Thursday, June 01, 2017

Jewel # 285 (May 29, 2017)

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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

The Beautiful Grebes

“I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember Thy 
wonders of old. . . .Thou art the God that doest wonders.”
(Psalm 77:11-14)

These very interesting birds with strange habits are found throughout the world.  Large numbers of grebes in many varieties live in Canada, the northwestern United States, Alaska and Iceland.  Most of the 20 species fly quite well, though they have difficulty getting off the ground.  

Once they are airborne they can fly long distances, and some of them migrate to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts for the winter months and then return north in the spring.  However, three species do not fly at all, and the others fly only when necessary, preferring to remain near their nests in the marshy areas of ponds and lakes.

These birds are excellent swimmers and divers.  The legs of these birds are placed far back on their bodies, and they have long feet. This makes them clumsy and almost helpless on land.  They can run for a short distance but are prone to falling over.

In water, however, they are extremely graceful and wonderful swimmers, both on the surface and underwater.  Although they are a rather large bird, they can dive from the surface without leaving even a ripple to show where they have been.  The baby grebes can swim as soon as they hatch.

The nest, which floats on the water is usually built by both parents in shallow water, using weeds, sticks and reeds.  It is tied to something solid or anchored underwater to keep it from drifting away.  Isn’t it remarkable that the Creator has taught them to do this?

Much time is spent “oiling” their feathers, much like ducks do.  This “waterproofing treatment” is done by rubbing their beaks against special glands on their bodies, then working the waxy deposit into all parts of their dense feathers.

Although they do not have webbed feet, the Creator has given them special flap-like membranes on their long toes to aid in swimming.  Their legs are not round like most birds but pointed in front and back, helping them to move swiftly through water and helping them to catch fish, which they spear with their long, sharp, pointed beaks.

An unusual habit of all grebes is that they eat great quantities of feathers, even feeding them to their young.  No one is quite sure why they do this, but some wonder if the feathers act as  strainers or cushions to keep fish bones from piercing the inside of their bodies.  Whatever the reason may be, it is part of God’s wonderful design.

The ways of these birds show again the care of God in giving them remarkable instincts.  But He gave more than this to mankind.  In the Bible the question is asked, “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?” (Job 38:36).  The answer is that the Lord God, the Creator, has done this.

Love you all - Grandpa

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