I was down in Newton County just the other day when I met up with C.B. (Country Boy). He is the salt of the earth and a whole lot of fun to talk with.
C.B. was telling me about a problem he has. It seems all the song birds he used to feed have disappeared from his yard and he misses them. It is fall and they could have migrated, but ... all of them?
He has been seeing birds at his house as far back as he can remember and is of the opinion that his present problem has to do with all the stray cats hanging out in the nearby woods.
I asked if he kept his feeders full, and he told me food wasn't keeping his birds away. It was about 30 cats looking for something to eat. C.B. has trapped a good many of his pests, but there are still a few that are too smart to take his bait! They won't get within 10 feet of any kind of trap he sets.
This bird lover told me hard as it was raining the other day, he saw his dog, Jake, lying out in the rain. I asked, "Doesn't Jake have a dog house?"
"Yeah, he has one, but the cats have moved in and the dog seems to like the cats!" He told me his dog would not run off a cat under any circumstances.
So, there you have it. C.B. enjoys bird watching. His field glasses are not doing him much good because stray cats are eating wrens, thrushes, finches and fly catchers. His old faithful dog, Jake, would rather sleep in the rain than run off the cats. The cats are too smart to get caught in a trap and C.B. is too soft-hearted to shoot 'em!
Birds have been around here for longer than C.B., Jake and I, and they will eventually return to his feeders, nest houses and bird baths. Cats come and cats go. Sooner or later these smart cats will make a mistake and get caught. And, just maybe Jake will start acting more like a dog and less like a feline lover!
Meanwhile, C.B. tells me he will continue trying to attract his feathered friends by building feeding stations, placing suet, and putting out seed. He keeps his bird drinking and bathing water clean and has his eyes on those cats.
Jake is still taking his naps in the yard when he can find a dry spot to rest his head. Seems like he is even too lazy to bark when those cats walk by. Maybe he is a cat watcher and not a bird watcher.
We can only wonder why C.B.'s dog and those stray cats are able to live in peace. These animals have different instincts and behavior. Maybe it is simply a numbers game. Jake is outnumbered and smart enough to know that in combat these cats could scratch the fool out of him. Or, maybe he is lonesome and isn't too picky about his friends.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.