Wednesday, 25 July 2012

An Animal Protectionist’s source of joy, Disgusts Me

This bird is NOT mourning its lost love!

By Barry Kent MacKay

This is going to sound very disgusting, but please stay with me.  Suppose I offered to send you a photo of an adult male trying to have sex with the dead body of a youngster?   Would you thank me or call the image “sad but tender”?   Would you feel better about it if I told you that the photo was of a familiar species of animal, a dog, say, or maybe a cat, canary or horse?

Of course not, and yet that is exactly what many people, including animal rights activists, have done, and continue to do, to me.  Each time I carefully explain why I am not “touched” by these photos, although I realize that they don’t mean to cause my more negative reaction.   So in the forlorn hope that I can stop from seeing this image again, let me explain in this blog.

You may have seen this series of photos and captions yourself.  It does not really disgust me because I don’t believe that the adult male in question was capable of making a choice that would accommodate our own sense of morality.   I don’t blame him!   I just wish people who care about animals knew more about them.  It is essential in the work we do that we know, exactly, what we’re talking about.

The photo in question is one of a series that shows a type of bird, called the barn swallow.  It is widely distributed throughout much of the world, including North America.  In the latest version sent to me the birds are called “bluebirds”, which is incorrect.  There are no bluebirds that look like swallows, or vice versa. 
The first image shows an injured bird on pavement.  Swallows swoop low to the ground in pursuit of insects and, sadly, are often struck by cars.  He or she (sexes are alike) clearly has at least a damaged wing.  Whether this is an immature bird or an adult is impossible to tell (the main difference would be tail feather length, impossible to judge in the first two photos).
In the second photo an adult Barn Swallow (you can see the long outer-tail streamers that characterize an adult) is hovering over a hurt bird, possibly the same one as in the first photo.  Its mouth is open and seems to show the yellow mouth corners (flanges) that characterize a young bird, and since there is no indication of long tail streamers, it could be an immature, mouth open for food. 
In the third photo a bird, presumably the same one, is dead on the ground and looks like an immature, showing yellow mouth corners, and no sign of long tail streamers.   The angle has changed, or the bird turned right angles before dying if it is, indeed, the same bird (I suspect not).
It is the fourth the adult male is clearly and obviously copulating with the dead young bird.  The live birds is the classic pose whereby the male presses his vent tight against that of the female for the transference of sperm.  This is as obviously a copulating pose to anyone who knows anything about birds’ reproduction, as is a male dog humping a female, if I may be so crude.  The caption says, “He tried to move her - a rarely seen effort.”   That’s nonsense.
To me there is nothing “wrong” with the fact that much behaviour by birds and other animals, including human, is instinctive.  The male swallow is fornicating on a dead baby of his own kind, which would be awful if he were a human, but he isn’t.  Is that okay?  Or must our concern for animals be predicated on their being like us when we are at our best?
Just wondering.
Blogging off,

A female bluebird was hit by a car as she swooped low across the road, and the condition was soon fatal.


Her male mate brought her food and attended her with love and compassion.


He brought her food again, but was shocked to find her dead.


He tried to move her - a rarely seen effort.


Aware his mate was dead and would never come back to him
Again, he cried out with adoring love
 . . . And stood beside her with sadness and sorrow.


Millions of people were touched after seeing these photos in America, Europe, Australia, and even India.
The photographer sold these pictures for a nominal fee to the most famous newspaper in France.
All copies of that edition sold out on the day these pictures were published.

And many people think animals and birds don't have brains or feelings.
You have just witnessed love and sorrow felt by God's creatures.

Live simply, love generously, care deeply, give fully

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While it is sad that many people are so ignorant, I am not certain that our tendency to anthropomorphize is always harmful. It may help the ignorant to sympathize/empathize and thereby get them to help/allow others to truly help.

Please don't lose patience with the well-meaning fools of the Earth.