Take a young, wild raven, in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, for example. In July 2013, Gertie Cleary spied the bird perched on a fence—with porcupine quills stuck in its wing and face. Porcupine quills are barbed, like a fish hook. And they really hurt. So Cleary slipped on a pair of gloves before approaching the bird. Now you might think the raven would get scared and fly away. But not this bird. This bird wanted help. It screeched in pain each time Cleary plucked out a quill. But it sat still and let her do it. “When I pulled the one out of his wing,” Cleary says, “he fell off the fence I pulled it so hard.”
Afterward, Cleary carried the bird to her daughter’s house, where it ate some dog food before flying away.
The late author, Walter D. Edmonds, also encountered birds that wanted his help. Edmonds was out fishing as a boy, when two swamp sparrows bombarded him. Chirping loudly, they fluttered their wings in his face. Again and again, they swooped at him.
Edmonds finally understood that the birds wanted him to follow them. So he did, and guess what?
He found a baby bird hanging upside down! Its leg was caught in the crotch of an alder stem. Edmonds felt like a hero as he freed the little creature. And he was excited to realize that birds (and probably other animals) could think. As an old man, Edmonds described his experience in a true story called “The Gift of Reason.” At the end, he wrote, “Few things that have happened to me since have moved me more.”
Maybe someday you will rescue an animal and save a life. Wouldn’t that be great?
Aline Alexander Newman has written many incredible, true stories about smart animals. Her book, Lucky Leopards! And More True Stories of Amazing Animal Rescues, includes the tale of a Common Loon that asked for help.
For information about Newman and her books, click here to visit her website.
You may notice a lot of people eating pies on Monday. There is a good reason which David Schwartz will tell you about Monday.