Chapter 9. BIRDS: “WINGED WONDERS”
Witness Par Excellence for God and Creation
Perhaps in all the realm of nature there is no more forceful witness for Divine creation than birds. And here is the reason: there is a bigger gulf between reptiles * and birds than between most any two other groups adjacent in the “evolutionary ladder” — and practically all evolutionists are agreed that “birds developed from a reptilian type of animal, and that the feathers probably developed from scales.”
* Evolutionists are hard-pressed to find any connections whatever between birds and supposed ancestors, reptiles. One author says, “It is difficult to think of birds as being even remotely related to reptiles.” (The Strange World of Nature, p.52).
The Archaeopteryx often has been referred to as being intermediate between reptiles and birds. A careful examination, however, indicates it had very typical bird feathers, feet, and wings adapted for flight. Practically all of its aberrant features (such as clawed digits of the wings) are to be found in some form in some living birds.
Here is a summary of the argument against evolution, when considering the miracle of bird construction. Remember, evolution teaches the slow and GRADUAL change of one genus into another; how then can evolution account for all the radical differences that exist between reptiles and birds? How can evolution account for the complete change of the covering, from scales to feathers? And explain the many vast simultaneous changes made in body structure? For example, many of the bones of a bird are hollow, and some have air sacs, in addition to lungs. In birds heavy jaws and teeth (that would put too much weight too high and too far forward) have been removed and there is provided a gizzard that grinds the food. The gizzard is lower and farther back in the body than jaws and teeth. As we proceed with this discussion, many other radical differences between birds and reptiles and other animals will be mentioned. IF such great differences were brought to pass by gradual changes, there MUST of necessity be some evidences somewhere of the intermediate changes — but there are none. **
** J. Augusta, in “Prehistoric Animals” (p. 42) seeking to trace the ancestry of birds, says, “the Saurian (reptilian) arche-ancestors of the birds, which we do not yet know well. . . .seem to have gone over to walking and running on their hind legs only. Their bodies were still covered with scales. At a further stage of evolution, FOR WHICH WE STILL HAVE NO PROOFS BUT WHICH WE MUST ASSUME TO HAVE EXISTED, the ‘pseudosuchian saurian’ changed into a kind of ‘pre-bird’ — proavis — with its scales changed into feathers and already able to climb about on the trunks and branches of trees. By the transformation of its scales into feathers (only in the imagination of the evolutionist). . . there arose in the course of the further evolution of the proavis a kind of parachute, which allowed it to glide smoothly down from branch to branch and from a tree to the ground. That was the first beginning of flight, . . .with the gradual transformation of the proavis into the archebird, and then of the archebird into the bird.”
Read again the above amazing statement by Dr. Augusta, noted Professor of Paleontology. He admits there is absolutely NO PROOF of any gradual change from “scales to feathers” — and so HE INVENTS A “PREBIRD” that he calls the “proavis” to fill that gap! WHEN THE ARDENT EVOLUTIONIST LACKS SCIENTIFIC FACT AND PROOF, he imagines the “missing links” and writes them in his books as though they were fact — and our impressionable children and youth take it as gospel truth!
AS LONG AS THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF GRADUAL CHANGE FROM “SCALES TO FEATHERS,” THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION MUST FOREVER REMAIN A THEORY, SUPPORTED ONLY BY THE VIVID IMAGINATION OF ITS OVER-ENTHUSIASTIC ADHERENTS.
A reptile is a reptile — designed and adapted for its particular mode of life. And there is ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE WHATEVER OF THE SUPPOSED “GRADUAL CHANGE” OF SCALES INTO FEATHERS, or of the development of wings, the loss of teeth, the development of exceptional sight and the hundred and more other colossal differences between birds and reptiles. A partly developed organism (such as a bird’s wing, claw, bill, feather, etc.) IS OF NO VALUE WHATEVER TO A LIVING ANIMAL, and such “partly developed” organisms are nowhere found in nature. Evolution exists ONLY in the minds of its devotees.
