G. Blue Heron on Gator’s back at Gatorland, by Lee
Denny and Charles’s Museum
Denny the blue heron was the smallest out of all the blue herons that lived in the Florida reserve, but no one ever made fun of him for it because his best friend was the largest alligator in the reserve, Charles. Denny and Charles spent most of their time crossing the various swamps, with Charles slinking through the mud and weeds and Denny sitting on his back.
Usually, whenever Denny and Charles set out together, they would follow the trails marked in the reserve, so that they were always near the banks. The people who visited the reserve enjoyed seeing them wander down the swamp trails, especially since Denny sat on Charles’s back while Charles swam through the weeds.
One day, while Denny and Charles were traveling through the water, Denny spotted something unusual in the water. It was bright red, and it shone brightly when the sun reflected on it. Denny stuck his beak inside it to pick it up. He lifted the can and placed it onto Charles’s back. Denny wasn’t quite sure what it was, and Charles couldn’t see it because it was on his back. Denny decided to keep it.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Raymond Barlow
Farther along down the reserve trail, Denny spotted another interesting object. He wasn’t sure what this was either, but it was bright yellow and small. Denny added it to his growing collection.
Eventually, Denny had several small objects piled on Charles’s back. He placed everything he had found on the bank so Charles could have a look at it. They both thought about what to do with what Denny found. After thinking for a long time, Denny proposed an idea. He thought it would be a great idea to set all of the objects they found in an area where all the other animals in the swamp could see them.
Denny promptly flew off to find a large open area for them to place their things. Charles slowly nudged the objects into his mouth and followed Denny to where he was calling. Charles dumped the objects onto the grass, glad to be of help.
Every day, Denny and Charles added more to their collection. They found two old water bottles, a small pipe, and several pieces of different materials that were several different colors like pink, red, blue, and yellow. Denny kept the can placed in a special spot for everyone to see, since he had found it first.
The birds, insects, and other animals enjoyed seeing all the things Denny and Charles had put out. Some of them thought it was odd that they collected that stuff, since it seemed to serve no purpose.
Gator and Litter @indiatvnews
As summer drew near, it began raining more and more. Most of the animals had a comfortable place to spend every night. Charles was happy to sit in the swamp in the rain, and Denny sat in the trees, keeping a close eye on his collection. However, as he was watching it one evening he saw a little gray mouse pass him nearby. It was so small it could dodge the raindrops, but it still looked very wet and cold. It hid under the leaves in the bushes, but it couldn’t seem to find a warm, dry place for the night. Denny suddenly thought of the things he had found, but he couldn’t think of anything that would make a good house. Then he thought of the can.
Denny called Charles over. He told him about giving the can to the mouse, though he was reluctant to give it away. Charles thought it was a great idea, and he immediately crashed through the bushes to put the can in his mouth. Denny flew after the mouse, told her his name, and explained what they wanted to give her. At that moment, Charles waddled through the bushes and dropped the can beside the mouse. The mouse, Charlotte, was very grateful for what they had done. She rolled the can under the leaves, turned it to the side, and carefully squeezed through the opening to sit down inside.
Mouse in Can (BBC)
Denny and Charles continued growing their collection. The other animals in the reserve enjoyed seeing what they added to the museum, and they sometimes even brought some of their own things that they had found. Charlotte the mouse stayed in her little can house, beside Denny and Charles’s museum, and told them every day how happy she was in her new home.
“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 KJV)
What an interesting story. Birds riding on gator’s backs isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem.
Thanks, Emma, for another delightful adventure. You continue to find heart-felt stories for us to enjoy. We will be looking forward your next one.
“Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.” (Philippians 4:14 NASB)
It was nearly springtime, and the turkeys were able to leave their fortresses in the woods to search for food without worrying about hunters or too much snow. There hadn’t been a lot of snow that year, which meant that the closest river to the turkeys wasn’t usually covered in ice.
One day, when it was almost March and the air was cool, the turkeys decided that it would be a good idea to head to the closest lake to celebrate another winter soon over. Reginald, the leader of the turkeys, decided that it would be best to build boats out of the bark of the wood from the trees in order to float down the river to the nearest lake.
The turkeys set to work, finding different trees around the forest where they could easily peel off the bark or branches to make boats and rafts for the river. Oliver followed Reginald around as Reginald looked for something he could use. Reginald found some trees where the bark had been torn off from a storm. He gave several pieces to Oliver to take back to the camp, though Oliver had a difficult time carrying all of them at once. He started kicking a few pieces ahead until Reginald picked up the last pieces and helped him back to the camp.
Some of the smaller turkeys floated on the large pieces of bark they had found, while Reginald and a few others tied the thinner pieces together with moss. When all the boats were finished, Reginald and the turkeys cast off down the river. Reginald knew where the closest lake was, and he knew that the river would split off in two different directions at one point. He knew that the turkeys needed to head east.
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) by Ian
Reginald, Oliver, and the other turkeys started floating down the lake, steering and rowing with branches. The sun was shining through the trees, and the water was cool and shallow. Reginald made sure that Oliver didn’t float to far away or that he was steering too far ahead.
But when they came to the place where the river went in two different directions, Oliver got caught up in the rapids and drifted the other way, toward the west. Reginald changed course and followed, letting the other turkeys go ahead to the lake.
The water seemed rougher on the side Oliver and Reginald were on. Oliver looked behind him as Reginald tried to catch up and flapped his wings violently. Because he wasn’t paying attention, his boat hit a rock and started to break apart. When Reginald got close enough, Oliver panicked and jumped onto Reginald’s boat. Reginald did his best to keep Oliver from sinking his boat by paddling to the side of the river. He pulled Oliver out of the boat and made his way back to the other river so they could follow it down to the lake.
After walking for what felt like hours, Reginald figured that they were lost and started following the direction of the sun because he knew that the lake had to be north. Oliver trailed after him the entire time, completely forgetting where they were even going. Reginald just shook his head and kept walking.
Reginald eventually realized that they had been going around in circles. He decided to go straight ahead, and eventually he and Oliver came through the bushes and found the other half of the river. They followed it down stream for a long time before they came to a tree trunk that had fallen across the river. The turkeys had left the boats there because it was too low for them to row under it. Reginald guessed they had walked the rest of the way, which shouldn’t be that far.
Oliver immediately hopped onto the tree, took a few steps to cross the river, and fell in, flapping his wings in terror. Reginald ran after him, urging Oliver to keep his head above water. Suddenly, Oliver disappeared. Reginald reached the edge and realized Oliver had fallen down a small waterfall and had landed in the lake all the other turkeys had reached. Many of the turkeys sat by the side of the lake, enjoying the sun, and they were not surprised to see Oliver flailing about in the water. Reginald finally decided to just jump in after Oliver, leaving his army helmet by the shore. The rest of the day, Reginald, Oliver and the other turkeys sat by the lake in the sun, happy that winter was slowly fading and that they had another year to spend where it was warm before they needed to go back to the fortresses.
“They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.” (Psalms 36:8 NKJV)
“I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.” (Ezekiel 34:16 NKJV)
“that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.” (John 18:9 NKJV)
These verses seem to me to sort of apply. Jesus applies these to us, but the turkey definitely enjoyed the time at the river. Our hero, Reginald, made sure all the turkeys arrived safely. Our Lord wants to make sure that we all arrive safely in Heaven with Him.
Another great story, Emma. Thanks for keeping us up to date on the latest adventures of Reginald and this flock.
