Bald Eagles: Symbol of the United States of America

Do You Know Me?

 

One of the most well known birds, recognized in photographs, is the Bald Eagle. These interesting birds have been studied for hundreds of years while uncovering many of their habits and characteristics.

 

 

Let’s take a closer look.

If you look closely you will notice that these eagles are chocolate brown in coloration. The adults have white heads and tails. You will also notice the yellow eyes, beaks and legs. Notice the powerful hooked bill which is designed for tearing meat apart and can also be used as a weapon.

Second Largest Bird of Prey in U.S.

Though these birds are very large, they are only the second largest in the U.S.  Can you name the largest? It is the rare California Condor. Have you ever heard of the Bergman’s Rule? This general rule relating to the size of Eagles predicts that the farther North you go, the larger the birds will be. It seems to stand true when comparing specimens from the North compared to those found father to the South. The larger females range from 35-27 inches long with a wingspan of 79-90 inches. That is a big bird! The smaller males are between 30-34 inches long and have a wingspan of 72-85 inches. That makes the females 25% larger than the males.

Are They Really Bald?

Strange as it may seem, the eagles are not bald as one would think. The term “Bald” actually doesn’t come from a word meaning “without hair“. It actually  comes from a word that means, “White Headed“. Interestingly, they do not acquire their white heads and tails until they reach maturity around 4-5 years of age.

Controversy Over Naming the Bald Eagle As National Symbol:

If you look at the Presidential Seal, and on many U.S. coins, you will find the Bald Eagle as a national symbol of the U.S.  This has been the case ever since 1782 when it was declared the official emblem of our great country. Not all of those present at this time thought the Eagle was a good choice. One notable exception was Benjamin Franklin, who thought the Eagle’s reputation and character was far beneath the dignity of the U.S.   He noted that they were cowardly and of low moral character since they often steal food captured by other predators and will flee from the little  King Bird when being chased by them.

It Takes a Thief: “Kleptoparasitism”

Bald Eagles are often seen swooping down and stealing the prey from Osprey, foxes and other smaller predators. Have you ever heard the term “kleptomaniac” used to describe one who compulsively steals from others? Well, scientists use a similar word to describe animals like the Eagles that steal the food from others. This term is “Kleptoparasitism“.

They Eat What?!!!

Did you know, that in addition to stealing food from others they also eat dead things found along the road or in the field or beside the streams. This is known as “Carrion”. In many places and when the opportunity arises the large portion of the eagle’s diet comes from these sources.

They do, however, take wing and work for some of their food. It seems their favorites come from the ocean or fresh water. If you have ever watched an eagle for very long you may have seen it swoop down and snag a fish from the water with its talons. They then fly to a nearby nest, rock or tree top to tear the food apart for storage. They store it up in a large crop at the bottom of their necks until they further process and digest it later. Sometimes eagles go for several days without hunting, processing the food they captured earlier. They are known to feed on many different types of animals being opportunistic hunters. Some of these include: ducks, coots, auklets and other small birds. They also eat rabbits, raccoon, muskrats, skunks, opossum, armadillos, arctic foxes, baby beavers, and even baby seals when available. They augment their diet with shellfish, turtles, crabs, and small birds.

What’s In A Name?:

The scientific name of the Bald Eagle is Haliaeetus leucocephalas”. The Genus and Species names are written in Latin. They mean “Large Sea Eagle with a white head“. Scientists use this universal language for all their classification of living things. Apparently this name came from Linnaeus clear back in 1766.

Nesting Characteristics:

One of the most outstanding characteristics of the eagles is their ability to construct huge nests. One of these was calculated as being almost two tons in weight and was 20 feet deep in the middle.. Another nest was  measured at 9.5 feet across. These are built high above the ground often on tree tops. We saw one high in a tree when we visited Yellowstone National Park several years ago. Nests more often are about 4-5 feet in diameter. Since the nests are reused for several years they get bigger as the years go by when new building materials are added to the original. Eagles often use man-made telephone poles and radio towers as places to build their nests.

Finally Removed From the Endangered Species List:

One of the sad historical events associated with the Bald Eagles was when they were dying out and threatened with extinction. This was primarily due to the introduction of the deadly pesticide, DDT. When this pesticide was used it eventually got into the food chain. The poison caused damage in egg shell formation and when the eggs were laid they broke before the chicks could develop. This not only hurt the eagles but many other animals in the environment. The government declared its use illegal and it has taken several years for its effects to be removed from the environment. In 1940 Congress passed  the Bald Eagle Protection Act. Since the poison also threatened other birds of prey, in 1962 an amendment added the Golden Eagle to the mix. In 1963 there were only estimated to be 487 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles. Much regulation and active protection helped the bird’s numbers to recover. In 2007 the Bald Eagle was finally removed from the list of threatened and endangered species.

 

It’s Our Duty to Care for Them:

Though these birds have recovered, it is important to realize how careful mankind must be in how we treat the environment. God gave man the Dominion Mandate way back in the Book of Genesis. He gave man the responsibility to care for His Creation. It was created for man to use but not abuse.

Considered a Sacred Bird:

Many of the Native American tribes have considered Eagles sacred birds for thousands of years. Today true Native American tribes can still harvest the feathers of these birds which are illegal to possess by others. They use them in many of their religious ceremonies and include them in their clothing and head wear. If you have ever seen a picture of an Indian Chief you have probably noticed the large feathers in his headpiece. The feathers were also waved through smoke while brokering agreements and treaties with others.

