Friday, June 06, 2008


Still bleary and slow with sleep, I had already served breakfast to our resident furry psychopath (FP) when I noticed the scatter of black feathers on the lawn - nearly a third of the grass being covered in down and flight feathers. The corpse of the victim, a female blackbird, lay upright, black eyes still bright and unclouded - a bit fresher than the maggot-ridden male blackbird that I had buried the previous evening.

On closer inspection, this little bird was still breathing, her sides heaving, but too exhausted to move - probably the only thing that kept her alive, since the FP will chase and rip at anything that moves (flies, dogs, laser beams). Her rump had been plucked almost completely bare, but she seemed otherwise intact. I scooped her up in a single (gloved) hand: she was very light, tiny beneath the bulk of her feathers, and trembling with fear. Could she could still fly, with only a single tail feather - or would it be kinder to give her a quick death? I couldn't bear to kill the terrified creature - especially since, having buried a male of the same species the previous night, I might be orphaning a nest-full of unfledged chicks, and even a small chance is better than none.

So I slipped her into the handiest container (a cat box!), then released her to the (relative) safety of An Undisclosed Location. The little bird hopped into the best available ground cover, then cowered and froze. Back in the garden, the FP had left his breakfast bowl and was scouring every nook and cranny for his reluctant playmate - but I told him nothing.

In the evening, she was gone, leaving no more feathers behind; and no fresh carcass appeared in the garden. I think perhaps she did survive - so will be keeping watch for a blackbird with a bald rump and a single tail feather. The moral dilemmas of the cat owner...

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