I hate nature.
Ok, maybe that’s not true. But if I try to judge animals by human standards, their actions often seem horrific.
Some things I’ve gotten used to. When the great horned owl was around one morning, dragging and ripping at the body of a rabbit, I didn’t flinch (although I didn’t look too hard at the rabbit, either). And my heart doesn’t ache anymore when we hear the death screams of unidentified things in the night. In fact, I can often sleep right through those.
Other things are new to me, and upsetting. Let me share, so you can be upset, too.
You might have already guessed based on the picture that this involves baby birds. In particular, this involves those new baby phoebes that live (lived?) above our front door.
I found three of them knocked out of their nest. One was already dead. The other two I put back in the nest. Then I emailed my friend Mike for his expert wildlife biologist knowledge, and I watched to try to figure out what was going on. Piecing it together, it seems likely that while I’m seeing two adult phoebes frequenting the nest, only one of them is feeding the babies. The other one is working on killing them. It could be a male who wants to mate with the mama bird, and therefore wants her to be finished with these babies and ready to make new ones. It could be a female who wants the nesting site for herself.
Part of me feels responsible for these little ones and wants to defend them. But how could I differentiate between the mama phoebe (who need to access the nest over and over again to feed the babies to keep them alive) and the villain phoebe (who looks just the same)? And also, do I really have time to devote myself to phoebe baby defense until the babies are full grown or until the trespasser gives up?
The other part of me knows that while they may have chosen my front door as a nesting site, these phoebes are still wild animals who act in wild ways. And they are not my responsibility.
I find myself not liking phoebes as much, as a species. I’m sure that’s not fair, that it goes to show how I still judge wild animals by human standards. The last baby I put back in the nest is currently dangling out over the edge, clearly dead. I just wish that if they have to be so inhuman they could have at least done it a little farther from my front door. I bet I could judge them much less harshly from a distance.