Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Bird Watchers

I began feeding the birds in the very very cold winter of 2013, the same year I was trapping those 60 cats and kittens left behind by the crazy lady with the cold heart selling her house just outside Lebanon.

Our weather here turned deadly cold in November, for a couple of weeks.  There was a light snow, then the temperatures took a nosedive down below 10 degrees F.  And they stayed that way for ten days or longer.  I'd just built a garage cage room, in a couple of days, despite a severe sacro illiac joint injury incurred out carrying a trap with an extremely heavy cat in it, at that colony.  I slipped in wild turkey shit which coated the back yard area while off balance carrying that heavy cat in trap and that was it.  I couldn't even lift an empty trap, or walk, for four days.

The moment I could get up for a bit I built that cage to hold all the cats from the colony I'd not found homes for. Then the cold hit, and I used space heaters in the garage to keep them warm.  It broke me to pay that electric bill, as you can imagine.

But the birds outside were suffering in the deep freeze.   So I started feeding them.  And I never quit.  I fed them through the deep snow we then had February of that year, that also lasted.  An unheard of winter.   Followed last year by the warmest winter ever!  February was balmy!

Now I feed them partly for the cats enjoyment.  My cat yard is contained so they can't harm the birds.  I have cat runs along the top of the fence, so they can watch!

Last night I was out playing with the cats in the yard, near dark, when suddenly half dozen of them rushed up the carpeted 2x4 into the top of the 2nd maple.  The 2nd maple began to split a few years ago and was taken down to a height of 10 feet.  Now its regrowing, but I only let it grow so much.  The branches get 25 feet tall in the summer and on the old trunk, I nailed a wooden platform, so they could be up high, as they like, shrouded in the shade of maple leaves.  I also added a ladder and several shelves.  The bird, alighted in the branches above the cat wire, very safe, but their instinctual reaction to the flapping as the bird settled to roost (likely a dove), was instant.

I rushed to get my camera.  But when I came back out most of the excitement had passed.

Juno stares up into the Maple.  
Birdwatchers Juno and Mona Lisa, on lower right.  Mooki is watching me.




Mopsy watches, not that interested.

Smolder is a lazy birdwatcher.
Angel needs a haircut again.  She has a very fine undercoat and I have to shave her several times a year.  Oci needs it too, for a different reason.  She's too fat to groom herself.

I've got the Grays down now for sure, finally.  This is Hawkeye, long hair, a sweet girl, and the last cat trapped at the colony, hence the name. (from The Last of the Mohicans)

Di Vinci, with his buddy Arrow.  Di Vinci is the only male long hair gray, and lacks a white chest spot.  Bluebell and Gracie prefer life inside, and rarely go out to the cat yard.  They are the other two long hair grays from the Lebanon colony.  They both have white chest spots although Gracie's is very small and linear.

That's it for today.  I've got to get myself in gear.  Two cat haircuts are on the schedule and those are not easy on me.  I have a pair of $20 Walmart clippers. With the ferals, I hold them in a net, with a towel over the top of the cat outside the net, then ease the net up, reach under to use the clippers.  After a couple minutes, they settle into it ok.  I've always done it that way, in clipping the ferals with long hair that mats.   Most of the time it works out just fine.

 Angel is easy, Oci isn't.   Oci is feral and fat and will actually strike at me.   She's going to be caged for the winter, a big big walk in cage I will build in the living room and I'll rotate her buddies in and out.  It's so I can control her food intake and interact with her more.  She's too fat, and being feral, makes it tougher to control her eating.  I free feed here, I have to with so many.

9 comments :

  1. How long have you had Oci? Have you had her long enough that she knows food will be coming regularly? One the cats we had once was a stray and for about the first 6-8 months, she ate like she would never eat again, and she got really big. Finally she settled in and we could do free feeding with no problem. Do most of your cats, when you first get them, eat like there's no tomorrow?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, most of them do eat like there's no tomorrow when they come here, having never had enough food in their lives. Oci was one of those, but she's 8 years old now and has been here since she was one year old. she is food oriented. Kinda like me! She has close friends here, wants to play, but now even limps from her weight on joints. That's why the cage solution. It's all I can think of. It will be very large and she'll always have a friend or two in it. IN fact because it will be a novelty, they'll want in it at first. I haven't been able to build it yet because I need one piece of plywood and haven't found anyone willing to drive me over to Home Depot in their truck yet.

      Delete
  2. Some cats are definitely food oriented. Good luck with retraining Oci.
    We had a stray move in who ate and ate and ate at first. Right down to eating the newspaper under their plates if food had spilled on it. Which broke my heart.
    At the end of his days he had become a fussy cat, rejecting avocade which had brown spots... And no, avocado isn't part of their usual diet. The skinny one offered it to him, and he loved it, so got it as a treat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She's my only super fat cat. My friend says just let her be, that's the way it is, some are different, but I can't stand to see her that way and know her joints are giving her pain. So all I can do is try. I've not had cats that like avocado and I eat plenty of them. That's strange he was so picky, about the ones with black spots.

      Delete
  3. Well, I use my Sibley's and Peterson's field guides to identify birds... I got to thinking how a cat would think... hmmm... that's a Tender breasted Tidbit bird... and I believe that's a Yum Yum Morsel bird... but it has tough bones and takes a while to eat... and that Flit Away Flycatcher is too darned hard to catch.... but oh boy... a Fleshy finch, just waiting to be my dinner......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! I'm sure the Mourning Doves or is it Morning Doves are favorites of all predators. Nice and fat, and they can't get off the ground quickly. I know that's who the Coopers' Hawk comes to catch, those fat slow Mourning Doves.

      Delete
  4. I love the shots of the the cats looking at the birds, especially the one with the cat stretching vertically.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Delightful photos! I understand the difficulty of a fat cat, and mine is tame as can be! I also read your previous post and am glad you got to the lake. Those pictures are wonderful, too. You make me want to go hiking around our nearby lake since I don't have any kind of boat. Best wishes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't have a raft for years, and went up anyway, and just swam towing an old inner tube. Then I found the paddles boards, often under $3 at Goodwill, that have that line with velcro wrist strap and switched to swimming with those. Then I saw that raft and began lusting after it, so I saved for over a year and got it and I'm not one bit sorry!!! I love it!

      Delete