Why Not Learn More?:

Much of this information came from reading books and blog posts including National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America and web sites, Smithsonian Institutes National Zoo, Wikipedia, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Blog.  There are many more that you can easily find by looking on line.

 

Note: The pictures I took of these birds were from Queens, N.Y. at the Zoo there. The eagles on display had been brought to the zoo injured and after they recovered were unable to be released to the wild since their wings were damaged. 

Burrowing Owls: Welcome to the Underground

A Different Kind Of Owl:

On our recent trip to New York we stopped in Queens to visit the Zoo there the night before we flew back to Tennessee. While there we witnessed one of the strangest owls I have ever seen, the Burrowing Owl.

What Makes Them Different?:

They have a leg up on the competition:

There are several characteristics of this owl species that set it apart from other owls. As you can see in this picture, the owls have long legs.  By having long legs they can scan the grasslands while standing on the ground or sitting on a low perch like a rock or branch.

They have mastered the underground:

Rather than burrow in trees and barns, these owls prefer to use abandoned prairie dog burrows or even man-made structures embedded in the ground. I once saw some in a culvert in a construction site in Sacramento. They can dig burrows themselves if necessary, but seem to enjoy re-purposing the work of others before them.

They often live in groups:

As you probably know from previous experience, owls are usually solitary individuals. Burrowing owls, however, often live in colonies of many owls. This provides for better security since one owl can sound an alarm so that many can respond immediately.

They have yellow eyes:

If you have seen other owls up close or in photos you probably noticed they usually have orange eyes. Burrowing owls have yellow eyes. These allow the birds to see well in both the dark and daylight.

They store up food for the future:

One of the interesting traits of these little birds is their ability to plan for the future. When food is plentiful they often store it up in their dens for hard times to come.

They even eat the small stuff:

Most owls prefer to eat rodents like mice, rats, rabbits and other small mammals. Burrowing owls take advantage of many kinds of food overlooked by others including insect, spiders, scorpions, and centipedes. In this manner they are important to the ecosystem’s balance and help keep these creatures in check. They also eat reptiles, (lizards and small snakes),  amphibians, (toads and frogs and salamanders), and even fish when available. In addition to these arthropods they also specialize in eating small rodents in their territory. Some of these include groundhogs, squirrels, mice, voles, pocket gophers and the like.

They have some special tricks for acquiring their food and repelling enemies:

A strange greeting: May seem smelly and trashy!

One interesting thing I discovered about these little birds is their habit of laying out a carpet in front of their burrows. What do you suppose this carpet is made of? I bet you didn’t guess it was poop! Yes, they gather up the dung from deer, cows, buffalo.”Why on earth would they do this?”, you might ask. Well, mixing dung and grass attracts one of their favorite foods, dung beetles. They get their food brought right to their doorstep. Another advantage of such a carpet is that it repels many would-be enemies from entering their burrows. They smell the animal feces and flee the other way thinking a larger animal may be near by. They also often scatter small pieces of paper, tin foil, bottle caps, and the like around their entrances. Scientists are not sure exactly why they do this but it seems to be some kind of an indication that the dwelling is occupied. They say. “Seek another place to build your home!”

Don’t let them rattle you!:

Strange as it might seem, these little birds can make a sound that is very similar to the rattlesnake. They use this alarm when other animals get too close to their nesting places. It seems to be pretty effective! I think I would think twice before messing with them if I heard this sound. How about you?

They have a high tolerance for gasses that would harm other creatures:

Living underground may seem like a great place to live but one of the dangers of such a dwelling is the high concentrations of Carbon Dioxide that flows into these low places from above. Since CO-2 is much heavier than the other gasses in the atmosphere it has a tendency to flow underground into any depressions in the ground it can find. God created these birds so they have a much higher tolerance to this gas than other creatures.

Night and Day Shifts:

Though these owls prefer hunting in the evening, especially at dusk, they also can be active in the daytime when necessary. As you know, many insects are most active in daylight. The owls often sit on perches just above the ground waiting to see movement. When motion is sighted they quickly can respond by either pouncing on their prey or hovering above before dropping to capture it.

Other interesting things to know about these birds:

Burrowing owls are classified into these groupings:

Kingdom = Animalia

Phylum = Vertebrata

Class = Aves

Order = Strigiformes

Family = Strigidae

Genus =   Athene

Species cunicularia

They are found mostly in range-land, grasslands, near airports and golf courses.

They are small in stature, up to 9 inches tall.

Males are actually slightly larger than females (This is unusual in the animal Kingdom).

Their range is mostly in the Mid-West in the US, though they also are found frequently in Florida. They can also be found in Central  and South America in the grasslands there.

The father shares the duties of caring for his mate and young. While the female incubates the eggs the males spend time hunting to bring her food so she can spend the time caring for her developing young. The males also help acquire food when the young emerge from the eggs.

Rather than take to the air when threatened, they often flatten themselves near the ground or run off quickly on their feet. They are very speedy!

Just call me Bob:  One unique behavior of these creatures is their up and down movements. They bob up and down when on the ground or standing on their perches. This seems to help them see movement around them.

They are good at digging. Some of the burrows they dig can be up to 9 feet long with many chambers along the path. These are used for storing food as well as providing many hiding places if enemies enter the burrows.

