The World of If Only.
How many times have you said that one or its sister “Only if”?
“If only, if only,” the woodpecker sighs,
“The bark on the trees was as soft as the skies,”
As the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely
He cries to the moon, “If only, if only.”
by Fiction Plane.
This verse from the soundtrack to the movie Holes above leads into a comment that was left on a recent post, “I think we shouldn’t interfer (sic) too much with nature.” So if only…
it was possible.
So what does this blanket statement mean? It is not loaded with contradiction?
- To participate in any way, shape or form in an ecosystem is to unsettle the natural process.
- Are we integral and deemed the natural process in the grander metaphysical sense of things?
- Even being just a spectator guarantees our observation changes the observed in some way.
Kinda like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle without all the physics and math. You just don’t know how you may affect another, taking into account all the unknown variables.
So given that, altering or entering a habitat will undoubtedly affect life within that habitat. The question is always, “At what cost.”
You have to click this link for a chuckle. The guy got great pictures, but who was he kidding? Wildlife Photographer Disguises Himself as a Swan to Get Close to Other Birds. I could never go to that extreme for a photo.
So what is truly interference? What are the rules? What creature is acceptable and what species are not? My next post is a case in point.
We have both empathy and contempt for species other than our own. That means we look to save one over another because one is cute and the other well…not? Think cute seals and Great Whites, or in the case of your backyard, sparrows and Sparrow Hawks. It is fine (or is it?) when it is actually a sparrow, most don’t like them. But what if it is an adorable chickadee or slow-moving dove?
Just by placing a bird feeder in the yard, it is usurping the natural order of things.
- Artificially feeding birds food they would not find foraging is unnatural.
- Planting a landscape which provides protection from predators creates an artificial habitat.
- The predators are drawn to the yard by the fact that their prey congregates in numbers.
- If the hawks are attracted to prey they cannot capture, we have affected the predator/prey relationship.
- The goal is survival of individuals within the species, not survival of every member of the species.
So what should be the limit of our interference?
I believe there is acceptable interference in the case of feeding birds. I wrestle with the questions though since I do know that any landscape we create is unnatural, Simple as Looking at Your Own Garden. I accept the loss of songbirds on occasion too. See my post on So How Beneficial is Feeding Backyard Birds?
Is there a degree of ethics involved?
Go out and take baby birds from their nest (like is a recommended solution to sparrow problems), that would be unethical, unless of course it is a species we deem a nuisance.
To interfere in a predator/prey situation could be detrimental to the predator, so that too becomes unethical, unless one of the two species involved is endangered or desired more (like Harrier Hens attacking Red Grouse). A question of questionable ethics?
So what was the post that had the comment? Hawk on the Hunt in My Garden.
I believe the comment was in question to me entering the yard during a predator hunt. The hawk patiently was waiting for a sparrow to falter and flush, but by me sneaking up on the hawk with my camera, the sparrows left the protection of the conifers and made haste to a safe exit. The hawk just sat and watched without attack. Here are a few of the other comments:
- Too bad it did not lunch on English Sparrows!
- I kind of feel bad for the hawk, all that work and no food.
- I’m sure those sparrows think of you as their savior!!!!
Do you think the images of the geese are arbitrary in this post?
That is a bird we see as a pest, one we eliminate, one we try to keep from our habitats, all the while creating places far too optimal for them and the way in which they live. Interfering in nature is something that humans ultimately do, and we created the abundance of the beautiful Canada Goose we now loathe.
I know I am not a biologist, but I do share much of their view on this complex question. How much should we interfere? Small scale in backyard feeding, or large-scale in creating a situation ripe for species to reproduce in out of control numbers, native or as an introduced invasive? Do we step in and possibly make it worse?