ISTR a thread about that earlier, but I can’t find it anywhere.
In any event, I’m listening to the audiobook of David Sedaris’s short-story collection Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, and in the story “The Crow and the Lamb,” he has a devious crow do just that.
Eyes are tasty to scavengers and easily pluckable. What is there to question?
They are especially attractive when served on a bed of romaine and drizzled with aioli.
What prevents the newborn lambs from closing their eyes? Or is that not enough to stop eyes from being plucked out? Why couldn’t this happen to adult lambs, cows, etc?
Closing their eyes wouldn’t offer much of a defense at all. Lambs, like most baby animals, are weaker and less able to defend themselves than adults.
I’m not sure how common this is, but I wouldn’t have much doubt that a raven at least could and would do it if so inclined.
Wait, they do this when the lambs are still alive? I assumed they found a dead lamb and did it.
Crows are quite capable of taking out the eye of a live, adult sheep.
Apart from during birth it most commonly happens when the animal gets cast … i.e. it lies down and gets rolled onto it’s back or side and can’t stand up again, say it’s in a small hollow. Much less common with cattle as 1. they are much larger/stronger and 2. they don’t have a fleece which can be a significant hinderance to rolling back upright.
Can also occur as a corollary of metabolic disorders like hypoglycemia (aka pregnancy toximia), hypocalcemia (aka milk fever) and hypomagnesemia (aka grass tetany) or low blood glucose, calcium & magnesium respectively and the animal is unable to stand.
As the animals weaken, the crows will move in.
I’d suspect that out in the rangelands a large proportion of animals with fatal diseases would lose an eye to the crows before they actually died. The difference in the cases above is that if found in time and the cast animal uprighted or the mineral disorder treated they can make a full recovery, sans eye.
Crows are also a major problem with cattle during droughts. Animals wander into river and dam beds looking for water, and get stuck in the mud. Crows then relieve them of their eyes. while they are perfectly healthy and alert.
“while they are perfectly healthy and alert”
Well, thirsty and/or starving, but your point is correct.
Being thirsty doesn’t make an animal less than perfectly healthy and alert.
And in many droughts animals aren’t starving. There is a shortage of rain, not of feed.
Thanks. I’d forgotten it was another David Sedaris story that got the ball rolling last time - rather odd, that.
Well, this thread certainly has been eye-opening!
This can’t happen to adult lambs because there are no adult lambs.
Tell that to the inhabitants of the island of Gotland in the Baltic sea. All sheep are called lamb in the local dialect.