Sunday, May 1, 2011


If there was some sort of universal frequency-of-complaint counter, after the weather, parents would be at the top of the list.  Parents can be blamed for every short-coming, personality disorder, failure, temper tantrum or misdemeanor.  Parents are accused of being too laid back, or too thrusting, overly cosseting or neglectful.  Those of us on the 'have children' register are familiar with myriad charges, while those of us as innocent bystanders can tut-tut and shake our heads at the mistakes of others.

I have a problem with parents in my garden. 

In the first place, the archway of my patio door was a poor choice of location to build a nest where there are resident cats.  Actually, I don't think they built it.  I remember seeing a beautiful peach-coloured 'laughing dove'  in it last year.  She and her partner built it, then surveyed the landscape and sensibly sought a better neighbourhood.  I suspect the current occupants moved in after the doves moved out. 

I don't like the current tenants.  They aren't as bad  as the Indian mynah birds (Marius calls them 'flying rats') and they are not as noisy as peacocks.  What I don't like is their habit of plucking the blooms off my canna lilies and my hibisci.  They don't appear to eat the flowers, or suck nectar from them, or chase little insects, they simply pluck and drop.

The current tenants are white-eared bulbuls, formally known as pycnonotus leucotis.  They have a chick, at least one, but this one is causing enough trouble for the parents and me.

It was very windy yesterday, perhaps the little chap got blown out of the nest;  perhaps his ambitious parents were teaching him to fly.  I had gone out to top up the fountain when I spotted the little grey scrap in amongst the leaves.  Then I noticed the parents, hopping about in the shrubbery, squawking, flapping, jumping up and down.

I dragged the cats inside as I was sure the feline audience wouldn't help.  The parents spent the whole afternoon coaxing the chick back towards the nest.  He could fly a little bit, but clearly the three metre leap to home was too much.  He'd start to hop up a shrub, using the branches as ladder rungs, but every time I looked again he was back down amongst the leaves on the ground.

Last night he'd made it down the garden and was directly under the nest, in a very exposed place, right outside our back door, with two cats watching him through the glass.  This morning he was out on the patio again, his parents cheering from a nearby bougainvillea.  I noticed one had a tasty breakfast morsel in its beak.  They were clearly still caring for their offspring, even if he wasn't in the nest.

I couldn't see any of them for a while, and I let the cats back into the garden, but the crescendo of chirruping told me I haven't got the happy ending yet.  The cats are back inside, cross as cross, and the parents are pulling their feathers out, just like parents do. 

I hope that next time the parents are more careful and keep their chicks well-tied in, with safety lines and parachutes.


1 comment:

jabblog said...

I'm glad the cats haven't had a tasty treat - yet!