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05/18/2004: "lesson of nature"

This weekend was busy. My daughter has many contemporaries that all have birthdays around the same time, and this past weekend we had two parties on consecutive days. Thankfully, they were small parties. Too many 3-year-olds and things get wiggy.

That wasn't the memorable part of the weekend, however. It seemed that Mother Nature was bound and determined to give us a lesson about how nature really works. Discovery Channel has nothing over my back yard.

Our neighbourhood is pretty lively when it comes to wildlife. We border on a conservation area, so even many blocks over we still get spillover from there. Mostly it's lots and lots of birds, frogs, mating geese and ducks, and rabbits as well. Every year we can expect to find at least one robin's nest in a neighbour's tree (or front porch, in one case) full of little robins just waiting for mama robin to come home an regurgitate a juicy worm or two.

This weekend, however, a pair of crows also decided to get in on the action. They discovered that one tree (visible from my daughter's bedroom) had a nest of robins in it. My wife and daughter actually witnessed a crow fly down, pluck a baby robin out of the nest, drop it on the ground, and proceed to eat it. This was disturbing enough for my wife... I have no idea how much my daughter saw (or was allowed to watch) or understood. The other birds were trying to get the crows to leave (let's hear it for red winged blackbirds), but nothing really worked.

Well, it's horrible, but what can you do, right? Well, when the crow came back a second time, I got mad. I threw on a shirt, found some shoes, and hopped my fence to scare them away. Of course, they simply flew up to the rooftops and came back down when I left, but I shooed them away again, and they seemed to leave for good. I checked the nest they were plundering, and two half-naked baby robins still remained. I hoped they would remain there.

Apparently, they didn't. As I was getting dressed my wife ran back into our bedroom with our daughter in her arms - the crows were back, and one more baby robin didn't make it. I have no idea if they came back for the fourth, but I'm sure that if they didn't right then, they will later.

I know this goes on all the time, but seeing it happen is just really ugly. It's like roadkill... yes, a road pizza is disgusting, but you're not moved by it. However, when you see the animal disabled but still alive and trying to move (which I've witnessed for a rabbit, and this past weekend a raccoon as well) it's another thing entirely. Perhaps I'm just overly empathetic to animals (which would explain why I like pets and have 3 cats), but seeing animals die is something I can do without.

I'm all for my daughter learning about nature's cycle and all that... but perhaps just not so graphically.

Replies: 2 Comments

on Tuesday, May 18th, xhead said

I had a roommate in university who is now a veterinarian, and he grew up on a farm. He was quite accustomed to the good, bad, and ugly of animal life, like many of my classmates who grew up in our farming community.

Today we are probably too insulated from the realities of life and death. Beef, chicken, and pork are things that comes in a plastic wrapped package from the Sobeys.

on Tuesday, May 18th, mr.ska said

To an extent, I agree. Were veal calves slaughtered in my backyard, I'd certainly not let that go unchecked. But ya gotta admit that Dennis Leary's right... cows aren't cute.

("No Cure For Cancer", in case you're wondering about the reference.)

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