Monday, September 17, 2018

Jewel # 333 (September 16, 2018)

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up  MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

Beneficial Blackbirds

“I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are Mine.”
(Psalm 50:11)

Millions of blackbirds are found in parts of Europe, as well as the 15 different kinds found throughout Canada and the United States.  The most numerous and perhaps the prettiest are the red-winged black birds.  They get their name from the male blackbirds, which have shoulder feathers tipped with bright red and yellow.  The rest of their bodies are mostly black.

The eastern red-winged blackbirds live from the Rocky Mountains east to the Atlantic Ocean. The San Diego, Rio Grande and Nevada redwings live west of the Rockies.  

Redwings nest in large groups in swamps, in marshes and in cattails or tall grass.  Nests are usually made of mud, plant fibres and grass, with small twigs woven in.  They are lined with soft material such as moss, soft leaves and feathers.

Farmers like blackbirds, not only because of their pleasant calls, but mainly because they eat weed seeds and many harmful insects.  Some insects they eat are too big to swallow whole, so the bird will hook it on a sharp thorn and dispose of it in smaller bites.

Large flocks often gather in open fields, spreading out to find seeds and insects.  As they all move forward those in the back soon discover that nothing is left for them, and they take off, flying over those in front, landing just ahead of them and finding plenty to eat.  When the others in the back find nothing left, they will fly ahead and begin feeding in a new part of the field.  This goes on until the field has been cleaned.  Then the flock will fly to another feeding area.

In some parts of North America, some redwings migrate in the fall to warm winter climates, while others remain behind.  Those remaining are okay as long as the winter is mild, but, sad to say, many do not survive when severe cold sets in.  It is mostly the females that migrate; the tougher males merely wait for their return in the spring—if they survive until then.

Birds of every kind form an important part of God’s creation, and the Bible often refers to His care over them.  But His love and care for us is far greater.  King David said, “How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! (Psalm 139:17).  In another place he said, “Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths.  Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation” (Psalm 25:4-5).  He will show His love and kindness to all who pray to Him in that way.

Have you ever asked the Lord to teach you and lead you?

Love you all -  Grandpa

Monday, September 10, 2018

Jewel # 332 (September 8, 2018)

Morpho Butterfly                             Water strider
Dead-Leaf Butterfly             Horned Grasshopper

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The World of Insects (Part 2)

“God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”
(1 Corinthians 1:27)

Many books have been written about the unusual features of the world's 600,000 varieties of insects. The beetle that eats cork, glue, mustard plasters and certain medicines is called the drugstore beetle.  Some unusual beetles have unusual names.

There are other unusual insects besides beetles.  One of the most beautiful insects is the morpho butterfly, which is covered with a million tiny, coloured scales on each wing.  Another unusual insect is the water strider that skims over water—its middle legs work like oars, the hind legs act like rudders, and the front legs are free to catch its prey.  It has been given air-filled “shoes” made of hair that allow it to float.

Another resident of ponds is the brown water bug.  The one grasps other water insects in a hug of death while its sharp beak draws out the victim’s blood.  When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she grips her mate tightly and glues the eggs onto his back.  Then she leaves him to incubate them in the sun for many days, until the young hatch.

God has made some insects experts at camouflage.  The ambush bug is so well hidden by its green and yellow colours that it cannot be seen until it moves.  The dead-leaf butterfly is easily seen when flying, but it looks like a dead leaf when resting.  The long-horned grasshopper has wings that look like leaves that have been partly eaten away.  There is one variety of the walking stick which has a green-brown body with red, thorn-like growths that make it look like part of a bramble bush.

Certainly insects are among “the weak things of the world” that confound “the mighty.”  How good to know that "God made . . . everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25).  Each one was given every perfect detail at the moment He created it.

He made a much greater joy when He brought mankind into the world, for He had his heart of love set on each of us even before the world was made!  How sad that many have not responded to that love nor realized that their sins made it necessary for the Saviour to die on Calvary.  There He bore the sins of all who will admit their guilt and put their trust in Him.  How wonderful of God to provide such a way of salvation!

Have you accepted His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as your Saviour?