Carl Welty, writing on Birds as Flying Machines, (Scientific American”), sums up the “specialties” that birds have that reptiles do not have, that make birds birds:
“Birds were able to become flying machines largely (because of) gifts of feathers, wings, hollow bones, warm-bloodedness, a remarkable system of respiration, a strong, large heart and powerful breast muscles. These adaptations all boil down to the two prime requirements for any flying machine: high power and low weight.”
It has been observed many times by others that “every major transformation of an organ is, in general, correlated with a greater or lesser change OF THE ENTIRE ORGANISM. The acquisition of flight in birds, to mention a drastic case, involved A REBUILDING OF THE ENTIRE SKELETON, loss of teeth, change of metabolism, change of the sense organs, of the brain, of most of the behaviour patterns, etc . The organism seems to change as a harmonious entity, and NOT by random mutation of its parts.” (Systematics and the Origin of Species, by Ernst Mayr; published by The American Museum of Natural History). *
* Because of their traditional belief that evolutionary changes are a “SLOW PROCESS,” evolutionists themselves find it hard to believe their theory. Ernst Mayr, writing in “Systematics and the Origin of Species, from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist.” (American Museum of Natural History), says, “It must be admitted that it is a considerable strain on one’s credulity to assume that finely balanced systems, such as certain organs (the eye of vertebrates, or bird feathers) could be improved by random mutations. . . .However, the objectors to random mutations have so far been unable to advance any alternative explanation that was supported by substantial evidence.” WHY DO EVOLUTIONISTS INSIST ON REJECTING THE TRUE EXPLANATION OF DIVINE CREATION?
Slight, gradual, random mutations do not account for such drastic changes involved in “the acquisition of flight in birds,” for, to be successful, the entire body had to be rebuilt at the same time in order to make flight possible! The phenomenon of radical changes such as the development of flight in birds, precludes the idea of gradual change by random mutations. The only way a bird could possibly come into being is by a SUDDEN CREATION; so the gradual change from reptiles to birds is ruled out as an impossibilty.
Let us further consider in detail how birds are witnesses for God and Creation.
(1) Birds are “Miracle” Creatures that give most forceful evidence of Special Design; they are the work of a Master workman. Note:
(A) The bones and skeleton of birds
A mammal bone is heavy, dense; but the bones of a bird are hollow, filled with spongy network and engineered for air capacity and strength. As a bird breathes, it is inflooded with air to its very marrow! The air cavities in the bones are directly connected with its lungs. Yet, strength has not been sacrificed, for the light, hollow bones are stiffened with ridges, where needed, according to advanced engineering principles. We have before us a drawing of a longitudinal section, showing the internal structure of the metacarpal bone of a vulture’s wing. “The braces within the bone are almost identical in geometry with those of the Warren truss commonly used in steel structure.”
“Combining both lightness and strength, surely the bones of a bird could not have been more wonderfully engineered.” (Eugene Burns, Ranger-Naturalist).
“Although a bird’s skeleton is extremely light, it is also very strong and elastic — necessary characteristics in an air frame subjected to the great and sudden stresses of aerial acrobatics.” (Carl Welty, in “Birds as Flying Machines,” in the “Scientific American”). Mr. Welty in his article shows a picture of a cross-section of the frontal bone of the skull of a crow, revealing the hollow bone, with a marvelously intricate and obviously designed braced interior. The outcome is, says Mr. Welty, “The skull of a crow achieves the desirable aerodynamic result of making the bird light in the head. Heavy jaws are sacrificed: their work is largely taken over by the gizzard. The skull of the crow accounts for less than 1% of its total weight.”
Evolutionists recognize the difficulty of accounting for the phenomenon of the bird’s light bone structure. C. H. Waddington, writing in the Scientific American says,
“There are adaptations of such a kind that it is difficult to see how they could ever be responses to external circumstances. For instance, birds tend to have hollow bones, by which they gain in lightness without losing strength. It is impossible to see how external conditions could directly produce hollowness of bones.”
