Article, Photography and Research by Curtis and Norma Beaird
In February 2012, we participated in Cornell University's Great Backyard Bird Count. A few years before, we had always enjoyed photographing the spectacular shorebirds on Tybee Island, Georgia on the North Beach and at the Tybee Marina.
However, the experience with the 2012Great Backyard Bird Count sealed the deal for complete fascination with God's beautiful winged creatures.
Looking back over the last year and the years before, we decided to count the species that we have photographed, especially within the last year. What we found was utter joy and excitement. For many years, we knew that birds were all around us, but we had not paid attention with the expectancy that we do today!
Carolina Chickadee - Passerine
So, listed below are the species we have photographed under the titles of Nonpasserine and Passerine, which we will explain below, thanks to the most incredible book on birds, "Birds of Georgia", by Parrish, Beaton and Kennedy. Two more Georgia bird books that we can't live without are: "Birding Georgia", by Giff Beaton and "Birds of Georgia Field Guide", by Stan Tekiela.
According to "Birds of Georgia" by Dr. John Parrish, Giff Beaton and Gregory Kennedy, nonpasserine birds represent 17 of the 18 orders of birds found in Georgia, about 58 percent of the species in the state of Georgia. The book further states:
"Generally speaking, nonpasserines do not "sing". Instead, their vocalizations are referred to as "calls". There are also other morphological differences. For example, the muscles and tendons in the legs of passerines are adapted to grip a perch, and the toes of passerines are never webbed. Many nonpasserines are large, so they are among our most notable birds.
Passerines are also commonly known as "songbirds" or "perching birds". However, some passerines neither sing nor perch. The Passerines are the most numerous of all orders, representing about 42 percent of the bird species in Georgia, and nearly three-fifths of all living birds worldwide."
The birds we have photographed are located in the physiographical region of Georgia's Lower Coastal Plain, with the exception of the American Coot that was photographed in Georgia's Piedmont region.
Over the last year, we have utilized the following books which have been invaluable in our learning about birds, their locations, behaviors and feeding habits. We constantly refer to these books for well-researched information. All of these books can be purchased through Amazon, their websites or a local bookstore.
Birds of Georgia - Dr. John Parrish, Giff Beaton, Gregory Kennedy Birding Georgia - Giff Beaton Birds of Georgia Field Guide - Stan Tekiela The Sibley Guide to Birds - David Allen Sibley Common Birds of Coastal Georgia - Jim Wilson Birder's Eye View, Savannah & the Low Country - Diana Churchill For the Birds - Anne Schmauss, Mary Schmauss and Geni Krolick The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible - Sally Roth
Copyright 2013, Curtis and Norma Beaird. All rights reserved.
Many times in life, we become so busy with schedules, appointments, work, school, and everything else in between, that we completely lose sight of the beauty that is in front of us. When you're running late for work, you don't necessarily take the time to focus on the lovely hot pink azaleas in your front yard or the dogwood tree in the park down the street.
When you're on the way to the doctor, you're not necessarily focused on the sunshine-colored sunflowers or the blue skies dotted with cotton clouds. You're in a hurry, probably going to do something that you don't want to do, and you have one goal........get it over with as quickly as possible!
This is how the American culture lives life, not to the fullest, but in a hurry. Hurry here, hurry there, you're late, I'm late....... No wonder our culture fights heart attacks, high blood pressure, disease and stress on every level. We have to get to where we're going.....now. We can't say "No" when we know our plate is already full.
What will people think if they find out you're tired, stressed, overworked and in need of rest? Wonder what will they think when you're in ICU waiting for a heart cath or an angioplasty?
Will they think that you're not......
Superhuman? Bullet-Proof? Perfect?
In 1969, my father died of a massive heart attack at 43 years of age. He was manager of a huge grocery store in South Carolina. He worked until all hours of the night, stocking shelves and making sure the store ran properly. He ran a "tight ship". In today's terms, he would be considered a workaholic.
