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Strange relationships

August 8, 2016

honeyguideThere was a kiskadee last year that would call me to chase stray cats away from the pond. It could be quite insistent. Of course, that is my interpretation of the relationship. Perhaps it was just singing an alarm and it had no expectation or appreciation of my response. But the greater honeyguide has learned to recognize human calls for it. The many generations of humans think they have learned to call the bird. Do the birds (one shown left) think they have figured out what noise we make when we want honey? There’s always two views of every relationship.

Humpback whales around the world rescue marine animals being hunted by orcas. Do they act from sympathy? From antagonism to orcas? Or do they see themselves as policing their marine habitat. Regardless, they have a kind of relationship with the animals they rescue. And a different one with the orcas.

We domesticate other animals. Maybe ourselves. But not all our relationships with animals fit that pattern. And we are not the only intelligent species that has relationships with members of other species.

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