“Farley… drop it!”
That’s me, talking to my darling cat who stood on the stone bench outside with a wild rabbit clenched in his jaws. His tail switched back and forth. He looked at me out of narrowed predator’s eyes, but amazingly enough, he dropped the bunny.
I took a step forward to investigate, dreading a repeat of the last cat-induced bunny drama- wherein the tiny creature died in my hands from shock and a broken back.
But this bunny was bigger, more substantial. Surprising both the cat and I, he suddenly took off in a mad dash across the driveway and into the tangled thicket of thorny blackberry bushes across the way.
I feel relief. It is uncommon for a small mammal to walk (dash?) away from a run-in with a cat. A cat attacks just like a tiger attacks, latching its jaws to the thinnest part of the vertebral column and crushing down, to render its victim paralyzed. Farley was actually carrying the rabbit by the neck, so its ability to run away from the scene was something of a miracle. Lucky bunny.
My cat has been very active this summer, bringing moles and poor, unidentifiable feathered creatures to the doorstep. I wasn’t even aware we had wild rabbits in the woods nearby until he caught that first one.
Somehow I don’t think Farley was responsible for the live bird that ended up, inexplicably, in our living room a few weeks back. I don’t know quite how it got in, but I knew there was something in the house because the animals were all freaky. They would ram their faces behind the couch, sniffing and gurgling, then turn to me with piteous sounds of appeal to move the furniture. The scene was like one of those cartoons where everytime I looked away, there’d be a flurry of activity, but when I looked back again, there was nothing save Jordy and Farley giving their best interpretations of what dogs and cats do, respectively, when excited beyond endurance by a winged morsel that is beating them at hide and seek.
It was when I sat down to watch t.v. that the bird came out. She kind of exploded from behind the couch, and went in this mad flurry around the living room, careening off windows, bumping into doors, making the cat rush all over, and the dog actually bounce several feet off the ground like a pug/chihuahua version of an indian rubber ball.
The bird finally perched on a small, empty bread-basket on top of the refrigerator. I put Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum out in the garage (to which they most vehemently protested) and then I did a very Winnie the Pooh kind of thing. I laid my head in my hands and went “Think, think, think.”
How exactly does one catch a very small, high-strung, winged creature without killing it?
I don’t happen to own a butterfly net, alas.
I was still waiting for inspiration 20 minutes later, and decided to simply set out a bowl with some seeds and bread-crumbs so that it could at least have some food, when the bird took care of our problems for me.
She made another mad flight around the living room/kitchen, and flew head first right into the big picture window above the couch. She hit really hard, and then fell, down between the couch cushions.
I still had the bowl in my hand and I cautiously approached to see if the bird was okay.
It lay right where it had fallen, kind of wedged between the back of the couch and the cushion, and sort of upside down. I was afraid it had killed itself. It was obviously stunned.
Moving slow, slow, slow, I slipped the edge of the crumb filled bowl an inch or so under the bird then pulled the cushion forward so it slid into a resting position in the bowl.
It still didn’t move, but it was obviously alive. The body and feet were pointed up, and I could see the motion of its chest as it breathed rapidly.
When they are flying about, birds have a certain presence to them. They seem to take up some space; but lying there motionless in the bowl, it is impossible for me to convey the fragility of the creature I was gazing at. It was practically weightless, and the details, from the tendons in its wing to the extremely small beak and blinking eye seemed too small and delicate to really be parts of a red blooded creature.
I walked gently outside and stood, with the bowl in my hands, leaning over the edge of the deck. Almost as soon as we were outside, the bird got to its feet, and sat upright in the bowl. It just sat there for a couple minutes, doing nothing, and then suddenly took off, flying to a nearby tree.
This post is getting really long, its less a page now than a chapter, but there are two other local wildlife items I want to share.
One is rather tragic, and it’s to do with the black bear. Apparently, this is a very poor season for wild berries due to the wetness of the spring season. This may be part of the reason why there has suddenly been an influx of black bears in the cities of the central Oregon Coast. In Yachats and Florence they have had to shoot six bears in the last week. Biologists are astounded by these numbers of bears coming into human territory. I’m linking to the story in the Sunday Oregonian:
This might seem like a ‘Duh!’ thing to say, but please remember: Never, ever, feed or accidentally provide food for a wild bear. Making a bear unafraid of humans may or may not mean danger for human beings, but it will most certainly mean tragedy for the bear.
Finally, just a picture. This is a moth who came to rest on the window beside our front door today. In flight, it seemed like a fairly ordinary moth, but on close inspection, I often find moths are anything but ordinary. Unlike a spider which is ‘the other’ from close up or far away, there’s something faintly humanoid about the face of a moth. It’s two eyes take you in, and seem to evoke the wisdom of ancient forest dwellers. Its arms reach up to hold the glass, the feet point down. Only the markings on the thick, round body recall that this was once a slow plodding caterpillar.
So here’s our visitor, the white moth.