In addition, he was also held up and robbed on two different occasions. On one occasion, he was robbed at knife-point as he and the assistant manager were tied up and left in the back storeroom. On another occasion when he was managing a store in Georgia, he was robbed at gunpoint. To say he lived under stress is an understatement. Unfortunately, he finally paid the ultimate price with his life.
My point in sharing this story with you? Life is too precious to be spent in a whirlwind of stress. Some of you who are reading this may be struggling with changing careers, finding a less stressful job, retiring, slowing down or even taking a day off. Let's be honest about the subject of rest as we look to the Word of God.
Even the good Lord took a day of rest:
Genesis 2: 2 - 3
2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.
So, if the Lord thought that it was important to rest, and we're created in His image, then it's extremely important that we take the time to rest. After all, God deserves your very best. Your family deserves your very best, and you can't give your best to anyone or anything when you're constantly exhausted, overworked and burning the candle at both ends. Sometimes, it's important to say, "No"! Your mind and your physical body needs rest. You need emotional, mental and physical rest.
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
So, on this beautiful day that the Lord hath made.......
Copyright 2013, Norma W. Beaird. All rights reserved.
For the past few years, there has been a trend towards minimalism and frugality. Of course, when you lose your job or you're living on a tight budget, that trend sorta creates itself out of necessity. However, once you hit about forty years old (give or take a few years), the trend towards minimalism becomes a fantasy instead of a reality.
Plus, once you hit about forty or fifty, there's a good chance that you have collected a lot of stuff, had yard sales, bought more stuff, moved to another house, condo or apartment, etc. etc. During these moves or clean-out sessions, you begin to realize that you have bought a lot of things over the years that you really didn't need. Things that you thought you couldn't live without finally became dust-catchers, thrift store donations or flea market treasures.
Life was not meant to be spent in a mall. When you're younger and full of energy, buying stuff and then moving it, storing it or even cleaning it is not a big deal. However, when you're older, you realize that the extra load of stuff is not worth the time, the worry or the aggravation.
Stuff can become an emotional "ball and chain"
just as much as........a physical "ball and chain".
You begin to relish the thought of walking into your house and seeing only what you truly need or appreciate. You long to see white space on the wall. Clean and cleared out. Less becomes more and more becomes, "Where can we put this for now?"
Therefore, Curtis and I are on a mission to minimalize, declutter and alleviate the worry of storing stuff in a climate-controlled storage unit. God has given us an affinity for writing and photography; and through our love for nature and all things beautiful, we have learned that we honestly don't use about half of what we have in our possession, to include furniture. Seriously......look at the things in your house. How many things do you use on a daily basis? How many things could you live without and never, ever miss?
One of the last times we had a vacation rental on Tybee Island, I remember walking through the door and seeing the living room completely free of clutter, magazines and endless figurines. It was mentally freeing, to say the least. If you ever want to get inspired to declutter or downsize, lease a vacation rental and walk through the door.
The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11........
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to becontent.
The same philosophy can hold true with buying groceries, clothes, magazine subscriptions, cell phone contracts, cable or satellite television extras, GPS systems, etc. How many gadgets or features do we really need on our electronic devices? Do we really need that uber-expensive cell phone? Do we need a cable television bill that rivals our electric bill? Is a GPS necessary when it's just as easy to read a Rand-McNally map? By the way, Mapquest is free on the internet. You see.......every little thing begins to add up.
Consequently, before you know it, you're paying huge sums of money for things you don't necessarily need. There are cheaper cell phones, smaller TV's, basic cable......well, you get the picture. Over time, the "bells and whistles" will empty the checking account, unless you're Donald Trump or Bill Gates.
We could all save a lot more money and have a lot less stress if we would follow Philippians 4:11.......IF......we actually would. Who cares what people think? Are they paying your bills? Of course not; therefore, it's necessary to do what's right and beneficial for you and your family.
Curtis and I have managed to free ourselves from the worry of "having to have" the expensive cell phones, satellite television contracts, etc. We've never worried about those things anyway, so we have a modest-priced cell phone and contract and we have the least expensive satellite television package because we watch very little TV.
