Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Bower beside the Altar

Last month I posted from New Zealand about a church near the eastern Pacific coast of the North Island.  Penguins were nesting under the font!  And there was a little note apologizing for any fishy smells emanating from the area!  How charming--these penguins were an embodiment of the first verses of Psalm 84:

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.  [84:1-3]

Well, today I found a bookend for the penguins under the church in New Zealand.  This is the bower or elaborate nesting place of the Satin Bower Bird.  [I encourage you to go to Google Images and enter in something like Satin Bower Bird nest.  These are all so amazing.]

This bird looks like a big, fat blackbird with a decided blue cast to the feathers (that's the male; the female is unremarkable brown).  But what the bird is known for is making a bower--a tight-knit archway of small sticks--which is the site of the mating ritual in the spring.  The Satin Bower Bird decorates the front of the nest with anything BLUE it can find.  Oh yes it also decorates with reds and browns, but primarily blues.  THis means shreds of blue plastic, blue bottle caps, you get the point.  Here is the nest I saw today --and keep reading for where it is.
First, the nest, long distance view:

Then, a closeup of the blue stuff outside--the artistic decorations designed to attract a female:

OK, here is the really wonderful thing.  The nest is located right next to the little chapel up in the rainforest retreat where we were.  Right outside the chapel, under a Hoop Pine tree.  Amazing!  This bower bird found refuge beside the altar of God.  Would that we all could!

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