Wild Animal Behavior
Lisa Smartt, Special to The Press
Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010 11:36 am
Some of you think life in the country is safe, serene and without excitement. Think again, Friend. Think again.
A few weeks ago some tough-guy hummingbirds moved in at our place and things have gotten downright exciting on the front porch.
We knew something was up when we saw two male hummingbirds sitting on the feeder one morning wearing black leather jackets and rolling up cigarettes. When the other hummingbirds came around for their morning feeding, the tough guys just yelled, “Yo! Get outta heh. Getcha suga’ watah somewhere else, y’hear?”
As the self-appointed Alpha males of the hummingbird community, they wreaked havoc and fear on the ordinary hummingbird citizens.
They violently attacked the other birds while protecting the sweet nectar at all cost. The hummingbird neighborhood was going down. The violent noise was deafening.
Normally, my husband and I feel it’s best to stay out of matters regarding wild animal behavior. But we had compassion on the law-abiding hummingbirds. We had already interfered with their “natural” behavior by putting up the feeder.
Now we felt the need to protect the more passive birds. We had a plan. We hung up another hummingbird feeder several yards away.
Our plan was brilliant. The tough guys could protect their territory while the passive gentle souls could feed from the new feeder.
We learned rather quickly that brilliant plans don’t always work. Now the Alpha males had two feeders to protect. They darted back and forth at lightning speed. They attacked with renewed fervor. But an irony lay lurking beneath the surface of their wild and violent behavior.
In their massive time-consuming efforts to protect the sweet nectar, they hardly had time to enjoy it themselves. Interesting.
Then there’s the wild boy behavior at our place. Like the hummingbirds, they often seek to protect their territory at any cost. “He went in my room!” “He ate the last piece of cake!” “Why does HE always get to go first?”
Both boys would love to establish themselves as the Alpha male. They seek to protect their rights at all cost. In fact, sometimes the zealous protection of those rights keep them from experiencing the joy of the moment. I hope someday they’ll figure that out.
Another example of wild animal behavior occurred last week. My husband saw a coyote stalking through the front yard early one morning.
As he approached the woods in the backyard, the coyote made a sudden turn and came running back through the front yard. As Phil watched, a doe came prancing after the coyote chasing him through our front yard. We had never heard of such a thing. A coyote was being bullied by a deer? Amazing.
Later, we would see the doe and her two fawns frequenting the front yard. She had felt threatened by the coyote and committed to do whatever it took to protect her young. Interesting.
The story of the doe and the fawns hits uncomfortably close to home. I want my boys to make choices and have to live with their choices.
I want them to grow and experience life, the good and the difficult. But I’m also a mama. It’s in my very nature to want to protect them.
Someday a young woman is going to be introduced to our family. “Mom, this is Carolyn, the woman I love.” I’m prepared for that.
But if Carolyn crushes the heart of one of my boys, she better run like the wind.
Lisa Smartt can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.