Herds
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Herds

Drama in the herd

  • When in a herd, there's plenty of drama. Not least the constant fight of hierachy and the constant low-level tension of predators.
  • There's the risk of stampedes.
  • Who leads the way in risky situations? Who picks the direction of the herd? What happens if they pick wrong?
  • Carnivores attack one of the herd. Does one man up and defend it?

Characteristics of individuals

  • When telling a story, consider:
  • What are the habits of the animals, what are their behavioural tics? How do they move? What are the characteristics of the species? What are the characteristics of individual?
  • Personalities are largely relative. They only really come into play when they are offset with other characters, as this contrasts the personalities. It's difficult to create personality when it's a one man show.
  • Different individuals will have different tactics for finding food, building shelter, swimming, foraging, etc.

Group dynamics

Demographics

What's the age distribution among the population? Are the older ones clearly dominant? What's that like as a young one? Is there a dominant male or female? Does he have a crew?

Gender ratio

  • What's the balance of males and fertile females? The males may want to leave if the ratio is too skewed.
  • If there aren't females, will a single male leave the group and go on by themselves? How do they travel?

Vibe

  • Fu Inle means 'After moonrise'. Rabbits, of course, have no idea of precise time or of punctuality. In this respect they are much the same as primitive people, who often take several days over assembling for some purpose and then several more to get started. Before such people can act together, a kind of telepathic feeling has to flow through them and ripen to the point when they all know that they are ready to begin. Anyone who has seen the martins and swallows in September, assembling on the telephone wires, twittering, making short flights singly and in groups over the open, stubbly fields, returning to form longer and even longer lines above the yellowing verges of the lanes - the hundreds of individual birds merging and blending, in a mounting excitement, into swarms, and these swarms coming loosely and untidily together to create a great, un-organized flock, thick at the centre and ragged at the edges, which breaks and re-forms continually like clouds or waves - until that moment when the greater part (but not all) of them know that the time has come: they are off, and have begun once more that great southward flight which many the will not survive; anyone seeing this has seen at work the current that flows (among creatures who think of themselves primarily as part of a group and only secondarily, if at all, as individuals) to fuse them together and impel them into action without conscious thought or will: it is seen at work the angel which drove the First Crusade into Antioch and drives the lemmings into the sea.
  • Richard Adams, Watership Down
    • Rabbits have their own conventions and formalities, but these are few and short by human standards. If Hazel had been a human being he would have been expected to introduce his companions one by one and no doubt each would have been taken in charge as a guest by one of their hosts. In the great burrow, how-ever, things happened differently. The rabbits mingled naturally. They did not talk for talking's sake, in the artificial manner that human beings — and sometimes even their dogs and cats — do. But this did not mean that they were not communicating; merely that they were not com-municating by talking. All over the burrow, both the new-comers and those who were at home were accustoming themselves to each other in their own way and their own time; getting to know what the strangers smelt like, how they moved, how they breathed, how they scratched, the feel of their rhythms and pulses. These were their topics and subjects of discussion, carried on without the need of speech.
    • To a greater extent than a human in a similar gathering each rabbit, as he pursued his own fragment, was sensitive to the trend of the whole. After a time, all knew that the concourse was not going to turn sour or break up in a fight. Just as a battle begins in a state of equilibrium between the two sides, which gradually alters one way or the other, until it is clear that the balance has tilted so far that the issue can no longer be in doubt - so this gathering of rabbits in the dark, be-ginning with hesitant approaches, silences, pauses, move-ments, crouchings side-by-side and all manner of tentative appraisals, slowly moved, like a hemisphere of the world into summer, to a warmer, brighter region of mutual liking and approval, until all felt sure that they had nothing to fear. Pipkin, some way away from Hazel, crouched at his ease between two huge rabbits who could have broken his back in a second, while Buckthorn and Cowslip started a playful scuffle, nipping each other like kittens and then breaking off to comb their ears in a comical pretence of sudden gravity. Only Fiver sat alone and apart. He seemed either ill or very much depressed, and the strangers avoided him instinctively.

Death of a herd member

  • Robert Bakker, Raptor Red, p163
    • The chick's mother approaches Raptor Red and stops, looks at the adults, and stares at each of them, then sees the chick in the sand. Raptor Red's body language tells her that the pack has suffered a loss.
    • Raptor Red's sister comes up to the dead chick and begins to make crying sounds. Raptor Red tries to console her sister by cooing and nuzzling her neck and by leaning against her chest. But the bereaved mother starts to howl and shake, her eyes wild and wide. First her neck, then her shoulders and thighs tremble. The other young chick scrambles away in fear - she's never seen her mother like this. The oldest chick joins Raptor Red in preening her mother.
    • It does no good. Raptor Red's sister collapses on her ankles, pawing at the chick, turning the little corpse over and over until its hide is covered with wet sand grains. Raptor Red is afraid to leave her sister alone but afraid to stay next to her too. Her sister's weird moaning gets louder, and she swings her arms in spastic arcs.
    • Raptor Red pushes her sister's body with her own. She presses her head against her sister's neck, trying to stop the shaking. It's all she knows how to do. It's the Utahraptor way of comforting a loved one.
    • Raptor Red feels her sister's body go limp and start to fall away from her - and then it stops and stays still. Something is holding her sister up from the other side. Raptor Red looks over her sister's shoulder to see what it is.
    • It's her male consort.
    • He's pushing gently and making cooing noises.
    • Raptor Red and her consort spend two hours holding her sister. Gradually the moaning grows quieter, the shaking stops, and Raptor Red's sister closes her eyes and goes to sleep. Raptor Red's consort drags over some branches to make a temporary nest right there. The entire pack huddles together when sunset comes. It's a difficult night. Raptor Red has to groom her sister every time she wakes up.