See More of Emma’s Tales of Reginald and others at:
Revelation 19:17-18 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
While running a 10K race with my 69-year-old father, I laughed as he looked up and shouted at a group of circling vultures and said, “Go away! I’m not dead yet!” Although they were waiting to dine on him, he wasn’t quite ready to be their supper.
King James Authorized 1611 Pulpit Folio
The Bible tells us (and yes, I believe it) that one day in the future, God is going to host two great suppers, or feasts. The first is the party of the century… no, the party of the millennia… no, the party of the ages! It is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. And all the followers of Jesus Christ will be given clean, white garments and enjoy the greatest wedding reception of all time.
Georgia Vultures by William Wise
But simultaneously, there is another feast. It is called the Supper of the Great God. Those who did not RSVP for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, but lived for themselves, will be attendees at this gathering. For it is a gathering of fowls; of carrion crows and vultures to feed upon the slain who turned in battle against returning Messiah. But you need not attend that feast.
Turkey Vulture; Clarke County, Georgia by William Wise
When you pass a roadside party of vultures dining on last night’s unlucky road crossing, just remind yourself, “I’d rather feast at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb than be feasted upon at the Supper of the Great God.”
We are excited to introduce a new Photographer/Writer to the Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures blog. Not only is he a great Christian photographer, but a blogger who writes about Creation topics also. Welcome, William!
Tilly the raven normally lived in a tree, but as winter came closer, the weather felt colder, and Tilly knew she needed to find a warmer place to live.
Her tree was near a small pumpkin farm, and several pumpkins had been left behind, going unused for Halloween. Tilly observed the different kinds of pumpkins that were still in the field. Many of them looked old, with green and yellow splotches on them. One of the pumpkins, however, looked perfect.
The pumpkin was large and perfectly round. When Tilly pecked at it with her beak, she noticed that it was soft enough for her to make a little door in it. She pecked her way into the pumpkin and surveyed the inside.
For a while, Tilly pulled out the seeds and guts from the inside of the pumpkin, until she had enough room to sit comfortably. Tilly felt protected from the wind and cold. Eventually, she fell asleep.
The next morning, Tilly woke up to her pumpkin house shaking. Someone had picked up her house and was taking it somewhere. Tilly peeked her head out of the door of her house. She noticed groups of people taking the old pumpkins and placing them to a pickup truck.
Pickup Truck With Pumpkins
Someone placed Tilly’s house in a pile beside other pumpkins. A second later, she rolled around and around and around as her house fell down a hill.
Splash! Tilly landed in the river. Fortunately, her house floated to the top, and the door she had made pointed up to the sky. Tilly carefully climbed out and flew back to land, sad that her house was floating away.
Northern Raven (Corvus corax) by Ray
Snow started to fall to the ground. Tilly needed to come up with another plan. She decided to leave the pumpkin field and find somewhere else to live. Flying through the air as the snow fell, Tilly searched and found another pumpkin field. She searched for the next perfect pumpkin she could use. One of the pumpkins was soft and round just like the other one, and by the time she settled down inside, night had fallen and Tilly fell asleep instantly.
The next morning, Tilly woke up to something knocking against her new house. A deer she didn’t recognize was sniffing at her pumpkin and then took a giant chunk out of the top. Tilly looked up at the deer and the deer stared back at her. She flew out of her house, forced to watch the deer eat the rest of her pumpkin.
The snow made everything colder until Tilly could barely fly. She flew into some woods, hoping to find a tree in which to get warm. Eventually, she found a tree with a small hole in it. Tilly flew inside only to discover a small owl in the hole in the tree.
The owl introduced herself as Milly the long-eared owl. Tilly offered to leave since this was Milly’s home, but Milly explained that she was only stopping there for a minute. She said that she had found a nest in a tree a few miles away that had belonged to a raven. She also explained that long-eared owls liked to live in nests that belonged to ravens.
Tilly grew excited, believing that the nest Milly was talking about was hers, which meant she had to explain the pumpkin houses she had had, and how she had ended up there. Milly offered to let Tilly keep the tree to stay warm. Tilly also said that it was perfectly all right if Milly kept her nest.
All throughout the winter, Tilly stayed in the tree where she had met Milly, while Milly lived in Tilly’s nest next to the pumpkin field. When spring came around, Tilly and Milly remained friends, and Tilly even showed Milly how to make her own pumpkin house, though she didn’t recommend living there.
“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.” (Luke 10:38 KJV)
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6 KJV)
What a great story from Emma. It is enjoyable to watch her talent developing. Also, it is good to see Tilly and Milly being so hospitable. This is only fiction, but how did the animals interact with each other before the fall and the curse affected all of nature? Maybe this story is just a glimpse of how they got along so well.
Once there were two finches named Ted and Red who were brothers. They lived in two trees that had been planted next to each other. Their trees were in a courtyard by a museum, which provided them with plenty of shade because Florida was almost always hot. Both birds had many friends in the courtyard.
The birds spent most of their time flying around the beaches and hectic streets searching for food or just having fun watching the different tourists around the coast. Many times, people on the dock would feed them breadcrumbs.
But as summer came, the days grew hotter and longer, and there were many rainy days. Ted and Red stayed in their nests most of the time under the protection of their large shady trees. Their friends stayed in their little homes too: the fish remained comfortable in their pond, the two cranes who lived nearby nestled in their nests in the bushes, and the black snake stayed in his small hole in the grass.
House Finch Resting
One day when there wasn’t much rain, Red went out to search for some food. While he was gone, the clouds grew black, and Red knew he needed to hurry home. However, when he reached the courtyard, the rain poured down harder, and Red couldn’t see very well. He flew toward a light that he saw up ahead and accidentally flew into the museum, sliding across the slippery floor. Red knocked against a small object, sending it crashing to the ground. An alarm went off somewhere, and Red quickly flew back outside and into his nest, where he told Ted what had happened. The rain slowly lessened, and the alarm stopped. Several museum employees had to clean up the mess. Red felt terrible for breaking the vase, but Ted and their friends told him it was an accident and it wasn’t his fault.
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) by Raymond Barlow
Just then, another alarm went off, and someone ran out of one of the entrances, holding a large vase. Ted, Red, and their friends thought fast. The fish quickly pointed to the machine that visitors inserted quarters into to obtain fish food to throw to the fish. Ted and Red flew against it and beat on it with their feet as hard as they could, while the two cranes beat their wings against it. The black snake followed behind the man in case he turned around, hoping that the man would be too scared to step over him. The fish food spilled across the walkway, and the man stealing the vase fell over, while the security guards ran after him and caught him. The security guards were afraid to step over the black snake too. Ted and Red flew back into their nests. Red felt much better afterwards, knowing that he made up for his earlier mistake.
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) by Ian
Ted and Red spent the rest of their summer with their friends in the courtyard. From then on, whenever it rained Ted and Red were careful to stay in their comfortable nests. To their friends, they were now considered honorary security guards.
What an interesting story, Emma. I trust our readers enjoy it as much as I do. The teamwork of this mixture of critters reminds us of how, as Christians, we work together, even though we have different gifts. The seems to blend us together to accomplish His Will.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV)
It has been 10 years since I’ve seen a robin in my yard. When they came then, it was an amazing sight which I have cherished. Once there was a Baltimore Oriole, however, that was many years ago. In the meantime, there are a variety that come to my feeder and the neighborhood for which I am happy about and keep food out for them.
