Cursing the Cat

This morning the wrens woke me up early, cursing the cat again. I spent the morning going into the garden at regular intervals to make my own cat-cursing noise, and the dog realised that the cat was lurking on the other side of the fence and added in lots of hysterical barking. I even went into next door’s garden to check when the wrens wouldn’t stop scolding (it was hiding in the shrubs right at the base of the fence). Eventually I’d had enough of trying to scare it off and figured that the chicks were safe in the nest so the wrens would have to do their own cursing for a bit while I settled down on the sofa with a cup of tea.

After a while the wren started scolding again but this time I didn’t go out. After about five minutes of rapid tic-tic-tic alarm calling, the wren came and sat on the back of a chair just outside the open patio doors and stared in at me, alarm calling all the while. He (or she) was bobbing up and down, up and down, and very loudly scolding me! I’m not one for anthropomorphising animals, but he really did seem to be saying
‘Oi you, come out here and make that noise that makes the cat go away!’

So that’s what I did. I went to the door and the wren flew onto the table just a few feet away from me, still watching me and alarm calling. I made my loud ‘pppssshhhtt!’ noise and the wren didn’t fly away, just watched me. A moment later he flew up onto the fence to check whether the cat had gone, stopped scolding, and came back to the table to get some mealworms! They’re intelligent little birds, so I think it’s entirely possible that it has made the association that when they curse the cat the person appears and makes a particular noise (followed by the dog who makes its own particular noise), which makes the cat run off. Birds can definitely tell the difference between types of animals; the rabbit hopping about the garden doesn’t scare our visiting birds in the slightest, whereas they avoid the dog (but aren’t too bothered unless she chases them) and react with great alarm if they see a cat.

At lunchtime I realised that one of the chicks was out of the nest and on the ground. Within ten minutes, all four chicks had fledged. They looked like tiny fluffy golf balls!

sitting on a broom

hiding in the bindweed

I blocked up all the small holes at the bottom of the fence in the hope that they wouldn’t get through into next door’s garden and the jaws of the waiting cat. All afternoon the parents chivvied them around, tended to them and fed them as they huddled in corners, fluttered into the ivy and scurried about like miniature moorhens. They can’t fly very well yet but they can flutter and cling to walls or branches, and they have very strong legs as you can see here with this one running

wren doing an impression of a moorhen

I took a couple of short videos of them here…

They still like to huddle together, so I hope their parents found them somewhere warm and safe to roost tonight.

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10 thoughts on “Cursing the Cat

  1. What a wonderful video of these beautiful little birds! You have shown how intelligent they can be, in using you as backup!

  2. I think you are absolutely right that the parents know you help with scaring the cat away. It’s cool that they come to you and get you to do your thing!!

    • Thanks for that Stephen, that’s a useful bit of advice for next time (I hope there will be a next time!). Our garden has fairly good cover so they quickly found themselves spots in the ivy and shrub rose. Yesterday they’d left the garden but today there was one back in the garden in one of our dense shrubs, and one in the conifer in next door’s garden. One was flying quite well. I heard cheeping from another area of the neighbour’s garden too, so hopefully that’s definitely two and hopefully at least three of the four still safe!

      • To add a bit sadness, I was tidying round the garden the other day and found a dead fledgling floating in a rain filled bucket of water. Needless to say, I’ve now emptied the bucket and inverted it to prevent something similar. I guess the best thing to do is put some kind of grid over the top of buckets and other potential water containers.

  3. Oh you’ve got me worried now Stephen – one of the fledglings I saw yesterday fluttered from a shrub down into the dense vegetation of the bog garden beside the pond! I’ll go and check this morning, but the pond is so full of water plants at the moment that there’s hardly any clear water at all, so hopefully if he (or she) fell in he could get out again.

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