Feral cats roam free throughout the seasons on our circle. A few of them congregate on the ‘cat lady’s’ step because I think she gets them through the winter. One of the cats belongs to her, but he is definitely an outdoor cat. The other three come and go, but always sit, when she’s gone, on her smoking chair. The one that has managed through the most years is a tortoise shell long hair who often stalks my bird feeder and routinely catches and tortures mice. I watch, stunned, from the window. Yesterday, this very cat sat on the sidewalk directly across from my house…crouched and ready to bolt. Max, my dog, barked wildly from the living room window. I stepped outside to see what the commotion was all about. Looking carefully, I saw puffs of feather circling the cat’s mouth. It looked funny until I saw the fledgling robin on the yard below me.
Both mother and father were posturing anxiously in near proximity to the evidently scruffed up youngster. I shooed the cat away as it bolted and hid beneath one of the cars parked along the street. Bit by bit, I coaxed the young dude east along the street and up onto neighbour’s steps where he/she might be able to get some height on the next flight attempt. Prompted by its parents, it continued bob bob bobbing along, however exposed to the crows, the cats, the magpies and the great big world.
As I looked more closely at the young robin, I saw that it had been attacked on its chest and definitely on its tail feathers. I don’t know that it will at any point be able to fly, given this disastrous result. Once again, I contemplate the tough world of nature. I think about the challenges of adults, in this case, the hatching and feeding and raising up of young birds in precarious nests and then, teaching them to fly. In nature, there is so much fighting against birds, animals and plants. Sometimes I am amazed that species continue to populate this earth, where now, there are so many forces operating against them. Natural predators are one thing, but the forces that human beings exert upon species and the devastating development of natural environments is truly, staggering.
I managed, yesterday morning, to delay the violent ending of a young robin. The lesson, however, is that ‘out there’, it is the strong that survive. I guess it’s the same for us.