Perfectly healthy parent birds are known to feign injury to lure predators away from their young. Such a behaviour has been reported in a range of avian species. But was this what we just witnessed this morning?
Arriving at our sanctuary recently were three former milking cows. They were surrendered into our care by their humans, who loved them deeply and wished for them to be spared the dire fate of all dairy cows who have passed the peak of their productive years. Whilst two of the gentle souls were not pregnant, one was.
A special lass we have named Petal. A mellow Friesian of around ten years, whose sweet name is matched by her even sweeter nature. She has a perfect heart atop her head, as is often seen on this breed. But Petal’s is special for it bears a little mark in it too – “Oh look,” we uttered joyfully upon seeing it, “Petal has something in her heart”.
And as we learned, she too bore something so precious that was growing daily deep within her womb. Something, or rather someone, who was revealed to us in the early hours of this morning. Whilst the words, “Oh my, Petal’s had her baby” were bleated out across our walkie talkies, audible too was the collective euphoria of our team.
For nothing brings joy to our hearts and hope to the world more than when formerly farmed animals arrive pregnant at sanctuary and are able to give birth and keep their much-loved babies.
Wishing to check that all was well with the veteran mother and her bub, yet ever cautious not to invade their space or love, we entered their field. From afar, the doting mumma spied us. Raising her head slightly, she brought us into better view.
Cautiously we made our way that little bit closer. But as we did, something interesting happened between the mother and her much-adored little one. Petal took a gentle lick of her baby, whom we have named Little Flower, then slowly moved away. But whatever for?
A little further and further all the while. Never once looking back at her baby. We held our ground and our hearts and watched as Petal moved further away again in the open field.
And then she nonchalantly lowered her head and ate grass, then looked our way. We stood and mused a little as we attempted to take it all in. Normally around this point in Petal’s previous birthings, her babies would have been taken from her. And unlike dear Clarabelle, Petal had nowhere to hide hers. Except of course, in clear view.
With empathy in our hearts and saltwater in our eyes, we about-turned and began our march back up the hill from whence we came, and as we did Petal immediately returned to her calf and lovingly caressed every inch of her form with her tongue.
There are few alive who could have witnessed this tender scene and not been moved, for within us all is something in our hearts too. Something that calls to the best within us.
That something is best known as compassion.