I sit at a table which always has a puzzle on it, and if I don’t make sudden moves, I enjoy watching them. Of course the Sandhill Cranes walk around the neighborhood, The Cooper’s Hawks and Crows don’t come to my yard, but I see them in the trees as I walk.
The regular visitors are Blue Jays, Red-winged Blackbirds, Red-headed Woodpecker, Turtle Doves, Titmice, and Sparrows.
American Robin)by Raymond Barlow
In my heart I’m longing for the joy of seeing just one Robin. Maybe it will happen this spring.
2/22/19 Dorothy Malcolm
“But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” (John 11:22 KJV)
It has been awhile since Dottie (Dorothy) has written an article for us. I asked her if she would like to write another one. Here is her latest birdwatching desire. The verse is one I have used while birdwatching. I have asked the Lord to please have the bird in that bush come out where I can see it better. Maybe even take a photo. Not surprising, some have appeared to my delight. I think the Lord cares about our desires, especially when observing His Creation. Dottie, we are praying that the Lord will let some Robins land in your yard when they start migrating back north this spring. Stay Tuned!
If you have missed some of Dottie (Dorothy’s) stories, they are listed below. She is also Emma Foster’s grandmother. Humm! Wonder if that is where Emma started her interest in her birdwatching tales? Emma’s Stories
Emma’s Stories Retold – Lizzy and the Penguin Catapult
~ by Emma Foster
Once there was a penguin named Lizzy who lived with many other penguins in cold Antarctica.
As the penguins traveled through the winter, Lizzy watched with great interest all the eggs that lay on the penguin dad’s feet. Lizzy was too young to go fishing with all the mother penguins that year, so she was traveling with the father penguins to someplace slightly warmer.
Eventually all of the penguins came to an enormous, icy lake that was too large to go around. The penguin parents huddled together and decided to build a catapult out of some wood they brought with them to build their homes. The catapult would shoot penguins one at a time over the lake. The penguins decided this because the dad penguins could not cross the lake with eggs; and, if they all traveled across it at once, the ice might break. The penguins decided the eggs would be safe because there was a lot of snow on the other side of the lake which would cushion their landing.
Gentoo Penguin – Paradise Bay
Lizzy helped build the catapult and it wasn’t long before it was finally completed.
The first penguin had to be launched by the catapult, but no penguin was willing to do it. Lizzy was a brave penguin and decided to go first.
The catapult was launched, and Lizzy flew through the air. She was actually flying!
Adelie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) by Bob-Nan
Lizzy landed softly and safely in the snow on the other side of the lake and waved to the other penguins. One by one, the rest of the penguins catapulted over the lake with the eggs. When they were all safely on the other side, they traveled to their new home.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (Philippians 4:6 NKJV)
Thanks, Emma, for another delightful story. Lizzy is one brave little Penguin and also willing to help out.
I am sure the penguins, even though not humans, were thankful to their Creator for taking care of them.
“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? (Job 12:7-10 NKJV)
Reddy Fox wasted very little time waiting for Peter Rabbit to come out from under that pile of brush where he had hidden at Sammy Jay’s warning. After making some terrible threats just to try to frighten Peter, he trotted away to look for some Mice. Peter didn’t mind those threats at all. He was used to them. He knew that he was safe where he was, and all he had to do was to stay there until Reddy should be so far away that it would be safe to come out.
Just to pass away the time Peter took a little nap. When he awoke he sat for a few minutes trying to make up his mind where to go and what to do next. From ‘way over in the direction of the Old Pasture the voice of Blacky the Crow reached him. Peter pricked up his ears, then chuckled.
“Reddy Fox has gone back to the Old Pasture and Blacky has discovered him there,” he thought happily. You see, he understood what Blacky was saying. To you or me Blacky would have been saying simply, “Caw! Caw!” But to all the little people of the Green Forest and Green Meadows within hearing he was shouting, “Fox! Fox!”
“I wonder,” thought Peter, “where Blacky is nesting this year. Last year his nest was in a tall pine-tree not far from the edge of the Green Forest. I believe I’ll run over there and see if he has a new nest near the old one.”
So Peter scampered over to the tall pine in which was Blacky’s old nest. As he sat with his head tipped back, staring up at it, it struck him that that nest didn’t look so old, after all. In fact, it looked as if it had recently been fixed up quite like new. He was wondering about this and trying to guess what it meant, when Blacky himself alighted close to the edge of it.
There was something in his bill, though what it was Peter couldn’t see. Almost at once a black head appeared above the edge of the nest and a black bill seized the thing which Blacky had brought. Then the head disappeared and Blacky silently flew away.
“As sure as I live,” thought Peter, “that was Mrs. Blacky, and Blacky brought her some food so that she would not have to leave those eggs she must have up there. He may be the black-hearted robber every one says he is, but he certainly is a good husband. He’s a better husband than some others I know, of whom nothing but good is said. It just goes to show that there is some good in the very worst folks. Blacky is a sly old rascal. Usually he is as noisy as any one I know, but he came and went without making a sound. Now I think of it, I haven’t once heard his voice near here this spring. I guess if Farmer Brown’s boy could find this nest he would get even with Blacky for pulling up his corn. I know a lot of clever people, but no one quite so clever as Blacky the Crow. With all his badness I can’t help liking him.”
Twice, while Peter watched, Blacky returned with food for Mrs. Blacky. Then, tired of keeping still so long, Peter decided to run over to a certain place farther in the Green Forest which was seldom visited by any one. It was a place Peter usually kept away from. It was pure curiosity which led him to go there now. The discovery that Blacky the Crow was using his old nest had reminded Peter that Redtail the Hawk uses his old nest year after year, and he wanted to find out if Redtail had come back to it this year.
Halfway over to that lonesome place in the Green Forest a trim little bird flew up from the ground, hopped from branch to branch of a tree, walked along a limb, then from pure happiness threw back his head and cried, “Teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher!” each time a little louder than before. It was Teacher the Oven Bird.
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) by Raymond Barlow
In his delight at seeing this old friend, Peter quite forgot Redtail the Hawk. “Oh, Teacher!” cried Peter. “I’m so glad to see you again!”
Teacher stopped singing and looked down at Peter. “If you are so glad why haven’t you been over to see me before?” he demanded. “I’ve been here for some time.”
Peter looked a little foolish. “The truth is, Teacher,” said he very humbly, “I have been visiting the Old Orchard so much and learning so many things that this is the first chance I have had to come ‘way over here in the Green Forest. You see, I have been learning a lot of things about you feathered folks, things I hadn’t even guessed. There is something I wish you’d tell me, Teacher; will you?”
“That depends on what it is,” replied Teacher, eyeing Peter a little suspiciously.
“It is why you are called Oven Bird,” said Peter.
“Is that all?” asked Teacher. Then without waiting for a reply he added, “It is because of the way Mrs. Teacher and I build our nest. Some people think it is like an oven and so they call us Oven Birds. I think that is a silly name myself, quite as silly as Golden Crowned Thrush, which is what some people call me. I’m not a Thrush. I’m not even related to the Thrush family. I’m a Warbler, a Wood Warbler.”
“I suppose,” said Peter, looking at Teacher thoughtfully, “they’ve given you that name because you are dressed something like the Thrushes. That olive-green coat, and white waistcoat all streaked and spotted with black, certainly does remind me of the Thrush family. If you were not so much smaller than any of the Thrushes I should almost think you were one myself. Why, you are not very much bigger than Chippy the Chipping Sparrow, only you’ve got longer legs. I suppose that’s because you spend so much time on the ground. I think that just Teacher is the best name for you. No one who has once heard you could ever mistake you for any one else. By the way, Teacher, where did you say your nest is?”
