Matilde is the only one I have heard braying and it has happened very rarely. Matilde has brayed two or three times when I was walking with her before the foals were born, and it was usually on the occasion of hearing another donkey braying in the distance or picking up a donkey scent. She has also kicked up a fuss with occasional braying when Rubi goes out for a walk and she has to remain.
My friend Cait comes over to help walk the donkeys on Saturday mornings and after we returned Matilde and Aitana to the field, I heard braying it but assumed it was Matilde. Cait was next to the donkeys and she said it was definitely Morris. It was a much louder bray than this diminutive foal might seem capable of, so I was not convinced. This morning, however, as I took the feed to them and Matilde was doing her usual impatient snorting and salivating at the sight of food, Morris lifted up his head and curled back his top lip to expose his teeth and let out a distinct two-note bray. I have a feeling that this will soon be a loud little donkey!
It would be good to capture this on video soon and put the Morris braying on the blog soon. Obviously, Morris will not bray to order, so it will be a matter of keeping my i-Phone handy at moments like feed time when this is likely to be repeated.
Interested in the question of braying, I did a search on the Internet. The first reference I found was an Islamic scripture Question and Answer site http://islamqa.info/en/ref/34523 Somebody, for reasons best known to themselves, was asking about interruptions during prayer time… “If a person hears a donkey braying, should he say “A’oodhu Billaahi min al-Shaytaan il-rajeem (I seek refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytaan)?” The answer to this question was authoritatively provided: “With regard to seeking refuge with Allaah from the accursed Shaytaan when hearing a donkey braying (whilst one is praying), there is no report in the Sunnah to that effect.”
So, whoever the accursed Shaytaan may be, you now know that you don’t have to seek refuge from him when you hear a donkey braying, but we are no nearer an answer to the question, what makes a donkey bray?
Here is the sound That’s a good clear example and there are a number of them on YouTube: just search donkey bray. Here’s my favourite:
A very interesting comparison of horse, donkey and zebra can be found on The Naked Scientist website http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/latest-questions/question/2641/ Zebra and donkey have a similar hiccup pause in their sound, which isn’t too surprising as they are closely related, but the interesting comment here is that the sound has not been scientifically analysed.
That ever popular first or last resort Wikipedia has an excellent article on donkeys and suggests the following about braying: “Braying is the characteristic sound made by an ass, donkey, and most mules. Donkeys use this sound to communicate and will bray more frequently when a new donkey is encountered. The sound typically lasts for twenty seconds.” Then, in typical Wikipedia muddle, the following two sentences are very intriguing: “Donkeys may be trained to bray or not to bray upon command. This may be used as a form of mockery.” (Mock the donkey by training it to bray, or training it not to bray? Surely it would be mocking the donkey if you trained it to sing ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are?’)
Additional video at the end of the day. I filmed Morris and Aitana in the evening light playing together. Aitana tends to dominate Morris, and this reflects the way her mother Matilde dominates Morris’s mother Rubi. I wonder if there is a correlation?
UPDATE TUESDAY 20th December
Two m ore school days and then a two week Christmas break. I need it! Very tired at the end of this term. My aim is to get a video with sound of Morris braying, as soon as I can. I will be planting onions, potatoes and other winter crops, so will be in the field all day for a few days. Let’s hope I can catch little Morris singing!
Since he started braying this week, my hunch is that he is singing the traditional ‘Great O’ antiphons ready for Christmas.