Wild Nature Won By Kindness Informative Summary

Overview:

 This book is a collection of anecdotes and observations written by Mrs. Eliza Brightwen, a naturalist and author, about the wild creatures she befriended throughout her life. With a deep love for nature and a gentle touch, she shares tales of taming and caring for various animals, birds, and insects, emphasizing the importance of patience, kindness, and understanding their natural needs. Each chapter reveals fascinating insights into their behavior, showcasing their individual personalities and intelligence. From starlings who learn to talk to nuthatches who hoard food in their cages, Brightwen illuminates the beauty and wonder of the natural world, inviting readers to appreciate the unique characteristics of each creature.

Key Findings:

  • Wild creatures, even those considered common, exhibit a wide range of fascinating behaviors and intelligence when treated with kindness and understanding.
  • Taming wild animals is not simply about providing food and shelter, but about developing a genuine connection based on trust and respect.
  • By observing the natural world closely, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate web of life and the interconnectedness of all living things.

Learning:

  • Taming: The process of taming wild creatures requires patience, gentleness, and a consistent approach. It involves learning to understand their needs, providing suitable food and environment, and establishing trust through constant interaction.
  • Animal Behavior: Brightwen’s observations provide valuable insights into the unique characteristics of various species. For example, starlings are highly intelligent and capable of learning to speak, while nuthatches exhibit a remarkable ability to hoard food.
  • Environmental Impact: The book highlights the ecological importance of wild creatures, particularly their role in controlling insect populations.
  • Species-Specific Care: Different species require specific care, including diet, housing, and interaction. Understanding these needs is crucial for providing a healthy and happy environment for pets.

Historical Context:

The book was published in 1898, a time when the natural world was being increasingly explored and documented. The growing interest in nature and the rise of organizations like the Selborne Society, which Brightwen was a Vice-President of, reflected a growing awareness of the need to protect and understand the environment.

Facts:

  • Starlings can be remarkably tame: Mrs. Brightwen’s starlings, Dick and Richard, learned to speak, bathe in water with great enthusiasm, and even developed a sense of humor.
  • Greenfinches are mischievous: Verdant, a pet greenfinch, enjoyed misplacing objects and pulling out pins to cause a bit of chaos.
  • Wild ducks are very social: Wild ducks, though often considered solitary, can live in large flocks and engage in intense territorial battles for mates and resources.
  • Jays are cunning predators: Jays, known for their beauty, are also known to prey on other birds, even those still in the nest.
  • Cuckoos are parasitic: Cuckoos are famous for laying their eggs in other birds’ nests, leaving the unsuspecting foster parents to raise the cuckoo chicks.
  • Cats can be tender nurses: A cat helped raise a young starling named Dick.
  • Starlings are obsessed with grubs: Starlings have an innate drive to search for grubs, even when they are kept in captivity.
  • Nuthatches are expert hoarders: Zöe, a nuthatch, meticulously stashed away her mealworms in every nook and cranny of her cage.
  • Robins are territorial and vindictive: Robins will fiercely defend their territory, even attacking their own kind.
  • Titmice are highly efficient insect eaters: A single pair of Blue Tits can consume over 3,570 caterpillars in a week, highlighting their importance in controlling insect populations.
  • Gerbilles are social and prolific breeders: Gerbilles live in large colonies and are known for their rapid rate of reproduction.
  • Water shrews are surprisingly fierce: These small, black mammals are highly aggressive and possess sharp teeth, making them more a source of fascination than a pet.
  • Squirrels have a complex tail language: A squirrel’s tail can communicate a variety of emotions, from fear to anger to contentment.
  • Moles have a voracious appetite: Moles need a constant supply of worms to survive, as they have a very high metabolic rate.
  • Harvest mice are tiny and social: These delicate, brown mice are known for their pendulous nests and their ability to make burrows through growing wheat.
  • Californian mice are remarkably adaptable: Perognathus Pencillatus, a rare mouse species, can enter a state of torpor to survive harsh winters and can go for long periods without water.
  • Toads can be surprisingly affectionate: Sancho, Mrs. Brightwen’s pet toad, enjoyed being stroked and would often lift his body off the ground in a comical display of affection.
  • Snails are social creatures: Despite their slimy appearance, Roman snails are affectionate towards each other and often intertwine their bodies in a display of companionship.
  • Earwigs are dedicated mothers: Earwig mothers meticulously care for their eggs, constantly rearranging them and ensuring their safety.
  • The Sacred Beetle is an emblem of creation and transformation: The Sacred Beetle, revered by the ancient Egyptians, rolls dung balls to lay its eggs and buries them for incubation, symbolizing the cycle of life and renewal.
  • Spiders are skilled hunters: Spiders employ a variety of hunting techniques, from spinning intricate webs to leaping on their prey.
  • Butterflies can be tame: Mrs. Brightwen successfully tamed several butterfly species and found them to be quite docile and even affectionate.
  • Ant-lions are skilled predators: Ant-lions, disguised as insects, create pit traps in sand to lure and capture ants.
  • Kingfishers are striking birds: Kingfishers are known for their vibrant blue and orange plumage and their swift dives into water to catch fish.
  • The Robin is a popular and endearing pet: Robins are easily tamed and often become beloved companions, entertaining their owners with their cheerful songs.