“I didn’t say,” retorted Teacher. “What’s more, I’m not going to say.”
“Won’t you at least tell me if it is in a tree?” begged Peter.
Teacher’s eyes twinkled. “I guess it won’t do any harm to tell you that much,” said he. “No, it isn’t in a tree. It is on the ground and, if I do say it, it is as well hidden a nest as anybody can build. Oh, Peter, watch your step! Watch your step!” Teacher fairly shrieked this warning.
Peter, who had just started to hop off to his right, stopped short in sheer astonishment. Just in front of him was a tiny mound of dead leaves, and a few feet beyond Mrs. Teacher was fluttering about on the ground as if badly hurt. Peter simply didn’t know what to make of it. Once more he made a movement as if to hop. Teacher flew right down in front of him. “You’ll step on my nest!” he cried.
Peter stared, for he didn’t see any nest. He said as much.
“It’s under that little mound of leaves right in front of your feet!” cried Teacher. “I wasn’t going to tell you, but I just had to or you certainly would have stepped on it.”
Very carefully Peter walked around the little bunch of leaves and peered under them from the other side. There, sure enough, was a nest beneath them, and in it four speckled eggs. “I won’t tell a soul, Teacher. I promise you I won’t tell a soul,” declared Peter very earnestly. “I understand now why you are called Oven Bird, but I still like the name Teacher best.”
Feeling that Mr. and Mrs. Teacher would feel easier in their minds if he left them, Peter said good-by and started on for the lonesome place in the Green Forest where he knew the old nest of Redtail the Hawk had been. As he drew near the place he kept sharp watch through the treetops for a glimpse of Redtail. Presently he saw him high in the blue sky, sailing lazily in big circles. Then Peter became very, very cautious. He tiptoed forward, keeping under cover as much as possible. At last, peeping out from beneath a little hemlock-tree, he could see Redtail’s old nest. He saw right away that it was bigger than it had been when he saw it last. Suddenly there was a chorus of hungry cries and Peter saw Mrs. Redtail approaching with a Mouse in her claws. From where he sat he could see four funny heads stretched above the edge of the nest.
“Redtail is using his old nest again and has got a family already,” exclaimed Peter. “I guess this is no place for me. The sooner I get away from here the better.”
Red-tailed Hawk- Cochran Shoals Unit Chattahoochee River by SSlayton
Just then Redtail himself dropped down out of the blue, blue sky and alighted on a tree close at hand. Peter decided that the best thing he could do was to sit perfectly still where he was. He had a splendid view of Redtail, and he couldn’t help but admire this big member of the Hawk family. The upper parts of his coat were a dark grayish-brown mixed with touches of chestnut color. The upper part of his breast was streaked with grayish-brown and buff, the lower part having but few streaks. Below this were black spots and bars ending in white. But it was the tail which Peter noticed most of all. It was a rich reddish-brown with a narrow black band near its end and a white tip. Peter understood at once why this big Hawk is called Redtail.
It was not until Mr. and Mrs. Redtail had gone in quest of more food for their hungry youngsters that Peter dared steal away. As soon as he felt it safe to do so, he headed for home as fast as he could go, lipperty-lipperty-lip. He knew that he wouldn’t feel safe until that lonesome place in the Green Forest was far behind.
Yet if the truth be known, Peter had less cause to worry than would have been the case had it been some other member of the Hawk family instead of Redtail. And while Redtail and his wife do sometimes catch some of their feathered and furred neighbors, and once in a while a chicken, they do vastly more good than harm.
This story gives good examples of friends watching out for friends. Also, friends love their neighbors and go for visits now and then.
“But you be watchful in all things,…” (2 Timothy 4:5a NKJV)
Who was the one warning the animal and bird friends?
What is a call of the Crow?
Is it good for us to warn others of danger?
What does Peter really think it says?
Who was the little bird that Peter spotted up in the tree?
Why is he called by that name?
When Peter began to leave, why did the little bird become upset?
What bird was Peter looking for, yet had to make sure that bird didn’t see him?
Why didn’t Peter want to be seen?
Who sees us all the time? Can we hide from Him?
“A friend loveth at all times,…” (Proverbs 17:17a KJV)
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) at Bok Tower By Dan’sPix
The Crow and the Blue Jay.
The Burgess Bird Book For Children
Listen to the story read.
CHAPTER 17. More Robbers.
By the sounds of rejoicing among the feathered folks of the Old Orchard Johnny Chuck knew that it was quite safe for him to come out. He was eager to tell Skimmer the Tree Swallow how glad he was that Mr. Blacksnake had been driven away before he could get Skimmer’s eggs. As he poked his head out of his doorway he became aware that something was still wrong in the Old Orchard. Into the glad chorus there broke a note of distress and sorrow. Johnny instantly recognized the voices of Welcome Robin and Mrs. Robin. There is not one among his feathered neighbors who can so express worry and sorrow as can the Robins.
Johnny was just in time to see all the birds hurrying over to that part of the Old Orchard where the Robins had built their home. The rejoicing suddenly gave way to cries of indignation and anger, and Johnny caught the words, “Robber! Thief! Wretch!” It appeared that there was just as much excitement over there as there had been when Mr. Blacksnake had been discovered trying to rob Skimmer and Mrs. Skimmer. It couldn’t be Mr. Blacksnake again, because Farmer Brown’s boy had chased him in quite another direction.
“What is it now?” asked Johnny of Skimmer, who was still excitedly discussing with Mrs. Skimmer their recent fright.
“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out,” replied Skimmer and darted away.
Johnny Chuck waited patiently. The excitement among the birds seemed to increase, and the chattering and angry cries grew louder. Only the voices of Welcome and Mrs. Robin were not angry. They were mournful, as if Welcome and Mrs. Robin were heartbroken. Presently Skimmer came back to tell Mrs. Skimmer the news.
“The Robins have lost their eggs!” he cried excitedly. “All four have been broken and eaten. Mrs. Robin left them to come over here to help drive away Mr. Blacksnake, and while she was here some one ate those eggs. Nobody knows who it could have been, because all the birds of the Old Orchard were over here at that time. It might leave been Chatterer the Red Squirrel, or it might have been Sammy Jay, or it might have been Creaker the Grackle, or it might have been Blacky the Crow. Whoever it was just took that chance to sneak over there and rob that nest when there was no one to see him.”
Crow at Flamingo Gardens by Lee
Just then from over towards the Green Forest sounded a mocking “Caw, caw, caw!” Instantly the noise in the Old Orchard ceased for a moment. Then it broke out afresh. There wasn’t a doubt now in any one’s mind. Blacky the Crow was the robber. How those tongues did go! There was nothing too bad to say about Blacky. And such dreadful things as those birds promised to do to Blacky the Crow if ever they should catch him in the Old Orchard.
“Caw, caw, caw!” shouted Blacky from the distance, and his voice sounded very much as if he thought he had done something very smart. It was quite clear that at least he was not sorry for what he had done.
All the birds were so excited and so angry, as they gathered around Welcome and Mrs. Robin trying to comfort them, that it was some time before their indignation meeting broke up and they returned to their own homes and duties. Almost at once there was another cry of distress. Mr. and Mrs. Chebec had been robbed of their eggs! While they had been attending the indignation meeting at the home of the Robins, a thief had taken the chance to steal their eggs and get away.