Oh that they would acknowledge the Divine Designer!
(B) The feathers, wings and flight of birds
A bird is actually a “living airplane.” “It flies by the same aerodynamic principles as a plane,” says John H. Storer (“Bird Aerodynamics,” in the Scientific American); “and uses much of the same mechanical equipment — wings, propellers, steering gear, even slots and flaps for help in taking off and landing.”
“Where is a bird’s propeller?” continues Dr. Storer, “Astonishing as it may seem, every bird has a pair of them. . . . They can be seen in action best in a slow motion picture of a bird in flight. During the downward beat of the wings the primary feathers at the wings tips STAND OUT ALMOST AT RIGHT ANGLES TO THE REST OF THE WING AND TO THE LINE OF FLIGHT. These feathers are the propellers. They take on this twisted form for only a split second during each wing beat. But this ability to change their shape and position is the key to bird flight. Throughout the entire wing beat they are constantly changing their shape. ADJUSTING AUTOMATICALLY TO AIR PRESSURE AND THE CHANGING REQUIREMENTS OF THE WING AS IT MOVES UP AND DOWN. This automatic adjustment is made possible by special features of the feather design. The front vane of a wing-tip feather is much narrower than the rear vane. Out of this difference comes the force that twists the feather into the shape of a propeller. As the wing beats downward against the air, the greater pressure against the wide rear vane on each of these feathers twists that vane upward until the feather takes on the proper shape and angle to function as a propeller. . . .(So) with their specialized design the primary feathers are beautifully adapted to meet the varied demands of bird flight.”
That is a rather long quotation, but we thought it important — because it shows MARVELOUS DESIGN for an intended purpose. A bird’s wing is self-adjusting, as though it were controlled by a highly complicated, automatic electronic machine that re-acts in a thousandth part of a second! Honestly now, could such an intricate, complicated, self-adjusting arrangement in the wings and feathers of a bird, that make flight possible, come to pass by “random mutations?”
The feathers are miracles of ingenuity. Allen Devoe, writing on The Miracle of Birds (American Mercury, Oct., ‘53), says,
“A feather may seem to be only a central shaft with projections on either side. It is much more. Each projection (called a vane) from the feather stem is composed of numbers of parallel rods, the barbs. A barb is itself virtually a complete miniature feather, with extremely fine side-projections called barbules. Look still closer with a lens and it is revealed that on these barbules are tinier barbicels, and on these are almost infinitestimal hooklets. The hooklets mesh the barbs; the whole vane is one light, perfect interweave. Barbules and barbicels on a single feather MAY NUMBER OVER A MILLION!”
No wonder Elliott Coues, the famous ornithologist, said, “A bird to me is as wonderful as the stars!”
Every feather is a mechanical wonder. The quill is strong, light, hollow, tough, elastic, and tapers to a fine point with geometrical precision — exactly what is needed.
The miracle of a bird’s feathers is further seen:
“Feathers, the bird’s most distinctive and remarkable acquisition, are magnificently adapted for fanning the air, for insulation against the weather and for reduction of weight. It has been claimed that for their weight they are stronger than any wing structure devised by man. . . . When a bird is landing or taking off, its strong wingbeats separate the large primary wing feathers at their tips, THUS FORMING WING-SLOTS * which help prevent stalling.
* “Many birds have on their wings a little group of feathers known as the alula or ‘bastard wings.’ These come into operation. . . .when the bird is in danger of losing lift or stalling. The ‘alula’ then acts as a safety device. Actually, it was not until Sir Frederick Handley Page invented the now famous ‘slotted wing’ anti-stalling device, which has done so much to make airplanes safer, THAT IT WAS REALIZED THAT BIRDS HAVE HAD IN THE ALULA THE SAME SAFETY GEAR FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL.” (p. 193, “Nature Parade”). (Caps ours).
It seems remarkable that man took so long to learn some of the fundamentals of airplane design which even the lowliest English sparrow demonstrates to perfection.” (See “Bird Aerodynamics,” by John H. Storer, Scientific American, April, 1952).
