Nov 14 2012

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This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Animal Stories


With a flutter and a clutter the group goes forward.  We demand to be next; we were made on the fifth day of creation before all the other animals and man.

Monkey: No need to demand, you are welcome to go next. After all you do represent a large population. In fact Israel has an unusually large and diverse population of birds.

Yes, yes, we know, we know, there are three reasons for that:

  1. Israel is part of a great migratory route from Africa to Europe and Western Asia.
  2. Israel’s semi-tropical climate is favourable for migratory and native birds.
  3. Israel has a variety of natural habitats for nesting and feeding. The cracks in the rocks, the lime soil of the fields, shrubs and trees are good places for breeding. The thorns and thistles create shelter for smaller birds.

Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord. (Jeremiah 8:7 NIV)


They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord. (Hosea 11:11 NIV)

We were created by God and owned by God. We were created for the glory of God, not to be worshipped by man. Adam named us together with all the other animals. We have also been given as food to man and to be used as sacrifice under the Law. God provides for us.

Generally we are referred to in the Word of God as:

  • birds/fowls of the air
  • birds/fowls of the heavens
  • feathered fowls
  • winged birds


The Law divided us into two categories, clean and unclean. The division is made according to our diet; clean birds eat seeds and grain. Most unclean birds are carnivous, except for the hoopoe (Leviticus 11:13-21). This distinction is no longer relevant in the New Testament.


Symbolic of man

Our characteristics are often used as symbols for man and man’s spiritual condition.

  • Turtledove – being gentle and vulnerable – Psalm 74:19 (ESV) – Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever.
  • Eagle – the ability to soar up in the sky challenges man to rise above circumstances – Proverbs 23:5 (ESV) – When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.
  • Birds of prey – likened to cruel kings – Isaiah 46:11Vulture – likened to hostile nations – Jeremiah 12:9 (NKJV) – My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture; the vultures all around are against her. Come, assemble all the beasts of the field, bring them to devour!
  • Birds – likened to different countries – Ezekiel 31:6 (NKJV) – All the birds of the heavens made heir nests in its boughs; under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young; and in its shadow all great nations made their home.
  • Snaring of birds – likened to the designs of the wicked – Psalm 124:7; Proverbs 1:10-17; 7:23Birds that wander from their nest – likened to wanderers – Proverbs 27:8(NKJV) – Like a bird that wanders from its nest Is a man who wanders from his place.
  • Cock – welcomed the day and confirmed Peter’s denial of Jesus Christ  – Mark 14
  • Hen – maternal love – Matthew 23:37 (NKJV) – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
  • Birds nesting – used in a parable of the Kingdom of heaven – Matthew 13:31–32 (NKJV) – Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,  which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”



  • Is there a difference between a turtledove and a pigeon?
  • Why did Noah send out first the rave and then the dove?
  • Who fed Elijah?


Series Navigation<< The DonkeyTurtledove and pigeon >>

About the author

Retha Groenewald

Retha Groenewald, is a Christian, passionate about the Bible and author of fantasy novel The Four Faces. She loves storytelling, reading, researching, and writing. She has degrees in nutrition, business, law, and theology. She is a member of Elim in Durbanville. She lives in Western Cape, in beautiful South Africa.

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