We have a nice meditation garden in the new place. Early in the morning, after I swim my laps, I sit there for a while, listening to the city waking up around me. This morning, a thrasher (a bird about the size of a robin with a strong, curved beak) fights a small snake under the red bird of paradise bush. The bird, would advance, peck the head of the snake, then grab the neck and jump back, pulling the snake off the ground.
Thrashers are insect eaters, but have a curved, strong bill, so I wasn’t surprised to see him going after the snake. And it was a small snake–about as big around as a pencil. He may have thought it was a caterpillar and discovered it was too big to manage.
After about three minutes, the thrasher gave up and flew into the nearby ocotillo, where it warbled for a while, then flew off. He did not take the snake, so I wondered if he’d killed it.
Checking under the bush, I saw what the battle was about. No snake.
The thrasher had attacked a drip irrigation hose, about the size of a pencil in diameter, and made of black rubber. The bird had worried about 18 inches of the hose out of the gravel and sand. The small gold-colored metal head was almost completely pulled off the hose. Dead, for sure.
What made me smile about this was that the bird eventually recognized that the hose was not a snake or a caterpillar. The metal cap wasn’t a snake head. The bird did not slap himself on the head and berate himself. The bird did not kick the dirt and hang its head, embarrassed. The bird flew into a nearby tree, claimed its territory, and moved on.
Wildlife is smart that way. It doesn’t feel embarrassment, shame, or guilt. A mistake is a mistake. In this case, not deadly, so no harm done. (Well, as far as the bird was concerned. A new drip head will have to replace the shredded one.)
How smart we’d be if we could be the same way. Recognize the mistake, learn from it, not let it define us, and move on. Not dredge it up for years, worrying it like a sore tooth, making it into statements about our general character, intelligence, or emotional state.
Make a mistake, move on. Good lesson from a basic bird.
–-Quinn McDonald learns from nature, which is filled with smart bird brains.