“Beside all this, feathers cloak birds with an extraordinarily effective insulation — so effective that they can live in parts of the Antarctic too cold for any other animal.
“The streamlining of birds of course is the envy of all aircraft designers. . . .The feathers shape it to the utmost in sleekness.”
Dr. Gray, writing on “The Flight of Animals,” in the 1954 Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institute, p. 290, says,
“A bird’s front limbs have been COMPLETELY specialized for flight.” (Caps ours; note: the transformation — according to evolution — from legs to wings is COMPLETE, not partial). “Each wing forms a structure of peculiar beauty and complexity. . . . UNLIKE THAT OF ANY OTHER FLYING ANIMAL, the wing surface in a bird is made up of feathers, all fitting together to form an efficient lifting surface and yet capable of being neatly furled when not in use.” Again we see, from expert authority, that birds’ wings are specialized organs that are COMPLETE and perfectly designed for their intended use, with no evidence whatever of being in the process of gradual change from one form of life to a higher form. We ask the evolutionist, WHEN and HOW did this transformation take place from legs to wings, and where is the evidence of transitional forms? There is NO evidence of transitional forms from saurian (lizard-like) limbs to birds’ wings, save in the imagination of evolutionists!
Birds are by far the fastest creatures on our planet. The streamlined peregrine falcon can dive on its prey at speeds up to 180 miles an hour (some authorities say 250 miles an hour). And yet their great speed is under perfect control! The African eagle, swooping down at its prey at a speed of over 100 miles an hour can brake with “such stunning skill, by spreading wings and tail in a aerial skid-stop, that it comes to a dead halt in the space of 20 feet!”
Authors wax eloquent indeed as they describe the wonders of bird’s wings and bird flight.
Actually, hundreds of “special adaptations” in as many different birds have been observed by naturalists. For example, the wing and tail feathers of most owls are covered with a soft pile — an effective “silencer” equipment: quite necessary when one remembers that a large part of an owl’s diet consists of mice, whose ears are very sensitive, hence the owl’s need for silent flight becomes apparent. Incidentally, the Indian fishing owl (Ketupa), which lives primarily on fish, does NOT nave this “silencer.”
Note again, the shape of a bird’s wing is clearly related to its habitat and manner of life. Thus the 11-foot-long wing span of the wanderer albatross, makes it one of the most efficient soaring birds in the world; the albatross lives in regions where there is always a strong wind to enable it to rise. But such wings would be useless where there is not a prevailing wind. In fact, the albatross is so poor at taking-off that it can only with difficulty get off the ground without the aid of wind. On the other hand, birds which live among trees or underbrush have, of necessity, short, rounded wings. What they lose in flight ability is compensated for in safety: long wings would get caught in branches more readily, and lead to their destruction. God made the birds so that they could live and thrive in their peculiar habitat.
(C) The sight and hearing of birds
An owl scans the dark woods with eyes ten times as sensitive to faint light as ours. Most birds have prodigious eyesight. In some birds the eyes are so big in relation to the head that there is scarcely room for them in the skull! Nature has also endowed them with a third eyelid that can be drawn back and forth across their eyes as a “windshield wiper” as they rush through the high sky, constantly encountering bits of dust and other irritants. One of the outstanding miracles of the eyes of birds is their remarkable “telescopic adaptability” for rapid adjustment.
The swallow, darting swiftly through the air, is able to see the tiniest insect as it swoops down through the sky. A bird of prey, even at high altitude, can perceive a small object far below and in its lightning descent (its eyes constantly change focus) so that it is able to snatch its prey without a crash landing.” (p. 269, “Miracles of Science”).
The robin “has unbelievably acute hearing. When a robin on your lawn stops and cocks it head to one side, it is listening to the soft stirring of an earthworm under the grass.”
(D) the legs and feet of birds
The legs and feet, including claws, of birds show as much design for intended purpose as other features of their anatomy.
A bird cushions its landing with its legs, which consist of three single rigid bones, with joints that work in opposite directions — thus making an amazingly efficient shock absorber.
