Today’s The New York Times has an article in the Science section about “The Grackle’s Secret to Success” here, including a short video of the experiments. It seems that many parts of earth have their own variety of Grackle. And some of them are causing lots of problems for cattle and dairy farms. The particular bird causing problems for the USA is the great-tailed bird, native to Central America.
Over the past century or so the bird has spread north and its range is still expanding, particularly in the West, where it haunts cattle feed lots and big dairy farms.
Looks like we need a bird wall. Anyway, the article says the birds look smart, but the experiments that were conducted with the birds seemed to prove otherwise.
In the desert areas of Israel and Jordan the Grackle is known as Tristram’s Grackle, named for Henry B. Tristram who wrote The Natural History of the Bible in 1868, and numerous other books about the Bible Lands. I am intrigued by the bird every time I visit Masada, along the shore of the Dead Sea. This black bird with some distinctive orange feathers is known as Tristram’s Grackle, or Tristram’s Starling, and is easy to photograph. They like to pose.
Tristram’s Grackle at Masada. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Other photos of the bird may be seen here and here. The photo in the last entry reminds me of the experiments mentioned in the NYTimes article.
These Tristram’s Grackles, or Tristram’s Starlings, at Masada are trying to get a drop of water from one of the faucets supplying the tourists with lukewarm water during their visit to the site.
Tristram's Grackles at Madada. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Henry B. Tristram wrote The Natural History of the Bible in 1868. In 1884 he wrote Fauna and Flora of Palestine.
A bird commonly seen at Masada, along the shore of the Dead Sea, is named for Tristram. The black bird has some distinctive orange feathers, as you can see in the bird on the right.
Psalm 63 is said to be “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.”
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1 ESV)
The ostrich is listed among the unclean birds for the Israelites in Leviticus 11:16 and Deuteronomy 14:15. Job laments that he is “a companion of ostriches” (Job 30:29). The longest section of scripture mentioning the ostrich is in the the response by the LORD.
“The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them. She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. When she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider. (Job 39:13-18 ESV)
Ostriches at the Hai Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Archaeologists uncovered this ostrich egg pictured below from the MB II level (1750–1550 B.C.) at Lachish. The sign with the display at the British Museum says,
Ostriches were native to the Levant and their eggs, plain or decorated were often included in tomb deposits.
Ostrich Egg discovered at MB II Lachish. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., Jeremiah lamented that “the daughter of my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.” (Lamentations 4:3 ESV)
Tristram's Grackle at Masada. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Henry B. Tristram wrote The Natural History of the Bible in 1868. In 1884 he wrote Fauna and Flora of Palestine. I have not personally used his books, but I have seen numerous quotations from them in sources describing the plants, animals, and birds of Palestine.
A bird commonly seen at Masada, along the shore of the Dead Sea, is named for Tristram. This black bird with some distinctive orange feathers is known as Tristram’s Grackle, or Tristram’s Starling.
Posted in Israel
The owl, as a bird of prey, is mentioned among the unclean birds — those that were not to be eaten by the ancient Israelites (Leviticus 11:16; Deuteronomy 14:15).
Owl at Hai-Bar Nature Reserve in Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Psalm 102 is described as “A Prayer of the Afflicted when he is faint and pours our his complaint before the LORD.” The owl is mentioned in Psalm 102:6 NASB.
I resemble a pelican of the wilderness; I have become like an owl of the waste places.
According to Keil and Delitzsch the owl mentioned here is “the night-raven or the little horned owl.” Note the comparison of the pelican and the owl with the person who is afflicted.
They are both unclean creatures, which are fond of the loneliness of the desert and ruined places. To such a wilderness, that of the exile, is the poet unwillingly transported. He passes the nights without sleep, … and is therefore like a bird sitting lonesome, … upon the roof whilst all in the house beneath are sleeping.
Vultures were among the unclean animals for the Israelites (Leviticus 11:13, 18; Deuteronomy 14:12, 17). This means that Israelites were not permitted to eat vultures. In some of the references both eagles and vultures are mentioned.
Vulture at the Hai-Bar Reserve in Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
In the Greek New Testament the word aetos is translated both eagle (Revelation 8:13; 12:14) and vulture (Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37).
One of the most memorable comments about the vulture was made by Jesus in His discussion of the destruction of Jerusalem. He described the condition of the Jewish state at the time when the Roman armies invaded the country.
Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:28 ESV)
Not a pretty picture. And a clear warning for all.