Why am I writing this article? Hopefully, we can all free ourselves from the bondage of "more is better". Hopefully, we can all encourage each other in the practicality of having only "what we need" as opposed to "having it all".
Remember, when you "have it all", it has to be maintained, cleaned, dusted, insured and protected from the elements or burglars.
The guy in the following link has inspired us: and hopefully, he will inspire you, too! His entire website is dedicated to living a minimalist lifestyle. If you've never read his material, this is a great place to start!
Our neighborhood Pileated Woodpecker dropped by. He has either "faith the size of a grain of mustard seed", a boat-load of Norman Vincent Peale positive-thinking, or he is just plain smart. The usual color of his chosen meals against the charred pine tree offers a handy contrast. That isn't wasted on our sharp-eyed friend. Lunch!!
Matthew 7: 7 - 8
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock,
and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Copyright 2013, Curtis Beaird. All rights reserved.
As we have enthusiastically photographed and researched birds over the last year, I have read about and looked at pictures of certain birds that are just incredibly beautiful. One of the bright red birds that I had admired was the Summer Tanager; however, I had never photographed one. Another bird that I photographed briefly last year, for one day only, was the Indigo Bunting, a male bird who was a vibrant shade of royal blue.
Sometimes, I would tell Curtis, "I really wish the Lord would send us a Summer Tanager," or "I hope the Lord sends us another Indigo Bunting!" Many times I would stand at the kitchen window and pray this prayer.
The Bible says in Philippians 4:6......
careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
A male Indigo Bunting
And there they were......both in one day.......on a gorgeous Sunday! The Summer Tanager and the Indigo Bunting appeared and seemed to pose on the tree limb, almost as if they knew that I really wanted their picture. In December 2012, I had written a similar article about the desire to photograph a Pileated Woodpecker. The article, "Woodpeckers, Cool Hair and Answered Prayer, discussed how the Lord will give you the desires of your heart.
The world of birding has literally opened up my senses and strengthened my appreciation for nature in a whole new way. I don't look at life in quite the same way anymore. I can't. Why? Because God has shown us that the real things that we miss in life are not huge bank accounts, big homes, new cars, fancy clothes, successful careers or expensive trips.
The things we miss that are the most beautiful and the most fascinating are absolutely free. God's creation cannot be compared to brass and glass. It cannot be compared to things that rust or decay because His creation is new every morning. It lives. It breathes. It participates in the cycle of life. It gives instead of takes.
Many times, I enjoy watching the Home and Garden Network on television. I constantly hear home buyers and real estate agents discussing a room that "brings the outside in". The home is gorgeous, it's modern and it's lovely; on the other hand, it's very expensive and high maintenance. Why pay a huge sum of money to "bring the outside in" when you can just go outside? Sometimes, it seems that folks spend an eternity and a lot of money to recreate what is outside for free!
The vibrant red immature male Summer Tanager
Therefore, today I encourage you to partake of God's free offerings of nature. There's no need to spend a lot of money to enjoy and appreciate the things outside your front door or at a local park. So many times, people walk around sad and depressed because they don't have the finances to travel or buy an expensive home. They believe that to be successful and content, that one must spend a lot of money. That's not true. There's no need to fret or worry about what you cannot afford; and trust me, you'd rather not be in debt!
Learning to live simply,
being content with what you have,
finding joy in the quiet moments,
discovering peace away from schedules,
cultivating gratitude for God's creation,
is freeing to the mind and spirit.
Therefore, take a deep breath, walk outside, feel the warmth of the sun, smell the fresh-cut grass, listen to the birds sing.......and grab a camera. Life doesn't have to be as difficult as we sometimes make it for ourselves. Learn to enjoy life and all of the abundance that nature has to offer. Watch the moon phases, learn the bird songs, identify a butterfly, decide which bird you want to see.......and let your requests be made known unto God.
Copyright 2013, Norma W. Beaird. All rights reserved.
The exotic photograph, the remote location, the rare
moment that produces the award winning photograph.
