I love birds. All of them. I love seeing them, hearing them, watching their behavior. Feeding them, trying to identify them by their color or their call. And, I like trying to photograph them. I don’t yet have the camera equipment or technique to do justice to the subject, but I try…repeatedly. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the thousands of bird photos I have taken over the years. Well, maybe just a few: As a four-year-old at nap time, I would lie on my bed…not napping…but watching a bird…a robin?…inside the shrubs outside my window. Being the early 1960’s, the window was open, and I could hear her, softly tweeting, as if talking to herself. She was so busy…and, interesting! Very near that time, I was given a baby chick. One baby chick. Probably for Easter, although it wasn’t dyed green or pink. A precious, soft yellow chick. I loved it with all my heart. Unfortunately, the dog next door felt the same about it, ending the tiny life with one chomp. I remember sobbing…sobbing. That first brush with death is so cruel. Sometime during the middle school years, we were assigned a bird report, and I focused on the scarlet tanager. I had never seen a scarlet tanager, but the pictures of it showed a beautiful creature of such vibrant color…so unlike our Texas mockingbird. And, the name was fascinating! Scarlet tanager. It sounded like someone I’d like to be. What a wonderful stage name: Scarlet Tanager. Fortunately, back in my innocence, I did not realize Scarlet Tanager sounded like a great name for a stripper. As much as I adore birds, I also adore cats. Always have, always will. The softness, the purring, the distinct personalities, even the aloofness. It’s an affliction I developed at an early age.See? I loved them so much, I wanted to be one. Cats are a part of my life, for better or worse…and thus, my dilemma: Does feeding the birds create too much opportunity for cats with bird-killing instincts? I find bird feathers of all colors in my yard. Red cardinals, soft gray wrens, and pale yellow finches. To the cats, it’s a veritable smorgasbord out there. How can I, in good conscience, lure birds to my yard, knowing the cats are lying in wait? It smacks of exotic game breeders providing captive game hunts for pampered hunters. Perhaps I am taking this carnage too personally. Maybe what I am witnessing is, actually, natural selection. By eliminating the ground feeders, the ones most at risk, we will be left with only the most sturdy and beautiful birds. This could be Nature’s way of solving the grackle and pigeon problem. So, what’s a bird lover / cat fancier to do?
Do I feed a bird, and thus, feed a cat?
Do I starve a cat, but save a bird?
Can I find balance in the circle of life?
And, most importantly:
Can I train the cats to refill the bird feeders?