The more I study the many creatures God has created for us to enjoy, the more I see how He designed each creature for where it lives and has provided built in instincts for them to survive.

We need to be careful in our use of our God given resources including the many kinds of living things around us. One of the sad things about burrowing owls is that their numbers are decreasing due to man’s development in the places where they live. Hopefully mankind will improve our respect for needed areas for these and other creatures to live and thrive so that others can enjoy them in the future.

Origami Cranes at the Wedding

How To Use 1000 Cranes:

 

In my last blog I showed you the process of folding 1000 origami cranes. I made these for my granddaughter’s wedding in Long Island, New York. I thought it would be fun to show you how we used the cranes in celebrating this occasion.

Once we arrived in Long Island we were taken to the church where the wedding was to take place in a couple days. My youngest granddaughter and I sat down to finish folding down the wings of the last 200 cranes which were to be used at each table setting for the wedding feast.

We had previously sent the cranes to NY with their wings still in the up position so                                                            they could more easily be packaged for the flight to NY.

The Majority of the Cranes in Place:

The day before I arrived most of the cranes had been strung on strings with various numbers of cranes on each. Some were long and some were shorter. Along with the cranes were several Japanese Paper Lanterns hung. The neat thing was, that since they were all white, the colored lighting could change the colors from pink, to blue, and yellow in an alternating fashion. Those who strung the cranes used a little dab of tacky glue to hold the cranes on the string with a little separation. When we came into the sanctuary for the first time the whole floor up front was covered with strings of cranes to be hung in and out of doors.

 

Some of the cranes were taken outside to a large tent and hung over the dance floor and eating area.

The Bride and Groom indoors

 

Father and Bride Dancing Under the Cranes.

 Cranes Are A Symbol Of Good Fortune

And A Long Lasting Relationship.

One of the interesting things about cranes is the way they mate for life. They have been a symbol of faithfulness and good fortune for thousands of years.

The Bride and Groom:

As a Christian I am reminded of the faithfulness of our God to His Bride, the Church.

What a celebration awaits us when He returns to claim His Bride. That will be a celebration like none that has ever come before it. I hope you are rightly related to Him so you can celebrate on that day too.

Read more about it in Ephesians 5:22-33.

 

 

Senbazuru: Have You Ever Folded 1000 Cranes?

Why Would Anyone Want To Do This?

According to the Japanese legend, anyone who folds one thousand cranes is granted one wish. Whether this is true or not is debatable, however, the origami crane has become a symbol of hope to the sick, a symbol of peace, good fortune, and love to those for whom the cranes are folded.

Where Did This All Begin?

According to history, the crane has been a symbol of good fortune for as long as there are records of Japanese culture. The origami crane, however, became famous by a little girl of twelve who was trying to fold 1000 to get her wish. She had leukemia as a result of exposure to radiation from the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. She was only two when the bomb dropped, but the cancer developed and became lethal when she was twelve. She never finished folding her cranes. She had 644 cranes when she died. Several of her friends completed the rest of the cranes which were buried with her. Today there is a monument with a statue of Sadako Sasaki, this brave little girl, as a reminder of the tragic effects of war on children. The monument is called the Children’s Peace Monument. Around Sadako’s likeness are thousands of cranes. Children from all around the world often fold cranes and send them for display there.

Other Uses for Cranes:

As the cranes became popular they were also used in weddings and other special occasions. The reason I folded them was for my Granddaughter’s wedding this summer.

Consider the Time!:

If you decide to try to fold a thousand cranes, consider the time it will take you to finish the project. It took me fifty three hours to complete the task. That’s quite a commitment of time. Fortunately, I am retired and origami is my hobby. In fact, I’ve always wanted to try it!

Many Ways to Fold Them:

As you can see in the photo above, there are a lot of different folding models of cranes. If you look at those in the box at the top of the page you can see the traditional crane. Some people stack them in this flat position on strings.Others fold out the wings in one of two ways. You can just bend them down or you can pull outward on the wings and flatten the top of the bird. You can see both of these in the picture above. I also included in the group two flying crane models at the bottom of the group. These cranes actually flap their wings when you hold the bottom and pull back on the tail.

How to String Them:

There are also a number of ways to string them. You will need a large needle, some string or fishing line, and maybe some beads. Run the string up through the hole on the bottom of the crane and out the top of the back. You can stack them with, or without beads, however, the beads hold them farther apart. I think this makes them appear more like a real bird. They stand out more when there is space between them and actually look like they are flying when strung this way.

Create A Pattern:

As you can see in the photos, you can create interesting patterns by alternating colors and textures and print patterns. The colored cranes in these pictures were folded from three by three inch squares from origami paper with nature prints. Some strings have beads, others don’t. Consider how many you can place on a string for the space available to hang them. Fishing line works well for supporting the weight and also is invisible so it does not distract from the pattern. If you use colored string, make sure the color goes well with the cranes. Some people hang several strands of cranes in a circle pattern. Others suspend them evenly spaced and use them as a backdrop behind the stage for photo opportunities. Some just place the cranes on table tops in various patterns. Be creative! Make your display unique to your purposes.

You Can Also Use Fewer Cranes!:

If you want to try folding cranes, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the time or patience to fold 1000. Many people use far less than 1000. Some people just buy them already folded….but where’s the fun in that? And believe it or not, they are not cheap! Check it out on line and see what I mean!

