Every one has heard of the sympathies of animals towards each other. Cries of distress will often call them forth. When the dam of a newborn lamb has died, some affectionate sheep, although she may have one of her own, has been known to foster and suckle the helpless young one. In my own immediate neighbourhood, the youngest of a large litter of pigs — a poor little helpless creature — who was not able to get at its mother for nourishment, was warmed under the wings of a good-natured hen. It was fed by hand, but when turned down, the hen was always ready to take charge of it, and thus it was reared.
These instances might be multiplied to a considerable extent, showing the active benevolence of some animals; but the following fact will prove the existence of a combined intelligence in creatures, which I have reason to believe has been hitherto unnoticed by naturalists as existing amongst the feathered creation. The accuracy of the anecdote may be vouched for.
In the island of Ceylon there is to be found a very cunning and sensible crow, somewhat smaller than our own native one, having a glossy back, and altogether rather an engaging pretty bird. Now, in the yard of the Governor of Ceylon, a dog was one day amusing himself by gnawing a bone, the scraps of meat upon which attracted the attention of one of these crows. It alighted on the ground, hopped round the dog and the bone, and evidently waited for an opportunity of seizing the latter.
The dog, however, was on his guard, and by certain growls and probably angry looks, which the bird understood no doubt, protected his property. The crow was too cunning and too hungry to be baffled. He flew away, but soon returned with a companion. They hopped up to the dog, when the fresh arrival watched his opportunity and gave a sudden pull at the dog’s tail. Not being used to such an insult he suddenly turned round, in order to see who had taken this liberty with him. The bone was for a moment left unprotected, and was immediately seized by the first cunning crow, who flew away with it, joined by his companion, and they doubtless had a merry feast upon it.