Of course right away all the birds hurried over to sympathize with the Chebecs and to repeat against the unknown thief all the threats they had made against Blacky the Crow. They knew it couldn’t have been Blacky this time because they had heard Blacky cawing over on the edge of the Green Forest. In the midst of the excited discussion as to who the thief was, Weaver the Orchard Oriole spied a blue and white feather on the ground just below Chebec’s nest.
“It was Sammy Jay! There is no doubt about it, it was Sammy Jay!” he cried.
At the sight of that telltale feather all the birds knew that Weaver was right, and led by Scrapper the Kingbird they began a noisy search of the Old Orchard for the sly robber. But Sammy wasn’t to be found, and they soon gave up the search, none daring to stay longer away from his own home lest something should happen there. Welcome and Mrs. Robin continued to cry mournfully, but little Mr. and Mrs. Chebec bore their trouble almost silently.
“There is one thing about it,” said Mr. Chebec to his sorrowful little wife, “that egg of Sally Sly’s went with the rest, and we won’t have to raise that bothersome orphan.”
“That’s true,” said she. “There is no use crying over what can’t be helped. It is a waste of time to sit around crying. Come on, Chebec, let’s look for a place to build another nest. Next time I won’t leave the eggs unwatched for a minute.”
Meanwhile Jenny Wren’s tongue was fairly flying as she chattered to Peter Rabbit, who had come up in the midst of the excitement and of course had to know all about it.
Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) at Lake Morton By Dan’sPix
“Blacky the Crow has a heart as black as his coat, and his cousin Sammy Jay isn’t much better,” declared Jenny. “They belong to a family of robbers.”
“Wait a minute,” cried Peter. “Do you mean to say that Blacky the Crow and Sammy Jay are cousins?”
“For goodness’ sake, Peter!” exclaimed Jenny, “do you mean to say that you don’t know that? Of course they’re cousins. They don’t look much alike, but they belong to the same family. I would expect almost anything bad of any one as black as Blacky the Crow. But how such a handsome fellow as Sammy Jay can do such dreadful things I don’t understand. He isn’t as bad as Blacky, because he does do a lot of good. He destroys a lot of caterpillars and other pests.
“There are no sharper eyes anywhere than those of Sammy Jay, and I’ll have to say this for him, that whenever he discovers any danger he always gives us warning. He has saved the lives of a good many of us feathered folks in this way. If it wasn’t for this habit of stealing our eggs I wouldn’t have a word to say against him, but at that, he isn’t as bad as Blacky the Crow. They say Blacky does some good by destroying white grubs and some other harmful pests, but he’s a regular cannibal, for he is just as fond of young birds as he is of eggs, and the harm he does in this way is more than the good he does in other ways. He’s bold, black, and bad, if you ask me.”
Remembering her household duties, Jenny Wren disappeared inside her house in her usual abrupt fashion. Peter hung around for a while but finding no one who would take the time to talk to him he suddenly decided to go over to the Green Forest to look for some of his friends there. He had gone but a little way in the Green Forest when he caught a glimpse of a blue form stealing away through the trees. He knew it in an instant, for there is no one with such a coat but Sammy Jay. Peter glanced up in the tree from which Sammy had flown and there he saw a nest in a crotch halfway up. “I wonder,” thought Peter, “if Sammy was stealing eggs there, or if that is his own nest.” Then he started after Sammy as fast as he could go, lipperty-lipperty-lip. As he ran he happened to look back and was just in time to see Mrs. Jay slip on to the nest. Then Peter knew that he had discovered Sammy’s home. He chuckled as he ran.
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) by Daves BirdingPix
“I’ve found out your secret, Sammy Jay!” cried Peter when at last he caught up with Sammy.
“Then I hope you’ll be gentleman enough to keep it,” grumbled Sammy, looking not at all pleased.
“Certainly,” replied Peter with dignity. “I wouldn’t think of telling any one. My, what a handsome fellow you are, Sammy.”
Sammy looked pleased. He is a little bit vain, is Sammy Jay. There is no denying that he is handsome. He is just a bit bigger than Welcome Robin. His back is grayish-blue. His tail is a bright blue crossed with little black bars and edged with white. His wings are blue with white and black bars. His throat and breast are a soft grayish-white, and he wears a collar of black. On his head he wears a pointed cap, a very convenient cap, for at times he draws it down so that it is not pointed at all.
“Why did you steal Mrs. Chebec’s eggs?” demanded Peter abruptly.
Sammy didn’t look the least bit put out. “Because I like eggs,” he replied promptly. “If people will leave their eggs unguarded they must expect to lose them. How did you know I took those eggs?”
“Never mind, Sammy; never mind. A little bird told me,” retorted Peter mischievously.
Sammy opened his mouth for a sharp reply, but instead he uttered a cry of warning. “Run, Peter! Run! Here comes Reddy Fox!” he cried.
Peter dived headlong under a great pile of brush. There he was quite safe. While he waited for Reddy Fox to go away he thought about Sammy Jay. “It’s funny,” he mused, “how so much good and so much bad can be mixed together. Sammy Jay stole Chebec’s eggs, and then he saved my life. I just know he would have done as much for Mr. and Mrs. Chebec, or for any other feathered neighbor. He can only steal eggs for a little while in the spring. I guess on the whole he does more good than harm. I’m going to think so anyway.”
Peter was quite right. Sammy Jay does do more good than harm.
When they found the feather, a verse comes to mind:
… and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23b NKJV)
Why were Welcome Robin and Mrs. Robin upset?
Which bird was the one who destroyed the eggs?
What did their friends try to do to help the Robins?
Should we do that for our friends also?
Who was the next robber?
How did they know it was him?
Both the Crow and the Blue Jay are cousins. Why?
Why did Peter decide that Sammy Blue Jay was okay?
Can we sin just a little and then do lots of good? Does that make it right?
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV)
“I don’t believe it,” muttered Johnny Chuck out loud. “I don’t believe Jenny Wren knows what she’s talking about.”
“What is it Jenny Wren has said that you don’t believe?” demanded Skimmer the Tree Swallow, as he once more settled himself in his doorway.
“She said that Hummer the Hummingbird is a sort of second cousin to Sooty the Chimney Swift,” replied Johnny Chuck.
“Well, it’s so, if you don’t believe it,” declared Skimmer. “I don’t see that that is any harder to believe than that you are cousin to Striped Chipmunk and Nappy Jack the Gray Squirrel. To look at you no one would ever think you are a member of the Squirrel family, but you must admit that you are.”
Johnny Chuck nodded his head thoughtfully. “Yes,” said he, “I am, even if I don’t look it. This is a funny world, isn’t it? You can’t always tell by a person’s looks who he may be related to. Now that I’ve found out that Sooty isn’t related to you and is related to Hummer, I’ll never dare guess again about anybody’s relatives. I always supposed Twitter the Martin to be a relative of yours, but now that I’ve learned that Sooty isn’t, I suspect that Twitter isn’t either.”
“Oh, yes, he is,” replied Skimmer promptly. “He’s the largest of the Swallow family, and we all feel very proud of him. Everybody loves him.”
“Is he as black as he looks, flying round up in the air?” asked Johnny Chuck. “He never comes down here as you do where a fellow can get a good look at him.”
“Yes,” replied Skimmer, “he dresses all in black, but it is a beautiful blue-black, and when the sun shines on his back it seems to be almost purple. That is why some folks call him the Purple Martin. He is one of the most social fellows I know of. I like a home by myself, such as I’ve got here, but Twitter loves company. He likes to live in an apartment house with a lot of his own kind. That is why he always looks for one of those houses with a lot of rooms in it, such as Farmer Brown’s boy has put up on the top of that tall pole out in his back yard. He pays for all the trouble Farmer Brown’s boy took to put that house up. If there is anybody who catches more flies and winged insects than Twitter, I don’t know who it is.”