Many people wonder why a sleeping bird does not topple off its perch.
“Attached to the ligaments which operate a bird’s toes, is a very long tendon which runs nearly the whole length of the leg, and broadens into a muscle on the front thigh. When the bird perches, its knees and ankles bend and automatically tighten the tendon, which contracts the bird’s toes so that they grip tightly. The bird is then virtually locked to its perch.” Who invented this natural “safety lock mechanism” so obviously designed for the benefit of the sleeping bird?
The legs and feet of birds are designed for perching, running, swimming, wading, climbing, scratching, tearing, or holding. Birds of prey have strong feet, armed with sharp, hooked talons. The foot of the climbing birds, like the parrot and the woodpecker, is equipped with two toes in front and two behind. Scratching birds, like chickens and turkeys, have short, thick toes, fitted with stout, blunt claws. The wading birds, as the crane and heron, are long and slender-legged for walking in the water of lakes and marshes. Many of the swimming birds, like ducks and swans, have webbed feet. God is very wise: He equips every creature perfectly to meet its needs — even to the “fur”-covered foot of the ptarmigan, to protect it against the extreme cold.
The thick foot of the ostrich is a weapon of defense; on the other hand the peregrine (falcon) has a hind toe like a steel spike, with which it knocks its prey senseless when it hits it in its power-dive, a lightning-like “stoop” from above.
The Remarkable Feet of the Jacana
Perhaps in no other bird’s feet is “design” for an intended purpose so evident as in the Jacana.
“The jacana has most remarkable feet. It has very long spreading toes which are exceptionally slender and weak. At first glance it would seem that Nature erred in giving this creature such freakish equipment, but she didn’t. The jacana spends most of its life stepping from one floating lily pad to another in search of food. Its outlandish feet distribute its weight evenly over the wide surface of the pads, enabling them to support the bird.” In all seriousness, HOW could a bird with short stubby feet EVER develop the long, slender feet and spreading toes necessary to walk on lily pads? Every time a bird with short stubby feet tried to walk on a lily pad, it would sink, and the poor thing would die of frustration in less than a week — if it did not drown before that!
And so the jacana, unintentionally, becomes another witness for God and divine creation, for it is clear to all that the feet off the jacana HAD to be as they are, from the very beginning, in order to do what the jacana does — walk on lily pads. FEET ANY LESS THAN OR ANY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT THE JACANA HAS WOULD NOT WORK AS THE JACANA USES THEM. No theory demanding “gradual change” by chance mutations can account for a highly specialized organ as the feet of the Jacana.
Speaking of the special equipment that a duck has, one author says, “Notice the feet of the duck: at the end of each leg he has an ingenious paddle, or oar, to drive him through the water. Either on the surface or underneath, the duck is able to proceed because of his webbed feet. The question arises, did he take to the water because he had webbed feet, or did he get webbed feet because he took to the water? It is evident the latter cannot be the case — for what would the duck have done in the water while he was getting or developing those web feet? Also, the down on a duck that keeps him safe in the water MUST have been provided him in the very hour of his origin, or the water would have been as fatal to him as it is to a chicken today!”
(E) The bills and beaks of birds
The bills or beaks of birds are very efficient, and carefully designed devices for obtaining food, and for protection, in some cases. A beak consists of an upper and a lower mandible, or jaw. Birds which live on tough-shelled nuts usually have strong, heavy bills so they can crack the shell. Birds like hawks, owls and eagles have hooked bills so they can tear their prey apart. Scavengers like vultures, also have hooked bills, but they are much weaker, for the flesh of a dead animal will tear off much more easily than that of a live one. Boring birds are furnished with a long, straight and pointed beak with which to dig into bark in search of grubs and insects. The goose and duck are furnished with a spoon bill, suitable to get food from the bottom of lakes and pools.
