The other day, I was looking at the bird feeder and noticed a slew of animals intermingling without being afraid of each other. Grackles were next to chickadees and there was even a squirrel in there at one point.
That got me wondering - are there any animals that naturally “like” or “tolerate” humans, as those birds and squirrels tolerated each other? I’m talking about animals that, if I walked into the middle of a big group of them, they wouldn’t all run away or try to eat me.
I was considering cats and dogs, but we train them to like us.
I first noticed it when I was shoveling the driveway after a rare snowfall. It was just there, all around the whole time. It especially liked it when I was near something it could perch on like the mailbox. It was hoping I would expose some soil with some bugs for it it eat. (The snow of course makes things hard on birds.) It clearly didn’t understand the concept of concrete != soil.
It wouldn’t mind if I got less than 2 feet from it.
Then I saw it regularly even in normal weather. If I was turning over the compost pile it couldn’t get close enough to me. If I held a rake up, it’d even perch on the tip of the handle. Sometimes I’d have to be careful and let it pick thru things before I started turning again.
It was a regular most times when I was outside for several months. It pretty much didn’t care what I was doing, pruning, raking, whatever, it just liked to be right there.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it in my bird book. (Surprisingly common.) Sort of like a bunting.
There’s the Greater Honeyguide, perhaps the only wild species known to specifically seek out humans to communicate with. (They guide humans to beehives in order to eat the remains after the humans harvest the hive.)
Nonsense, they are bred to like us, or more likely in these two cases, they naturally selected themselves to like us. The proto-dogs and cats that hung around humans did better (from human waste food, or from the mice and rats that hung around people’s granaries) than their conspecifics who did not.
I wouldn’t call it nonsense. If you take 20 kittens, force them into the wild where they don’t have human interaction, and then a human walks into their area, they’ll probably all run away or attack the intruder.
But if you were to take a bunch of birds and raise them in an environment where they’ve never seen a squirrel, how would their first encounter with one go? I don’t know specifically the answer to that, but you can’t look at that group and ignore their past experiences either.
While this isn’t really an answer, it brings up something in my mind that amazes me. Animals that have been horribly abused in their lives often (not always, but much more commonly than I would expect) have this amazing capacity for forgiveness and trust. I volunteer at a horse rescue and see it every day. Horses who have been starved, beaten, neglected, who come into our barn half dead and terrified, will come around with patience and love. It’s the same with dogs. The last rescue transport I drove was a sweet English Setter boy named Charlie, about half the weight he shoud have been and so afraid he didn’t walk, he crawled on his belly. He was delivered to his foster home, who became his forever home in less than a week. The pictures of Charlie now show a happy, smiling boy full of life & love.
I was walking home form the doctor today when I saw a large ginger cat sitting on a low wall on Balfour Street. We looked at each other for a few seconds, then I carefully reached over and scratched him behind the ear; he responded with a polite purr. We then said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. This cat - which I had never seen before in my life - had no collar and had probably never been indoors in his life, but he still got along just fine with humans.
Animals in environments where they have no experience of humans or large predators usually shown no particular fear of humans, no more than they would of any other large thing galumphing through their world.
And have a look at this link. Sure, we train domesticated animals, but it is not the training that makes them domesticated. Feral cats and dogs are still domestic cats and dogs, and can generally readily be tamed again, wildcats and wolves, not so much.