Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jewel # 216 (May 22, 2015)

imgres.jpgimgres.jpg

“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,

Mule Deer: The Pride of the West

“Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.  These are the beasts which ye shall eat: 
the ox, the sheep, and the goat, the hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer.”
(Deuteronomy 14:3-5)

Mule deer are found from northern Mexico north to the southern Yukon and Alaska, and from northern Texas and eastern North Dakota west to the Pacific Coast.  Tourists are often delighted to see them in the redwood groves of California, as well as Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Glacier park.

The mule deer is a majestic, beautiful deer with soft eyes, large furry ears, large branching antlers and a velvety coat.  Its coat, brown in summer and gray in winter, has a white fur patch at the back from which a short black-tipped white tail is used as a warning signal to companions when danger is near.  Pronged antlers are divided into two branches and are shed and renewed each year.  Hunters consider the antlers a trophy.

Weighing about 200 pounds, mule deer are larger and more heavily built than most deer and often reach 5 feet in length and stand 3 to 3.5 feet high at the shoulders.  As smart and wary as any animal, they have survived intense hunting over the years.  Protected in many areas, there are probably over a million throughout the West.  Rather than running as a horse does, they run in a series of stiff-legged leaps but can bound swiftly over the roughest trail.  They are good swimmers and do not hesitate to cross rivers and lakes when necessary.

They are called mule deer because of their large, open ears that stand upright behind the antlers, much like mule’s ears.  Back in 1804 when the Lewis and Clark expedition first saw them, they were reminded of mules back home.  They gave them this name which still identifies them.

Fawns (often twins) are usually born in spring and stay with the mother through summer.  They are pretty animals, covered with white spots on reddish-brown bodies until about five months old.    Mule deer like to stay in groups, and 300 to 400 may be seen at one time as they migrate to high altitudes in summer and back to the valleys in winter.  They must do this to fill their constant need of grass, shrubs and leaves.  Acorns and nuts are favourites when available.  They can eat cactus plants.  Like all living things, they are always under their Creator’s watchful care.

Our opening Bible verse is from the laws given to God’s Old Testament people and points out that fallow deer (related to mule deer) were among the clean animals they could eat.  Although we are not now under those laws, God does want us to avoid the unclean habits and things of the world and follow the clean, pure ways given in His Word, the Bible.  It is good for us to remember this in everything we do.

Love you all,
Grandpa        

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jewel # 215 (May 17, 2015)

imgres.jpgimgres.jpg

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

Red-Tailed Hawks


To my dear grandchildren,

“Does the hawk fly by Thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?” 
(Job 39:26)

There are many species of hawks, most of them quite pretty in a variety of colours.  An outstanding one is called the red-tailed hawk because its tail is made up of beautiful red feathers, each with a black base and a pure white tip.  The rest of its body is pretty too, either tannish-brown, bluish-gray or soft white.  It is the most common hawk in North America, found in areas from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  It is also found in Central Alaska and in Central America as well.  

Because this hawk is found in so many places, it has been given a variety of names, including red tailed hawk, chicken hawk (unjustly), squealing hawk, buzzard hawk and white-breasted hawk, but the official name is red-tailed.  It measures about two feet long from its bill to the tip of its tail.  When full grown and with wings outstretched, it measures about four feet across.  The female red-tailed hawks are bigger than males.

A red-tailed usually nests in open areas near trees where mice, rats, squirrels and moles abound.  It will perch perfectly still on a tree limb or fence post until one of these rodents is spotted.  Then swiftly and silently it swoops down and captures it, killing it instantly.  Its food also includes fish, rabbits, snakes, frogs, lizards and insects.

Besides hunting in wooded areas, these hawks often soar at great heights, making wide circles in the sky.  Suddenly a pair of sharp eyes spots a prey far below.  Then it dives silently at great speed and catches the prey in its sharp, curved talons.  This hawk usually travels at about 40 mph, but when diving after prey, its speed may increase to 120 mph or more.

Pairs of these birds stay together for life.  They often use the same nest year after year in the fork of a treetop.  Two or three eggs are usually laid during March or April, and both parents share in incubating them for about a month.  The young hawks learn to fly in a surprisingly short time and soon leave to be on their own.

An answer to the question asked in the opening Bible verse is given in Psalm 104:27: “These all wait upon Thee [the creator]; that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season.” 

When we think of all the birds and other creatures dependent on God, their Creator, for their needs, we are also reminded of His wonderful care over us.  The Lord Jesus tells us, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value that many sparrows” (Matthew 10:30-31).     

Do you know the Creator as  your Saviour?  Can you say, “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).?

Love you all
Grandpa

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Jewel # 214 (May 2, 2015)

imgres.jpg            imgres.jpg

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

To my dear grandchildren,

The Great Bustard

“God . . . made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . and gives to all life, and breath, and all things.”
(Acts 17:24-25)

The bustard is a large game bird found mostly in Europe and in warm parts of Asia.  Spain and Portugal have about 60% of the world’s bustard population.  Although there are about 22 species, the great bustard is best known.  The male weighs about 25 pounds, stand 3 to 4 feet high, and has a 5-foot 7 inch wingspan. Its small head has a razor-sharp beak, and it sometimes bites people causing severe pain.  Male bustards are the heaviest flying birds on earth.

Another  bustard, called the Kori, is interesting because it almost always has a beautiful bee-eater bird perched on its back.  From this viewpoint, the bee-eater bird can see bees and other insects which are disturbed by the kori’s feet as it walks through the tall grass. The bee-eater then quickly swoops down to catch its meal.

All bustards are shy, wary and difficult to approach.  They prefer living on open plains where their sharp eyes can quickly spot motion.  The great bustard, with its long legs and three-toed feet, is a fast runner.  Although it can fly, it prefers to run from danger or hide in tall grass.

These strange birds have no song.  Instead, they bark, grunt, hiss or make a whistling sound.  When searching for food, they may wander several miles in a day.  However, they have no trouble finding enough food as they eat plants, insects, lizards, frogs and small snakes.

When seeking a mate, the male stands atop a mound of dirt and makes a show of his feathers by turning up its tail and spreading his large wings over his back.  At the same time, he lays his head between his shoulders and puffs up a pouch on his neck so that only the top of his head shows.

This is a pretty display, and an impressed female soon joins him.  Together they make a one-foot hole in the ground for a nest.  The female lays two or three speckled greenish eggs, and in three weeks the chicks hatch.  The young birds often eat too much and look quite funny, wobbling around on legs that are not yet strong enough to carry the extra load.  

It is not known what special purpose this unusual bird serves, but it pleased the Lord God to create it, and so it fulfills a part in the balance of His entire creation.  In addition, we know He does not neglect it, for the Bible tells us, “In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10).

This verse reminds us of God's goodness to each of us personally.  Our response to His goodness should be, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever” (Psalm 107:1).   

Love you all,
Grandpa