For the longest time, I thought we were alone in the universe, as sentient creatures go. I watched Star Trek, and other sci-fi searching the hypothetic skies for intelligent life.
It turns out that, under keen observation, especially in natural settings, the list of ‘self aware’ animals just keeps on growing. They are among us.
Some of them flock to our bird feeders.
Today I heard a thump on my window, followed by a raucous clamour of birds. I had the curtains shut to keep the heat out, and had to go outside to investigate. When a bird hits the window (and it does, thankfully rarely, happen) I look in see if there is anything I can or should do about it. In winter, I’ve brought in injured birds, to see them revive hours later. With the temperature at 34C, warming is not necessary, but still, I did check.
Indeed, there was a grackle, face down on the lawn, but surrounded by its shrieking flock. They were gathered about, on my deck and the trees. Of course my presence disturbed them, and fled the veranda, but only as far as the nearest tree, where settled and continued their shrieking lament, eyes on the injured bird.
As warmth was there in plenty, and the flock was their to keep guard, I went inside, still listening, hearing, all that avian distress. When it finally subsided, I went out again, to discover what I already knew. This bird had died, watched over by its own kind.
Image: 5x7 planographic & relief gelatin print, using found natural objects and linocuts; this one features ravens, but it seemed oddly apt for this post.