My wife and I were driving down a road in Northern Saskatchewan a few days ago when I noticed a kerfuffle on the highway in front of us involving several birds, one of which was a crow.
They were obviously fighting.
As our vehicle approached, the crow suddenly took off with the other birds in pursuit. In the crow’s beak I could see another bird struggling to get free. I suspect it was a chick of the birds now chasing the crow.
The crow had probably dropped the chick on the road and had swooped down to grab it again.
I have no idea how this all ended as the birds disappeared over the ditch and into the forest that crowded the highway. But I suspect it did not go well for the chick.
It reminded me of another story reported by the BBC. It was based on a report by Zoologist Silviu Petrovan of the University of Cambridge who was researching behaviour of mallard ducks on a lake in Romania.
It was a typical day in mallard land on July 17, 2016. The ducks including adults and young were swimming in the water and occasionally bobbing for bugs and vegetation or foraging on land.
But that dramatically changed when an adult female appeared out of the tall grass along the shore with a young wagtail in her beak. Wagtails are small colourful songbirds that usually live near water. They constantly wag their tail feathers hence the name.
She proceeded into the water and dunked the wagtail several times under the surface. When younger mallards zoned in on the adult female attempting to grab the wagtail, she chased them off.
The adult female struggled as she swallowed the wagtail whole. Because of how quickly this happened, Petrovan noted that it was obviously not the first time the mallard had done this.
Later when another small species of bird, a young redstart, landed in the water after being flushed off land by mallards along the shore, it was pursued by up to five young ducks. They repeatedly attacked the black redstart and it eventually disappeared under the water. Petrovan presumed a duck consumed it as well.
It appears the mallards lacking enough protein from their natural food sources were resorting to more drastic measures to survive. They became carnivores.
This was not how God wanted the world to function.
In the book of Isaiah, the prophet saw a future world, much different than what we experience today:
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them. (Isaiah 11:6 NASV)
God did not create animals to prey on each other. But these stories show what happens in the animal kingdom in desperate times.
When man fell into sin, God not only cursed man, He cursed the earth as well:
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; (Genesis 3:17b-18a NASV)
Life would become a struggle, there would be drought, famine, cold and heat.
This would not only affect man, but according to Paul all creation. As man struggled to survive so would animals and many permanently resorted to other forms of nutrition when things became difficult.
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (Romans 8:20-22 NASV)