Love you all - Grandpa

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Jewel # 331 (August 27, 2018)

Fairy Fly
Walking Stick

“And they shall be mine saith the Lord
of hosts, in that day when I make 
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear Grandchildren

The World of Insects (Part 1)

“Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; 
which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not Me? saith the Lord.”
(Jeremiah 5:21-22)

Do you know how to tell if something you see crawling or flying is really an insect?  One quick way is to count its legs.  Insects always have six legs—no more and no less.  Spiders are not true insects because they have eight legs.

The word insecta means “in sections,” and this is also true.  All true insects have three body sections joined together—head, thorax and abdomen.  The legs and wings are supported by the middle thorax section.  Most insects have four wings, but some have only two, and some don’t have any.

When the  Lord God created the world and everything in it, He must have had much pleasure in creating the insects since they represent the largest group of visible forms of life.  There are over 900,000 species of living insects that are known.  Ants are probably the most abundant insect species on earth.  Some insects are so small they can only be seen through a microscope.  The fairy fly, for instance, is only one-hundredth of an inch long but is perfect in all its parts.  At the large end of the scale is the fifteen-inch insect calledwalking stick, found in New Guinea.

In proportion to their size, insects are the strongest creatures on earth.  In experiments, a bumble bee was able to pull more than 300 times its weight, and a beetle carried more that 800 times its weight!  When insects walk, their front and back legs on one side and their middle leg on the other side all move at the same time.  The Creator may have arranged this so they can keep their balance and are always firmly on the surface.

Most insects begin life as eggs, hatching as larvae or nymphs, then change to pupae and finally appear as fully formed adults.  Having no skeleton or bones, they have been given an armour-like skin for protection.  As they grow larger, this splits open and drops off, and a new protective skin soon hardens and replaces it.  This happens several times as the insect grows larger.

Insects breathe, but they have no lungs; they hear, but they have no ears; they smell, but have no noses; they have eyes, but they cannot close them.  Their hearts can pump blood backward or forward.  These strange features about insects remind us of the opening verse of this article.  The Lord scolded those people who refused to use their eyes to see His ways or to use their ears to hear His Word.  No wonder He called them “foolish people, and without understanding" (Jeremiah 5:21).  We hope none of you will be so foolish!  
Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).  
(To be continued)
Love you all - Grandpa

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Jewel # 330 (August 14, 2018)

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

Meat Eating Plant

“The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand forever.”
(Isaiah 40:8) 

A meat-eating plant is the bladderwort, which grows in swampy areas.  Its stems, rooted in the muddy bottom, produce leaves and flowers that float on the water surface.  This plant attracts underwater bugs, some of which can’t resist taking a nibble of the bladder like swellings on its underwater stems.  But the moment they touch it a “door” flies open, and they are sucked inside.  The door closes behind them, and they turn into food for the bladderwort plant.

A similar water plant, the Venus fly-trap, grows in shallow ocean waters along the coasts of North and South Carolina.  A small white flower grows on the top of the plant, nestled in a tuft of leaves that have short, stiff hairs on their edges.  When a small object touches one of these hairs, the leaf snaps shut, capturing whatever touched it.  If it is a pebble or something indigestible, the leaf promptly releases it, but if it’s an insect, the leaf immediately begins to digest it, and the plant is nourished. 

A plant that does not actually eat insects is the beautifully flowered passion vine of South America.  It attracts insects that find its leaves and sweet nectar appealing, but the insects damage the plant when they get to the flowers.  So the Creator provided guardian ants that love the nectar that drips from the flowers, and they will not allow other insets to climb to it.  However, the ants can’t do anything about birds and insects that fly to the plant, wanting to get at the pollen deep inside each flower.  To safeguard the important pollen, each plant has been given a stiff, collar-like opening that can only be entered by the Creator’s specially designed, long, curved beak of an unusual hummingbird that He has arranged to live close by.

Another vine also in South America, the passifiora, has delicate, fragrant blue flowers and relies on bees to pollinate it.  But other insects find that when they chew its leaves, a poison is given off that makes them very uncomfortable.  Most of them seem to sense this and leave the passifiora alone.

It is interesting to hear of these and other amazing wonders of God’s creation, but we know they will not last forever.  He tells us in the Bible that all will be destroyed in a coming time when God is going to bring the world into judgment.  But there is one thing that will last forever.  Read the beginning verse again to find out what it is.  Do you obey it?

