Sunday, June 15, 2014

Jewel # 177 (June 15, 2014)


“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 Purple Martin

“The winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come.”
(Song of Solomon 2:11-12)

After having migrated to Central and South America for the winter, martins return each spring to North America.  Some have been seen in summer as far north as the Saskatchewan Valley in Canada.

Their forked tails, wide wings and the way they catch their food while flying identify these eight-inch birds as part of the swallow family.  There are several species, including the house martin, the sand martin and the purple martin, which is the one we will focus on. 

The males of the purple martin species are a beautiful, dark purplish-blue colour all over.  The females are much the same, but the undersides of their bodies are light coloured.  These birds nest in colonies with each pair raising three to eight young birds.

Because they are great inset eaters, catching insects from the air while in flight (including mosquitoes), purple martins have earned the friendship of farmers and people who live in the suburbs.  Some place martin houses on tall supports near their homes or barns to keep these welcome insect-eating “neighbours” nearby.  Some of these martin houses allow space for 50 nests or more.  There is an interesting trait about the martins living in these “apartment” houses.  

Most houses have adjoining balconies where the parent birds like to alight and perch before entering their own apartment.  The baby birds, not yet able to fly, sometimes hop about on these balconies.  After exploring, they forget which hole they came from and often enter a neighbour’s apartment by mistake.  Strangely enough, parent martins do not seem to be able to recognize their own chicks, and these “neighbourhood chicks” are accepted, fed and cared for as part of the family.

Although martins do not like other birds as close neighbours, house sparrows and European starlings do not share this trait.  If there is an opportunity a sparrow or starling will move into a martin pair’s apartment and chase the true owners away.  If this happened in most bird species, they would work together to keep the intruder out.  But the martin is not a fighter, so it meekly accepts the loss of its home to the thief.

Our opening verse tells us of the happy season of the year when winter’s cold, dark days are over, flowers are showing their pretty colours, and birds are returning from their migrations.  It is similar to the happy time when a boy or girl or grown-up places their trust in the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.  The dark times are left behind, and the reality of belonging to the Lord Jesus brings a joy many times happier than even the yearly return of spring.  

Have you had this experience by accepting the Lord Jesus as your Saviour?

Love you all,
Grandpa      

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