Peaceable Kingdom? Not in Our Backyard

Peaceable Kingdom? Not in Our Backyard

At least not yet.

At first glance this looks a bit like a live animal, a hedgehog, perhaps. It’s actually about three inches of a squirrel’s tail, found in our backyard. It probably was removed by a predator such as a cat. I hope the squirrel was not otherwise injured.

Predation is common in the natural world. Cats prey on squirrels and birds. Birds prey on insects. Insects prey on other insects. The lion does not lie down with the lamb. The Peacable Kingdom described in Isaiah 11 is still in the future.

In the beloved children’s story, Charlotte’s Web, predation is acknowledged and even celebrated. When Wilbur first meets Charlotte she has caught a fly in her web and she then proceeds to wrap it up and tell Wilbur how she will anesthetize it and consume its blood. A short while later, after seven of the goose’s eight eggs hatch, the gander has to warn Templeton the rat not to go near the goslings.

People being rational creatures don’t engage in the kinds of predation that is seen in “lower” life forms. On the other hand, I’ve gone hunting and fishing and I have eaten the creatures that I have preyed on. My survival did not depend on my killing another creature, as Charlotte’s did.

On a somewhat related note, the birds have returned in number to our feeders. We had to buy a new sunflower tube this year and the birds empty it out in a day. The downy woodpecker wasted no time claiming the suet feeder.

Charlotte’s Web has this passage on the birds of summer: “From the edge of the woods, the white-throated sparrow (which must come all the way from Boston) calls ‘Oh Peabody, Peabody, Peabody!’ On the apple bough, the phoebe teeters and wags its tail and says ‘Phoebe, phoe-bee!’ The song sparrow, who knows how brief and lovely life is, says ‘Sweet, sweet, sweet interlude; sweet, sweet, sweet interlude.’ If you enter the barn, the swallows swoop down from their nests and scold. ‘Cheeky, Cheeky!’ they say.” Working in the garden for several hours today I heard and saw numerous birds: bluejays, juncos, cardinals, house sparrows, mourning doves, among others. Finches were around and as the afternoon was winding down I spotted a hawk (sharp-shinned, I think) circling in the sky between our backyard and the park.

Predation notwithstanding, there’s always something interesting and enjoyable to observe in our backyard and nearby.

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