Dear Antler, What’s wrong with letting me and my cat friends catch birds?

Hey Jed,

This is Baby Kitty and Buddy Love writing. We are two cats who live in the northern part of Los Angeles.  

We're so glad you've finally gotten on this web-cloud thing. You're usually so busy ruminating 'round the ground, we thought you'd never look up into the sky. That's what we spend most of our time doing (well, except when were napping) because we're Bird Lovers. Just two days ago, Buddy Love saw a merlin bird in our tree. 

The human lady we let live in our abode looked at it through those funny looking eye extensions she has (her eyesight isn't as good as ours). She likes to look  at birds, but we thought, “Who cares lady? Let us outside so we can catch it!” But she never does. Something about how we’re an invasive species. 

It's time for our nap. So glad to be able to chat with you. We'll never be able to meet you in the fur, seeing as that lady keeps us indoors to make sure we and something she calls the "ecosystem" are safe, so this is the next best thing. 

Baby Kitty


Dear Baby Kitty, 

Thank you for writing. It's a pleasure to meet you and the various inhabitants of your abode, even if only virtually. 

  A merlin preying on a fellow feathered creature. Photo by Jessie H. Barry,  allaboutbirds.com .

A merlin preying on a fellow feathered creature. Photo by Jessie H. Barry, allaboutbirds.com.

Sighting a merlin is indeed an exciting event. They're quite rare, even in my wild stomping grounds, but they do appear around this time of year. It no doubt helps that we've had a cold snap lately. While others among my feathered friends struggle to keep warm in the near-freezing temps (just think how much extra nourishment hummingbirds have to ingest to burn enough calories to stay warm), merlins just love it. It reminds them of their summer home, Canada.  

I realize that such details may be of more interest to your human lady, bird-watcher friend, and that you may be more interested in the gustatory qualities of the aforementioned birds. But I believe that understanding one's enemy is the first step toward friendship, so I hope you'll excuse my rambling on a bit. 

Speaking of your human lady friend, she is quite wise to take the greater good of the ecosystem and its rich tapestry of species into account. As individuals, we often forget just where we fit in the grander scheme, and we often put our passions and desires first, with little consideration of the great planetary balance. A Native American story tells of a scorpion stranded on the banks of a river who desperately wants to get to the other side. A frog comes along and offers to transport him safely across the river. The scorpion accepts the offer. Once on the other side of the river, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog asks, "Mr. Scorpion, why would you sting me after I helped you?", to which the scorpion replies "It's just my nature." So you see, your human lady is quite wise indeed.

I would enjoy continuing the conversation and wish you many happy naps. 

Sincerely,

Jed