Notes from Northeast: Pru’s First Bird

Each week, farm educator Suko, a Dutchess County gal formerly of Brooklyn, brings you tales of rural life. This week: country cats and pest control.

Last summer, I adopted 2 kittens, Prudence & Sadie. (Dear Prudence and Sexy Sadie – they’re White Album cats).

My main motivation was mice control for the winter. Mice have plagued me since that first summer in 2006. I planned to use the humane mice traps, but after reading you had to check the traps every 2 hours so the mice don’t die of dehydration and then drive them five miles away so they can’t find their way back home, I resorted to snap-traps, and electronic sonic deterrents.

I never caught one in the snap-traps and watched a mouse walk right by me and the $40 electric deterrent. I admit I even turned to glue-traps, less toxic, but more cruel than poison.

Then last August, my sister-in-law showed me pictures of seven kittens needing homes. On Valentine’s Day, I awoke to a dead mouse left outside my bedroom door.

Since then I have watched them scuffle with mice, debating on whether or not I should intervene to save the mouse’s life, dropped one of the cats right next to a mouse in the basement to get it, and chucked a few dead mice into the backyard.

I’ve been dreading the day they bring me a bird. Birds are a relatively recent appreciation of life upstate. I don’t recall ever paying much attention to them growing up in the suburbs or living in brooklyn. I was amazed by the first male Red Wing Blackbird I saw, and still feel joy when they return every spring to nest near the blackberries.

I now keep binoculars and an Audubon guide near the kitchen window and after seeing Douglas Tallamy speak, I hope to eventually re-create a native landscape just to attract native insects and birds.

Last week, Prudence got her first bird. There was evidence of a struggle, and as usual she brought her victim to the bathroom.

I hate to admit, I’m a little bit proud of her.

Category: Nature, Notes from Northeast, Top Stories, upstate new york

By: Suko | 11 April 2012 02:04 PM | 4 Comments

4 Responses

  1. kriserts says:

    Pride is a strange emotion if you consider that there may now be a nest of babies, starving to death because Mom’s not coming back to feed them. I have cats myself, but there’s strong evidence that they wreck havoc on the native bird population. A bell around Pru’s neck when she’s let outside might be a good compromise.

  2. rh says:

    Agree with Kriserts. We really shouldn’t let our domestic animals interfere with nature. Nothing to be proud of.

  3. Suko says:

    Thank you for the recommendation of a bell.
    They had bells on their collars, and I didn’t equate the loss of bells to the recent bird casualties.

    Perhaps pride is the “wrong” emotion to feel, and to say the cats are proud of their hunt may be projecting human emotions to their instincts. I’m interested in relationships and systems including those between life and death, and why these domesticated animals bring me their conquests.

    In regards to interfering with nature, I live amid thousands of acres of non-native species cultivated on deforested land. I’m sitting at this computer that some where far from my sight was mined from the earth, and probably produced with abhorrent labor conditions. Interference (like death) is part of life, and for the most part I try to be considerate, aware, and respectful of my place within a larger system.

    I’ll get a bell for Sadie. In a very strange twist of fate, on this day that began with a robin at my bedroom door, and my first 2 farm-bred incubated chicks hatching, my beloved Dear Prudence was killed by a hawk.

  4. kandyharris says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Prudence. That really sucks.

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