Tuesday, 20 January 2009

killer instinct

Because my cats lived indoors the first few years of their lives, they don't have much in the way of hunting instincts.  Well, they're quite good at catching flies and moths from practicing indoors.  Percival is kind enough to eat the flies he catches (ew) whereas Thatcher just plays with them until they stop moving, then leaves them for me to clean up (also ew). 

In regards to birds they're pretty hopeless.  Thatcher once gave a blackbird a good chase, but he doesn't get to go outside much any more due to several escape attempts.  And Percival ... well Percival's idea of "hiding" is to crouch in the middle of the lawn staring at the fig tree.  This cat is WHITE with a bit of ginger, there is no hiding that.  I know the blackbird alarm call for "beware, there's a cat" because every time we're outside, they're making that call, fully aware of Percival's attempts to "stalk" them.  In fact even today I was thinking of taking a photo of him behind his favourite hiding bush to show you all how hopeless he looks.

But before I could do that, I was behind the fig tree when I noticed Percival go running at a dead bolt inside the house.  The cats NEVER run back inside, they like being outside too much, so I thought to myself "that's a bit odd ... perhaps he's chased a fly inside?"  I went back to what I was doing for a minute or two, but then decided to check on him inside.

Oh, it wasn't a fly.

http://www.alexareynolds.com/garden09/babybird.JPGIt was a juvenile blackbird.  And adult bird would have the sense not to get caught, but this bird was quite young.  Percival didn't quite know what to do with it, but I shoo'd him away and scooped the little thing up.  It wasn't bleeding and didn't have any obvious major damage, just a few down feathers scattered in the hall, so I put it outside near the fig tree.

Half an hour later it was still there, then next I saw it had lurched over to the path but no father.  So I did some research and learned that stunned birds probably have a concussion which causes swelling of blood vessels in the brain.  So I took their advice and got a shoe box, put a towel inside, and went to fetch the bird.  He struggled a bit when I picked him up this time which I took as a good sign, but I put him in anyway and put him in the hall closet to calm down for an hour.

Supposedly this allows the blood vessels to heal without causing further damage from the bird struggling or being stressed.  When you open the box they're meant to fly away ... otherwise there's something else wrong and the prognosis isn't good.  So I opened the box by the fig tree ... and it just sat there panting.

I got it a little dish of water even though I knew it would be too stressed to drink.  We sat outside a little ways away for 15 minutes.  It just sat there.

http://www.alexareynolds.com/garden09/babybird2.JPGFinally we got up to get our things and go get some dinner.  When we walked back outside, this is all we saw:

No sign of the little guy.  And no sign is a very, very good sign.

Though I have to say, any bird dumn enough to get caught by Percival, the great white stooge, probably won't be adding anything good to the gene pool.