A truly lovely morning. We slept late and have been slow to get moving. Last evening there were storms about, some severe, but we missed out on the rain; the past few days have trended much drier and the gardens could use a soaking, so we’ll likely need to water.
The robins are growing rapidly and should fledge very soon; even after leaving the nest they will need their parents to feed them for another couple of weeks. The parents are looking somewhat diminished from the near constant feeding; we’ve noticed they take some much-needed time off in the evening, leaving the young alone for maybe twenty minutes at a time. The cats have backed off following a couple of soakings; we’ll see what happens when the chicks fledge.
We’ve been experimenting with capturing the feeding activity on video. The porch is on the north side of the house, so the light quality is highly variable, as are the results of our efforts. The birds seem to tolerate our brief presences, and that of the video camera, well, although we do try to be as unobtrusive as possible. This morning I stuck my head out to see what was occurring on the nest and whichever parent was feeding at the time, greeted me with a melodic chirp!
I’ve spent much of the week, when at home, engaged with the robin family, an opportunity for which I am most grateful. Jennie came home last evening after a week away, and it was great fun to see her swept up in watching the interactions between the chicks and parents. The chicks have grown enormously in one week and are now far more vocal and agile than when Jennie left!
I’ve been thinking about instinct and skill. When I was in college behaviorism was at the height of its influence and animals were understood to be driven entirely by instinct. Now it is clear that while instinct is important, most animals, including birds, are more conscious and thoughtful than once believed. It has also become clear that some bird parents are more engaged and skillful than others. The world is more complex than we can know!
A colleague was musing the other day about the differences between animistic cultures and Western culture, especially in regards to how the earth and her denizens are understood. The world is a very different place when one perceives other beings to be conscious and engaged than when they are viewed as automatons! (This applies to our perceptions of other people as well. We treat others with more kindness when we understand them to be vulnerable, conscious, and seeking to live good lives in an often difficult world. Of course such a view requires us to acknowledge suffering and grieve with others. Perhaps that is why politicians and their ilk do their best to “dehumanize” others, both animal and human; greed and compassion are truly incompatible.
I believe that in our world where temperatures and ocean levels are rapidly rising, along with our human population, empathy and compassion for all beings are greatly needed if we are to successfully navigate the collective challenges we face. We also need grounded hope, and leaders who encourage kindness and vision rather than hatred and greed.