baby noisy miner rescue

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: baby noisy miner rescue
From: Scot Mcphee <>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2008 11:46:10 +1000

I don't advocate culling any species but I often question the wisdom of human intervention to sustain the life of members of a species not under threat that would otherwise die of natural causes.


From an intellectual viewpoint I understand what you are saying. For example, I am not comfortable with the extreme resources that humans put into saving premature babies and to fertility programs. From that dispassionate pseudo-Darwinian point of view if an individual member of any species is incapable of reproducing or surviving there's a reason for that. However, as humans we are social creatures, and we have a complex society that most certainly does not, and should not, run on principles of absolute abandonment of weaker individuals. And so, we save premature babies from certain death by using our technological capacity. I still think there's an issue to debate there in regard to how much resources we should spend in order to save them but that's another debate entirely.

Now, as to other species. I firmly hold the position that humans are not a special species on this planet, certainly not from an absolute view of specialness as we know many "lower" species possess similar cognitive capabilities to humans, but nor a relative one either. The fact that humans changed the environment to suit the noisy miner as a species doesn't alter one bit my personal ethical response to the one individual I found in trouble. And nor even if it were a magpie chick, a regent honeyeater, an orange bellied parrot or even a rock dove squab, would alter my response to that individual found to be in need. The individual being is entitled to care and attention, regardless of class or species. I would expect if it were an orange bellied parrot that the 'semi-official organs of state' that deal with such rare/ threatened species would obviously have more resource and effort to saving the individual than a "mere" noisy miner, which is where such ethics come into play. Ethically I cannot see why my *personal* response to a suffering individual should be dictated only by a ruthless calculus of species numerical superiority or lack thereof (as opposed to our collective response as a society).

As to chickens. We as humans eat meat, it is true, and exploit animals for other products such as eggs milk and leather. I am no wilting vegetarian. It is not the fact that I am eating the chicken or its eggs that to me is the ethical issue at stake - that's my inescapable biological imperative. The ethical issue is about what sort of life did it have before I ate it. Hence why I try to only eat animal foodstuffs that I know have not been intensively farmed and have been raised humanely, I don't buy meat from the supermarket and luckily my butcher generally agrees and labels such meat accordingly and in the chicken's specific case, only sources from humane suppliers.

The individual noisy miner most certainly enjoyed my wife's rescuing it. It gained relief and pleasure from her rescuing it and giving it warmth. The lorikeet powder mix gave it strength and vitality which it definitely appreciated. In turn the bird clearly gave preference to my wife's company and like to nestle on her and groom itself, thereby reciprocating it's pleasure. To demand that such exchanges be regarded only on the level of the mathematics of the species, seems to me to be denying our own humanity.

The bird will probably never be released anyway, I'd imagine. Noisy miners to me seem to form such close-knit family groups that I can't see how you could go about releasing such an individual, but I will leave that particular algorithm to the wildlife rescue experts.



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