According to a US ornithologist, scrub jays take part in a bizarre ritual in which it appears that they hold a funeral for their dead.
Teresa Iglesias and her colleagues at the University of California, Davis, have found that when western scrub jays encounter a dead bird they adopt different behavior patterns and take part in a unique ritual.
On encountering a dead bird, jays call out to one another and stop their normal behavior of flying or foraging. Once the message has been sent out, the jays fly down to the dead body and begin to gather around it.
BBC Nature says it’s less likely the assembly resembles any form of acknowledgement of the passing of a dead bird and more likely it’s a symbolic behavior designed to warn other birds there may be a threat nearby.
Scientists have tested out the ritual of the jays by placing various objects in areas where jays are known to congregate, including the backyards of many American homes. The objects ranged from wood, models of predators, and dead jays. Most of the objects were ignored, except for the dead jays, where the signalling behavior was initiated. The ritual then proceeded to last for up to one day.
The western scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica) is a species of scrub jay native to western North America. The bird is approximately 11.5 inches in length (including its tail), with a 15-inch wingspan. The jay has a blue head, wings, and tail, a gray-brown back, and grayish underparts. The throat is whitish with a blue necklace.
A study and analysis of the jay ritual has been published in the journal Animal Behavior, in a paper titled ‘Western scrub-jay funerals: cacophonous aggregations in response to dead conspecifics’.
This from the I Love Dogs website:
Eleven-year-old Cole Hein’s life has been saved countless times by Bingo, his 14-year-old Jack Russell Terrier.
The dog barks whenever the boy, who suffers from an undiagnosed disorder, stops breathing.
Hein and Bingo, who live in Manitoba, Canada, have been together since 2005. Bingo was originally trained as hearing dog by National Service Dogs, an organization that trains larger dogs to help autistic children, according to a July 2010 story in The Maple Leaf.
When co-founder Danielle Forbes became aware of Hein’s disorder, she trained Bingo to recognize the gagging sound the boy made whenever he stopped breathing, and to bark when she heard it.
Within just six months after his family adopted Bingo, she saved Hein’s life three times.
Two years ago, Bingo was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame as Service Dog of the Year for her heroic efforts.
Unfortunately, Bingo was recently diagnosed with terminal canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome – which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans – and has only a few weeks left to live.
Hein decided to show his gratitude for his beloved pooch by paying it forward with a “lick it list” – the dog version of a bucket list.
“I love my dog,” Hein told the Winnipeg Free Press. “I’ve made a list for her final days on Earth.”
These are the five items on Bingo’s lick it list:
1. Hein would like people to send dog treats from wherever they live so that Bingo can “taste” the world.
2. Take Bingo for one last “public” outing to Ruckers, a local family fun center.
3. To walk around the block twice with Bingo.
4. A photo shoot with just Bingo and Hein.
The list has been very successful so far. The Bingo Hein Facebook group – which was created late last week and now has more than 12,000 members – reports that items 3 and 4 have already been crossed off.
As for No. 1, treats are flowing in from around the world.
“Anything people want to send is okay,” Hein told the Winnepeg Free Press. “Bingo’s a good dog.”
Note that financial donations are not needed and will not be accepted. The Bingo Hein Facebook group suggests that if you are unable to send treats, you can instead make a donation to your local shelter in Bingo’s name.
Send treats for Bingo to:
Cole Hein/Bingo Hein
PO Box 413
Inquiries can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. This headline from the “Belfast Telegraph”: German firefighters tackle obese corpse cremation blaze.
Since I don’t want to touch this, I’ll let the Telegraph:
Rising obesity figures in Germany have become a cause of concern for crematorium owners as increasing body weights take their toll on equipment.Concerns were made public after a crematorium in western Germany failed to control a fire which occurred during the funeral of a man who weighed 440 pounds. After fighting the blaze for four hours, firemen determined the temperature of the furnace reached some 600 degrees celsius causing damage to the crematorium’s chimney.Because obese bodies have a higher fat content, they burn for longer reaching temperatures that current crematorium facilities find difficult to control, revealed a German website.
