Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Cat and the Hummingbird Digital Page Layout

Just a quick and fun layout to document my cat, Scout, who loves to hunt birds. Digital papers and brads are from my digital scrapbooking kit, "Fresh As."

Two of my fave things: birds and cats. Getting them to co-exist together can be a bit of a challenge.

A few years back, after losing a cat to a car, we put up cat-fencing to enclose part of our yard and provided a cat-door into it. The cats come in and out but can't roam escape the enclosed garden. It has also, finally (though only after a few modifications involving trees and an arbor), solved our raccoon problem. (The little rascals used to come right into our house through the cat-door and eat all the cat food, not to mention make a huge mess with water and muddy feet.)

The Cat Garden, as we now call it, is right outside my kitchen window, also a prime location for bird feeders and we had a number of them out there. It wasn't long before I was finding dead or dying birds in the house and feathers scattered around. It hit me that we were luring birds straight to the cats!

We moved all but two of the birdfeeders to locations outside the Cat Garden. The two we left were the thistle feeder for finches and the hummingbird feeder, which we hung high on a shepherd's crook. We figured that these two types of birds would be safe since finches rarely, if ever, feed on the ground, and as for hummingbirds, well, everyone knows they are so fast a cat couldn't possibly catch one.

You know where this is going, right?

One day I came home from work and there was a dead hummingbird in the dining room. Wha'?

Ok, I thought, must be a fluke. Maybe the bird was ill or dying or very young and not too smart, maybe one of the cats just got darn lucky. No way could that happen again.

The next week when I came home there were TWO dead hummingbirds in the house. I could NOT believe it. And there was Scout sitting guard over one of the birds, looking all smug and pleased with herself, and she even had a tiny iridescent feather or two stuck to her orange fur. The little bird-murderer!

It looked like we were going to have to move the hummingbird feeder out of the Cat Garden. I pondered where the new location should be, where I could still see and enjoy them. I went outside and walked around the backyard, considering each window as a possible new location. Near the Cat Garden I looked through the mesh fence and watched Scout strolling toward a huge bush heavy with scarlet trumpet-shaped flowers.

There were two hummingbirds hovering at the feeder near the window but she didn't even give them a look. I thought that quite odd until I realized she had a destination and a plan. Moving silently and smoothly she slipped into the jumble of branches of the flower-laden bush and disappeared.

No sooner had she vanished than I noticed one of the hummingbirds zip over to the bush and begin feeding from the bright flowers. The bird zigzagged from one flower to the next, working its way down toward those blossoming near the ground.

That was when I understood how Scout had caught the hummingbirds. She'd ambushed them! I threw open the gate and strode toward the bush frightening the hummer away. Then I shooed Scout out from her hiding place and gave her a scolding which she pointedly ignored.

Within an hour I had trimmed away the branches closest to the ground leaving a gap of about eighteen inches. Now if she sat under that bush Scout would be in plain sight of the birds. I crossed my fingers and hoped my hunch was correct.

That was a couple years ago and we've had no more dead hummingbirds. I think we've finally figured out how to have cats and birds in the same garden.

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