Lessons to Learn:

As I folded the cranes I thought of how hard it is to create so many birds of the same pattern. Then I thought of how awesome it is that God created so many different kinds of creatures and things by just speaking them into existence. Wow! I can only make a crude likeness of a creature. He made each creature alive with everything it would need to survive and reproduce itself. Just think of how complicated even the simplest form of life actually is. I am so glad He created all things, including me!

It Shows Love !

As I made cranes because I love my Granddaughter and wanted to wish her well in her wedding, I was reminded that God has demonstrated His love to all of us in His Creation. It is just one of the ways God demonstrates His love to us. Even greater is that He gave His own Son to pay the price for our sins so we could be free from guilt and shame and be united with Him by accepting this free gift, Jesus Christ, as our Savior and LORD.

John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

Other Interesting Origami Crane Facts:

A group of 1000 origami cranes is called Senbazuru.

Cranes are often folded and given to those who are ill as a token of good will and hope for recovery.

Origami cranes are often used in religious ceremonies in Japan.

At several monuments for peace around the world cranes are given as a symbol of individual prayers that have been offered for peace. The more cranes, the more prayers.

The Japanese space agency JAXA used the folding of 1000 cranes as one of the test for its potential astronauts.

There is some controversy about the number of cranes Sadako actually folded. Some say she not only finished the cranes but also folded more because she did not get her wish.

Every year on Obon Day, people fold and leave cranes at the Hiroshima Peace Park in honor of the lives lost on that tragic day.

A fictionalized version of Sadako’s life story is a popular book entitled “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes”. You can probably find it at the library in the children’s section. The author is Eleanor Coen.

The average amount of time needed to fold 1000 cranes is around 50 hrs. (if you can fold 20 in an hour. ) This does not include packing them or stringing them, which can take much longer.

Note: The size of the paper used can change the amount of tine it takes to fold a crane. I used six inch squares for my thousand white cranes. Using three inch squares is much faster.

Here is number 1000 of the white cranes.

Have You Seen the Speedy Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle?

Like a Tiny Jewel:

When I looked out of the garage door this afternoon I spotted what looked like a shiny emerald streaking across the blacktop. On closer Inspection I discovered it was an iridescent green tiger beetle.

Notice the white spots on the hard outer wing covers (elytra). There are three spots on each side of the beetle.

This beetle has the scientific name of Cicindela sexguttata. When translated from the Latin it means the beetle has six spots on it.

 

Color Changing:

 

One of the amazing things about this beetle is its ability to shift colors according to the angle of the sunlight that hits its wings. Below you can see it in a more bluish color. It ranges from green, to purple and blue.

My! What Big Eyes You Have! “The better to see you, my dear!”

One of the interesting features of this beetle is that they have large compound eyes adapted for capturing movement. Notice that the eyes are even wider than the thorax of the beetle.  With these they can quickly identify their prey and pursue it on their long nimble legs designed for speed.

Wow! That’s Fast!

One characteristic that sets these beetles into a category all their own is their speed. This little beetle can scurry across the ground at a rate that it can cover 125 times its body length in a single second. If I could do that I would be able to win in the Olympic running events! Not only can they run quickly, they can also fly.

My, What Big Teeth You Have! “The better to eat you, my dear!”

Notice the large front white mandibles. They are like curved swords with tiny sharp daggers along their edges. 

With these long mandibles the tiger beetle can quickly subdue their prey. Not only can they pierce and grab the creatures they pursue, they can also tear it up into tiny pieces to be swallowed. Note: Some of these beetles can even get your attention by biting you when you try to pick them up, if you can catch them as they speed by.

Let’s Get The Digestion Started Early!

Not only do these beetles break apart their prey, they also spit out a digestive juice onto their food before they swallow it. This actually begins the digestion process so it won’t take so long to get the nutrients into their energy supply.

If You See Me, Let Me Be!

These beetles are not your enemy! Gardeners are fond of these creatures since they reduce the amount of harmful insects, spiders and other creatures that creep into their gardens. Some of their favorite food includes caterpillars of moths and other types of beetles that eat up the leaves and fruit of you garden. They spend the daylight hours zipping around looking for invaders to consume.

You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby…………Not!!!

One of the most interesting things about these beetles is how they begin their five year life span. After emerging from their eggs the larvae dig deep vertical pits in which to hide. These can range from 8″ to about three feet in depth. The larvae are kind of shaped like an “S”. Their heads are very large, in fact they completely cover the tops of the holes in their vertical shafts. The next part is my favorite!

Jack-In-The Box:

When I was a child I was startled when I first saw a Jack-In-The- Box. When It popped out after the music stopped I was shocked by its quick emergence. In a similar way, the beetle larvae of the tiger beetles sit inside their tubes waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by. When they do the larvae quickly pop out and snatch their prey with enormous mandibles. They then pull it down into their deep pit homes to consume at their leisure. The larvae can spend up to a year in these pits until they get fat enough to go into their pupa stage for an amazing transformation into an adult insect that usually emerges in the Spring of the year.

Ecologically Important!:

As you think about the many creatures you see around you it is not long before you see how important they all are to other organisms. Though these beetles eat many other types of insects and spiders, they also are the food of other creatures. As adults there are few creatures fast enough to catch them. I really had to be quick to catch the one I found for closer inspection.They are occasionally captured by spiders in their webs and also by birds. In their larva stage they are often dug up by skunks, moles, grackles, and sandpipers. Beetles are very high in protein needed by the organisms that eat them.

