Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Hate Cats

Well, just one cat, really. He belongs to my neighbor. I met him last week, on my big kid's birthday, just as I was frosting cupcakes. I heard a big scuffle out on the porch, where our mailbox is, inside of which was a nest full of baby birds. For the past three years, the birds (at least I assume they're the same birds) have built a nest in our box.

The first year, we put up a big sign on the mailbox, warning folks that there was a nest inside. We also put a big box on the porch so the mail carrier could use it instead of our mailbox for awhile. All of this was very exciting, as well as educational, for my big kid. The problem that first year was that the sign on the mailbox was too exciting. People would read the sign and the next thing we knew, they'd feel compelled to look inside the box. A few people almost got whapped in the face by the startled bird as she flew out. But after the babies came, the peeking in was too much for the mama. She abandoned her babies and they all died. That was not exciting, yet it was educational for Big Kid, when we had to bury the nest and babies.

The second year was our most successful yet. The second sign said "STOP!" at the top, followed by some warning language. This sign was more effective than the first, as was my story of woe about what happened the previous year. The babies hatched and we got to enjoy their little chirps and watch the big birds care for them until they learned to fly. One day, imperceptibly, one of the babies flew into our house! He/she was so tiny I probably would never have noticed, only I heard the "cheep! cheep!" and it was louder than normal, so I followed it until I discovered it was coming from under a desk in the living room. Big Kid and I carefully opened the door, and away the bird went.

This year, at the first sign of construction, we put up the sign and put out the box. Over the next month, the birds came and went. For awhile I wouldn't see or hear them, and I wondered if this was one of several potential nests--like a construction contractor who takes on a new job and then doesn't come back for several weeks because he has other projects to work on. But lo! The other day we heard the "cheep! cheep!" in the box, and we saw the big birds coming and going.

So anyway, on Big Kid's birthday, I heard a ton of noise out there, and it took awhile to register because I was so distracted with the festivities. When I finally went out to look, I saw a scrawny orange cat, wearing a collar, who was involved in an altercation with the birds. Two big birds flew around screaming at him. A squirrel on a nearby tree joined in the hollering. As I looked out my front window, the cat darted back toward the house, picked up a bird in his mouth, and skulked away. I ran for the broom, thinking I could scare the cat and free the bird, but I was too slow.

So then I put a post on my street's listserv, asking if any of the neighbors owned the cat and could possibly do something to help keep him away from the babies. A day or so later, after a couple of other sympathetic responses, the cat's owner posted. He gave me a condescending lecture about how cat kill birds, but that he didn't blame the cat. He told me that I should not let birds set up a nest in my mailbox, for the sake of both the birds and the mailman. (He didn't even say "mail carrier," he said "mailman," despite the fact that sometimes the "mailman" is a woman." grrrrr...).

I wanted to write back so many things to my neighbor, but I didn't. I thought of everyone else on the list who just didn't need to be involved in my ire. Instead, I said, "I will give that some thought." This is my standard response when someone is saying something to me which a) I think is completely retarded, b) I intend to ignore, and/or c) I would be wasting my breath to give an honest answer to.

So now the birds are gone. My friend Cynthia thinks the big birds came and moved the babies away, and my husband thinks they learned to fly well enough to get to safety. In any case, I have Empty Nest Syndrome. Happy Trails, birdies!


reen said...

Boo to condescending sexists.

Poor birds! We had a baby bluejay on our lawn last year, who had probably tried to fly too soon and failed. We made a makeshift nest under a shelter, and watched over the course of the day and were excited when he settled into it. The parent bluejays came down from the tree nest frequently over the next two days to feed the baby. Really cool for the girls to watch this so closely. Then, the baby was suddenly gone...our hope is that he finally got those wings to work properly!

pat said...

Wow, that's quite a story. Sort of like the Discovery Channel meets the Sopranos. I stick up for cats all the time, but in this case, erm, well...Have you thought about putting Super Glue in your neighbors' front door lock? I find that petty sabotage usually makes me feel much better.