Nancy Wiersma: Like us humans, creatures use tools, tooPublished 4:14pm Tuesday, September 21, 2010
As humans we often wonder just how smart — comprehension, apprehension — as far as their mental capacity, do creatures and insects possess?
Just how much do they understand and grasp?
Is there any reason, rationality and consciousness? Just how sagacious are they?
While looking out my dining room window, in flew an adult female cardinal.
Next came a dowdy-looking adult male cardinal — or so I thought at that moment — that landed just seconds away from the female.
This male cardinal started to flutter its wings, vibrate and it gave off the most irritating “begging” noises.
With beak open, it faced the female cardinal.
Oh, I see what is afoot here.
I knew this must be this year’s baby male bird, a late-season offspring. And it was begging Mom to quick rustle up some grub — and fast!
Its “whining begging” was starting to irritate even me.
Mom flew to the ground and grabbed a black oil sunflower seed, cracked it open and stuck the shelled morsel into junior’s open beak.
Swallowing that, it began to vibrate, fluff and whine once again.
Mom just looked at junior for a moment. I recognized that look before, too. Like, gee whiz, kid, you should still have a beakful.
This time she picked up a kernel of corn softened by the rain.
She flew over onto a flat, red rock. Laying the corn kernel on the rock, she began to “chisel” it apart with her beak.
Using this rock, the flat, hard-pitted surfaces, as it was the perfect backing. It held the kernel in place while she “hammered” it into bite-sized pieces.
Now a dry corn kernel, she could not have even begun to pick it apart.
The beak is not strong enough.
But having it softened by the rain, it was easy pickings.
Kernel after kernel, she whacked and picked apart, feeding the “chick” as it now flew over and landed on the rock next to her, being even closer to Mom and the food.
Being only a mouthful away now. How many trips did she make? Many.
Retrieving the kernels and morsels of black oil sunflower seeds, it made me tired and frustrated just watching this mess.
Why couldn’t the chick just go and and scrounge up its own food?
Why did Mom have to scrounge, peck it apart and then feed the bits to this spoiled “child?” Oh! For Pete’s sake!
But you see what I mean by the female cardinal using a flat rock as a tool and base to whack and chisel kernels of corn into bite-size bits for junior.
Two lessons I learned here were: 1.) Just because a baby bird is not in the nest does not by no means mean it’s on its own, ’cause Momma is always somewhere close by, feeding and watching over her young; and 2.) God’s creatures, critters and insects, just what is going on up there in those thinking caps? To what degree, if any, as far as reasoning and intellect do they possess?
And so, once again, ’til next time, dear gardening friends.
Knowledge is one thing, but humor, kindness and insight are some of the best tools we possess.
— Sean Corbett