By Design:

When we think further about the whole situation we can clearly see a pattern of an Intelligent Designer. When God created each creature He had a purpose in their introduction to the environment. Each creature is part of a bigger plan. They are all inter-related. Think of the complex food webs that exist around you. If any one part were removed it would cause chaos in the whole system.

Get Out Your Binoculars!

In one of the interesting articles I read about these beetles was one that shared some tips for observing them feed. I was surprised to learn that they recommended using binoculars and sitting near a sandy pathway. Once you spot a tiger beetle scurrying along back off about 10 to 20 feet and use your binoculars to watch it. It will soon slow down when not threatened by your presence and begin its natural feeding process. In this way you can see it capture its prey. They seem to more plentiful in areas with sandy soil such as along pathways and beaches. Some species actually prefer the sandy beaches along the shore line of the ocean and lakes, rivers and streams. Interestingly, if you try this you will probably notice that the beetles tend to take flight when you get too close. When they land they usually face back to where you are standing. After you stand still for a little while they do not feel threatened. In this manner you can more likely observe their natural behaviors.

 

If you want to read more about this you can check out the ASU website and read the article How to Observe Tiger Beetles. It’s a good read.

How to Make an Origami Quadra-Sphere

Discovering New Forms:

This past week I have been experimenting with several methods for forming geo-forms from paper. While fooling around with the paper I came up with a new way to make a sphere. Each base unit has four arms for attachment, thus the “Quadra” name.

 

Above is a picture of a space station made with seven spheres and connectors.

 

Above you can see the base spheres used for the project.

 

Let’s Learn How to Fold the Base Units for Constructing a Sphere:

For each sphere you will need at least two sheets of colored copy paper (you could also use white).

Next you will fold the paper top down to the bottom.

Next fold the right side to the left quartering the sheet of paper.

 

Cut off the extra end piece to form rectangles. Then cut in half to

get four squares from each sheet of paper.

 

Now that you have the squares let’s turn them into base units.

Begin by X-ing one side of the paper. Then flip it over and fold a cross in the center of the paper to form the water-balloon base’

 

Lay the fold on its side with the pointed end down. Then fold up the bottom to the middle of the top and crease it well.

Next, open the fold and pinch the four corners so it forms a mini table top.

Then depress the middle while squeezing the sides to sink fold the center.

 

Now you have your base unit., we will make six of these before the gluing part.

Now let’s do the gluing:

Place glue on just the small triangle region of the star points like this.

Then add another unit like the following:

Keep adding units in this same fashion until all the points are covered.

Want to Go to a Grander Scale?

After making several spheres you may want to create a larger sculpture. To do this you will need connector units. These are easy to make by just folding a square of paper into a inverted water balloon base. These slide right into the slots of the ends of the sides of the spheres.

You can vary the sizes of the squares used to make the connectors for different looks.

Add as many spheres as you like to make long chains or larger spherical constructions.

 

Consider the Design.

Whenever I see designs in nature I am reminded that each design needs a designer. I find it hard to believe that this is all by chance. It seems more logical to assume that a powerful, wise, careful, Designer created all things.

We are currently studying the design structure of atoms in my class at school, and have noticed each element follows a certain pattern to form the basic units of the structure of the element. Even though we can’t see these microscopic units we can use models to show how they are constructed using Bohr models and other atomic models. As you construct your own forms remember how complex the designs of our Maker are seen all around us. It takes a lot of wisdom and power to create things from nothing.

The very observable designs in Creation demand a Creator. I hope you know Him as I do. He has plans for your life and future.

Colossians 1: 16-17

“For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through Him and form Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

The Amazing Resurrection Fern

Rise Again:

On a recent trip my wife and I took to the states of Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, we discovered and observed many wonderful jewels of creation. In this post I would like to introduce you to the one that made the largest impression on me.

Have You Met Pleopeltis polypioides?:

This amazing plant that God created reminds us of the historical event of the rising of Jesus Christ from the Dead celebrated world over at Easter time. These emerald beauties demonstrates God’s design in wonderful ways. The scientific name of this plant is Pleopeltis polypioides. The are also known as Miracle Fern and Little Gray Polypod.

Look at this plant. It looks dead and all dried up.  This is the Resurrection Fern in times of drought or the dry seasons of the year.

 

The above plants show what happens in a dry spell.

Watch the Transformation:

What a wonderful change comes to pass as soon as the rain appears.

 

 

Interesting Facts About the Resurrection Fern:

It can be found all over the Southeastern part of the United States as well as in some parts of South America and Africa.

It loses up about 75% of its water content during a typical dry period but scientists believe it can extend this ability to around 97% in extreme droughts.

Scientists believe it can remain in a dormant state for as long as 100 years.

It usually grows above the ground on the trunks and branches of trees. It can also grow other other surfaces where it can get a grip with its rhizomes (root system).

It shrivels and curls up when it dries out with the underside of the leaves outward. In this fashion they can instantly absorb water when it rains or gathers on the tree it grows on.

There are over 1,200 varieties of Resurrection plants found all over the world.

These ferns are “Epiphytes“….(plants that grow above the ground, supported on other plants).

Resurrection Ferns are not parasitic.  They do not acquire their food from the host plants upon which they grow. They do, however, benefit from the nutrients that flow down the trunks and off the leaves of the host plant when the rain and dew gather there.