Statistics:

  • 3,570 caterpillars: A single pair of Blue Tits can consume this many caterpillars in a week.
  • 150 yards: The length of silk a female spider can spin at a time.
  • 450 spiders: The number of spiders needed to produce a single yard of silk.
  • 2 ½ ounces: The weight of two Roman snails.
  • 26 eggs: The number of eggs an earwig mother typically lays.
  • 4 weeks: The estimated lifespan of a perfect ant-lion.
  • 15 children: The number of children out of 90 who had ever seen a dead mole.
  • 3 children: The number of children out of 90 who had ever seen a live mole.
  • 6 inches: The size of a large “Mygale” spider with its legs outstretched.
  • 14 inches: The length of a large Egyptian lizard.

Terms:

  • Operculum: A thin, hard, lid-like structure that seals the opening of certain snails’ shells during hibernation.
  • Proboscis: The long, tube-like mouthpart of an insect, like a butterfly, used for sucking up liquids.
  • Elytra: The hard, protective wing covers of beetles.
  • Mandibles: The mouthparts of insects used for biting and chewing.
  • Forceps: The pincer-like appendages at the end of the earwig’s abdomen.
  • Antennæ: The long, sensory appendages on the heads of insects.
  • Spinnerets: The small, silk-producing organs located at the end of a spider’s abdomen.
  • Chrysalis: The inactive, pupal stage of a butterfly or moth.
  • Hibernation: A state of dormancy during the winter months, characterized by decreased metabolism and body temperature.
  • Torpor: A state of lowered activity and metabolism, often triggered by cold temperatures or food scarcity.

Examples:

  • Richard the Second: A starling that learned to talk, open his cage door, and enjoyed taking baths.
  • Verdant: A mischievous greenfinch that enjoyed pulling things down and causing a little trouble.
  • Tiny, Sir Francis Drake, and Luther: Three wild ducks raised from eggs that were quite tame but eventually returned to their wild instincts.
  • Zöe: A busy and humorous nuthatch who loved to hoard food and created a nest out of a cocoa-nut.
  • Bobby: A tame robin who was a frequent visitor to Zöe’s cage and would steal her food.
  • Sancho: A pet toad who loved to be stroked and would often stretch out his legs and lean towards his human companion.
  • Cheops: A Sacred Beetle who, despite being in captivity, exhibited his natural instinct to roll dung balls and bury them.
  • Tegenaria: A large black spider who spun intricate webs and carefully guarded her egg sac.
  • Psyche: A tame swallow-tailed butterfly who enjoyed basking in the sunbeams on her human companion’s finger.
  • Rab, Minor: A mischievous and stubborn Scotch terrier puppy who was known for his numerous escapades and his loyalty to his human family.

Conclusion:

Mrs. Brightwen’s “Wild Nature Won By Kindness” is a testament to the power of gentle understanding and observation in our relationship with the natural world. The book demonstrates that even the smallest and most unexpected creatures have unique personalities, complex behaviors, and a deep connection to their natural environment. Through her captivating stories, Brightwen inspires readers to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the animal world and encourages us to cultivate kindness and respect for all living things. The book serves as a reminder that, through careful observation and compassionate interaction, we can bridge the gap between humans and the wild creatures that share our planet.

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