Lessons from the wild

Birds of a feather flock together

During migration, birds fly long distances – you’d have certainly seen those lovely V-formations on the sky. And staying together as large flocks comes in handy for this journey. For one, not everyone in the group is aware of the route or the stop-overs. So the experienced ones take turns to lead the group. As a group, they help each other out, including watching out for an injured or a particularly vulnerable bird. They also find ways to conserve energy and defend themselves from predators by forming relevant patterns. All this happens only because they are like-minded. And, this is the biggest take away for us – to be with like-minded people. The conversations, the understanding, the lessons… it could benefit us in ways we cannot begin to imagine!

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Many species such as elephants, primates and dolphins are said to have strong bonds in their groups. It is said that they actually make decisions to help members from their own group. You can find these friendship stories right in your backyard. Have you ever thrown left-overs for crows? If so, you’d have noticed that crows never come singly. They always call out to their friends, and no matter how little the food is, they share it with the others in the group. You could say the same about babblers and sparrows too. In fact, in a small puddle of water, you’ll find an entire group of them having a raucous yet joyous bath! Of course, sometimes it appears as if they’re having a little disagreement, but don’t we know that healthy arguments could help forge stronger bonds?

Unity is strength

And, if you think animals and birds help out only their own species – or only their friends – well, you’re in for a surprise. You may have watched documentaries that show how, in a forest, usually when primates spot a big cat, they raise an alarm that alerts many other species (such as deer) that could be at risk. Here’s well-documented evidence that points to how selfless they actually are. A few years ago, a disabled adult bottlenose was spotted alone near Lisbon in Portugal. Seeing this, a few sperm whales took the dolphin in for eight days, feeding and playing with it till it joined its group. It simply did not matter to the whales that the dolphin was not one of them! This is called altruism – helping without any expectation. Wouldn’t that be a great way for us to live?

A place for everything and everything in its place

Look out the window and watch the goings-on at a fruit-bearing tree. What do you see? A common tailorbird going about its business busily? A woodpecker, well, pecking away at a bark? There could be pigeons scouting for a twig to build a nest. Perhaps there’s a crow-couple already with newborns in a wonderfully constructed nest. A couple of chatty mynas? Even parakeets? There could be squirrels scurrying about in a playful race, a lizard or two clambering up a branch to bask in the sun. All the while a cat could be inspecting all these scenes from below, wondering if there’s some potential meal up there. And that is the biggest lesson of all – co-existence! We’re all different, and so what? We share this planet we call home, and so, it’s very important we know that it belongs equally to all of us. If that happened would there be a happier place?


According to a recent feature in
The New York Times,
last year researchers determined that squirrels engage in “spatial chunking” – sorting nuts by size, type and possibly even nutritional value. If that’s not a lesson in memory and management, what is?

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