Let us mention a few of the strikingly different kinds of bills, among the many hundreds, that birds have — and note especially that they are designed for a PURPOSE. The bill of the curlew bends down, that of the avocet curves up, whereas that of the snipe is almost straight. The bill of the stork is pointed, that of the spoonbill is flat, and that of the flamingo has a sharp, right-angle bend in it. The beak of the falcon is hooked, that of the touraco is short, that of the adjutant is long, that of the toucan is enormous and that of the pelican carries a pouch underneath. Who is responsible for this variety? Consider the fact that the beak of a bird is designed for a purpose: that it might eat a particular kind of food.
The bill of the northern shrike is hard; it is used as a hammer. He kills mice and small birds by giving them a sudden blow with his bill on the back of their heads.
The woodcock lives largely on worms. He has a comparatively long bill that is flexible at the end; with this he probes into worm holes in search of his food. The flexible end of his bill enables him to probe readily until the worm is discovered.
The long-billed curlew has a beak well situated to drag crabs and worms from their holes in the sand.
The woodpecker finch of the Galapagos has a most curios method of obtaining its food. It picks up a long, thin cactus thorn in its short bill — admirably adapted to holding the thorn — and with it pokes out insects hiding in the crevices of bark and wood! When the insect runs out of hiding, the bird drops the prod and eats the insect!
With its arched, blunt beak, the flaming ibis dredges its food out of mud banks.
Of all bills, that of the pelican is one of the strangest. Diving for fish, it uses its more-than-foot-long bill like a mechanical scoop. When the fish is caught, it is stowed away in a fleshy, pouch-like sack that extends between the two sides of the lower mandible. From this reservoir the pelican swallows the fish at its leisure. But the pouch serves yet another purpose. The pelican partially digest its food, then regurgitates it into this same pouch. Then the young pelicans eat right out of this pouch, when father or mother (both parents take turns feeding their young) opens its mouth for “junior” to get his meal! What bird would “invent” such a system to feed its young? But God has plans of His own, and these are seen in nature on all sides, reflecting the fact of special design in creation.
The tooth-billed pigeon of the Samoan Islands has a highly specialized bill that has notches like teeth in the lower mandible. It feeds mostly on the fruit of a fig tree, and this bill is admirably designed for that purpose.
The shoe-bill stork has a great, broad bill, depressed in the middle and hooked at the end — suggesting a large wooden shoe. The stork, you will recall, is a voiceless bird. But the shoe-bill stork claps its mandibles together, and so expresses itself in times of danger or excitement! Such phenomena in nature are NOT the result of “survival of the fittest” — for certainly a “voice” is an asset. But this peculiar organ (the shoe-bill) was so designed by the Great Creator who fashioned many kinds of life to carry many lessons to the world of men.
The humming bird has a long slender bill that serves as a drinking straw to extract nectar from the long “throats” of flowers.
The flamingo has a built-in sieve in its bill with which it sifts small shellfish and other titbits from the mud of shallow water.
The plant cutter birds (Phytotmidae) have conical bills that have fine saw cuts along the edges of their mandibles, and with these cutting edges they cut off pieces of leaves, buds and fruit for food.
The wood hewers of Central America have bills that curve downward and are long and slender. With these they search for insects and larvae in the cracks in bark and in tree crannies — and so the Creator of all, Who has adjusted ALL life and made it interdependent, provides a special bird as a “tree surgeon” to protect trees from the ravages of insects! Did such a provision of benevolence for trees “just happen” — or was it all in the original blueprint, in the original plan of the Creator.
The woodpecker lives chiefly on insects lodged in the bodies of the trees (often in decayed parts). Its bill is straight, hard and sharp — like a chisel — so it can dig and bore after insects.
The gannet, which feeds on fish, has the sides of its bill irregularly jagged in order to hold more securely its slippery victims.
The mandibles of a heron are long and pointed, and the beak is especially suitable for spearing small fish and frogs in shallow water.
The snipe has a long soft bill with a nerve going to its end, giving it feeling. The tip of the bill is moveable. Because the bird cannot see down in the mud, it must depend on this type of a bill to locate worms, for food.