Tuesday, May 19, 2009
We Sell Them Short
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we're always for the birds! And guess what? For once we're not going to talk about buzzards!
(Okay, you in the last row! I heard that! Get out. Now!)
My sister recently moved across the Potomac from West Virginia to Maryland. She had a nice little house in West Virginia, but it was in one of those endless subdivisions that sprout up and grow like a zit on a teenager's cheek.
Sis lived in the house quite awhile. At first the little trees she planted were just that -- little. But gradually they grew until they became fit for bird nesting.
One of the trees had some kind of berry on it that mockingbirds like. Sis started telling me about this mockingbird (she called him Fred) who had taken residence in her yard and would battle other mockingbirds to the quick in order to lay claim to that berry tree.
Sis had a bird feeder (also dominated by Fred). She enjoyed watching Fred rule the roost. And speaking of roosts, he raised several broods in the berry tree.
One day Sis said to me, "You know, I think that bird recognizes me. When I come outside he hops right to where I can see him and goes through his whole repertory of bird calls."
Crazy to think a mockingbird could recognize an individual? I just read a Yahoo story that says scientists have done a study on mockingbirds. Not only do they recognize individual people, they recognize those people no matter how the people are dressed, and no matter what direction the people walk towards them from. According to the story, it takes an adult mockingbird about three days to learn a person's face.
Must have been a cinch for Fred to recognize my sister, the only person at home on the whole block during the day. And no wonder he feted her with song! She was good to him.
We humans sit so high and mighty on our thrones of cognition. To that I say, "Phooey!" We'd be a lot better off if we gave other critters some credit for their intelligence. Take vultures, for instance...
... Oh snap! I said I wasn't going to talk about vultures today! Okay, I'm finished.