Barn Swallow in Cades Cove by Dan
“How about me?” demanded a new voice, as a graceful form skimmed over Johnny Chuck’s head, and turning like a flash, came back. It was Forktail the Barn Swallow, the handsomest and one of the most graceful of all the Swallow family. He passed so close to Johnny that the latter had a splendid chance to see and admire his glistening steel-blue back and the beautiful chestnut-brown of his forehead and throat with its narrow black collar, and the brown to buff color of his under parts. But the thing that was most striking about him was his tail, which was so deeply forked as to seem almost like two tails.
“I would know him as far as I could see him just by his tail alone,” exclaimed Johnny. “I don’t know of any other tail at all like it.”
“There isn’t any other like it,” declared Skimmer. “If Twitter the Martin is the largest of our family, Forktail is the handsomest.”
“How about my usefulness?” demanded Forktail, as he came skimming past again. “Cousin Twitter certainly does catch a lot of flies and insects but I’m willing to go against him any day to see who can catch the most.”
With this he darted away. Watching him they saw him alight on the top of Farmer Brown’s barn. “It’s funny,” remarked Johnny Chuck, “but as long as I’ve known Forktail, and I’ve known him ever since I was big enough to know anybody, I’ve never found out how he builds his nest. I’ve seen him skimming over the Green Meadows times without number, and often he comes here to the Old Orchard as he did just now, but I’ve never seen him stop anywhere except over on that barn.”
“That’s where he nests,” chuckled Skimmer.
“What?” cried Johnny Chuck. “Do you mean to say he nests on Farmer Brown’s barn?”
“No,” replied Skimmer. “He nests in it. That’s why he is called the Barn Swallow, and why you never have seen his nest. If you’ll just go over to Farmer Brown’s barn and look up in the roof, you’ll see Forktail’s nest there somewhere.”
“Me go over to Farmer Brown’s barn!” exclaimed Johnny Chuck. “Do you think I’m crazy?”
Skimmer chuckled. “Forktail isn’t crazy,” said he, “and he goes in and out of that barn all day long. I must say I wouldn’t care to build in such a place myself, but he seems to like it. There’s one thing about it, his home is warm and dry and comfortable, no matter what the weather is. I wouldn’t trade with him, though. No, sir, I wouldn’t trade with him for anything. Give me a hollow in a tree well lined with feathers to a nest made of mud and straw, even if it is feather-lined.”
“Do you mean that such a neat-looking, handsome fellow as Forktail uses mud in his nest?” cried Johnny.
Skimmer bobbed his head. “He does just that,” said he. “He’s something like Welcome Robin in this respect. I—”
But Johnny Chuck never knew what Skimmer was going to say next, for Skimmer happened at that instant to glance up. For an instant he sat motionless with horror, then with a shriek he darted out into the air. At the sound of that shriek Mrs. Skimmer, who all the time had been sitting on her eggs inside the hollow of the tree, darted out of her doorway, also shrieking. For a moment Johnny Chuck couldn’t imagine what could be the trouble. Then a slight rustling drew his eyes to a crotch in the tree a little above the doorway of Skimmer’s home. There, partly coiled around a branch, with head swaying to and fro, eyes glittering and forked tongue darting out and in, as he tried to look down into Skimmer’s nest, was Mr. Blacksnake.
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) WikiC
It seemed to Johnny as if in a minute every bird in the Old Orchard had arrived on the scene. Such a shrieking and screaming as there was! First one and then another would dart at Mr. Blacksnake, only to lose courage at the last second and turn aside. Poor Skimmer and his little wife were frantic. They did their utmost to distract Mr. Blacksnake’s attention, darting almost into his very face and then away again before he could strike. But Mr. Blacksnake knew that they were powerless to hurt him, and he knew that there were eggs in that nest. There is nothing he loves better than eggs unless it is a meal of baby birds. Beyond hissing angrily two or three times he paid no attention to Skimmer or his friends, but continued to creep nearer the entrance to that nest.
At last he reached a position where he could put his head in the doorway. As he did so, Skimmer and Mrs. Skimmer each gave a little cry of hopelessness and despair. But no sooner had his head disappeared in the hole in the old apple-tree than Scrapper the Kingbird struck him savagely. Instantly Mr. Blacksnake withdrew his head, hissing fiercely, and struck savagely at the birds nearest him. Several times the same thing happened. No sooner would his head disappear in that hole than Scrapper or one or the other of Skimmer’s friends, braver than the rest, would dart in and peck at him viciously, and all the time all the birds were screaming as only excited feathered folk can. Johnny Chuck was quite as excited as his feathered friends, and so intent watching the hated black robber that he had eyes for nothing else. Suddenly he heard a step just behind him. He turned his head and then frantically dived head first down into his hole. He had looked right up into the eyes of Farmer Brown’s boy!
“Ha, ha!” cried Farmer Brown’s boy, “I thought as much!” And with a long switch he struck Mr. Blacksnake just as the latter had put his head in that doorway, resolved to get those eggs this time. But when he felt that switch and heard the voice of Farmer Brown’s boy he changed his mind in a flash. He simply let go his hold on that tree and dropped. The instant he touched the ground he was off like a shot for the safety of the old stone wall, Farmer Brown’s boy after him. Farmer Brown’s boy didn’t intend to kill Mr. Blacksnake, but he did want to give him such a fright that he wouldn’t visit the Old Orchard again in a hurry, and this he quite succeeded in doing.
No sooner had Mr. Blacksnake disappeared than all the birds set up such a rejoicing that you would have thought they, and not Farmer Brown’s boy, had saved the eggs of Mr. and Mrs. Skimmer. Listening to them, Johnny Chuck just had to smile.
Listen to the story read.
Barn Swallow at the New Mexico Welcome Center by Lee
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. (Psalms 84:3 KJV)
Johnny and Polly Chuck had made their home between the roots of an old apple-tree in the far corner of the Old Orchard. You know they have their bedroom way down in the ground, and it is reached by a long hall. They had dug their home between the roots of that old apple-tree because they had discovered that there was just room enough between those spreading roots for them to pass in and out, and there wasn’t room to dig the entrance any larger. So they felt quite safe from Reddy Fox; and Bowser the Hound, either of whom would have delighted to dig them out but for those roots.
Right in front of their doorway was a very nice doorstep of shining sand where Johnny Chuck delighted to sit when he had a full stomach and nothing else to do. Johnny’s nearest neighbors had made their home only about five feet above Johnny’s head when he sat up on his doorstep. They were Skimmer the Tree Swallow and his trim little wife, and the doorway of their home was a little round hole in the trunk of that apple-tree, a hole which had been cut some years before by one of the Woodpeckers.
Johnny and Skimmer were the best of friends. Johnny used to delight in watching Skimmer dart out from beneath the branches of the trees and wheel and turn and glide, now sometimes high in the blue, blue sky, and again just skimming the tops of the grass, on wings which seemed never to tire. But he liked still better the bits of gossip when Skimmer would sit in his doorway and chat about his neighbors of the Old Orchard and his adventures out in the Great World during his long journeys to and from the far-away South.
