Red In…

Warning for the sensitive-at-stomach: this post includes images of Nature, red of tooth and claw. Well, one image and it’s more like beak and talon. But you get the picture.

We’ve discussed the sorts of birds that show up in the backyard before. And, as we’ve seen, we do get the occasional visitor who doesn’t fall into the core categories of “Jays, Doves, and Little Twitter Birds”.

For instance, there’s this one, who’s often seen above and around the neighborhood.
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We’ve never seen her* at the feeder; but she does sometimes get her dinner from the yard. Hang on, let me adjust the colors and zoom in a bit.
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She’s much better about ridding the yard of gophers than MM and Tuxie. The meezer prefers Little Twitter Birds, and her sidekick is more interested in krunchiez.

* As usual, I’m guessing about gender identity and pronoun preference.

But the other day we got some impressive first-time visitors to the feeder.

There were actually two of them. Quite handsome and surprisingly well-behaved. Perhaps they figured if they were impolite, I’d pick up the seeds?
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Even though they hung around for almost an hour, Sachiko was the only member of the security squad to notice them. She alternated between banging on the window, demanding to be allowed to attack, and–when they looked up at her–fleeing in terror.

Frankly, I think the latter reaction is by far the more sensible. They only outweigh her about four to one, and those beaks and talons are much longer than her teeth and claws.

Adaptation

As I’ve mentioned, it has been cooling off around here lately. Not to the ridiculous extremes everywhere else in the country, but enough to be noticeable.

Tuxie and MM have been evaluating different approaches to maximizing sunlight acquisition and retention.

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Sharing body heat, in other words. MM has decided that Tuxie makes a darn good hot water bottle.

Though some positions work better than others.

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We’re pretty sure she wound up with a stiff neck after trying to sleep this way.

But it’s nice to see how nature adapts to changing conditions.

Back On the Fence

Perhaps you remember that we had to replace our backyard fence last spring. If your memory of my meanderings goes back far enough, you might even remember that MM was very fond of the old fence.

It took a long time for her to warm up to the new one.

Oh, she spent plenty of time supervising its construction, and she certainly appreciates the fact that there’s more space between fence and ground at the back of the yard, so she can get in and out without mussing her fur.

But as a platform to display her inarguable superiority? That took longer.

The wait, however, is over.
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Honestly, that doesn’t look like a comfortable perch. There is an MM-sized flat surface there–a vertical 4×4–but I’d have thought the cold metal of the hinge would be more of a deterrent.

Perhaps she figures total air superiority over Tuxie, the deer, the possums, and the trash pandas is worth a little discomfort.

Those Guys Again

All is not sweetness and light around the Backyard Bowl.

We put the food out for the cats, and we don’t particularly begrudge the occasional possum who drops by. They’re generally polite and usually only take a couple of mouthfulls of krunchiez.

Then there are the trash pandas.

They are not polite. They track mud in the water bowl. They empty the bowls and then shove them around looking for more food. And they’re arrogant. The stroll around and give us dirty looks as though they’re the property owners and we’re a bunch of ragged squatters. And the language they use! Well!

So it’s a great day when we catch them off guard and force them to tree themselves.

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There was much rejoicing that day.

Inspiration

A week or so ago, we had the rainstorm that traditionally marks the boundary between Summer and Indian Summer.

To nobody’s particular surprise, Tuxie took cover in Cape Odd that night. He’s slept there several nights since, even though it hasn’t rained again (yet). And he’s spending large chunks of the day sleeping on top of the shelter as well.

And when Tuxie sleeps, he sleeps.
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Sachiko finds him inspirational.
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That’s not her “Touch me again and I’ll rip off your hand” face (that one shows more teeth). It’s not her “I haven’t eaten anything in at least ten minutes. Feed me!” face (that one shows more teeth). It’s not even “Hey, I want some attention!” (that one shows more teeth).

Are you detecting a pattern here?

That’s an actual yawn. Two minutes after I took the picture, she was curled up on the rug, sound asleep.

Sidewalk Supervisor

We’re well into an ongoing project to clean out the garage because, well, reasons. It’s going well, and we’re finding some amazing stuff. Things we’d totally forgotten we owned or have been saying “where the heck did we put…” about.

To give us room to work, we’ve been moving the car out and leaving the door open. Which means we get some curious looks from the neighbors.

And an occasional supervisor.
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Tuxie seems very interested in the process, no matter how often we point out that the garage is not and will not be his turf.

He’s not impressed with that argument.
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His attitude seems to be “If I can see it, I ownz it.”

We’re bribing him with extra krunchiez to leave–we don’t want him settling down in a box and getting trapped, after all–and so far it’s working.

So far.

