As scientists, it is often said that we shouldn’t interfere with the natural order of things. However, when endeavouring to discover more about a species or habitat, it is inevitable some human interference will occur. Just your presence or the presence of equipment may impact any data received.

Then there is the dreaded word, compassion. I don’t believe it is ‘soft’ for even a hardened professor to see an animal in distress and feel the need to help. Now, I’m not suggesting we all intervene with lion kills or nest predation, but there are times when compassion rules science.

Such a situation occurred when I was counting pigeon phenotypes in a local town. Dodging the traffic in a busy car park was a young pigeon that had clearly fledged too soon. Lost and in danger of being run over, compassion told me I had to help, so I offered the hand of compassion to another being.

I’m pleased to say the youngster is doing well, gaining wait and is full of beans. He will of course be added to the data set for his area before release!