Don’t try to find seeds for these plants. They reproduce by spores which they release into the air as the spore cases under the leaves burst open. They can also be propagated by dividing the rhizomes.

These plants are often found on live oak trees as well as cypresses. Though these are their favorites, they can also grow on rocky surfaces and many different kinds of plants. They just need a good place to anchor  their rhizomes and find water.

This large oak tree above a restaurant was covered with Resurrection Fern. 

Some Other Things I Learned About These Plants.

If you take the time to look on-line you will discover that these plants are often purchased by herpetologists (scientists that raise and study reptiles and amphibians). They use these plants when creating a moist environment in their terrariums used to house their reptiles and amphibians. If you have ever been to a zoo and gone into the reptile and amphibian displays you may have seen these plants growing along side mosses and other water loving plants which add beauty to the display as well as provide a great way to keep the terrariums moist for the creatures that live in them.

They Went Where?!!!

Did you know that these plants have traveled to outer space? They were actually taken into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery back in 1997 to see how the plants would respond to zero gravity.

Good Friends with the Mosses:

One study found a strong relationship between the Resurrection Fern and Mosses. It seems that they share the water that the mosses hold like a sponge. It seems like they may share the same space and probably help each other grasp the surfaces of the trees they grow on by providing a lattice work of rhizomes for the mosses to anchor themselves.

They Have Medicinal Uses:

These little plants have been used medically for thousands of years. The ancient Aztecs used them as a diuretic, against renal stones, cystitis and liver infections. They also show anti-inflammatory properties. They have been used to resist the growth of bacteria, to treat headaches, gum diseases and dizziness. They even hold possibilities of being used in the treatment of cancer. Who knows what other benefits these plants may possess for those who continue to study them?

Have You Considered the Benefits of the Resurrection?

Though this plant seems to rise from the dead, it in fact doesn’t completely die out. In the case of Jesus Christ, however, He really died and then rose again to life. He is the only one to have power over life and death. He also died for a purpose. He died so that you could experience spiritual and eternal life. His death paid the price for man’s sins and provided an opportunity for us to know and experience the true God. By believing in the person and work of Jesus Christ and trusting Him for your future, you also can have a resurrection experience. You can be brought to life spiritually as well as have the assurance of eternal life when your days on earth are over. A great way to find out more about the Resurrection and its value to you would be to read chapter 15 of the Book of the Bible, Corinthians. If you have never thought much about the reality of this event, it was witnessed by over 500 people. It has been an important event celebrated for more than 2000 years. Those who believe in the Resurrection have seen amazing transformations in their own lives as well as have experienced hope for the future and energy for daily living.

Origami Reindeer from a Brown Paper Grocery Bag

Recycle Your Grocery Bags

I recently visited a very large grocery market in Texas called Central Market. I was with family members who were buying stuff for a Thanksgiving. Needless to say, since we were buying groceries for the whole extended family and friends we had a bunch of grocery bags when we got home. So….what do you do when life gives you a ton of Grocery bags?….Turn them into something useful.

Christmas Is Coming:

Since our next celebration will be Christmas I thought it would be fun to make and give my family and friends an early Christmas gift: Origami Reindeer, from a model I created while experimenting with folding.

Learn the Base Folds:

One of the first things I learned when exploring origami was that almost every fold begins with one of the origami bases. In this model you need two Bird Bases and one Fish Base. The bird bases must be the same size and the fish Base is made from a square one sixth the size of the squares used to make the bird bases.

Let’s Begin:

To start our project you need a brown paper bag, scissors, white glue, and a little patience. First cut out the bottom of the sack and down each of the side panels. This will give you enough paper to make several Reindeer. Take one of the side panels and place it printed down then fold it in half.

Next we will create two squares by folding the ends diagonal and cutting off the squares:

Open the rectangles and cut in half to form your squares.

How to Fold The Bird Bases:

Now we can make the two Bird Bases needed for the body of the deer. Begin by placing one of the squares in the diamond position. Now fold an “X” on the paper with two crossing valley golds. Then, turn the paper over and place it like a book, square position. Now fold a cross by folding the top to the bottom and one side to the other.

Set Up Your Tent:

Now place the four corners of the paper on the table so it looks like a tent.

Squeeze It Into an Inverted Water Balloon Base:

Grab each end of the tent and bend your hands downward. This will collapse the form into the inverted water balloon base:

Open Side Toward You:

Next lay the base on the table so the open side faces you. Squash it flat and then fold an Airplane Point using the top layers of each side to seal the bottom. Turn the paper over and fold the same on that side.

Think of an Ice Cream Cone:

Fold down the part that would be the ice cream at the top of the Cone. Bend it down the flip the paper and bend it down on the other side. This will create a hinge fold and provide a pivot place for forming the petal folds to follow.

Put the “ice cream” part back up. Now swivel the paper so the Cone is up. Pretend that the paper is an alligator’s head. Unfold the top layer and stick your fingers into the jaws on both sides. Bend the alligator’s top jaw back towards you. Reform the Cone shape to form a diamond. Do this on the other side of the paper as well.

Let’s Make the Legs:

Place the Bird Base so that the split end is toward you. Use the middle horizontal crease as your guide when folding the next fold. Bend the left side out diagonally until it lines up with the horizontal crease in the middle of the base. Repeat on the other side up the base. Now, flip the paper and do the same folds on the reverse side to create hinge folds. Again, these folds will let the paper know where to bend when you do the pop folds.

