Three Cheers for Ears
By Dana Mentink
Climb aboard everyone! We’re taking a hot air balloon ride around the world in search of some amazing creatures. Sharpen up those ears, because you’ll need to listen carefully to find them. Ears aren’t just God’s gift to people. In fact, all the fabulous animals we’ll see today have a miraculous set of ears, too. Let’s see if we can get closer to discover some of God’s blessings at work.
Now that we’re floating over the desert of Saudi Arabia, listen carefully. There! Did you hear it? It’s the scratching and scrabbling of the FENNEC FOX, the tiniest of all the fox family. His body may be smaller than a rabbit’s, but his amazing ears are six inches long! When he isn’t digging tunnels to hide in during the day, he’s using his incredible ears to listen for the sounds of scorpions, snakes, and gerbils to catch for dinner. And those ears aren’t just helpful for hunting. They act like air conditioners, letting the heat escape from the animal’s body, to cool him down in the hot desert sun. Goodbye, little fox.
We’re off to visit another animal.
Do you hear the waves crashing against the rocky Hawaiian coast and the roar of the water against the cliffs? Down below the ocean’s surface is another animal with an amazing sense of hearing. The TIGER SHARK may not have ears on the outside, like we do, but she can hear the tiniest sounds up to a mile away. She listens for irregular, low noises made by sick or wounded fish. That’s how she knows when it’s time to eat. Then she uses her rows of teeth to catch her prey. If a tooth gets broken or falls out, another one moves into place from one of the other rows.
When she is ready to have a family, the tiger shark can have up to 82 pups. Do you think they make a lot of noise splashing around? The tiger shark can live in warm tropical waters all over the world.
It’s time to fly our balloon over the giant continent of Africa. Tune in carefully to catch a loud booming noise. Did you hear it? That’s the call of the SOUTHERN GROUND-HORNBILL. He’s a huge, black bird with a bright, red pouch under his beak that looks like a deflated balloon. Just before dawn he fills the pouch with air and lets out a loud noise that sounds like a lion’s roar. Maybe he’s calling to his mate, who has built a nest in the top of a broken tree. Or perhaps he is warning the monitor lizard to stay away from his territory. He could also be telling his flock about the nest of bees that he has heard buzzing in a nearby tree. Ground hornbills love to break open bee hives and eat the honey comb inside. It takes a great pair of ears to hear a bunch of bees at work inside a tree trunk.
The hornbill’s call can be heard by his flock as far as three miles away. The birds can tell the difference between a male and female’s call by the tone. The higher sound is the female, and the lower is the male. Both bird parents can hear the soft peeping of their chicks. They must also listen for the quiet steps of the leopard, their biggest enemy.
The sun is low on the horizon now. As we head back home, listen to the sound of the gentle breeze and the soothing music of the sea. From hornbills to humans, we are all blessed to be part of God’s amazing world of sound. So let’s hear it! Three cheers for ears!
© Dana Mentink
Dana Mentink lives in California with her husband and two lovely girls. She writes inspirational fiction and nonfiction for children and adults.