Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

the goose and the crow at poplar spring

geese at poplar spring

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.

crow at poplar spring

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5 responses to “the goose and the crow at poplar spring

  1. Becci May 19, 2008 at 1:08 am

    What a sweet story. Here in Vancouver and during the summer, I listen for the raucous calls of groups of crows and or seagulls–it often means that there’s a hawk or an eagle nearby. They fly above and around the hawk/eagle, divebombing and screaming, until s/he leaves the area. It’s very funny to watch.

  2. Mary Martin May 19, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    How on earth did you get that photo? What were your settings? Amazing story. We have a lot of crows (I’m talking Hitchcock-ian numbers) and also hawks. Maybe eagles. I didn’t know of their adversarial nature. I’ll have to pay more attention.

  3. Mary Martin May 19, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode about whom you root for when you watch wildlife shows. You want the gazelle to outrun the big healthy cat, but when a cat mommy is starving and needs food for her cubs, you root for the cat.

  4. Deb May 19, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Becci, that’s really interesting! I guess it must be pretty common behavior, I just haven’t really heard of it before. It makes sense – they probably are not only protecting their community, they’re keeping the eagle from thinking there is good hunting there, so they don’t come through to scout.

    Mary – the crow photo settings? It was not the best settings for that kind of shot, but I didn’t have time to change them. My camera was on aperture priority, with the aperture set at 8.0. ISO was 200, and so the shutter speed ended up being 1/160 of a second. A little slow for the crow. I must have panned the camera a bit, because the crow is more in focus than the background/foreground!

    I never watch wildlife/nature shows. (Well, I don’t have a TV, so I watch no shows, but if I did have a TV, I wouldn’t watch nature/wildlife shows!) I’m too squeamish, and I’m too conflicted about who to root for!

  5. Monique May 24, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Confucius say… the smart crow knows that “laura’s wholesome junk food” is very healthy and nutritious for baby crows and entire crow family 🙂

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