Monday, March 21, 2016

Jewel # 243 (March 20, 2016)

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

To my dear grandchildren

An Unusual Nest Builder

"Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.”
(Luke 9:58)

An unusual bird found in Africa and in Europe is the Cape Penduline tit.  It is about the size of a sparrow, but with a much longer tail.  It is not a colourful bird, but it has a few scarlet and yellow feathers by which it can be identified.

These little acrobats hang upside down on swinging leaves and swaying branches when looking for insects, seeds and berries.  They travel in groups of 10 to 20, constantly calling back and forth with low, pretty whistles.

An outstanding feature of this bird is its elongated nest, a bag-like, waterproof nest suspended from a branch.  The male usually starts to build the nest, weaving hoops of grass and fibres to form its basic shape.  Soon his mate joins him, and sometimes others come to help.  After the framework is completed, the bottom, walls and top are finished.  Finally, soft, fluffy materials and feathers are woven in for a soft, comfortable lining.

The entrance to this nest is most interesting.  Two-thirds of the way up the side, a large opening is made on one side.  It looks like an entrance, but it actually leads into an empty chamber, walled off all by itself.  However, it serves a purpose.

When the parent bird returns with food, it flies directly into this empty chamber, settles to the bottom, then cautiously looks out to make sure no enemy is around.  Satisfied that it is safe, it reaches up with its beak, tugs gently on a concealed section, and another opening appears into which it enters.  This is the true entrance that leads down to where the baby birds are housed.  The trap door closes by itself after the parent bird enters.  A clever use of spider webs and silk from caterpillar nests makes a flexible hinge on this trap door, keeping it shut when not in use.  When leaving the nest, the bird goes through the same routine, hopping into the big opening before flying off.

When the baby birds grown up, they will also make identical nests and without having any lessons.  How have they learned this?  You may already know the answer — the Lord God provided these abilities and instincts when He created them.  And these are passed on from one generation to another.  No lessons are necessary!

Hebrews 4:13 tells us that God watches over them at all times: “Neither is there any creature that is not visible in His sight.”  And since you are one of His special creatures, He is watching you and knows everything you do and think.  How good to make the prayer of David your prayer also:

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in 
Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer.” 
(Psalm 19:14).  

Love you all,
Grandpa

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jewel # 242 (March 11, 2016)

“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 Pretty Plovers

“Out of the ground the Lord God formed . . .  every fowl of the air."
(Genesis 2:19)

There are many varieties of compact, ground birds know as plovers.  Many are shore birds, darting among the waves as they search for food churned up by the water.  They pick out pieces of oysters, clams and other bits of sea life. 

Plovers are found around the world.  Nine species spend all or part of the year in North America.  The most common is the killdeer, quickly identified by its loud, piercing “kill-dee, kill-dee” call as it flies.  It can be found in all of the states and in almost every province of Canada.

One feature of God’s remarkable care over plovers is the way He protects their eggs and young.  Their nests are scooped out of the sand or gravel and usually hold four eggs.  These eggs are spotted and so perfectly camouflaged that they are hard to distinguish from the pebbles around them.  

When the birds hatch, they are speckled with black and will “freeze” at the mother bird’s command, making them well hidden.  The parents are careful never to fly directly to or away from the nest.  Instead, they first walk away so anything watching cannot easily tell where the nest is.

Let’s take a closer look at the remarkable lesser golden plovers.  They nest in northern Canada and Alaska  from spring until fall.  In August or September, they fly in great numbers to Labrador.  From there they fly nonstop in V formation over 4000 miles to Brazil by way of Bermuda and the Caribbean Sea.  In March, they return across the Gulf of Mexico and up up the Mississippi Valley, back to their northern breeding grounds.

The Pacific golden plover is a foot-long bird with an even more amazing life.  Nesting in northern Alaska and Siberia, it flies to Hawaii in the fall, and then on to Malaysia, New Zealand and other Pacific islands.

The beginning of this journey to Hawaii requires a nonstop flight of over 2000 miles!  The adult birds take off first, leaving the young ones to follow later.  Doesn’t it seem impossible for these young birds to do this since they have never made the journey before, and Hawaii is just a pinpoint in the middle of the ocean?  

How do they low where to go and how to get there?  Once more, the answer is that God has given them instincts that never fail, generation after generation.  He tells them when to migrate and sends them safely to their destination.

These birds obey the will of the Lord, their Creator, and are an example of how we should also obey Him.  His Word, the Bible, has instructions for us at every age of our lives.  If we walk in His way, He will always bless us. 

I love you all,
Grandpa