Until a couple years ago, I didn’t even know these birds existed. In fact, the first time I photographed a crossbill in May 2010, I posted the image to an internet bird ID forum and asked for confirmation that the bird’s beak was deformed. Over the course of a couple days, we had several crossbills foraging through the Ponderosa Pines here on the 20-Acre Wood, but then they disappeared. Despite my vigilant effort to find them, their return wasn’t apparent until January of this year. We have noticed them actively foraging in the morning hours, when I typically don’t have much time for photography. Two months ago I was able to get a couple shots of a male Red Crossbill, but the lighting was harsh, and he wasn’t a cooperative subject for very long. This evening I took a short walk, actually intending to get some Mountain Bluebird images, and found a “warp” (collective name for a group of crossbills; also called a “crookedness”) of them watering from snowmelt in a small horse feed bucket. Tonight they were fairly cooperative, but remained aloof, not allowing me to get very close.
Evidently the crossed bill gives these birds a unique advantage when it comes to extracting seeds from pine cones. I am not going to pretend that I know how it works, but pine nuts are a preferred food of this bird, and in 2010 I watched a bird successfully clean out a pine cone in short order. Crossbills are in the Finch family, and as you see in the slideshow, there is a lot of variation to their coloration. By the way, I was successful in getting a decent Mountain Bluebird picture. Yesterday’s post noted the early arrival of bluebirds, and I was hoping to get a better image to document their return.
Tonight’s photo-walk actually took an interesting and humorous turn. When I am photographing wildlife, I don’t take Luke (pictured on my avatar) because he wanders too much and tends to scare off the birds. Well, we have a young barn cat that must think he’s a dog, because he frequently tries to join me on my walks. Normally I lock him in the feed shed to keep him from following, but he joined me after I passed the shed, and with the rapidly falling sun I grumpily decided to end my walk and return home. Not wanting to come home with an empty memory card, I stopped to shoot a couple pictures of our horses. As soon as I did, a bluebird landed on the powerline above them. Then Dickon (the cat) began staring and quasi-stalking something across the horse pen, which turned out to be the warp the crossbills!
Call it what you will, but to me this was yet another life-lesson that God planned for my edification. Recently I have been studying the character and nature of God, and one of the Scriptures I read last night was Psalms 33:10-12; “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” I had a goal in mind, a plan to achieve it, and the execution of that plan was underway; in the end, my plan was useless and another means of success was chosen for me. When we are seeking direction in life, our path must be in-synch with God’s plan for us. Just as answers to prayer may be different from what we hoped to receive, God’s plans and our plans are often not the same thing. If He is truly the Lord of our life, we must be obedient to His will and instruction. We must recognize, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord (Isaiah 55:8). Many people view yielding to God as a threat to their own control, which it really is. But that is the whole point, God wants control of us, because His intent is for our benefit…“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Besides, if we really think we have the ability to control our lives, we are really fooling ourselves!
- Jo’s Top 10 Target Birds (in no particular order): (notyouraveragebirders.wordpress.com)
- my birding badge has been revoked (rebeccainthewoods.wordpress.com)
- “On The Road” (abirdersnotebook.wordpress.com)