Friday, July 12, 2013

Protecting the Birds

I didn’t realize this, though in retrospect I should have, but in early spring, the baby birds begin to mature, and that’s when they’re the most vulnerable to predators, particularly trained killers like our cats. I completely understand why bird lovers hate cats, they are just way too efficient at killing birds, like a kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, when they kill the spring nesting birds, it destroys entire generations, especially when they’re so helpless.

Apparently, after they hatch, they develop to a stage where they are almost ready to be on their own, but not quite. For whatever reason, they leave the safety of their nest and strike out on their own, sort of. The parents still feed them, but they can barely fly, and end up hopping around on the ground, where they are sitting ducks to predators. Not such a great evolutionary adaptation, if you ask me.

The other day the cats got to a nest, and there were two babies hopping around the grass while the parents were frantically trying to save them. I snatched the babies up and tried to keep them safe, but they understandably were terrified of me, as well, and consequently kept running away. Meanwhile, our cats were sitting in the grass, just waiting to pounce and destroy. R came out and the kids pitched in, and we managed to get the cats inside the house. We then searched for the nest, to no avail. They would have jumped out, anyway, so we put them in a big box, and then left the box in a tree. One of the babies jumped out and ran away, but one stayed put, and perched himself on the edge of the box, as if he were ready to take off. As I mentioned, they were on the verge of being able to fly. Mom and dad were nearby, wary of us, but keeping track of their chick.

A few hours later, I checked on the box, and everyone was gone, including the parents, which I took to mean that they’d moved on with their lives. I sure hope so, because with cats like ours, they have no chance. In the meantime, we’re keeping our cats inside until the critical period is over and the birds can at least have a chance at survival. They aren’t happy, and are going a little crazy, but such is life. Our friend, W, does the same with her cats, and she’s a native who knows all about life in the wilds of New England, so we’re on the right track.

Then we learned that the birds nest twice in the summer, so we may have to do this all over again. Boy, life in the country sure ain’t easy.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mary for the pic.

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