A Leg and a Piece of Tail

Continuing our irregular series of posts featuring feline body parts left behind…

Watanuki is still the leader in this category, but Tuxie can do a rather respectable job of it, too. The other day I spotted him just outside the fence. Well, except for his tail and one leg.
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I was fairly sure something had distracted him as he was leaving. It took a couple of minutes, but eventually the distraction got far enough from the fence for me to see it.
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One lonely turkey. Which is fairly unusual, actually. When not going about as a flock, they most often travel in pairs or pairs of pairs*.

* I’d say “quartets,” but the Turkey Trot doesn’t lend itself to arrangements for four.

I’ll admit I still don’t understand the relationships among our various neighbors. I’d have expected wary detente or restrained hunger between feline and foul, but both of them seemed no more than casually alert. I’ve seen MM and Tuxie show more hunger at the sight of deer, which they would have even less chance of bringing down. On the other hand, the deer seem more afraid of the turkeys than they do of humans.

Politics make strange bedfellows, indeed. And when the politics are inter-species, there’s no telling who’s going to wind up in your bed. ¬†Or which body parts the negotiations will cost you.

Fencing

No, no, the other kind of fencing.

Remember last month when I joked about our backyard fence falling apart? Yeah, maybe not so much a joking matter.
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As I implied, the fence was rotted out beyond repair, so the whole thing had to come down.
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Living with craters and loose poles was interesting. Even the neighbors thought so.
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Actually, Tuxie and MM were real troupers through the whole process, and kept a close watch on the deconstruction and subsequent construction.
04-3If only the Bay Bridge had had such dedicated QA engineers! They came by every evening to make sure the job was being done to spec.

Nor were they the only ones to drop by.
04-4We lost a few plums to that guy. Though, in fairness, I should say that we only saw him eating groundfall.
04-5Naturally, the local gang came by as well. “Nice fence you’re building there. Be a shame if anything happened to it, y’know?”
04-6MM and Tuxie weren’t impressed, and extended their supervisory warrant to include security. And no, the changes didn’t affect their appetites.

So now we’ve got a lovely, new fence.
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Even Tuxie approves.
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Another Guest

Sometimes when one lives in a tourist destination, it seems like the house guests never end. As soon as Tuxie left, we had a new visitor.

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Unlike Tuxie, this one was not invited.

And no, this is not the spider who spins those lovely webs near the front door. She’s still outside where she belongs.

She’s also gotten much less camera shy in the past few months.

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Our unwanted guest was hanging around near the kettle. I somehow doubt she wanted to boil her dinner, but stranger things have happened around here.

In any case, and much to my relief, Maggie delivered our guest an invitation to the world–before she had the chance to explore the bedroom!

Quota

One of the main reasons why the ASPCA and other animal welfare groups recommend Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) over euthanasia in reducing feral feline populations is that feral colonies are rarely isolated.

As with any wild animals, population will increase to roughly that of the environment’s carrying capacity. Removing cats from the colony, rather than fixing and returning them, simply lowers the population to the point where the local habitat has a surplus of resources. And then cats from surrounding areas will typically move in, and the population will rise back to the local maximum.

Since we’ve adopted Rufus, we’ve begun to see this phenomenon playing out.

Meet Bunter.
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Maggie named him, not for his prowess in wielding a bat, but for the character in Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey stories. As Wikipedia puts it, “Bunter conveys an air of awesome solemn dignity lightened at rare intervals by an icy sarcasm and an understated but biting criticism.” That sounds about right.

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Our Bunter has been showing up intermittently for a couple of months–and the expression he* turns on us when we interrupt him at the food bowl is the most eloquent icy sarcasm laced with biting criticism I’ve ever seen.

* As usual, in the absence of evidence, I’ve assigned pronouns via coin flip.

MM, of course, has been keeping a close eye on Bunter.
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As queen of the local chaos of cats, it’s her responsibility to pass judgment on the suitability of any would-be immigrants. She’s also drawing on the talents of Ooki Brothers Security in monitoring Bunter’s behavior.
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They naturally take a special interest in tuxedo-clad cats.

Nor is Bunter the only feline who’s been dropping by.

During the February rains, we spotted a new arrival.
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He slipped into the yard when MM and Tuxie weren’t around and checked the food bowls for goodies. After a couple of days, he vanished, and we decided he must have found fault with the environment and moved on.

Until a couple of days ago, when it started raining heavily. Sure enough, as soon as it got wet out, there he was.
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He hasn’t been around long enough to acquire a name. For the moment, we’re using our usual fallback of naming based on appearance. So he’s known as “Somewhat Bedraggled Meezer.” If he sticks around, we’ll need to replace that–or at least shorten it.

MM is on the job, keeping an eye on SBM, though as yet she hasn’t called in the Ooki brothers or their assistant.
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It’s too soon to say whether either of our visitors will become regulars–though we do have another bowl ready for deployment if it’s needed–but the queen seems to have given tentative approval to both of them. Or, to be more precise, we haven’t heard any debates in the yard, nor have we seen any pointy politics.