Sunday, October 16, 2016

Jewel # 263 (Oct. 14, 2016)


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“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,

Big-Billed Pelicans

“The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. 
 . . . He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered.”
(Psalm 111:2,4)

Pelicans are the world’s largest web-footed birds.  Both white and brown pelicans live in North America, with other species in other parts of the world.  Large colonies nest on ocean islands; others prefer ocean bays and beaches or inland lakes.  Four white-plumaged species tend to nest on the ground, and four brown or gray-plumaged species nest mainly in trees.

The white pelican can be as large as 5 feet long with a10-foot wingspan and weight 16 pounds; the brown pelican is somewhat smaller.  A pelican’s heavy body is supported by strong, short legs and large, webbed feet.  It has a long neck and a big head with a long, flat bill.  The upper part of the bill has a sharp hook at the tip; the lower part has an elastic pouch which stretches out to form a big scoop.  After scooping up a fish, water and all, the pouch is contracted, squeezing out the water before the fish is swallowed.

Spotting a fish from the air, this big bird plunges into the water, scoops the fish into its pouch, and then swallows it whole.  At other times, a dozen or more pelicans work together.  Swimming together in a line on the deep-water side of a school of fish, the pelicans beat the water with their strong wings, driving the fish to the shallow shoreline where they are easily caught.  

Who taught them this clever trick?  No one but God, their Creator, who also provided them with air pockets under their skin and hollow bones so they are never in danger of sinking.  How wonderfully He adapts every creature to its manner of life!

These almost voiceless birds aren’t too particular about their nests.  Ground nesters, they build them from mud, gravel and sand, with twigs placed loosely on top.  The female lays 1 to 4 dull-white eggs.  The hatchlings have bare, pink skin but are soon covered with down.  The parents carefully protect them from the hot sun when they are first hatched, always standing over them to keep them in the shade of their large bodies.

Once in the air, this otherwise awkward bird becomes a graceful flier and can fly for hours, covering long distances.  When several fly together, they fly in V-formation and flap their wings in unison.  The Creator has given them this instinct because flying in this manner produces air currents which make flying easier.

Pelicans may seem like strange birds, but they are part of the works of the Lord” stated in our opening verse.  When we see these birds, as well as every other creature, we should consider how God, their Creator, not only made them, but watches over them with loving care, just as He watches over you and me.

Love you all, 
Grandpa  

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