This morning I opened the back door to get a breath of air, and to feel the temperature and sniff the air to check the likelihood of rain. (Yes, I have the weather gadget on my desktop, but it connects to the weather service and I don't trust meteorologists) I looked down and saw a robin standing there on the stoop not a foot in front of me, unmoving. I thought it must have died on its feet, but then I saw it blink- but it still didn't move, much less fly away.
Just then, our three younger cats rushed through my legs onto the stoop. I quickly said "Play nice!" (code language in our household to stop rumbles- they know the next step is the Dreaded Squirt Gun) They froze, in an interesting tableau- unmoving robin, seemingly oblivious to being surrounded by 40 lbs. of savage carnivores. I thought surely it must be paralyzed, but when Monica leaned in to sniff at it, it turned its head to face her. I quickly shooed the cats off the stoop, and the robin remained unmoved by my voice or their movements, like a feathered Bartleby who would prefer not to notice them.
"Great", I thought to myself with just a twinge of self pity, "It's dying on its feet, and I have to do something about it to prevent the kitties from playing badminton with it." I wrapped a plastic bag around my hand and bent over to pick it up- but when I touched it, it leaped through to railings and flew off, strong and fast, over the neighbor's house and out of sight.
Why didn't it move earlier, when it clearly was strong and coordinated enough to do so? Maybe it had no reason to fear me, but why didn't it show any fear of a clowder that had slaughtered so many of its peers? I don't know. Hell, I don't even know why my own species does the things it does.