Love your all - Grandpa

Monday, August 06, 2018

Jewel # 329 (August 5, 2018)

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up "MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

Lively Spider Monkeys (Part 2)

“God made the beast of the earth after his kind . . . and God saw that it was good.” 
(Genesis 1:25)

In the last message, the red-faced and variegated species of the spider monkey family were reviewed.  Today we will look at the wooly variety, which is, in many ways, the most remarkable member of this family. 

The wooly’s homelands are in the tropical forest regions of Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela.  Much of those forest areas have been cut down, and many are concerned that these creatures will soon have no place to live.  But efforts are underway to set aside areas for the protection of the wooly spider monkey.

An adult wooly, weighting over 30 pounds, will measure about 5 feet in length, including a long, fur-covered tail.  Except for a dark face, slightly flushed with red, its body fur appears quite light when it is standing facing you, but the fur on its back is much darker.  On some there are areas of deep orange as well, and they all have a cute appearance.

Their antics are amazing, such as dangling out in space from a slender branch, holding on only by a tail and one arm.  But when a mother leads her little one around, she is very careful.  To travel from one tree to another where the space is too great for the baby to swing, she will pull the branch to which it clings farther across, or she may leap to the other tree and work one of its branches across so the little one can safely reach it.

At other times, she will stretch herself over the area, grasping one side with a strong arm and the other side with her tail.  Then baby monkey merely walks across her body to make the crossover. At other times, a mother can be spotted with a little one clinging to her back as she scampers though the trees.

For the most part, woolies are peace-loving and playful, enjoying swinging back and forth under a high branch while hanging on only by their tails.  But they will chase away other species that try to compete in picking fruit from a tree, which including the leaves and flowers, represents most of their food.

Wherever seen, monkeys are interesting animals, and we can understand the Creator’s taking pleasure in creating them.  The Bible, God’s Word, does not teach that mankind evolved from monkeys and apes.  God’s Word, which is our only sure and true source of knowledge of such things, plainly teaches that when God made Adam, he was instantly a complete man.  If in all things we trust and believe what God says, we are always on safe ground.    

Love you all - Grandpa 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Jewel # 328 (July 26, 2018)

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I 
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

Lively Spider Monkey  (Part 1)

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: 
for thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”
(Revelation 4:11)

There are many species of monkeys in Central America and the northern parts of South America, and all have long, prehensile (grasping) tails.  The Creator also gave them long legs and arms—all important to their way of life.  They use their tails not only to grasp branches, but the tips of their tails have a remarkable sense of touch, enabling them to capture tasty insects or other creatures out of crevices or holes in trees.  If a spider monkey is mortally wounded, it will curl its tail around a branch as it dies and remain suspended until it is removed or its body decays.

The long tails and sprawling legs of these monkeys make them appear awkward when on the ground, as they walk with the soles of their hands outward and the feet inward.  But in trees they are skilled acrobats and move swiftly and gracefully about, using their long arms, legs and tails, and they can cover 30 feet in one flying leap.

The red-faced variety is only about a foot long from nose to tail; its tail adds another 2 feet.  The name “red-faced” is not entirely accurate, for its head is actually a dark copper colour, showing some red in bright sunlight.  The rest of it is mostly shiny black.

These residents of tropical rain forests in both Central and South America are much loved by most people.  They will swing by their tails or lean against a tree for hours at a time.  But if threatened, they scoot away so swiftly that nothing but a bird could keep up with them.

A hunter told of trying to shoot one of these in the top of a tall tree.  It fell headlong for about 30 feet, at which point its tail wrapped around a limb, bringing it to an immediate stop. It hung there briefly and then took off making its escape before the hunter got in another shot.  Aren’t you glad it got away?  So am I.

Another species living along the Amazon River, is the variegated with quite similar habits to the others.  Its black fur is somewhat longer and its tail more bushy.  Those who have watched it report that it will sit for great lengths of time high in a tree, without moving; then suddenly it becomes active swinging swiftly backwards and forwards in an upside down position, just like the pendulum of a big clock.

Another interesting variety will be considered in the next posting.  Meanwhile, let us remember that these creatures are part of God’s creation in which He took delight, as our opening Bible verse tells us.  Like God, we too may take delight in His creation.
(To be Continued)

Love you all - Grandpa   

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Jewel # 326 (July 6, 2018)

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren 

The White Pelican

“God that made the world and all things therein . . . is Lord of heaven and earth. . . .
In Him we live, and move, and have our being.”
(Acts 17:24-28)

The white pelican is found in many places around the world, including Canada and the United States.  Its huge, broad bill with a pouch on the underside is the most noticeable feature about it, along with its  beautiful wings which spread 8 to 10 feet across.  Although this large water bird walks awkwardly, it is graceful when flying or swimming.