Who doesn't think of such? But, who actually gets there?
Is there a plan "B"? Is there a way to quell, at least for a
moment, the lust for the out-of-reach? Is there an approach that yields beauty or peace, tells a story, offers possibility, reports magnificence, generates
energy, excites the imagination and provides satisfaction without breaking the
bank or exhausting the body? Since faith
is about the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen,
I decided to experiment.
The nudge that became my act of faith, I chose to
silence the longing for the exotic location and the million-dollar shot long
enough to see what was before my eyes.
Georgia Pecan Tree
I gave myself the assignment of a single location, my
backyard. The discipline included no wandering around. I would take a seat in a lawn chair and
attend to the the sky of clouds that unfolded before me. I would suspend, at least for a moment, the
tormenting belief that the best was somewhere else, that beauty could only be
reproduced with equipment costing thousands of dollars, and that whatever I saw
was never enough and not right.
Biblical terms, I would accept that "manna is fresh every
morning." I took those words to
mean that what I needed to nourish my spirit as a person and a photographer was
available and near at hand. All I need
to do was pay attention.
But, fidgeting and fiddling with the camera, and wishing it
was a high-end multi-circuited professional to die for, "with only twelve
like it in the world kind-of-lust" hangs on. It took awhile. A long while.
Lust is what it is, and it is not a weak force,
especially when it wears
the face of frustration.
Frustration is an aggravating habit. Faith is a choice every day and in every
situation. Frustration whispers dark
thoughts that generates unrequited desire and shrouds the moment in the prelude
"That cloud is
too gray. Why didn't they put a thumb
rest on this camera? I wish a bird would
fly into the light blue area. This thing
focuses too slow. I really should be
standing over there rather than sitting over here.
If I were in the Bahamas…..."
Frustration blinds by way of distraction, usually
negative distraction. Faith enables
sight by way of anticipation and appreciation.
Faith is a choice and a practice. Frustration is a dismal habit. Faith is an encouraging choice. Frustration blocks. Faith offers the option to see and
As I clicked away, I found myself lost in the
fascination of the ever-changing scene before me. The what if's, and the should be's, and the
ought's and the why not's slid out of the way.
I discovered, at least for a few minutes, that it was possible to bloom
where you are planted. At least for the
moment, I discovered the Creator God offering a new look, a fresh view and a
one-of-a-kind moment by way of little more than me paying attention to the
world He offered at the end of my nose.
Simple does it.
The moment and the scene before us
offers the unique,
the special and the one of a kind.
A second, often 1/2000 of a second, never to be repeated,
and from your specific location, seen only by you, becomes the gift of the day.
I really think though, next time, I'm putting the lawn
chair over there.
I Corinthians 2:5
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men,
but in the power of God.
Copyright 2013, Curtis Beaird. All rights reserved.
Northern Mockingbird shows up at the feeder on a rainy day!
Article by Curtis Beaird
Photography by Norma W. Beaird
Bird migration was in full swing until the weekend of
the Masters Golf Tournament. A cold front stalled over the Northern half of
Florida to include the panhandle, a good portion of South Georgia and Savannah, to
the lower east coast of South Carolina.
Sunday morning started as a gray and misty day with
light rain. By mid-afternoon the day had become an umbrella-necessary
experience. While the golfers played on
in the rain and worked to keep the golf grips dry, the birds remained grounded.
If you missed the weather map it look like this:
This regional map (above) gives you an idea of the cloud
coverage and rain density later in the afternoon. As night fell, the storm increased intensity
both in terms of rain and wind. It was easy to conclude that birds downed along
the FL/GA border would go nowhere until Monday after sunset. I guessed wrong.
Migrating birds are moved by a rhythm greater and more
demonstrative than the clock on our wall or our logical understanding of best
travel times. About 11:00 pm, I checked
NEXRAD. Doppler radar can distinguish quiet handily between a storm and birds.
It is sensitive to the point of reflecting pollen, smoke and insects. When I looked, what I found was a surprise, at
least to me. The birds knew what they were going to do all along.