To Johnny Chuck’s way of thinking, there was no one quite so trim and neat appearing as Skimmer with his snowy white breast and blue-green back and wings. Two things Johnny always used to wonder at, Skimmer’s small bill and short legs. Finally he ventured to ask Skimmer about them.
“Gracious, Johnny!” exclaimed Skimmer. “I wouldn’t have a big bill for anything. I wouldn’t know what to do with it; it would be in the way. You see, I get nearly all my food in the air when I am flying, mosquitoes and flies and all sorts of small insects with wings. I don’t have to pick them off trees and bushes or from the ground and so I don’t need any more of a bill than I have. It’s the same way with my legs. Have you ever seen me walking on the ground?”
Johnny thought a moment. “No,” said he, “now you speak of it, I never have.”
“And have you ever seen me hopping about in the branches of a tree?” persisted Skimmer.
Again Johnny Chuck admitted that he never had.
“The only use I have for feet,” continued Skimmer, “is for perching while I rest. I don’t need long legs for walking or hopping about, so Mother Nature has made my legs very short. You see I spend most of my time in the air.”
Skimmer The Tree Swallow and Forktail The Barn Swallow
“I suppose it’s the same with your cousin; Sooty the Chimney Swallow,” said Johnny.
“That shows just how much some people know!” twittered Skimmer indignantly. “The idea of calling Sooty a Swallow! The very idea! I’d leave you to know, Johnny Chuck, that Sooty isn’t even related to me. He’s a Swift, and not a Swallow.”
“He looks like a Swallow,” protested Johnny Chuck.
“He doesn’t either. You just think he does because he happens to spend most of his time in the air the way we Swallows do,” sputtered Skimmer. “The Swallow family never would admit such a homely looking fellow as he is as a member.
“Tut, tut, tut, tut! I do believe Skimmer is jealous,” cried Jenny Wren, who had happened along just in time to hear Skimmer’s last remarks.
“Nothing of the sort,” declared Skimmer, growing still more indignant. “I’d like to know what there is about Sooty the Chimney Swift that could possibly make a Swallow jealous.”
Jenny Wren cocked her tail up in that saucy way of hers and winked at Johnny Chuck. “The way he can fly,” said she softly.
“The way he can fly!” sputtered Skimmer, “The way he can fly! Why, there never was a day in his life that he could fly like a Swallow. There isn’t any one more graceful on the wing than I am, if I do say so. And there isn’t any one more ungraceful than Sooty.”
Chimney Swift of Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897
Just then there was a shrill chatter overhead and all looked up to see Sooty the Chimney Swift racing through the sky as if having the very best time in the world. His wings would beat furiously and then he would glide very much as you or I would on skates. It was quite true that he wasn’t graceful. But he could twist and turn and cut up all sorts of antics, such as Skimmer never dreamed of doing.
“He can use first one wing and then the other, while you have to use both wings at once,” persisted Jenny Wren. “You couldn’t, to save your life, go straight down into a chimney, and you know it, Skimmer. He can do things with his wings which you can’t do, nor any other bird.”
“That may be true, but just the same I’m not the least teeny-weeny bit jealous of him,” said Skimmer, and darted away to get beyond the reach of Jenny’s sharp tongue.
“Is it really true that he and Sooty are not related?” asked Johnny Chuck, as they watched Skimmer cutting airy circles high up in the slay.
Jenny nodded. “It’s quite true, Johnny,” said site. “Sooty belongs to another family altogether. He’s a funny fellow. Did you ever in your life see such narrow wings? And his tail is hardly worth calling a tail.”
Johnny Chuck laughed. “Way up there in the air he looks almost alike at both ends,” said he. “Is he all black?”
“He isn’t black at all,” declared Jenny. “He is sooty-brown, rather grayish on the throat and breast. Speaking of that tail of his, the feathers end in little, sharp, stiff points. He uses them in the same way that Downy the Woodpecker uses his tail feathers when he braces himself with them on the trunk of a tree.”
“But I’ve never seen Sooty on the trunk of a tree,” protested Johnny Chuck. “In fact, I’ve never seen him anywhere but in the air.”
“And you never will,” snapped Jenny. “The only place he ever alights is inside a chimney or inside a hollow tree. There he clings to the side just as Downy the Woodpecker clings to the trunk of a tree.”
Johnny looked as if he didn’t quite believe this. “If that’s the case where does he nest?” he demanded. “And where does he sleep?”
“In a chimney, stupid. In a chimney, of course,” retorted Jenny Wren. “He fastens his nest right to the inside of a chimney. He makes a regular little basket of twigs and fastens it to the side of the chimney.”
“Are you trying to stuff me with nonsense?” asked Johnny Chuck indignantly. “How can he fasten his nest to the side of a chimney unless there’s a little shelf to put it on? And if he never alights, how does he get the little sticks to make a nest of? I’d just like to know how you expect me to believe any such story as that.”
Tree Swallows Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge by jeremyjonkman on Flickr From Pinterest
Jenny Wren’s sharp little eyes snapped. “If you half used your eyes you wouldn’t have to ask me how he gets those little sticks,” she sputtered. “If you had watched him when he was flying close to the tree tops you would have seen him clutch little dead twigs in his claws and snap them off without stopping. That’s the way he gets his little sticks, Mr. Smarty, He fastens them together with a sticky substance he has in his mouth, and he fastens the nest to the side of the chimney in the same way. You can believe it or not, but it’s so.”
“I believe it, Jenny, I believe it,” replied Johnny Chuck very humbly. “If you please, Jenny, does Sooty get all his food in the air too?”
“Of course,” replied Jenny tartly. “He eats nothing but insects, and he catches them flying. Now I must get back to my duties at home.”
“Just tell me one more thing,” cried Johnny Chuck hastily. “Hasn’t Sooty any near relatives as most birds have?”
“He hasn’t any one nearer than some sort of second cousins, Boomer the Nighthawk, Whippoorwill, and Hummer the Hummingbird.”
“What?” cried Johnny Chuck, quite as if he couldn’t believe he had heard aright. “Did you say Hummer the Hummingbird?” But he got no reply, for Jenny Wren was already beyond hearing.
Even the stork in the sky Knows her seasons; And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush Observe the time of their migration; But My people do not know The ordinance of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 NASB)
Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. (Proverbs 26:2 ESV)
A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Proverbs 29:23 NKJV)
Both of these birds belong to avian families that are mentioned in the Bible
Questions to think about:
Can you describe Skimmer the Swift?
What color is his breast, back and wings?
What is common about the legs of both Skimmer and Sooty?
How do both these birds catch their food?
Why was Skimmer showing a little pride?
Should we be prideful?
Can you describe Sooty the Swallow?
Where and how do Chimney Swallows they make their nest?
“Bob—Bob White! Bob—Bob White! Bob—Bob White!” clear and sweet, that call floated over to the dear Old Briar-patch until Peter could stand it no longer. He felt that he just had to go over and pay an early morning call on one of his very best friends, who at this season of the year delights in whistling his own name—Bob White.
“I suppose,” muttered Peter, “that Bob White has got a nest. I wish he would show it to me. He’s terribly secretive about it. Last year I hunted for his nest until my feet were sore, but it wasn’t the least bit of use. Then one morning I met Mrs. Bob White with fifteen babies out for a walk. How she could hide a nest with fifteen eggs in it is more than I can understand.”
Peter left the Old Briar-patch and started off over the Green Meadows towards the Old Pasture. As he drew near the fence between the Green Meadows and the Old Pasture he saw Bob White sitting on one of the posts, whistling with all his might. On another post near him sat another bird very near the size of Welcome Robin. He also was telling all the world of his happiness. It was Carol the Meadow Lark.
