Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This is a sad story

The dogs killed a hummingbird today. I had just gotten home from a grocery run and I was headed outside to deliver treats to Nio and Kobi--my usual ritual--when I saw the tiny green carcass lying on the porch under the feeder. "You little bastards," I said, because it was obvious to me that one of the pups, probably Kobi, was responsible.

My outburst brought Dave to the door, and just about that time the hummingbird, which had been completely motionless, suddenly rose up and perched on the edge of the swing. I got excited for a second, thinking it had just been stunned, but then I saw that its beak was mangled and it had a tooth hole punctured in its head.

Dave shooed the dogs off the porch while I fretted over the bird, trying to decide if there was any hope at all that it might live. It really was obvious that it wouldn't, but I am so attached to the damn things that I actually stood there telling myself it could. Then it did something unbearably pitiful. It flew up to the feeder and began to try to drink with its ruined beak.

That didn't last long, of course. In less than a minute it lost its grasp on the feeder perch and fell back to the floor to commence its death throes. I couldn't bring myself to grab it and twist its little neck. I think the 4-year-old inside me was still hoping it wouldn't die. I could have let Kobi loose to put the bird out of its misery, but I kept her away so she wouldn't feel rewarded and decide this is something fun to do on a regular basis. That was silly. Kobi has killed birds before--though never a hummer--and I'm sure the initial attack was entertaining enough that she'll go for the next one that's unlucky enough to get within striking distance. To be honest, I mostly kept her away because I was pissed off and felt like being spiteful.

Mercifully, the little bird died pretty quickly. I carried it out into the yard to be food for the ants, or some wandering cat.

Ah the joys of keeping predators as pets. Its funny how I react so differently to their choice of prey. I've watched Kobi kill a sparrow and it didn't bother me in the least. When Pearl attacked a baby robin I freaked out. I didn't like Nio getting hold of a baby rabbit, but if one of these worthless canines would kill a mouse I'd celebrate. Clearly, I am hopelessly speciesist.

Oh yeah, one bright note in all this: the hummer was a male. Male hummingbirds do nothing to nurture their young, so there's no nest full of babies that will fail to survive because of Kobi's errant impulse.

Now, click here for a happy page about hummers that will put this little tragedy out of your mind.


Anonymous said...

We're all speciesist in our own way - don't let that worry.

I'm reminded of the time I was doing my A levels (pre-university, 18 yo exams). I was undertaking a research project on ancient woodland (lots of quadrats and data charts) when I stumbled across a baby rabbit with mixamatosis. Eyes swollen and blinded, the poor thing was stuck hopping over brambles and would pause, unable to move for longer than a few seconds. I killed it, in tears.

Now that rabbits eat my vegetables, I'm less affectionate towards them. But nonetheless, beauty still tugs at me. I guess that's part of our hardwiring, just like predatory dogs' desires to catch what moves and flutters.

Feel for you, M.

chayaruchama said...

Trust our boy to say it best.

I find it all painful...but I'm a poor example of a chronically bleeding heart.

I love you people.

Anonymous said...

Those dogs need a spanking.

BitterGrace said...

Thanks for the sympathy, guys. I really was very sad about it yesterday. I know it's ridiculous to think of the hummingbirds this way, but it felt as if one of my pets had killed another.

You're much tougher than me, Leo. I've dispatched an injured sparrow, but I suspect I would have left the bunny for a predator. I'm weak that way.

Perfumeshrine said...

That's indeed sad and I can understad your feelings.
We always hope that the little dying animal will escape the premature end.

I had some similar naive thoughts as a girl watching hit-and-run animals on the street as we were passing along with the school-bus. I always motioned to the driver to stop and let us pick up the animal. We never did....

Of course this is quite different than having your own beloved pets do it, but nature is cruel like that.
And we are indeed speciesist, even the most tender-hearted of us I bet ~you should see me squirm away from the occasional cockroach and shout to SO to kill it (mercilessly, too!)

BitterGrace said...

E, it's so sad to think of you as the little girl on the school bus! I was the same way as a kid. One of our cows got loose when I was about 8 and got hit by a truck. Everyone was freaked out about the driver and his truck. I was the only one who cared about the cow.

I have to dispatch the cockroaches around here. Dave is very much of the "live and let live" school where they're concerned.