There are those who believe that nature is benignly beautiful. If one is merely looking at it from a window, it appears that way. But there are days when one simply cannot ignore the brutality that lies just under the surface. Yesterday was one of those days.
Before the sun even rose fully, I was awakened by a frantic piping. I recognized it as the "Danger! Watch out! Fly now!" cry of some frightened bird parent. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and looked out the kitchen window. Hopping along the crossbar of my clothesline was a beautiful brown thrush, its spotted breast glinting gold in the growing light. It flew suddenly to the patio fence, joining its mate who was making sorties over the head of the neighbor's cat lying in the grass. There in the cat's paws was a baby thrush. I grabbed the broom and made a beeline for the cat. Startled, it leapt up and I thrust the broom between it and the gasping baby bird.
Hearing the commotion, my neighbor B came out, scooped up his cat, deposited it on the porch, and in a matter of seconds had the baby bird in his cupped palms. The parents flew madly from one end of the yard to the other, screeching and scolding. B Carried the little bird to a tree at the edge of the woods and settled it on a branch. The parents flew into the same tree, keeping up their shrill warnings. As B and I stepped away, they grew silent.
We kept our respective cats indoors for most of the day despite their protests. No more sounds came from the tree, either encouraging or frightened, so B and I assumed the birds had made their way deeper into the woods and safety. That is not the way a cat's mind works. The moment B's cat was released it headed with unerring certainty to the woods and came back minutes later with the baby in its mouth. This time there would be no rescue. The small head lolled, the wings were still. The parents were silent.
Last night at dusk there was no evening song from the thrushes. The part of the woods from which they usually sang was silent, an empty space amid other bird voices calling good-bye to the day. I was made to understand once again that the hunt and the kill are as much a part of nature as the beauty and the song. If one keeps cats (and what farm doesn't?), one has to accept the cat-catches-bird relationship as readily as the cat-eats-mice relationship. The reminder did nothing to keep my heart from aching.
|Photo from naturesound.com|