Is It Possible for Animals to Violate Each Other’s Rights?

Probably everyone knows we communicate nonverbally, though maybe not everyone knows exactly what we’re communicating. Stories are plentiful about travelers getting into all sorts of trouble after making a gesture that’s interpreted in ways they never dreamed of. I recently found evidence that animal species are similarly challenged.

Back in November 2020, I blogged about a swan drama involving Glenda leaving her long-time mate to be with the lonely widower swan Dexter who’d lost his mate and offspring to predators. (Please see “What Random Truth Does the Pandemic Year Challenge?”)

Steve and I disagreed about the bird-brained reasons for this mate-swap – he accused Glenda of low morals. I considered some “me too” reasons she decided that Dexter was a better choice as a mate, and felt vindicated when we saw Glenda sitting on eggs such as Dale had never fertilized.

Steve continued to feel sorry for Dale alone in his lake. But Dale was soon to find a new life purpose.

Before Glenda had eggs to sit on, Dexter had gotten busy chasing away the Canada geese to make it safe for the happy couple to raise their family. Many of the geese flew away, but a few moved over to Dale’s lake.

Then one day, loud honking grabbed our attention: we saw two ganders hectoring two females who were trying unsuccessfully to distance themselves. I was astonished when Dale interceded and faced the males, stretching up his neck and spreading his wings wide in a threatening stance. The ganders backed off and the females waddled into the water, joined by Dale who escorted them across the lake.

For several weeks, Dale, an apparent hero, could be seen escorting his two goose friends. Steve scorned Glenda for abandoning such a saintly mate.

Then one glorious spring day, there was Dale swimming with just one goose. The two were companionably stretching their necks down into the water looking for snacks, the way how Dexter and Glenda dine together. They continued for a little while until Dale suddenly maneuvered behind the goose and tried to mount her. She squawked in protest, took off and hasn’t come back.

While trying to find out how typical this was, I located such articles as, “The Truth About Swans” and “When Bird Mating Goes Wrong” and learned that though uncommon, it’s not unheard of.

I suggest Glenda left Dale because she just wasn’t into his kind of kink. Besides that, Dale may be a swan version of Harvey  Weinstein.

Of course, not all that familiar with bird culture, I don’t know for sure and must withhold judgment. As we all must when encountering cultures unfamiliar to us.

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2 thoughts on “Is It Possible for Animals to Violate Each Other’s Rights?”

  1. Your story about the Swans reminds me of the Mallord Ducks who frequented the lawn ,along the Iowa River, behind the Iowa Memorial Union. I would often sit there, between classes in the Spring, and watch the ducks. Though my first experience watching them during mating season was traumatic. I was peacefully gazing at the river and doing some people watching, when suddenly loud, frantic duck sounds could be heard near by. I looked up to see a lone female being gang banged by 4 males!! I had never witnessed this before and my protective instinct for the helpless female took over. I got up and quickly chased the males away! Now this may have been intrusive on my part, if this is Natures way during mating season. I was angered and disturbed by this seemingly violent behavior.

    1. OMG! So there really DOES need to be a Me Too movement for waterfowl!
      I think you’re totally justified because the animals clearly live among humans and may have picked up some bad ideas.

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