See the cat?
There she is. And this kitty is a big problem.
For the last forty years there has been a long haired apricot cat predating the bird population in the neighborhood. Now I realize it can't possibly be the same cat but it is very weird.
Thirty some years ago my mother told me that a cat which looked exactly like this one belonged to someone in the neighborhood-name unknown. And a replica of that cat has been around ever since. This cat, we'll call her, Apricot, is also not spayed as I've seen her cavorting for the attention of the local feral tom.
The problem? She's a murderously good bird hunter. And to add insult to injury, she doesn't even eat what she kills. I've found as many as four dead birds in the yard a day after I've "guided" her out of the yard. And that is only in my yard. What about all the other yards within her "territory"?
A Note from John Blakeman concerning the newest research on this issue-
Stanley Temple (formerly from here in Ohio), at UW-Madison, and others, are quoted here:
showing the profound effects of cats on bird populations.
I'll try to keep Pooser inside most of the time.
[Pooser is John's cat who from report can't catch a fish in a barrel. DB]
By the way, for those who might be wondering Pyewacket and Squirrel never go outside and never even ask.
And for me, beyond the fact that I'm an inveterate saver of stray animals, my adoption of the neighborhood's stray cats saves hundreds of wild birds every year.
Next up, a comment pertaining to the latest post below this one, concerning the visit of John Blakeman's previous falconry bird, Zephyr on Valentine's day- posted by Sally of Kentucky.
"I have to say I was a little concerned that Zephyr was still that habituated? Isn't that dangerous to her in the wild? Is she only this "friendly" around JB, or would she perhaps go to other people, or at least not be afraid of them? How will she know to avoid humans in the wild?"
I've sent Sally's comment off to John Blakeman for his thoughts but in the meantime here are mine.
From my experience with Pale Male and the other NYC human habituated Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks are perfectly able to differentiate one human from another and they makes choices based on that information.
For instance, if Pale Male knows everyone on the Bench he's been known to drop down and grab a pigeon amongst the watchers. In fact one day, Pale Male came in for a nab and had to make a very sharp skyward turn to avoid running smack dab into hawkwatcher Stella Hamilton's chest. She'd just made a last minute change of direction and walked right into his path. The two truly only narrowly missed colliding.
On the other hand on different day, Pale Male was eating a pigeon in a tree near the cafe on the other side of the Model Boat Pond. He accidentally dropped a good portion of his catch to the ground. He looked down, and raised a little as if he might fly down to get it, but then I saw him scan the group gathered below watching him. They weren't people he was familiar with. He then settled back on the branch, continued to eat the remaining portion and did not fly down to retrieve the dropped piece. That is, not until he'd flown off, the group dispersed, and then he flew back, neatly nipped the dropped food off the ground and flew away with it.
Human habituated hawks certainly are not as paranoid of humans as their non-habituated cousins who flee if anyone stops within a half mile, but they are still only slightly tamer individuals and with their acute visual memory they can certainly remember who they know and who they don't.
Also remember that John cued Zephyr to the glove by his whistle-a learned response.