Pelicans thrive on a diet of fish and sometimes work together to catch them.  Large numbers of these birds will swim together in a line, beating the water with their wings.  Frightened fish find themselves trapped as the birds scoop them up in their open bills.  With their stomachs filled, they return to shore to digest the meal and soon fly into the air in great flocks.  They are often seen flying single file.   

These large birds nest in groups of a thousand or more on the shores of an island or inland lake. The females lay just two eggs that take a month to hatch. The chicks have no feathers at first and are quite ugly, but the mother is very attentive, keeping them well fed with fish which she first digests and then brings back up into her pouch.  Opening her upper bill wide, she lets the little ones help themselves, which they are always ready to do, practically crawling into her pouch in their hurry.  The little chicks stay in the nest three months before learning to fly and then are taught how to catch their own fish.

With their 8- to 10-foot wingspan, adults glide on air currents, covering as much as 40 miles or more a day over water in search of fish.  When a fish is spotted near the surface, the bird dives down and scoops up several quarts of water in its pouch along with the fish.  Lifting its head to let the water run out, it then gulps down the fish.

It is easy to understand why fishermen don’t like the competition from pelicans.  Actually, much of pelicans’ catch is made up of sick or injured fish, which the fishermen wouldn’t want anyway.

The Bible verse above causes us to think of God as the Creator of every living thing on earth.  But what is more important is that everything we do depends on His care and loving-kindness.  How important it is to accept His invitation to take the Lord Jesus as our Saviour.  His Word, the Bible, says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).  When we do this, He calls us His sons and daughters and assures us of eternal life with Him.

Are you clean and forgiven?

Love you all - Grandpa       

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Jewel # 325 (June 29, 2018)

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

Jumping Spiders  

“All that forget God . . . their hope shall be cut off,
and whose trust shall be a spider’s web.”
(Job 8:13-14)

Let’s look at spiders that are specifically called jumping spiders. There are some 4,000 varieties of these.  They are all small, less than 3/4 inch, and are the most colourful of all spiders.  If you should see one, look at it through a magnifying glass and see the beautiful colours of these pretty little creatures.  While frequently found in parts of North America and Europe, the greatest number prefer warm climates, such as Central America, northern South America, New Zealand and Australia.  Many of you have probably seen these little spiders on your windowsills or screens in the summer.  The hair on their legs helps them walk across very smooth surfaces like glass more easily.

They are provided with unusual eyes — some of them having as many as eight, so that they can see motion in just about every direction all at the same time. They can also spot birds or enemies that might be a threat to them.

In contrast to the vast number of other spiders, jumping spiders do not weave webs and then wait for insect to get caught in them.  Instead, they creep up on their prey or lie in wait and pounce on it.  Although their legs are short, they can jump more than 50 times the length of their bodies.

Finding a good spot on big a bare rock or bare limb of a tree, a jumper first anchors a silk thread  (called dragline) so it can climb back up in case it misses its prey.  It seldom has to wait very long before spotting a fly, mosquito or other insect perhaps a distance of 4 to 8 inches away. 

How can it get to that insect that is suddenly visible?  Most of the jumping power is supplied by the fourth pair of legs, and the dragline stretches out to match the jump being made.  Having feasted on its catch, the spider may explore a bit for more food and then it follows the dragline all the way back to its starting point where the line is discarded.

Incidentally, in spite of the trailing dragline, these jumps are so fast and silent that an intended victim seldom gets away.  The spider injects a wee bit of poison, then devours its catch and looks around for other potential victims before climbing back up its dragline.

Read again the Bible verse at the top of the page.   How foolish it is for anyone to just try to forget about God and take up with the temporary pleasures of this world.  This verse tells us it will trap them like a spider’s web.  Another verse tells us: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

Which verse applies to you?

Love you all - Grandpa  

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Jewel # 324 (June 19, 2018)

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord
of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Adorable Kit Fox

 "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”
(Song of Solomon 2:15)

The kit fox, or desert fox, is the smallest fox in North America.  An adult is only about 20 inches long, and little ones are so tiny and adorable that if you got a peek at one you would want to pick it up and hold it.  Besides being tiny, they are so cute with pretty, light tan fur on their sharp pointed faces, necks and legs and a slightly darker colour over their backs and long, bushy tails.

