Bye bye blackbird…

The other morning I awoke to too much silence from a slight stealth snowfall and then suddenly a mad chorus of swallowed trills and flapping from a cloud of Red-Winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles honing in on the neighbor’s freshly topped-off birdseed.

I wouldn’t call myself a passionate birder – if given the choice, I’d rather hold a chicken than spy on some tiny flitty thing through distorted glass after hiking ten miles – which would put me in the bird-in-the-hand camp. Though I do make exceptions to trek to experience Tundra Swans, and I used to cater my commute to the streets where turkeys roamed in my old city.  But I keep an old pair of binoculars (a gift for my ninth birthday, I think) at my desk to check out the birds outside my window (and spy on delinquent teenagers doing illegal things in the parking lot).


(a real birder would have a decent zoom lens too…)

On this particular chilly morning, I was thrilled at the Blackbird takeover and glad to see that the resident Morning Doves, Crows, and Bluejays, not to mention a healthy family of squirrels, were sharing alike and everyone was getting their full.  Until one of the other resident beasts, a tuxedo cat, picked out a weak or unsuspecting feathery friend and drug it off and under a car for slaughter.  Then it came back for more.


Rear Window redux with feline crime.

Nature is nature, and I’m cool with that.  A lion should absolutely kill a little gazelle, a bear should whack a fish from the stream, and seagulls eating the bird of peace are normal.  But I do not tolerate cat owners (or caretakers, or whatever they prefer) who let their well-fed animals out unsupervised and unconstrained.  The same goes for dogs left to freely roam in the country and kill the neighbor’s furry 4-H projects.  I don’t want a beast in my garden giving me Toxoplasmosis, fighting with my own beasts and potentially spreading disease, or unnecessarily killing off the wildlife.  That’s what cat toys are for.

So this has nothing to do with fiber, and yet a partially true stereotype exists of knitters being “cat people.”  And cat people are often “bird people,” but some cat people don’t realize or don’t care that their slinky four-legged friends are up to no good outdoors and unfenced.

Blackbirds of course, always remind me of this song:

And I know it’s about a prostitute returning home with her tail between her legs, but oddly our elementary school music class would have to sing it over and over again, and even performed it in a school pageant.  Our music teacher was also a stereotype – rail thin with a severely dyed-black bob, and penciled-in arched eyebrows – from a different era, out of place in a redneck backassward town, and certainly playing out her sorrows and remembering all of her leavings every night with a tall glass of gin and a fat cat on her lap.  It was the first song that filled me full of immense woe and I hated it at the time – I hated the thought of ever leaving anything, and the Blackbird was always the Red-Winged variety that lived in the pond behind our house.  Singing it brought tears to my eyes then, so I just mouthed the words, but I usually faked singing most everything then (and now)…


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