It's the time of year when Canada Geese by the dozens rest in the bottom pond for a few weeks before flying south. As I walked by, a few grumbled a warning. I didn't want to disturb them - thought about how it'd be nice to reassure them that I'm not a threat.
I stopped myself. They may already know I'm not a threat to them but choose caution anyhow. They may see a different threat near me that I don't see.
They have their own reasons for grumbling (or not) when I come near. I may not be giving them the credit they deserve.
It's understandable. As kids we were taught that other species were not as smart as humans. It was so ingrained in the culture, we may not have even noticed it. Common phrases like "bird brains" reinforce the lower status we place on other species. Yet we know a lot more about their intelligence than we did in the 50's. And even without scientific proof, we know in our hearts and our personal experience that animals and birds and trees are more than we have been taught.
I want to approach on a level playing field. I may still quietly tell them I'm not a threat, and still send my attention in a different direction than them, so they can read the lack-of-threat in my intentions. But I want to interact with no assumptions about them.
Maybe a better approach is to be nearby and make no demands. Settle nearby like Jane Goodall when she developed a rapport with Chimps. Let the geese choose for themselves if I'm someone they want to know, and then make myself available to what they may have to say.
There's more to learn. But it's a start.