The pleasant looks on their tiny faces, with their dark eyes and black-button noses, topped off by a pair of large, perky ears, all make an unforgettable picture.  Theses little ones are so tiny you could hold one in your hand.  The parents are equally pretty.

At one time there were large numbers in western North America, but today there are only a few, most of which live near Bakersfield, California, in oil field areas.  There are also some in northern and central Mexico.

Kit foxes do not need to drink water since their prey provides enough liquid for them to survive.  Their choice of food is mostly rats, mice and ground squirrels.  But as these too are becoming scarce, the hungry kit foxes are sometimes spotted at night prowling around market places, no doubt hoping to find some bit of meat or other food.

They use the same den year after year, but their worst enemy, the coyote, is often able to break into their dens and destroy the foxes.  So kindhearted people now provide man-made dens for them, properly buried in the ground.  These are made of steel pipes welded together in suitable shapes with an opening just large enough for the foxes, but not the coyotes.  California officials also have learned of the serious threat of coyotes and hunters as well, and they are trying to keep hunters, settlers and industries from coming into those areas, since this will destroy the small number of kit foxes that are left.

It’s sad enough to think that coyotes and other larger foxes are their enemies, but hawks and eagles also go after them.  No doubt the Creator of these lovely creatures has put protective kindness into the hearts of people and it is hoped the authorities will continue to do what they can to preserve them.

We cannot overlook that the opening Bible verse refers to  some damage little foxes have always done, and it reminds us that this world can never be a perfect place while our chief enemy, Satan, remains in it.  The wonderful hope of those who know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour is His promise to soon call us to heaven, where no sin or sorrow will ever be.  

Will you be part of the great number who will be there?    

Love you all - Grandpa

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Jewel # 323 (June 11, 2018)

The Burrowing Owl

The Great Gray Owl

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Owl’s World (Part 3)

“God does great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number”  (Job 5:9).

The small burrowing owls are ground dwellers and have heads as round as a ball and long legs.  They are covered in light-coloured fluffy feathers from neck to feet, but elsewhere they are a soft brown.

These owls live in open country, mainly in the western half of the United States and in Mexico.  They make their homes in underground burrows, sometimes digging out their burrows themselves but preferring to find one abandoned by ground squirrels or badgers.  They come out of their burrows in the cool of the morning and evening to hunt for lizards, mice, gophers and insects but retreat to the burrows during the hot hours.  These owls can see well in daylight and are strictly daytime hunters.

Half dozen baby owls are usually raised each spring, with the parents caring for them a long time.  Eventually the young ones learn to make it on their own.

The 24-inch great gray owl is the largest in the owl family with a wide wingspan.  Part of the year it makes its home in the far north.  In times of snow, it plunges through the snow to catch mice and other rodents active on the ground underneath.  But when the snow becomes frozen hard, finding food becomes difficult, and it usually migrates to southern Canada and some of the western states.

Its pale yellow eyes look small in its large, round face that is heavily ringed.  The rest of of its head is covered with short, light-brown feathers, and it has no ear tufts.  The rest of its body is darker brown mottled with white.

This owl builds a nest made of sticks and moss high in an evergreen tree.  It will use old nests of other large birds when possible.  It hunts chiefly by night but also at dawn and dusk.  Those in the far northern range hunt by day during the summer.

If space allowed, it would be interesting to look at the boreal, long-eared, northern spotted, screech, barred, saw-whet and Arctic owls as well as many other varieties.  But those we have looked at are examples of the ways of most owls.

They are all a reminder to us of the wonderful detail which the Creator provides for all His creatures.  But let us not forget the wonderful detail in His loving care for each of us.

The psalmist expresses this so well in these Bible verses:  “I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.  I will meditate also of all Thy work, and talk of Thy doings” (Psalm 77:11-12).  Another verse says, “O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in Thee” (Psalm 84:12).

Is your trust in the Lord?

Love you all - Grandpa

Friday, June 08, 2018

Jewel # 322 (June 3, 2018)

Great Horned Owl

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I 
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Owl’s World (Part 2)

"I the Lord know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.”
(Psalm 50:11)

Today we will look at the interesting great horned owl.  Weighing about three pounds and measuring 22 inches long, this is the second largest in the owl family.  It is found in many places throughout North America.  It has the nickname winged tiger, because of its boldness and power.  This is the only owl that destroys chickens, ducks and geese, but it makes up for this destruction by keeping down the rabbit population.

