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Letter: Cats vs. birds

There was a time when I thought that most birds had little to fear from house cats. However, when living in East Concord some years ago, I erected a bird feeding platform out in front of our house. Easily observed through the front window, it consisted of a 24-inch square of plywood, mounted on a vertical piece of iron pipe such that the platform was a measured 64 inches above the level yard – that is, 4 inches over 5 feet. I enjoyed watching the birds, and as time wore on, I noticed that there was often a fairly ordinary looking black and white cat that liked to hang out under the platform – also fascinated by the flitting birds I supposed. I figured it probably belonged to a neighbor and couldn’t really hurt anything.

One day the cat was there as I watched a full-grown mourning dove perch on the edge of the platform to feed. Imagine my surprise when the cat leaped from a standing start under the platform, grabbed the rear portion of the dove that hung out in space with both front paws, and jerked it down to the ground as it fell back! When I burst out the front door, the cat lost focus and the dove managed to escape with only minor damage, but without my timely intervention, the outcome was hardly in doubt.

So died my fantasy that house cats can’t catch full grown, healthy birds – and fairly large ones at that.

JIM SINDELAR

Hopkinton

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