Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary leaves “Farmed” out of their title because they are a wildlife sanctuary in addition to a farmed animal sanctuary. They’ve taken in orphaned baby squirrels, wild birds (geese, ducks, and a mute swan) who can’t fly and thus are permanent residents. Of course there are many wild birds who can fly who come and go, and some who come and seem to figure there is no reason to go.
After we were done with our chores today, we sat at the picnic tables in the chilly drizzle, ate some snacks and chatted.
A crow came by, which sparked conversations of their intelligence and cleverness. Dave threw it a few “laura’s wholesome junkfood” bites – you know the ones..addictive and probably not that healthy! Anyway, the crow grabbed a couple and flew off with them. There was something about this crow, I think, and we all noticed it. Dave started telling us a story that happened this past week…
He was at one of the barns and saw an eagle (there is an eagle nest on the sanctuary land) swoop through. Terry and Dave always pay attention to this, because the sanctuary residents need protection from the eagles and other predators, as best as can be managed. The eagle was swooping through the area near the pond, and did a u-turn. Dave was too far away to be able to help, but he realized that the eagle was going for one of the geese who can’t fly. The goose was waddling as quick as she could to the pond, where they are safe, but there’s no way she would have been able to reach it in time.
And out of nowhere came a very angry crow, who landed on the eagle and started pecking his back while they were in flight. The eagle flew off, the goose was saved by the crow.
The crow was protecting a nearby nest, and couldn’t have known whether the eagle was going for the nest or the goose, of course. Or maybe he did know. How can we tell?
The story gives me shivers. I know that the eagle has to kill to survive, but these injured birds who find sanctuary at Poplar Spring, well, it is somehow more tragic to think of them being targeted. And I know, logically, that they are exactly the ones who would be targeted “in the wild” – the weak and injured and infirm are the ones who don’t survive, for many reasons.
They are lucky to have the sanctuary, lucky that they made it to the sanctuary. They all have different stories. Some of them came from within a few miles of the sanctuary and were rescued from the Park Service (who wanted to euthanize them), some of them came from as far away as New Jersey. The geese who can’t fly tend to stick together and have formed very distinct friendships, though none of them arrived at the sanctuary together.
And so Peaches the goose survived that day, thanks to the Crow. We fed the Crow bagels and cookies and watched him fly away with as much as he could carry. Dave watched him bury one bagel piece under a divot of grass. Maybe his crow babies will stick around the sanctuary and be unofficial guardians of the geese as well.