Mystic silver gull

Subject: Mystic silver gull
From: David McDonald <>
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 18:26:59 +1100 (EST)
Well, it may be because I am a postmodernist, but I
find myself far more aligned with Maurits' musings on
this than with Philips explanations. Remember, to
every complex question there is an answer that is
simple - and wrong!

For decades I have had above my desk this delightful
quotation ascribed to the late British writer, poet
and conservationist, Eden Phillpotts:
'The universe is full of magical things, patiently
waiting for our wits to grow sharper'. 

Indigenous people around the world know, within their
own ways of knowing, about the types of communication
and interaction that Maurits is contemplating. In my
view, we are the worse off if we close our minds to
such possibilities.


--- Philip Veerman <> wrote:

> silver gullAnd why should the gulls think or care
> that people would help? Unless of course these gulls
> have suffered a similar entanglement before and have
> learned that people can help. This is quite
> possible. Surely we are more obviously a threat than
> a help (even though people do feed gulls). The
> behaviour of the other gulls is an alarm reaction.
> The entangled gull was probably stressed and
> exhausted so didn't struggle. Experienced banders
> would be able to tell you more about that and that
> some birds are much easier to handle than others.
> Why does the Magpie-lark's behaviour seem unlikely
> to have been a coincidence? Why should it know or
> care? It has enough issues of its own to worry
> about. Maybe the neighbour hand feeds it, wearing
> similar coloured clothes. 
> Of course your ideas (if indeed you are suggesting
> it) are just as odd or maybe more even odder as
> those that think that these things happen NOT by
> virtue of the bird's own motives and wisdom, but to
> postulate that the bird doesn't think that way at
> all. It is usually suggested in such cases that some
> sort of higher power, that does have that motive,
> also has the power to cause the birds to behave in a
> particular way, as though it is in their thoughts.
> As in when a person makes a plea (usually to their
> god or gods) to be shown a sign (of something, it is
> never specified). As far as I see, they are not
> asking the birds but maybe use something done by a
> bird (or the clouds, or a cow, or a burning bush or
> a waving piece of grass, etc) to be the sign.
> Religions and fantasy stories have used that ploy
> for centuries. Some people believe that. I don't
> believe either suggestion. 
> Sure birds may have perceptive abilities that we
> don't. They probably hear much faster than we do,
> although in a similar range, and maybe can see
> things and process visual signals faster than us. 
> Interspecies communication happens all the time. It
> is well known in mixed species social groups and in
> predator alarm calls and responses, eg antelopes &
> monkeys understanding each others alarm calls for
> "leopard".  I agree with Geoffrey's advice about the
> hook.
> Philip

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