Sunday, November 27, 2016

Jewel # 267 (Nov. 23, 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 Oilbird or Guacharo

“He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven.”
(Job 28:24)

The oilbird is unusually interesting and lives in Central and South America.  A fairly large bird, it measures about 18 inches from its beak to the tip of its tail.  Its wings, when outstretched, measures close to 3 feet across and it has very short legs.  It has a powerful beak that has long whisker-like feathers at each side.  This reddish-brown bird has white spots on its head and outside wing feathers and black bars across its tail.  

Oilbirds make permanent homes inside  pitch-black caves where a person would need a light to see.  Whole colonies share many of these caves, building their nests and raising their young in the darkness.  You may wonder how they live under such dark conditions.  Their Creator has given them a navigational system similar to bats.  Like bats, the birds make sharp, quick sounds while flying in the caves. These sounds echo back to their sensitive ears, telling them when something is in the way and a safe way around it.

These birds also hunt in the darkness for the fruit of certain palms and other fragrant kinds of fruits.  Good night vision and a keen sense of smell help them find these fruits, which they gulp down whole while flying.  Fruit of this kind is very nourishing and is all the food they need for themselves and their growing chicks.  They are the only nocturnal, flying fruit-eating birds in the world.

The guacharo was given the more common name of oilbird because of their chicks.  When they first hatch, chicks are quite large and have enormous appetites, gulping down all the fruit their parents bring.  These fruits are full of fat and oily juice, and in a short time the chicks, while still in the nest, grow larger than their parents.

Once their plumage begins to fill out, they gradually thin down.  By the time they are three or four months old when they leave the nests, they are nearly a normal size.  This is further helped by the exercise of searching for their own food.  In times past, natives of the area discovered that the fat of these young, oversized birds produced a rich oil when they were caught, killed and the oil boiled out of the body.  They used the oil to make an excellent butter and as fuel for their lamps.  Killing these birds is no longer permitted, but that is how the  oilbird got its unusual name.

Does the Lord God, their Creator, see these birds in the dark caves or when they are flying about at night?  Yes, He both sees and cares for them, for His eye is always on every living thing, just as the opening Bible verse tells us.

Love you all

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