Flumes Volume 2: Issue 1, Summer 2017 - Page 97

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 territory without fear of its natural enemy.

The incessant screeching lasted two days, then it was eerily quiet for a couple days, then the bird reappeared again. Perhaps the scrub jay took some time to mourn during his absence. Western Scrub Jays have keen memories. “But their capable memories extend beyond just remembering where they hid an acorn: they also remember crime scenes and where their nighttime enemies might be hidden” (Schmitt). According to Schmitt, they will “shriek and fuss "until nightfall when there is a known enemy nearby. This was much of my own experience. The scrub jay shrieked and fussed whenever Tony was near, and was oddly quiet when he was not. I never heard it chirping happily. Possibly it was too distraught as it had a constant enemy nearby—an enemy that had murdered its mate. After becoming a widow, the bird continued to

ferociously protect his home, squawking at Tony whenever he was near the tree. But as long as Tony stayed away, the bird was silent.

I was filled with a sense of guilt during the scrub jay’s mourning period. Tony is, of course, our cat and we are the ones that allow him to roam free. Once a cat has had a taste of the outdoors, it is almost impossible to contain them, and anyone who has owned a cat and allowed them to go outside I’m sure can relate. One evening, when our daughter was tucked in bed for the night, my husband and I had a conversation about the scrub jay. He, too, concluded that Tony killed the bird’s mate based on its spike in aggression towards Tony. He believed the surviving bird mourned the death of its mate and Tony had no remorse as he is a predator and predators don’t have any feelings towards its prey; he kills without prejudice and he kills for fun.

Domestic and feral cats are responsible for over four million bird deaths a year. This is why it is always advised that cats should be kept as indoor pets. They wreak havoc on wild birds when they are left to roam free. My husband would tell a different perspective—that cats keep the rodent population in check and there seems to be good arguments for both sides. It is true that Tony has done his duty when it comes to ridding our yard of rat and mice infestations. We used to have a nest of rats living underneath our deck and