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A Bird's Bill/Beak
February 26, 2018


Your responses to last week's letter were over whelming.

There were several cancellations, and a few times I was verbally castigated.

However, your over all response seems to be positive.

Thank you all for your feedback.

Now, how can we make a difference?

Pray and pray some more.

This past week brought warming temperature, several inches of rain and many flooded areas along and near rivers and streams.

No cold or snow in the forecast, an this isn't good.

Many garden plants will take a serious hit if these moderate temperatures continue and more plants break from dormancy.

It feels like spring, it sounds like spring, but way too early.

Yes, the first Red-winged blackbirds of the season have arrived.

I've seen and heard robins off and on all winter, so no big deal there.

Canada geese are back after a couple month sabbatical.

In the woods, I can hear cardinals, and Tufted Titmice singing.

Black-capped chickadees as well.

The air has that certain smell to it.

You know what I mean.

The turkeys continue to visit.

Shown are pictures from Yolanda's room, and on the ramp.

This week I touch a bit on Bird Bills.


It's a drill, a hammer, a vise grip, or a spear.

It crushes, mashes and grinds.

It's a back scratcher, home builder, and infant feeder.

A water cup, sifter, egg turner, and much more.

Yes, even a lethal weapon.

I'm sounding like a TV ad for an all in one tool.

I'm sure you realize this is no TV ad, however.

I'm describing a bird's bill or beak.

This wonderful tool of the avian world comes in different shapes and sizes.

from fishing spears of the Great Blue Heron, to the Spoon Bill, and the flower probing bill of hummingbirds.

The sifting bills of waterfowl, nest weaving skills of orioles, to the powerful, flesh ripping bills of birds of prey.

By observing this efficient tool, we can understand much of a bird's world and their eating habits.

Each bill is a well designed unit composed of fine bones covered by keratin, (the stuff our fingernails and hair are made of).

A bill, or beak's primary function is to get a bird fed, yet this amazing tool preens, builds nests, and turns eggs.

It sings songs, and scream out warnings.

Northern cardinals and grosbeaks have stout beaks for cracking seed.

Yet these beaks can catch insects and eat berries as well.

Unique beaks like that of a Crossbill, can pry open cones of spruce and pine to get at the nut within.

Then there are customized beaks belonging to birds of prey.

These are designed to tear and shred meat from bones yet can feed its young without harm, and keep a tidy house.

A Robin's all purpose bill can pull worms, eat berries and insects.

It is also a tool in making one of nature's best built nests.

What about woodpeckers?

(A Red-Belly and Northern Flicker Visiting one of my feeders a couple summers ago.)

A drill capable of going after buried insects and excavating nests in solid wood.

The small but powerful bill of a chickadee.

This tiny bird isn't capable of grinding and crushing a seed, but it is powerful enough to use it as a jackhammer as it pecks and drills open a sunflower seed.

This same chickadee bill is able drill a nest cavity in old or rotting wood, able to collect moss for that nest and pick insects to fed their young.

The small, but powerful cone shaped, seed eating bill of goldfinches.

Warblers, wrens, flycatchers, swallows, and other species of birds.

These birds are primarily insect eaters, yet each species is created for different tasks.

Some are Arial experts, some are snatch and grab, while others may be foragers.

Still, all of these different designs

We understand bills like that of Herons and Eagles, they are easy.

A hummingbirds, bill helps to probe tubular shaped flowers for rich nectar the hummers need.

This same bill can also catch tiny insects, and build a nest out of lichen, moss, spider webs, hair and other materials.

Hummingbirds will also use their bill as a saber, as they war off competition, and chase other birds away.

Now that is amazing.

You are probably more interested in the everyday birds you see in your yards, and at or feeders?

Once you know and understand the bills of the birds around you, you may begin to understand the feeding habits, and the habitats of the birds that share your space.

This helps you to select what you feed them, and where you place feeders.

You may realize that birds need a healthy environment (No pesticides), to thrive, as you watch them flit through your gardens, gleaning insects from your plants.

Much like the Gotta Have Tool that does everything, birds are well equipped for their needs and lifestyle.

Now where is that vacuum cleaner that saws wood and makes the bed?

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

“Be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world.”

Paul Harding (1946 - )

You are still alive and open to the word of God, and the Salvation He offers.

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might".

Deuteronomy 6:5


He answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind ’and‘ Love your neighbor as yourself".

Luke 10:27

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,

We borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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