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OUR ANIMALS, OURSELVES: Observing crows and other wildlife

February 8, 2019
By ANNOEL KRIDER , Lake Placid News

A friend of mine recently sent me an article concerning the possibility that animals might be smarter than humans.

This particular article was referring to dolphins, although it's always been clear to me that not only dolphins but all species of the animal kingdom share a clarity about life and have a solid connection to their intuitive instincts Mother Nature provided them. If you take the time to observe, you'll know what I'm talking about.

We used to live on a golf course, and in the early mornings before the arrival of golfers we would be entertained by a vast array of wildlife. The coyotes would play on the edge of the fairway like any pack of "dogs" would, chasing one another, rumps in the air and rolling around in the grass. Their fierceness was greatly diminished by their playfulness. My not-so-smart Australian shepherd, Laddie, would run at them like the wind chasing them back into the woods then proudly strut back to the golf house while the coyotes slipped back onto the fairway and resumed playtime.

Sometimes the early morning silence would be broken by a flock of crows "screaming" and flying at tree-top level up the nearby fairway. That now familiar sound would steer our eyes down to ground level where we would see the fox running directly below them. The crows were alerting all who were listening that the fox was in the neighborhood.

That fox, by the way, used to steal golf balls in the middle of the day when they were hit off the 6th tee thinking they were eggs dropped from some miraculous nest in the sky. Someone found its lair, and apparently there was quite an accumulation of balls. That was the only year she stole golf balls.

It's not clear if she learned her lesson or simply died of starvation in the middle of winter from her unnourishing stash. Meanwhile, the crows probably watched it all and were cheering her on.

My weaving studio was on the far corner of the house where I would create tapestries and watch golfers. When the days were quiet and no golfers dotted the fairways, I would instead watch the crows.

One day while weaving, I looked out at the third fairway to see a flock of crows appearing to be digging for grubs, but as I continued to watch I realized they were actually playing, hopping around, chasing one another and making odd chirping and cawing sounds. I guess you could argue that they may have been competing for the grubs, but something clearly told me they were simply having a good time. Those same crows came closer to the house outside my window where the stone patio created the perfect cover for ant colonies. As the ants crawled around, the crows would walk through them and subsequently the ants would crawl up their legs in a futile attempt at fighting back, at which point the crows would eat them. One by one.

During this same time, I was planting flowers on the golf tees, and my dog Laddie would join me on the cart as I drove around the course tending the flowers. There was always a flock of crows meandering around the 9th fairway, and when Laddie saw them he would leap off the cart after them until they were properly dispersed in all directions.

It wasn't long before I realized the crows recognized this black-and-white dog and human sidekick and now every time we drove up that fairway, avenging birds would dive bomb us for interrupting their morning ritual.

There were plenty of golf carts driving up that fairway throughout the day that weren't getting dive bombed by crows. There's no denying, they knew who we were. Clearly an indication of awareness.

My dear friend Judy, who seems to attract wildlife experiences and may be one of the few humans left with a firm grip on the pulse of Mother Nature, observed a very interesting and unexplainable event. A large flock of crows appeared outside her kitchen window and formed a circle around another crow who lay still on its side in the center appearing to be dead. There was complete silence as they maintained the circular enclosure for quite some time, then one by one they flew away, and as they did the prostrate crow got up and flew away with them. Whatever it was that was occurring, there was undoubtedly a mindfulness present.

None of these stories are necessarily examples of intellect exceeding that of humans, but they do represent an awareness - playing, alerting, recognizing and maybe even bringing a fellow species back from the dead. There is assuredly a consciousness present, and the best way to understand that is by observing.

So the next time you are fortunate enough to see wildlife, stop what you're doing and watch awhile. I guarantee you'll see some thinking going on.



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