Flumes Volume 2: Issue 1, Summer 2017 - Page 96

The Cohabitation of Cats and Birds

by Crystal Trigueros

I woke up to an obnoxious squawking. I tried to cover my head with a pillow, but it didn’t work. Sighing, I got out of bed to let the dog out. My cat Tony, in his daily routine, was standing at the back door waiting to be let in. As I opened the sliding door to do the exchange,the squawking was strikingly louder. That’s when I saw the Western Scrub Jay standing on the patio table, seemingly yelling at Tony about four feet away from him. The bird was a vibrant blue with a patch of smoky grey on the back of its neck and a white belly—its eyes full of an awareness I didn’t think was possible for a bird. For a couple of months, it had been cohabiting the backyard and the grazing land for cattle our house backs up to. The bird flew away as the dog ran out. The scrub jay and Tony have been feuding since the bird moved in so I hadn’t thought much of the interaction besides it being a little odd the bird was so close. It usually does its squawking disapproval of Tony’s presence from the fence.

Tony loves exploring, but mostly stays in the immediate vicinity. He is also very territorial, attacking other cats that come into his area, killing rodents that cross his path. The scrub jay nested in a tree that lies on the other side of the fence. Both creatures were living within the same territory, Tony most likely calculating how to get rid of the bird and the bird most likely thought the same of the cat.

Soon after shutting the back door, my two-year-old daughter was awake and went outside to get a toy she left out the previous day. She comes running in saying, “Uh oh, uh oh, look, look. Outside!” I figured there’s probably another dead field mouse on the grass as Tony had been leaving little gifts for us. It was mid-spring in California and the mice and rats were ripe for the picking. Tony had been exercising his hunting skills amidst the frenzy. My daughter grabbed my hand and pulled me outside, pointing under one of the patio chairs. Expecting to see a mouse, I was surprised to see a bird. And not just any bird, but a bird that looked exactly like the one who had been yelling at Tony all morning.

Throughout the day, the squawking continued—the bird seemingly mourning the death of its mate. Tony continued his indifferent manner, ignoring the scrub jay as it screeched at him on numerous occasions. The bird

numerous occasions. The bird was brave; dive-bombing Tony, yelling at him from the fence only

a couple of feet away, even going as far as to protest at him from the corner of the shed that Tony

was sunbathing on top of for most of the day. The feud between these two was so very

interesting to watch; Tony prodding at this poor bird with just his presence, the bird protecting its

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