The name “great horned “ comes from the two tufts of feathers on top of its head that look like ears or horns.  Its actual ears are not visible but are hidden under light feathers on the sides of its head.  Its hearing is thought to be the most sensitive hearing in the bird and animal world.  With this hearing it can pinpoint the squeak of a mouse or the faint rustle of a beetle moving through dry leaves up to 300 feet away!

This owl does not have to rely entirely on its ears, for it eyes are as large as a man’s and 35 times more sensitive.  With eyes pointing forward, it watches an object with both eyes.  Its vision is so keen that it can observe prey a long way off that would be impossible for our eyes to see.

Without moving its body, its large swivelling head enables it to locate prey in almost any direction, either by actual sight or by what its sensitive ears pick up.  Taking off from its perch, the owl focuses on an unsuspecting target.  The shape of its wings and its fluffy feathers muffle the swishing sound that most birds make when they fly.  It silently swoops down, landing on the prey with its legs braced forward, and in one quick move it tosses the victim’s head back, breaking the neck and killing it instantly.

The great horned owl is the boldest of all owls in defending its nest of three eggs.  It is not uncommon for a person trying to get close to be suddenly dive-bombed, receiving painful cuts and torn clothes. 

After hatching, the baby owls rely on the parents for food for 9 or 10 weeks, but eventually it is up to them to catch their own.  Learning to fly is difficult.  On their first flight attempts, they sometimes end up on the ground.  Unable to fly back, they grip the bark of the tree with their claws and hooked beaks, climbing up to a branch, resting a while, then continuing to climb to a higher perch, before trying to fly again. 

In our next message we will look at two more of these remarkable birds and the ways the Creator, knowing all about each of them, has designed them for their particular way of life.  The opening Bible verse tells us this.

Love you all - Grandpa

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Jewel # 321 (May 28, 2018)

Elf Owl

Barn Owl

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Owl’s World (Part 1)

“God created . . . every winged fowl after his kind: And God saw that it was good.”
(Genesis 1:21

Although there are many varieties of owls throughout the world, we are not very aware of them, mainly because most of their activities are carried on after dark.  For centuries owls have been a symbol of wisdom.  However, geese, crows and ravens are all smarter than owls.

People can recognize an owl by its large broad head with a ruff of feathers around its large eyes.  This ruff covers enormous ear openings.

Most owls spend much time perched on tree branches at dusk or through the night, but some hunt during the day as well, yet manage to keep well hidden.  In many ways they are useful to man, helping to control rats, mice and other rodents, as well as insects that damage crops.

Their flights are as silent as a shadow, yet amazingly accurate.  In the darkness their sensitive ears pick up the faint sounds of mice or other rodents on the ground below them.  They fly directly to their victims, capture them and then have dinner.

Owls’ extremely sensitive, large eyes see remarkably well in almost total darkness.  Both eyes point forward, unlike the eyes of most birds.  They are not able to move them sideways; instead, they must swivel their heads to follow a moving object.  Their heads turn quickly, and this has resulted in the mistaken idea that the owl can turn its head completely around.

There are a great number of varieties, from the smallest 6-inch elf owl to the largest 24-inch great gray owl.   We will look at a few more of these interesting birds later.

We will begin with the barn owl.  This fairly large owl is sometimes called the monkey-face owl and makes its home in any convenient place—from a hollow tree or up to the top of a church steeple.  However, it usually nests in barns or other farm buildings and lives peacefully with nearby pigeons.  It has long, slender legs and wings that spread 3 feet in flight.

The barn owl is a pretty bird, with a heart-shaped face and dark eyes.  Its body is snow-white  below with spotted back and wing feathers in tones of golden or chocolate browns.  Like all owls, it has a strong sharp beak and pointed, vicious talons on its four-toed feet, with which it catches its prey.

Being an expert mouse catcher, a barn owl also hunts for other rodents, frogs, lizards, sparrows and even blackbirds, never seeming to satisfy its huge appetite.

As we consider these unusual birds, it is good to remember the Bible verse that says, “The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9).  This includes you.  

Have you ever thanked Him for His goodness and kindness to you? 

Love you all - Grandpa