Next, pop fold the side pieces so they go to the inside of the fold like this:

Make the Legs Skinny:

Next we will make the Legs skinnier by folding them in half diagonally out toward the sharper point. Again, Pop fold these inside and repeat on both sides of the top and bottom of the figure.

Make Two of These:

Let’s Start with The Back Region:

To form the back of the deer you need a tail. To make the tail fold the top layer down like this:

Tip the Top:

Next fold down just the tip of the top point like this:

Let’s Finish the Tail:

To form the uplifted tail we need to fold up the tail region vertically. Be sure to bend it up on both sides and clear up under the rump region. Now grab the tip of the tail and bend it up into a hold fold. This should look like this:

Let’s Make The Front of the Body:

Take your other Bird Base and fold down the top layer so it looks like this:

Pull both legs downward and crease the fold down the center axis like this:

Tuck it In:

Now open the fold and fold in the point of the end that has the diagonal layer above it like this:

Bend up the skinny end of the paper to form the neck.

Hood Fold the Neck to the Outside:

Now that the paper is hinge folded it will be easy to pull up the hood to center the body under the neck: It should look like this:

Some Assembly Required:

Yes, just like so many of those toys you receive as gifts, some assembly required! It’s not too difficult, however. Since brown paper is very porous it will require a bit more pressure when gluing and will need to be held a little longer while it sets. Here is how to assemble the body:

Add Glue to Flatten the Form:

The pictures following show you where it is best to add some glue:

Squeeze and Hold!:

After applying the glue, press down on the side and apply pressure for at least thirty seconds to bind the form together.

If I Only Hd a Head!

Now we need to make the head. Using the smallest square of paper, (it should be one sixth the size of the squares used for the body pieces), we will turn it like a diamond with the printed side up. Fold an Airplane Point on one side. Open it and do the same on the other end of the paper. Now, turn the paper over and pull the two point together like this:

Here is the Finished Fish Base:

Open the Sharp Pointed End:

Split One End to Form the Horns:

Fold the two outer edges down and flip the ears forward. Bend the horns up on each side of the paper. Fold them in half diagonally to make them skinnier. Add bends to shape the antlers. Flip the ears back so they surround the base of the antlers. Pinch the ends of the ears to shape them.

It’s Time to Get Our Heads On Straight:

Now that you have finished the head you only need to glue it on to the neck. Adjust the position that most captures the characteristics of a deer. Squeeze the cheeks until the glue dries……and…….you have a deer.

Time to Consider the Significance of the Deer:

Every time I fold a deer I am reminded of the song entitled, “As the Deer”. Maybe you have heard it to. The lyrics are taken from Scripture and read, “As the deer panteth for the water. So my soul longeth after Thee. You alone are my heart’s desire. And I long to worship Thee…”

The Scripture from which this song derives is Psalm 42:1-5:

NIV “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God.”

I don’t know where you are in your relationship with the God of the universe, but I can tell you, in knowing Him and accepting His free gift of salvation, your soul can be fully satisfied just like King David was when he penned these words long ago. He has been satisfying souls with the living water since the beginning of time.

Make More and Share:

After I made a bunch of deer I gave several away. Some actually went back to the market where we got the bags. Others went to a work site where several employees were begging for a deer to put in the work cubical. Others went to friends and families. I just folded up a bunch more to give to some students that are taking my origami class at the Library. It’s amazing how many people you can meet giving away origami creations. Who do you know would enjoy one? Why not make a large herd of deer to give away. Spread some cheer!

Three-D Origami Star Ornament

Something New From Something Old:

I love to create new things from old things. In this blog post I have found a new way to combine the units I featured before in the *Eco-Balls and *Octo-Wreath blogs. You can see how to make both the solid and swivel units in those blogs. For this project: It will take six units: two of them swivel units, and four solid ones.

*. See Sept. 17th and 18th of 2017 to see the former blog posts.

Make the Units: Follow the directions in the earlier blog posts.

After folding and gluing the units you will need to form two three piece units. Place a swivel unit in the middle and glue two solid units to the ends like this:

Square It Up!:

Next, you will glue the two flat square surfaces together after flipping one over to match the other surface. Notice that the center part of each of the three-piece units is a flattened square.

Add a Loop: or…Try “No String Attached”:

Take a sewing needle and thread it. Insert the needle through one of the tops of the star and form a loop so you can hand it from a tree or use it in a mobile. These stars are also attractive with no strings attached as center pieces.

Old Things Become New:

While I was creating this new project I thought back to how God, in His mercy, has transformed my life since I accepted His free gift of salvation.

As much as I delight in creating new things from the old, I am reminded of God’s wonderful plan of redemption. He takes our old sinful lives and transforms us through salvation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here!” I Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Said another way in the New Living Translation:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has come.”

I hope you have come to know Christ as your Savior and LORD as I have. If not, He offers this free gift to all who believe in Him.

John 3:16 says it like this:

“For God so loved the world that He gave a His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

An Origami Challenge for You:

Can You Find More Ways to Combine the Units?:

Here is a challenge to all my origami friends. Can you find other ways to combine these units? I would love to see your creations. Origami is fun because you are always discovering new ways to fold paper using the techniques and folds you have made before. If you find a new way, send me a picture so I can add it to this blog.j

Here’s Another New Combination:

Triangle Pyramid Creations

Horn Toad

In one of my earlier posts I showed you how to fold paper pyramids. In that post I showed you some of the creations you could construct by combing the units. This past week I have been trying to create some paper creatures to show my class Some of the possible things you can make with pyramids.

