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.


yellowdog granny said...

i was going to do a post about that story..really..and the entire time your writing about the bird im thinking ohh ohhohhh..it does remember...and doesn't forget..ha...great minds think alike.

Anonymous said...

Crows and now mockingbirds. The things we knew and are now being validated about. I hope that this helps humans start seeing other beings in new ways.

Nettle said...

I used to have a job where I needed to take the train from a certain outdoor train stop that was never very busy. Most days I was the only one catching the train from that spot. There was a mockingbird family that lived in a tree by the train shelter.

My husband would often call me up on my cell phone as I was waiting for the train. After a few weeks of consistently showing up at the same time and place, the mockingbird would greet me with my ringtone.

Anne Johnson said...

We sell them short.

Maebius said...

It's amazing and awesome how such "dumb animals" react to us when we take the time to look and listen. :)
There's a small kestrel falcon in our yard that seems to swoop through the pole barn when I'm returning home from work at least once a week. He's not given up on flying away, and just sits there twirting (yes, it's not a proper tweet, or a chirp) at me sometimes.

Sarita said...

"Dumb animals" aren't as dumb as many people think they are.

We don't have mockingbirds where I live, except for European starlings. They tend to be mean to other birds, and drive off the songbirds, and usually don't sound too nice. But when they start singing...WOW. I wish they sang more often.

A few years back a some woodpeckers pecked holes in the side of the building where my mom works, and built nests. The starlings kicked them out and put their own nests there. (As I said, they aren't always nice.) Well, people sort of objected to them nesting in the side of the building, so after the little birdies were out of the nest, the landlord hired people to fix up the holes before the next nesting season.

My mom says that a lone starling watched as the nesting holes were being covered up, and sang what she could only describe as a lament. The poor bird was so sad that the nesting place was being taken away.

Then there was another time when a squirrel fussed at us through a window until we put more food out for him...and a pet rat of mine was quit ingenious in letting me know she needed more water...

Ah yes. Animals can be quite intelligent. :D

Maebius said...

*smiles* I used the term "dumb animals" in a heavily sarcastic way. In many ways, we are dumber, and more animal (connotation of wild/dangerous/thoughtless) than many wonderful creatures around us.