One of the greatest joys of our summer was gaining the trust of the Western Scrub Jays that visited our back yard.
Many people dislike these birds, because they are very aggressive and opportunistic. They have bad manners, chasing other birds out of "their" yard. But we love them. We bribed them with stale almonds and peanuts, which they just adored.
Whenever I heard a jay in the yard, I set out nuts. The birds started associating humans with yummy food.
Eventually, we taught the birds to eat from our hands. It was enchanting.
But them things took a bad turn. The backyard cats, Sleeves and Cardigan, started hunting the jays. They caught this baby jay, which I had to wrestle out of Cardigan's mouth. Because we couldn't find the bird's nest, Robb took it to a local animal rehab hospital.
These little kitties may look sweet and innocent. Despite the fact that they're very well-fed, they're very efficient hunters. Unfortunately, they're not candidates for indoor living. Sleeves is utterly terrified of being trapped in an enclosed space with scary humans. And Cardigan likes to pee on our rugs.
The story I never wrote about on the blog was the incident where the cats killed and ate my "friend," the adult scrub jay. I was devastated. Making the jays too complacent in our garden undoubtedly let to their demise. I take full responsibility for the death of the jay. And it breaks my heart.
It's terrible when something that's a source of so much joy turns bitter and painful.
It's no solace to my guilt that the jays are occasional meat-eaters. I know that the world is full of predation and scavenging, but as a career vegetarian, I'm not comfortable adding to the carnage. I'm not inviting wild birds into my yard, in order to feed them to the feral cats. Cats are not native to America, and I'm very committed to neutering and spaying stray and feral cats.