Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jewel # 162 (Jan 11, 2014)

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To my dear grandchildren.

North America's Flying Squirrels (Part 2) 

"This also cometh forth from the Lord . . . 
wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."
(Isaiah 28:29)

The outstanding feature that makes flying squirrels different from their most common relatives is their amazing ability to travel considerable distances through the air.  Although they appear to be flying, they are actually gliding, which in itself is outstanding.

On the underpart of their bodies is a loose flap of furry skin on each side, not easily seen when they are scampering up a tree trunk or along a branch.  Each flap is attached to the front leg and stretches back to where it is attached to the hind leg.  This forms a "kite" that enables the squirrel to glide from one tree to another or safely parachute to the ground from a high point.

How do they do this?  A flight begins high in a tree with the squirrel first bobbing its head in every direction, apparently sizing things up before taking off.  Then it makes the leap with all four legs spread out as far apart as possible stretching the loose skin into a tight kite.  Its target will usually be a lower point on the trunk of another tree, sometimes as far as one hundred feet away, but usually closer.  Gliding through the air, its flat tail acts like a rudder to keep it on course and then is lifted straight up to act as a brake just as it lands.

It always lands in an upright position with the claws of all four feet gripping the tree's surface tightly.  It immediately scoots around to the other side of the tree before venturing farther, an instinct the Creator has given it to preserve it from an owl or other enemy that might have seen it land.  

Nests are usually a hole in a dead tree trunk, sometimes one abandoned by a former owner and freshened up with leaves, moss or feathers. There the mother will raise up to half a dozen little ones, caring tenderly for them for a few weeks before introducing them to the pleasures of gliding.  Her first task is to take them gliding, one by one.  She grasps a baby's loose skin in her mouth while it holds on upside down with its legs wrapped around her neck.  Don't you imagine that's quite a thrill for the little one?  It is not long before they venture forth on their own without need of gliding lessons, for the Creator has given them a natural instinct for it.  

In the coming happy time when those who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour will be in heaven with Him, they will exclaim: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasures they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).

Will you be there? 

Love you all,
Grandpa

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