Painting, “Whoopers Headed North” attends Blessing of the Animals

Blessing of the Animals

FOTWW’s President Chester McConnell and his lovely wife Dorothy

by Pam Bates

Dorothy and Chester McConnell attended a service for the “Blessing of the Animals” today at the Providence United Methodist Church, Spanish Fort Alabama.  David Hendrix, Pastor officiated the service. This service was originally initiated many years ago by St. Francis of Assisi. Dorothy and Chester are members of Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) and Chester is President of our organization. The service was well attended by dog owners but the McConnell’s took their painting of “Whoopers Headed north” by artist Dale Wilkins. Chester responded to pastor Hendrix’ invitation and explained about  the status of Whooping Cranes and FOTWW’s efforts to protect and manage their habitats.

An excerpt from the service bulletin follows.

A SERVICE FOR THE BLESSING OF ANIMALS

GATHERING AND GREETING

The animals of God’s creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the sea.
They share in the fortunes of human existence and have a part in human life.

God, who confers gifts on all living things, has often used the service of animals or made them reminders of the gifts of salvation.

Animals were saved from the flood and afterwards made a part of the covenant with Noah.
(GENESIS 9:9–10)

The paschal lamb recalls the passover sacrifice and the deliverance from slavery in Egypt.
(EXODUS 12:3–14)

A giant fish saved Jonah;
(JONAH 2:1–10)

ravens brought bread to Elijah;
(1 KINGS 17:6)

animals were included in the repentance of Nineveh;
(JONAH 3:7)

and animals share in Christ’s redemption of all God’s creation.

We, therefore, invoke God’s blessing on these animals. As we do so, let us praise the Creator and thank God for setting us as stewards over all the creatures of the earth.

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An afternoon with a whooping crane family

By Val Mann – Guest Author

Very early Thursday morning Kim and I packed up Max (our car) and headed three hours north to the whooping cranes’ preferred staging grounds in farmers’ fields and sloughs. It was a warmish, beautiful, sunny day – perfect for a drive in the countryside.

Max doubles as a blind with the camera lenses through open windows. The car is a gold-brown colour and usually coated with a layer of grid road dust – perhaps blending with the golden harvested fields. Whatever the reason, wildlife tend to ignore the car.

Whooping crane

Whooping crane family foraging in the slough. Photo by Val Mann

Just over a grid road hill, a family of whooping cranes, parents and a colt, were foraging in a roadside slough. The family ignored us and continued to feed. At one point, judging from the behaviour, the parents wanted to roost and snooze in the warm prairie afternoon sunshine. Junior showed signs of being bored. After unsuccessfully trying to rouse the parents, the colt went foraging for snacks, wandering towards us. The parents kept a watchful eye on the youngster while they preened, but did not raise alarm. Eventually the colt returned to roost with the parents. Not that long after, a huge grain truck drove by and the cranes flew deep into the fields.

Wow, what an amazing experience to share time with them!

This was not a typical sighting. Normally the cranes are extremely human intolerant and keep at least 500 metres (about 1500 feet) from roads, humans, etc. The middle of a farmer’s field would be the norm.

Please note that we were actually a distance away – on a pullover off the far side of the road. The powerful super telephoto lens and post-production cropping make the birds appear considerably closer than they actually were.

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is very thankful that Val Mann shared her adventure with us. We hope that you enjoyed it and the photos below of the family of wild whooping cranes that she sent along to go with her story. Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge.

Thank you, Val!

Whooping Crane

Junior foraging with parents in the background. Photo by Val Mann

 

Whooping Crane

Whooping crane family preening together while roosting. Photo by Val Mann

 

Two whooping cranes: Junior and a parent, in flight. Photo by Val Mann

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