Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Cat and the Mockingbirds

Several years ago I was pulling into my assigned parking space in front of my apartment when I noticed my neighbor's housecat crouched on the lawn in front of the apartment building. He was studying a mockingbird that was sitting high up on the roof ridge of the adjoining building on the left. It was clear to me that the bird was taunting the cat, calling to him in squawks and screeches that only a mockingbird can produce. The cat lay perfectly still, watching the bird from the corners of its eyes, pretending not to notice.

After a few minutes the bird grew silent and right away another mockingbird joined in the heckling from a roof on the building to the right. The cat remained still but slowly cast its eyes in the direction of the second bird.

I decided that the cat's ego was taking a bad bruising but since the birds were high up and far away that they were in no danger, so I went inside.

The next day when I got home from work I found the same scenario. The birds were again on the rooftops and the cat was back in the yard enduring the harassment. This drama continued for several days.

After about a week I noticed that the birds had become more daring. They would first heckle the cat with their raucous calls, then swoop down just over his head like a dive bomber, taking turns on him, then return to the roofs.

One day as I pulled up I saw the cat eyeing the mockingbirds which were on the ground on either side of him about thirty feet away, both still heckling. The cat remained still and took it all in. It began to seem possible that if the birds got too adventurous one of them might get killed, scaring off the second one for good, teaching him a good lesson in manners.

The next morning when I went out to my car, on the ground I found TWO separate piles of mockingbird feathers.

-- Dalton Hammond

Another Mean Bird Story

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