It Takes Some Patience !

One thing I have learned early on is that it takes a lot of patience and time to create a unique form. Since we have several known creations to use as models found in God’s creations we can try to mimic them or try to capture some of the design features while modifying them to fit our purposes and materials. As I strive to create a believable creature I am reminded how far from the real living thing that my model has achieved. God’s creatures are wonderfully made and designed to function. They are alive! Even though my forms are far from His craftsmanship I can appreciate the creativity and pleasure of creating a form. Here is another of my creations:

The Triangle Tarantula

It’s interesting to consider how each creature is created according to a specific symmetry pattern. In each of these models we see bilateral balance. Each time I added a pyramid element to one side of the figure I had to add one to the opposite side to create balance. As I have studied art and science I have encountered symmetry in every creature formed. Each symmetry type has its advantages. Animals with bilateral symmetry prove be the fastest. Consider the horse, falcon, and cheetah. Animals with radial symmetry, however, are slow moving but able to defend themselves from all sides as well as seek their prey in any direction. Consider the starfish, sea anemone, and sea urchin. As you can see, symmetry plays an important role in all design.

Shape Signifies a Creator

Each building block must be designed to go with the others to fulfill its purpose. In this creation all of the building blocks were triangular. Some were three- sided units while others were four-sided. Notice that they are rigid. Now think of your body. It is also created from building blocks. These are cells. Rather than just two types of building blocks, God has used many. We have skin cells, nerve cells, bone cells, muscle, and more. Rather than being rigid forms these are pliable. They can move, bend, and carry out various functions. And..they are living and able to grow and reproduce more when they have out-lived their usefulness.

On Display for All to See

Each time I share a blog post I am reminded that it will be seen by many. Each person reading a post will have individual responses according to their personalities, worldview, and interests. I love sharing the things I am interested in and for which I have a passion. Think now of God’s creation. What do you think He wants to display to us? In the Book of Romans, chapter one, the Apostle Paul made several interesting statements about creation. The very character of God can clearly be seen in what He has created.

Why Not Try to Make Some Creatures of Your Own?

Since I have already shown you how to make the four-sided pyramids in an earlier blog, let me show you how to make a triangular pyramid.

Start With A Sheet of Paper

Fold the right hand side to the left but do not crease it all the way to the top. Just press on the bottom of the paper to create a crimp mark.

Then take the right hand side and bring it in to the crimp mark. You are now going to make another crimp mark a third of the way up the right side.

Now use the bottom crimp mark as a hinge and fold the bottom left hand side up to touch the crimp mark that is about a third of the way up the paper. Set the crease.

Then bring the other side up to the diagonal edge of the first side so the paper has an airplane point at the bottom.

Now to the Cutting

Take a pair of scissors and make a horizontal cut from the top of the fold on the right hand side all the way go the left.

Now open the paper and cut off the side panels and you have an equal-sided triangle.

Helpful Hint: Save the Side Panels to Make Smaller Pyramids

Now to Fold From 2-D to 3-D

Take the triangle and fold the bottom right hand side to the left and crease. Twist the triangle to the right and repeat two more times. Thus will divide the pyramid in half three ways and create a crease mark for a reference for further folding.

Now Let’s Get to the Point

We are going to fold an airplane point on each of the three points of the triangle.

Back to the Top

After folding the point, bring the sharp end back down to the blunt end and set a dark crease. Repeat this on each point. Hint: Don’t forget to fold end to end on the last point even though from the top it looks like it has already been folded. The crease is only on one layer and needs to travel to all levels. Easy way to check it: Look in the center of the large triangle and you should see a small triangle in the creases in the middle of the paper. If one side of the smaller triangle is missing that indicates the point that still needs to be folded back from sharp to blunt end.

This Will Do In a Pinch

Open up your folds and pinch the middle of each of the three sides. It should pop up to look like this:

You Are Now Ready for Glue

To finish the pyramid you need to add glue. Hint: A little glue is better than a lot. Adjust your glue bottle so you can create a glue line about as thick as a pencil lead. A little glue will set almost immediately while more glue takes a lot longer to set as well as it oozes out and damages the appearance of the finished form. Apply a thin line of glue like in the following picture. The only part of the pyramid that touches is the edge.

Place glue between each of the three sides then carefully align the edges and bring them together into the pyramid form. Hold it firmly for about thirty seconds and the glue should be dry.

Finished Form

How to Use the Side Pieces

If you want to create some smaller pyramids you can take the side strips you cut off earlier and fold the point at the bottom to the top of the same side and it forms another pyramid. Just cut off the one side strip that remains. The pictures below show the process:

 

Interlocks Are Great For Legs

If you want to create long slender legs for your creatures you will have to learn to Interlock. If you take one pyramid and put it above another facing the opposite direction the two pyramids will fit together like the cogs on a gear. The gluing is a little more difficult but is done in the sane manner as before, only that you are using the surfaces of two pyramids to come together instead of one. An Interlock looks like this:

Now It’s Your Turn

By using the outer surfaces of each triangle for gluing tabs you can combine the pyramids in many ways to create your creatures. If you look at the two creatures in this post you can probably locate the interlocks and the standard pyramids. Now it’s time for you to try it. I would love to see what you create.