Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Peaceable Kingdom

Photo by Paul Hood
We've been having a lot more bird and animal interaction lately. I woke up today in the barn to find a small hummingbird hovering at the foot of our bed. It came in and out of the open barn door several times and gave us a good checking out every time.

A few weeks ago the Raven family fledged their babies. The youngsters are almost as large as their parents but are much more raucous and shrill. Mr. and Mrs. Raven brought the family to the large tree where Paul's mom feeds the rabbits just at the time she was bringing the bird seed out. (Wild desert rabbits apparently don't like commercial rabbit food. They choose bird seed over other options every time.) When Priscilla tried to frighten the ravens away—she wants the other creatures to get some—the birds refused to budge.

"Are you kidding?" they seemed to say and looked at her like she was out of her mind. "We come out here everyday! We know this is out here for us!"

She gave in and got to watch as the parent Ravens taught their infants where to find a favorite treat.

Yesterday when Paul and I ate our breakfast in the only shade we could find near the house two young Ravens sat on the roof above our heads. They looked down at us and kept changing position to get a closer look. We greeted them and they continued to stay close. We had a similar experience with one of the young rabbits a few days before. The youngster came directly towards us and sat no more than 3 feet away and gave us a good look. Then it turned its back on us and stayed close by in the manner of one of our cats! Just like Chloe, in fact, who wants to be nearby but not quite in petting range a lot of the time.

Last night before we retired to the barn Paul noticed a small grasshopper had moved into our inside-the-house bedroom. He said that the grasshopper was disappointed that it had not found anything to eat and had no idea of how to find its way back out. He extended his hand to the grasshopper and talked to it. "I'll take you outside if you want." he said.

The grasshopper hesitated. Paul said it was thinking "Oh shit! I have nothing to eat in here and now this big animal wants to eat me! Damn!"

Paul said "No, I don't want to eat you. I want to help you find your way outside. But it's your choice—I'm not going to force you."

The grasshopper walked onto Paul's hand and stayed there until Paul put him down outside the house.

It's fascinating to watch how humans and other species can interact when it becomes obvious that there is no predatory activity involved. It's actually a lot of fun.

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