Thursday, June 02, 2011

I get no pleasure from saying, "I told you so."

...



This morning, as I was leaving for work, I heard a terrible commotion of squawking jays. And sure enough, what I had been dreading had come to pass.

The feral cats had killed one of the fledgling scrub jays. The parents were freaking out, and swooping at the cat, who had the limp bird in his jaws. I was on the verge of tears.

Damn it.

I knew that this was going to happen.

I am a pathologically tender hearted person. I deplore any form of killing, haven't eaten meat in twenty five years, and am staunchly opposed to war. But I am not such an idealist to think that I can change nature. Even if I stuff the feral cats with kibble until they waddle, they'll still be ambush predators. And young birds will be inexperienced and naiive.

I feel like a murderer.

(Robb did manage to catch Cardigan and put a particularly jangly bell around his neck. Maybe that will slow his hunting down just a little bit. Maybe.)


Update: The very next morning, the cats killed another of the fledglings.

Further Update: Cardigan managed to get the collar wrapped around his shoulder and torso, and ripped off the bell. Sleeves won't let us get close enough to touch his neck. I've taken to hanging out in the back yard with a garden hose. I squirt the cats when they get too close to the jays.

There is still one baby left.

13 comments:

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Awww...I'm sorry Lisa. Actually here, I have a sense of disdain for Stellar's Jays. They hunt nestlings, for sport, when they could otherwise subsist on the plethora of peanuts in the nearest bird feeder. I'm not sure if the Scrub Jays are as bad, but here, I fear the Stellars Jays the most, especially as we have not one, but two new sets of nestlings here in the past few days. Almost ran over one with my truck the other day on the road as it was throwing around a finch nestling. Gah, nature is rough sometimes.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

It's hard not to prioritize "good"nature and "bad."

Jays are tough birds, no doubt about it. And I love them ... most of the time. I've seen scrub jays tearing into bushtit nests, with the intention of making a meal of the babies.

But, on the other hand, domestic cats are non-native, and are a real menace to our native wildlife. The statistics on the numbers of birds killed by housecats is sobering.

Unfortunately, these two feral cats can't seem to find enough comfort with humans (or bladder control) to live inside. I don't know what happened to Sleeves, but he's completely petrified of all people.

So, the slaughter continues.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

I thought of you, throwing rocks at the coyotes, as I chased the cats this morning, Clare.

Rabid Quilter said...

Every cat we've owned was feral or abandoned and forced to fend for itself. I've become much more hard-hearted since owning cats. Our bunny-infested neighborhood is to much for our dears to resist. We tolerate half-dead bunnies twice a week at least--mostly in the middle of the night. Sometimes we come home to a stomach, a couple of ears and a fluffy tail. Horrific but it's nature. We love our cats and don't blame them for who they are.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry Lisa, I've tried and failed to protect baby California Quail in our neighborhood. Our cats, feral and house picked them off one by one. And now, for the first time in years there is a new quail couple romancing in the yard. I'm hoping the cats are too old and lazy to care.

Have you considered confining the boys to a screened-in cat porch, maybe just for the few weeks it takes the babies to fledge? It is a tough call. I too feel like a murderer luring birds to my yard and to their death. Unfortunately cats are particularly adept predators, I'll bet Cardigan learns to hunt with his new bell quickly.
colls

Kristen said...

As a "Your New Kitten" book quite wisely said, "cats are stealth predators, and may remain completely immobile for some time until they suddenly pounce. Even if you put a bell on your cat, its jingle is likely to be the last thing Birdie ever hears."

In addition to not eating my snails, some mean poop-factory completely buried one of my young tomato plants in the process of burying a turd yesterday. Dead plant. Mean cat. I've jerry-rigged cages out of dry forsythia branches and string around the most vulnerable ones now, but that'll probably just keep the cats from eating the snails off them.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened here yesterday- our mama cat grabbed and was eating a baby bird that got blown out if its nest- lots of wind yesterday. She was fixed a month ago and so I was sort of hoping, its her first year without a litter to nurse, was hoping she was just licking/cleaning the baby bird as part of her former "mothering" tendencies...but I was WRONG in a big way. Getting the cats fixed has dramatically cut down on them going after every single thing, however. Really glad they have stopped trying to catch cars on the road outside our house....

Annalisa

Christine said...

So sorry Lisa, it's a sad predicament. I guess the only thing you could do is try to discourage the birds from nesting in your garden (which not only prevents you from enjoying their company, but also just puts the burden on a neighbor instead, since I'm sure the cats aren't exclusive to your yard). At least they're fixed, so this is a temporary (5 years?), generational problem.

Stefaneener said...

Oh, Lisa, I'm so sorry for your situation. You didn't make the feral cats, either, so you can be angry at some other folks, too, if that helps.

Sheila said...

I'm sorry. I know how much of a pull it is between loving cats and their instincts as far as birds go. Our old cat didn't have claws when she found us and doesn't have a killer instinct in the least. Sometimes it drives me crazy because I've always had cats to keep the rodents in line, but then I know that the birds would be threatened too. Such is life.

Jess said...

Sorry to hear about this. Don't feel guilty, it was far from your fault. I know it must have been sad to see, though.

Still, if tender-heartedness is a pathology, then I hope it becomes an epidemic.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Oh, man! I'm sorry those cats are so aggressive. I like the bell idea. It could save a bird or two.

I'm thinking our city was thinking about having an ordinance where people were not allowed to let their cats roam the neighborhoods. That wouldn't work in the country, though.

Karen Anne said...

Collars on outdoor cats are a difficult thing - it is easy for the collar to get caught on a branch, and the cat to be trapped or strangle, or for the cat to get in other difficulty as Cardigan did.

I would have your cats microchipped, though, in case one is injured or for some other reason taken to a shelter, the shelter or vet will scan the chip and know who the cat belongs too. Although not all vets have scanners.

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