2. And while you may think the grease fire in Germany is funny, there is someone who does not: LADY GAGA. Gaga has been spotted wearing veils lately. ”Why?” you may ask? Gaga states, “People ask me why I wear veils. I reply, I’m mourning. Mourning what? Well I figure something s—ty must be going on somewhere.”
And that something s–ty definitely just happened in Germany.
3. Mourning and respecting the dead isn’t just a human phenomena.
For instance, have you ever seen two dead squirrels on the road one right next to the other? I’ve seen it before and didn’t think too much of it until I once drove by one dead squirrel and another sitting right beside the dead one. I slowed down my car and watched as the living squirrel stood stoically unmoved by my passing car, seemingly mourning the loss of his friend.
Do animals grieve?
This video should make you think.
4. If the idea of of animals mourning upsets you, this piece of news should cheer you up.
Here’s the deadline: ‘Dead’ hamster digs itself out of grave”. From Gawker:
“It’s impossible – our hamster is dead,” Dave Eyley told a neighbor who called to tell him Rhino had escaped. Indeed, the Eyleys had buried their pet the previous day, after he was found “cold and lifeless” inside his cage. “He had rigor mortis when I buried him – and now he’s running about,” said Dave.
The family has since renamed their resurrected rodent Jesus. Adds Dave: “He’s a plucky little soul and seems unaffected by being dead and buried.”
5. Mayans. You were right. How can we bring in 2013 without Dick Clark?
There was many a good time had with the voice of Clark in the background. Thanks, Dick.
I still have blood on my shoe.
Last night Adam and I were taking the back way to the gym when we drove past a deer lying near the middle of our lane. At first glance it looked dead, but something didn’t register in my mind. For one, we were driving in suburbia where the speed limit is only 25 mph and with a stop sign every block, it’d take a Porsche to go over 25 in such a short stretch.
“Is it possible that this deer was killed by a car only traveling 20 mph?” I thought to myself.
So I turned around.
Put my car in park in the oncoming lane and faced my headlights on the deer. It wasn’t much of a deer … half way between a legit deer and fawn.
No sooner had I got out of my car, the deer opened it’s eyes and starting yelling. I say, “yelling” because that’s what it was communicating to me. The closer I got to it the more it became nervous and started to thrash around in the middle of the road. It tried to get up and run but it’s front legs couldn’t support it’s weight as something in it’s incredibly crafted form had been broken.
It had blood coming out it’s nose and mouth and anus. But all the damages must of been internal, because I saw no compounds or severe lacerations. And as I later surveyed the scene, I saw some pieces that belong to the undercarriage of a car, which probably meant that the deer had literally been run over.
I’m no hunter. I see enough death at the funeral home and I don’t think I have the guts to create it. If it wasn’t for sushi and wonderful holiday dinners, I’d be a vegetarian.
Especially related to animals. If I see a lost dog, or mangled animal on the road …. There’s some sense of innocence among animals, even predators. There’s a sense that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do with no moral evil in them. And to see innocence die is intrinsically senseless … as though we innately know that isn’t not supposed to be this way.
Because the deer was thrashing I tried to push him off the road with my foot so that he wouldn’t get hit again or cause an accident. It was a mutual effort. He thrashed, trying to escape my presence and I pushed with my foot and together we made it to the side of the road, near the grass.
Adam called 911, told the operator where the deer was at and when we came back the same way an hour later the deer was gone.
It was all disturbing. As we exercised, Adam and I wondered, “How do animals experience pain?” and “Is there a good death for creatures in the wild?” and “What constitutes a good death? Old age? A quick, swift death by car?” and “Is there a support system when an animal’s dying or do all animals die alone?”
I hate death. And I hate the death of animals.
And all this brings me to a question: What animal/pet death has been the hardest for you?