I enjoyed Dennis Dalman’s column about the intelligence of ravens and crows, and also their concerns for others of their species.
Crows have long been my favorite bird. As scavengers they help clean our roadways and landscape of edible trash. They also show compassion for other injured birds as do most creatures of nature. I once had an experience of that.
In the 1940s, we lived on a small farm north of Willmar, and we were then on the fall migrating route of ducks and geese. We would usually see the major migration late in the fall, usually just before a severe weather change. There would often be numbers of flocks extending about a mile in length. I was observing that one afternoon when I heard an unusual amount of communication from the geese, and it was over the far side of a large slough along our property.
Walking to the shore, I noticed a flock of about 40 geese circling low over a small area of open water in the ice-covered slough. Below them were three geese flying back and forth low over a small area of open water. Between two healthy geese was an injured goose, unable to fly. It had apparently dropped out of the migrating flock due to injury. The two uninjured geese would fly alongside the goose trying to help it get airborne.
After several minutes, the healthy geese joined the flock as they made a final circle with constant chatter and then headed south.
When the flock was nearly out of hearing range, it returned and two geese again flew down to assist the injured goose. After several minutes, the flock again left, chattering. I could hear the injured goose calling long after the flock had gone.
I called the game warden about the injured goose and he said he would stop out the next morning. He did not stop out, as he knew how nature operates.
I walked around to the location. The water was ice. No sign of the goose. A mink or fox had likely performed as nature does.