Peter was so intent watching these two friends of his that he took no heed to his footsteps. Suddenly there was a whirr from almost under his very nose and he stopped short, so startled that he almost squealed right out. In a second he recognized Mrs. Meadow Lark. He watched her fly over to where Carol was singing. Her stout little wings moved swiftly for a moment or two, then she sailed on without moving them at all. Then they fluttered rapidly again until she was flying fast enough to once more sail on them outstretched. The white outer feathers of her tail showed clearly and reminded Peter of the tail of Sweetvoice the Vesper Sparrow, only of course it was ever so much bigger.
Peter sat still until Mrs. Meadow Lark had alighted on the fence near Carol. Then he prepared to hurry on, for he was anxious for a bit of gossip with these good friends of his. But just before he did this he just happened to glance down and there, almost at his very feet, he caught sight of something that made him squeal right out. It was a nest with four of the prettiest eggs Peter ever had seen. They were white with brown spots all over them. Had it not been for the eggs he never would have seen that nest, never in the world. It was made of dry, brown grass and was cunningly hidden is a little clump of dead grass which fell over it so as to almost completely hide it. But the thing that surprised Peter most was the clever way in which the approach to it was hidden. It was by means of a regular little tunnel of grass.
“Oh!” cried Peter, and his eyes sparkled with pleasure. “This must be the nest of Mrs. Meadow Lark. No wonder I have never been able to find it, when I have looked for it. It is just luck and nothing else that I have found it this time. I think it is perfectly wonderful that Mrs. Meadow Lark can hide her home in such a way. I do hope Jimmy Skunk isn’t anywhere around.”
Peter sat up straight and anxiously looked this way and that way. Jimmy Skunk was nowhere to be seen and Peter gave a little sigh of relief. Very carefully he walked around that nest and its little tunnel, then hurried over toward the fence as fast as he could go.
“It’s perfectly beautiful, Carol!” he cried, just as soon as he was near enough. “And I won’t tell a single soul!”
“I hope not. I certainly hope not,” cried Mrs. Meadow Lark in an anxious tone. “I never would have another single easy minute if I thought you would tell a living soul about my nest. Promise that you won’t, Peter. Cross your heart and promise that you won’t.”
Peter promptly crossed his heart and promised that he wouldn’t tell a single soul. Mrs. Meadow Lark seemed to feel better. Right away she flew back and Peter turned to watch her. He saw her disappear in the grass, but it wasn’t where he had found the nest. Peter waited a few minutes, thinking that he would see her rise into the air again and fly over to the nest. But he waited in vain. Then with a puzzled look on his face, he turned to look up at Carol.
Carol’s eyes twinkled. “I know what you’re thinking, Peter,” he chuckled. “You are thinking that it is funny Mrs. Meadow Lark didn’t go straight hack to our nest when she seemed so anxious about it. I would have you to know that she is too clever to do anything so foolish as that. She knows well enough that somebody might see her and so find our secret. She has walked there from the place where you saw her disappear in the grass. That is the way we always do when we go to our nest. One never can be too careful these days.”
Then Carol began to pour out his happiness once more, quite as if nothing had interrupted his song.
Somehow Peter never before had realized how handsome Carol the Meadow Lark was. As he faced Peter, the latter saw a beautiful yellow throat and waistcoat, with a broad black crescent on his breast. There was a yellow line above each eye. His back was of brown with black markings. His sides were whitish, with spats and streaks of black. The outer edges of his tail were white. Altogether he was really handsome, far handsomer than one would suspect, seeing him at a distance.
Having found out Carol’s secret, Peter was doubly anxious to find Bob White’s home, so he hurried over to the post where Bob was whistling with all his might. “Bob!” cried Peter. “I’ve just found Carol’s nest and I’ve promised to keep it a secret. Won’t you show me your nest, too, if I’ll promise to keep THAT a secret?”
Rob threw back his head and laughed joyously. “You ought to know, Peter, by this time,” said he, “that there are secrets never to be told to anybody. My nest is one of these. If you find it, all right; but I wouldn’t show it to my very best friend, and I guess I haven’t any better friend than you, Peter.” Then from sheer happiness he whistled, “—Bob White! Bob—Bob White!” with all his might.
Peter was disappointed and a little put out. “I guess,” said he, “I could find it if I wanted to. I guess it isn’t any better hidden than Mrs. Meadow Lark’s, and I found that. Some folks aren’t as smart as they think they are.”
Bob White, who is sometimes called Quail and sometimes called Partridge, and who is neither, chuckled heartily. “Go ahead, old Mr. Curiosity, go ahead and hunt all you please,” said he. “It’s funny to me how some folks think themselves smart when the truth is they simply have been lucky. You know well enough that you just happened to find Carol’s nest. If you happen to find mine, I won’t have a word to say.”
Bob White took a long breath, tipped his head back until his bill was pointing right up in the blue, blue sky, and with all his might whistled his name, “Bob—Bob White! Bob—Bob White!”
As Peter looked at him it came over him that Bob White was the plumpest bird of his acquaintance. He was so plump that his body seemed almost round. The shortness of his tail added to this effect, for Bob has a very short tail. The upper part of his coat was a handsome reddish-brown with dark streaks and light edgings. His sides and the upper part of his breast were of the same handsome reddish-brown, while underneath he was whitish with little bars of black. His throat was white, and above each eye was a broad white stripe. His white throat was bordered with black, and a band ofblack divided the throat from the white line above each eye. The top of his head was mixed black and brown. Altogether he was a handsome little fellow in a modest way.
Suddenly Bob White stopped whistling and looked down at Peter with a twinkle in his eye. “Why don’t you go hunt for that nest, Peter?” said he.
“I’m going,” replied Peter rather shortly, for he knew that Bob knew that he hadn’t the least idea where to look. It might be somewhere on the Green Meadows or it might be in the Old Pasture; Bob hadn’t given the least hint. Peter had a feeling that the nest wasn’t far away and that it was on the Green Meadows, so he began to hunt, running aimlessly this way and that way, all the time feeling very foolish, for of course he knew that Bob White was watching him and chuckling down inside.
It was very warm down there on the Green Meadows, and Peter grew hot and tired. He decided to run up in the Old Pasture in the shade of an old bramble-tangle there. Just the other side of the fence was a path made by the cows and often used by Farmer Brown’s boy and Reddy Fox and others who visited the Old Pasture. Along this Peter scampered, lipperty-lipperty-lip, on his way to the bramble-tangle. He didn’t look either to right or left. It didn’t occur to him that there would be any use at all, for of course no one would build a nest near a path where people passed to and fro every day.
And so it was that in his happy-go-lucky way Peter scampered right past a clump of tall weeds close beside the path without the least suspicion that cleverly hidden in it was the very thing he was looking for. With laughter in her eyes, shrewd little Mrs. Bob White, with sixteen white eggs under her, watched him pass. She had chosen that very place for her nest because she knew that it was the last place anyone would expect to find it. The very fact that it seemed the most dangerous place she could have chosen made it the safest.
… and do not reveal another’s secret, (Proverbs 25:9b ESV)
Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:24 NKJV)
Which bird whistles his own name?
How many little ones did they have?
Did Peter ever find their nest?
Who’s nest did Peter find?
What did he promise not to tell?
Can you describe the Meadow Lark?
What does the Bob White look like?
How does the Meadow Lark fly?
How do the birds keep people and animals from finding their nest?