Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Misty meets his match

It's beem exciting to be spectators to a life and death struggle going on just across the street from us, between land and air power, fought out with bitter deliberation.

It all started a couple of weeks ago. Danielle called me to witness a strange sight. On the roof of one of the garages behind our garden was Misty, our cat, flat on his belly between two crows. He was in his habitual hunting stance, crouched, ready to pounce, birds after all being no more to him than conveniently air-delivered parcels of meat.

Not these two. In turn, each would move in closer to Misty, tempting him, provoking him to attack; if he moved, off the bird would fly, and the partner would immediately take over, distracting his attention, teasing and provoking him too.

The message seemed clear. ‘You want to catch those fat lazy pigeons? Go right ahead. They’re easy game. You want to catch us? You’d better learn some new tricks. You’re nothing like quick enough or cunning enough.’

Why were they behaving that way? It seemed extraordinary to court such danger.

We found out the answer at the weekend when we were woken at 5:00 in the morning by a pandemonium of cawing from across the road. One of the crows’ fledglings was on the ground. It was out of its nest far too soon and couldn’t begin to fly. Easy prey for a powerful cat undeterred by any sense of compassion.

That’s Misty through and through. He’s one of the biggest cats I know, in his prime, quick and strong. Neighbours of ours have complained to us that he’s an exceptionally vicious cat and that we ought to do something about him. I’m not sure what I could actually do – I’ve tried reasoning – ‘help yourself to the pigeons, carriers of disease as they are and more than plentiful enough, but please draw the line at blackbirds’ – but does he listen? I might as well be talking to myself.
Ruthless predator
Inevitably, in that fateful dawn, he’d caught the crow fledgling and caused all the commotion.

Danielle rushed out to try to save the bird, but she needn’t have bothered. The wildly cawing parents had set about Misty with resolution and single-mindedness that fully matched his. Pecking and clawing at him, they quickly showed him the error of his ways.

So clearly in their garage roof dance they had been giving him a warning and a chance. ‘Fancy our young, do you?’ they had been saying. ‘Think again, sonny, think again. You may be biting off more than you can chew.’

It didn’t take Danielle’s intervention to get him drop the young bird, the parents had seen to that. The fledgling was apparently unhurt, though presumably shaken by his brush with death. And Misty’s lesson seems, at least for now, to have sunk in.

A morsel not on his menu today
The next morning there was cawing from across the road again, but in a much more restrained way. When I got downstairs, Misty was outside the door, keen to get inside. The crows had seen him and their cawing was just a further warning, to remind him of his lesson.

He was beating a hasty retreat, thoroughly cowed. Or perhaps thoroughly cawed.

1 comment:

Awoogamuffin said...

I think it's hilarious that your neighbours complain about Misty's effectiveness!

In any case, I look forward to hearing how the war progressess...