Avian Politics


I woke at 7:45 a.m. Eastern time this morning. The only problem was that I was in Seattle, where it was 4:45 a.m. Pacific. I decided to get up and walk to Lake Union, picking up some oatmeal along the way. The day ahead included a work conference and a meeting with a client, so I wanted a bit of exercise and a few moments of peace near the water.


I sat down on a bench, enjoying the damp, clean air. There were birds nearby, geese, ducks, starlings, swallows, crows, and more. I enjoyed watching them and a few walked over to see if I had anything to share. Once I was done with my oatmeal, I began photographing the birds.


The one goose, who seemed completely at ease with me, began honking what sounded like a warning cry. I was confused and looked around to see what was causing the distress. I noticed the ducks, who had been scattered around the park, starting to congregate in the man-made pool. And then I looked up.


A pair of huge golden eagles were swooping overhead. There were seagulls and crows trying to chase them to no avail. One of the pair grabbed a small songbird out of the air and carried its prey off to the top of a nearby building. The seagulls and crows continued their protestations, attempting to chase them out of their territory.


On the walk back to the hotel I was thinking about what these birds could teach us. The ducks, geese, seagulls, crows, and other birds all understood they had a common enemy. The ducks, who are neither fast, nor aggressive, gathered together, offering safety in numbers. The goose, who was likely too large for the eagles, sent out the warning cry, telling the other birds to hide. The seagulls and crows, who are fast and nimble attempted to drive the eagles out of their territory and disrupt their hunting. These birds of all different shapes, sizes, and temperament, managed an unintentional unity, understanding the threat to one was a threat to all.



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