunt of jokes and a synonym for a lame-brained coward, rooster-by-wet-cave-kauaiI think chickens are worthy of respect, and here are my reasons:  chickens-everywhere-in-kauai*They are the most common bird in the world (50 billion). rooster-near-wailua-falls-kauaiCompare that to the most common wild bird in the world,
sparrows, at 1.5 billion!  (Huge difference, huh?)cock-and-hen-feeding-in-grass-by-ocean-kauai* They are historically famous, called the “bird that gives birth every day”  (Thutmose III, 1500 BC). regal-rooster-near-a-bush-kauai  *They are the most prolific birds: In 2009, an estimated 62.1 million metric tons of eggs were produced worldwide from a total laying flock of approximately 6.4 billion hens. (That’s over a trillion eggs!)  gorgeous-plumage-on-rooster-kauai *Besides being beautiful, cocks aren’t afraid to crow!  rooster-on-a-fenceJesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow,
till thou hast denied me thrice
” (John 13:38). mother-and-chicks-feeding-in-grass-kauai * Besides being plucky, chickens make wonderful mothers:  mother-hen-with-chickens-under-her-wingsO Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together,
even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not
!”
(Matthew 23:37).  dont-feed-the-chickens*And last, but most significantly, chickens provide more sacrificial lives for meat than any other animal (even if the feral flock aren’t feed by humans).  lovely-hens-mottled-brown-and-white-kauaiIn 2008, 9.08 billion chickens were slaughtered in the United States according to the United States Department of Agriculture data, and that’s just the U.S.! cock-and-hen-looking-for-water-kaloa-kauaiWorld wide, over 40 billion broilers are raised and killed every year. sign-dont-feed-the-chickenOnly the sacrifice of Jesus has provided life-giving food for more people!

rooster-by-sign-for-kings-chapel-in-kauaiFor the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:33). Jesus said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

(All photos were taken in Hawaii, although the one of the rooster crowing at dawn was taken at my son’s home in Oahu.)

A Few of My Favorite Birds (36): The Vulture Culture Experience…Really?!

zimbabwe-african-christmas-tree-vulturesEver hear of an African Christmas tree? This is what it looks like.vultures-in-african-christmas-treeDozens of vultures roosting in a dead tree,
just waiting for some dead meat for lunch. vultures-fighting-over-food-zimbabwe-africaDoesn’t sound very pretty, does it? And…who likes vultures, anyway? vulture-high-on-a-snag-chobe-national-parkAren’t they sort of the offscourings of the world? the-vulture-culture-experience-at-victoria-falls-safari-lodgeWell, all that changed for me when we went to Africa
and discovered that vultures have gotten a bad rap. vulture-in-flight-african-birdsThey are so universally considered disreputable that they have been mistreated until they’re the world’s #1 endangered species.the-vulture-culture-experience-at-victoria-falls-safari-lodge-information I had no clue. vultures-in-zimbabwe-11-8-16Furthermore, they are an important part of our ecosystem,
serving as the world’s morticians and garbage collectors.vultures-and-bonesPolishing off carcasses ASAP helps prevent diseases from spreading.vultures-drinking-water-chobe-national-park-11-10-16 So fierce has been their persecution and demise that I’ve had a change of heart toward them, and they’re now on my “favorite birds” list. vultures-gather-in-dead-tree-zimbabwe-afrcian-safari-lodgeLet me tell you about our vulture culture experience.vultures-eating-lunch-at-the-victoria-falls-safari-lodge-zimbabweEver hear of a restaurant that caters to vultures by serving free carcasses?  victoria-falls-safari-lodgeWell, neither had I until we stayed at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
in Zimbabwe, victoria-falls-wildlife-trust-vulture-restaurant-11-7-16where they have started working with Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust
to help save vultures from extinction. watching-the-vulture-culture-experience-at-the-african-safari-lodgeEvery day at 1:00 pm they serve up yummy carcasses
at their “Vulture Restaurant.”debris-blowing-in-wind-zimbabwe It was very windy the day we watched, but pretty soon the debris and leaves vultures-gathering-overhead-in-zimbabwegave way to the air being filled with circling vultures, vultures-coming-for-lunchwho knew it was almost time for some claw-licking’ good fine dinin’.vulture-culture-experience-zimbabweA few minutes before 1:00, the waiter arrived with a load of gourmet delights.vultures-wait-for-food-at-victoria-falls-safari-lodgeI was surprised at how politely the vultures awaited their luncheon party. vultures-getting-ready-for-lunch-zimbabweAs the crowd grew, there was definitely an electric feeling…great expectations!vulture-restaurant-victoria-falls-safari-lodgeGet on your mark, get set…vulture-feeding-frenzy-victoria-falls-lodge-zimbabweGooooooo!!!vultures-eating-meatA feeding frenzy followed for about fifteen minutes,vultures-with-marabou-storks-and-wart-hogs-eatingreplete with party crashers, in particular some gangly marabou storkswart-hogs-join-the-vulture-culture-partyand a couple of Pumba’s cousins…totally muddied warthogs.vulture-culture-experience-africaIf you’ll forgive the comparison…we humans can be a little like vultures. vultures-circling-in-skySometimes it’s easier to live off others
than it is to work hard providing for ourselves.vulturesSome people become very unpopular and develop bad reputations.serving-meat-at-the-vulture-culture-experienceI am thankful that God is a kind Father who provides for all who will come. warthogs-feasting-with-vultures-africaHe doesn’t turn anyone away…no matter how awkward, dirty or ugly we are!vultures-eating-at-victoria-falls-safari-lodgeFurthermore, He encourages us to do the same for those who need our help.

victoria-falls-safari-lodge-vulture-restaurantBut I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).