Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Birds and Animals are smarter than you might think

I've never understood why they are called, ' dumb animals'. I think they're pretty darn smart. Take the female cat that was dumped at our office in Tracy years ago. She was a wild thing, wouldn't let me touch her, would spit and hiss at me every time I tried to reach out to her. She did accept the food I put out for her though. She stayed around the office through the winter then one day she brought out a litter of kittens. They appeared to be several weeks old.

Mama cat was a loving mother to her babies. She played with them,taught them to stalk, and to hunt and to climb trees. She seemed to enjoy them immensely. When they were a few months old she started to be mean to them. When a youngster would try to nuzzle her she would strike it. She made them all keep their distance from her. That went on for awhile until the young cats just gave up and ignored their mother. Apparently that was her goal for it turned out that she was pregnant again. She had taught her young to hunt and to survive on their own so when it came time for her to leave them they could make it on their own.

Sometime later I knew she had had another litter of kittens but didn't know where she had them hidden until one day I saw her with a baby in her mouth and bringing it toward the office. I went out to see what was going on-I could see the baby looked like it was injured. It was clear that something had gotten to her babies and had injured at least one of them.

Mama cat walked right up to me and laid her injured baby in my outstretched hand then she went back to the hangar and brought out another baby. One by one, she brought four kittens from the hangar and placed them in my waiting hands. The last one she brought out of the hangar was obviously not alive so she just walked on past me with the dead baby. I never knew where she took it or what she did with it, only that she knew it was beyond help. I looked after her four babies for a few days then mama cat took over motherly duties again and no, she still wouldn't let me touch her, but that didn't matter. I felt honored that she trusted me to help her with her babies when she needed help. Smart mama cat.
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One day at Tracy we heard a great calmmoring of sparrows on the roof of the office. I went out to see what the ruckus was about. There were what seemed like hundreds of sparrows on the roof and all were shrieking loudly. One sparrow was perched on the rain gutter over the door. Another sparrow which I took to be the mother bird was frantically flying between the bird on the rain gutter and her nest in the ivy alongside the door. Then I saw the reason for all the clammoring...there was a snake in the vines and he had found the bird nest.

The mother bird continued to fly to her mate on the rain gutter and implore him to do something. She would flutter in front of him crying all the while then she would fly back to the vines and scream some more at the snake. Her mate just sat there like he was cemented to the spot. The rest of the birds on the roof just gave moral support from a safe distance.

Docko took a garden rake and took the snake from the nest but from the lumps in his body it was obvious that he had had his dinner and the nest was empty.
Life can be tough for the wild creatures.
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I saw a program on PBS station that piqued my curosity. It was about a scientest who saw a lizard on a rock near the path he took every day on his way home from the lab. One day he put some food on the rock and the lizard ate it. Soon the lizard was waiting for him every day and before long it was accepting food from the man's fingers. That went on every day until winter came along and the lizard disappeared . Spring came and guess what-the lizard was back on the rock ready to begin another season of handouts.

There happened to be a gecko lizard ( I looked that name up in an animal book )that I would see often in our yard. He would walk with me but with a fence between us as I went from the house to the hangar in back. He seemed to be there all the time and seemed fearless so I decided to try to duplicate what the scientest did and feed the lizard. Sure enough, he would eat the small bits of weiners that I would put on the ground for him. It wasn't long before he was waiting for me and taking food from my fingers .

One day he was eating from my fingers and he suddenly ran through the fence and stopped just beyond the fence but close enough that I could still hand him the food through the fence. He had run because Vokie, my Doberman had walked up to stand beside me. The lizard was smart enough to know that he was safe on the other side of the fence so he just stood there with the fence between him and Vokie and waited patiently for each bite of weiner.

Winter came...the lizard disappeared but returned when spring time came around and we took up where we left off and I began feeding him again. It was neat to see that small wild creature waiting there patiently for his dinner and then taking it from my fingers.
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When the children were growing up we had a German Shepherd named Duke. Duke chased every bird that flew through our yard, no matter if it was 30 feet above the ground, he chased it. One day I saw a baby bird that had fallen from it's nest. It lay there fluttering on the ground. I ran toward the helpless baby hoping to beat Duke to it for he was running toward it too. Duke got there first. He picked the baby bird up in his mouth as I watched helplessly from 20 feet away expecting him to crunch it. But no, he held that tiny baby bird so tenderly in his mouth and brought it to me and gently placed it in my hand. Unbelievable!
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Later on we had Vokie, my very special Doberman. One day I was in the office and Vokie was just outside near the steps. I was on the phone with one of my adult children who at the time was taking a walk on the wild side of life and it was worrying the heck out of me. Unable to talk sense to my wayward one and being very frustrated I hung up the phone on my child. I couldn't hold back the tears and Vokie heard me crying. He came inside, put his forelegs up on my lap and nuzzled my face. He was comforting me. He stayed by my side until I was able to control the tears. Oh yeah, the wild child came back into the fold shortly afterwards.

I think animals are so great. They add much to my life in so many ways. There will be more animal stories in another blog/journal. Stay tuned.

Till later
Marion Springer
ddakota@earthlink.net