The above NEXRAD graphic demonstrates the storm
dissipating. Note the purple band separating the blue swatch into Florida and the
Gulf at Figure A. Also, note the other "broken" section at
"C" sliding into the Atlantic.
What we see at section "B", especially the
light blue dots below the B, and the smattering of red dots north of B, are for
the most part, birds. It appears that as soon as the weather broke, they
continued on their migrating way. My
confirmation for this action could come Monday morning on April 15th. We are located north of their current migration
route and could see some new arrivals in the morning. I will keep you posted. Oh - by the way, Adam
Scott from Australia won The Masters in the rain.
Copyright 2013, Curtis Beaird. All rights reserved.
Pray, prayer, praying. Deep in our soul, we hear it. A faint voice on the other side of silence calls. It is a voice that nudges us toward answering; but, we think we must first try to figure out how to pray. That is a predictable response.
One of Jesus disciples seeing Him pray said,
"Lord, teach us to pray...…" Luke 11:1
Our need to talk to God is great. It is native to us. An approachable God who cares is assumed within our desire to pray. Like the genetics that gives us our eye color, our spirit recognizes The Voice. It is both a familiar and persistent voice. We recognize the sound as a compelling invitation.
But, how? How do I respond? How do I pray?
The attractive possibility that the God who spoke the sun, the moon and the stars into existence might hear and respond to us, sends us, unlike the disciple quoted earlier, scrabbling for The Three Keys, The Seven Steps, The Best Method or The Four Secrets of Prayer.
Huh? Where did all of that come from? What are all these steps, keys and methods about? There is a great gulf fixed between something called The Seven Secrets of Prayer and Jesus’ clear response to his disciples simple request, “Lord teach us to pray."
Instead of life-giving prayer...... Instead of the ebb and flow of the living relationship expressed in conversation with God, we’ve hooked our hopes to a method or a system of praying that soon wears thin.
Unwittingly, we turn prayer, a conversation with God about the core needs of living our lives, into a problem to solve or a system to understand and explain. A series of convoluted steps replaces Jesus simple beginning, "Our Father which art in heaven."
The Father with the Holy name. The One with the will and capacity to create the delicate lily, a child’s smile and a kingdom worthy of Heaven, and necessary to earth, can be spoken to. He can be addressed directly. So, speak to Him. “Our Father…...” Instead, we fumble with getting the steps right. Result? Our prayer becomes routine.
Our effort to manage the latest prayer method replaces the simple and most basic request, “Give us this day our daily bread.”While our table may be full, our spirits are famished. Our need for the bread of life is as great as our need for an improved diet. Tinkering with a system of prayer focuses our attention away from the God that cares enough about us to know our needs before we ask.” Result? Prayer becomes boring.
Our effort to decode some book on the secrets of prayer leads us to miss the obvious. There are no secrets. Jesus’ model, “Forgive us our sins…..” is about as straight forward as it gets. Guilt is debilitating and confining.
The pain pushes us to seek the freedom of forgiveness.
According to Jesus, four words forms the basic request,
“Forgive us our sins…..”
However, if we lose ourselves wandering around in the fog of prayer secrets, we miss the gift we seek - forgiveness. Result? Prayer becomes a doubtful practice.
The effort involved in fiddling with the Keys to Prayer leads us away from a pair of clear requests that Jesus instructs us to make of God the Father.
1."Lead us not into temptation..…”
2.“Deliver us from evil..…”
Jesus knew temptation and evil were both a demanding presence. They will rip life apart. He clearly teaches that we can ask to be lead away from temptation and freely request to be delivered from evil. If we spend prayer time sorting through a set of prayer keys, we can miss the leading and the deliverance. The result is simple. We quit praying.
The best teacher on prayer is Jesus.
Follow His lead and the the response to the request. “Lord teach us to pray” is but a few words in length and accessible to all. It sounds like this:
Our Father which art in heaven ........hallowed be Thy Name.
Matthew 6: 7 - 13 (King James Version)
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Copyright 2013, Curtis Beaird. All rights reserved.