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Where We Left Off:
There was a lot of research involved after the Grumpy Old Man said he saw a deer we know to be deceased.
The Glass Wall:
This case file is about our local birds. December and January have been mild by comparison to other years. I’m absolutely not saying mild winters have never happened. They have. After a particularly rough winter, an easy one can feel like a reprieve—an extended fall. At this point in the calendar it seems that all the birds who do migrate have done so. Since then, Oliver and Gus have gotten to spy on our winter birds.
These birds are truthfully here all year round. They’re easier to have relationships with when there are no competing squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and bears wanting the same food. We get a lot more face time with the smaller songbirds. Here’s a list of year round birds in NJ neatly compiled by birdadvisors.com: American Robin, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Blue Jay, Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, European Starling, House Sparrow, Carolina Wren, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Crow, House Finch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Flicker, Northern Mockingbird, Carolina Chickadee.
Since Ollie’s outdoor patrols don’t often happen in the winter, he has enjoyed watching critters through the windows. Sometimes Gus has to accept that’s all he’s going to do too. They will also visit the balcony for short stints which gives them the opportunity to watch small birds flutter from the hedges to the feeding stations. One of the best locations for watching the outdoors from safe inside is Oliver’s suite which he shares with the elder humans.
Large glass sliding doors open to a recessed patio lined with a rock wall and varied plates of slate as flooring. Because of the wide open view of Gnome Grove from this side of the building, I decided it would be a good idea to feed birds where they could be seen from those doors. I used a shepherd’s hook that was holding a hanging basket of dead flowers. In (yet another) a pile of discarded hanging flower baskets, I found one of the wire baskets that The Cook used for artificial decorations. There were already two kitchen plates inside the basket that had previously been used as a riser for foam pumpkins. This allowed me to repurpose the plates and wire basket as a bird feeder. It now hangs at the northwest corner of Ollie’s patio.
Gus and I will distribute peanuts and bird seeds in other places plus there’s an actual bird feeder in the front. It’s a short flight for the birds to hit up all these locations. The tufted titmice are among these happily fed birds. I love them and find them absolutely adorable despite them having one of the worst singing voices of the songbirds (the catbirds aren’t very pleasant to the ears either).
Oliver yelled for The Cook to come to the wall of large sliding glass doors. They communicate all the time due to their strong bond. She heard him and called back, “What do you want, Ollie?” He called again. They went back and forth before The Cook finally walked into the room and said, “Show me.” Oliver started this command and Gus has gotten pretty used to it as well. When Oliver hears, “Show me,” he knows to lead the human to what he wants. On this warm December day, he led her over to the glass door where she saw the bird sitting there on the top step outside.
The Cook and Oliver watched it for a minute. The bird was sitting up and didn’t appear to be suffering. She snapped a photo and sent it to me. I wanted to show Gus, but he was snuggled into my arm asleep. It would have to wait for his input until later.
Oliver continued to keep watch over the bird while his favorite human went back to the kitchen. She checked on him and the bird every few minutes. The bird had been quiet most of the time Oliver had been watching it, but eventually, it was finally able to answer him. According to Oliver, this tufted titmouse had the expected loud vocal ability of its species. He got to hear it as soon as she was ready to speak up.
“Her name is Paris Bael. She got into the middle of a brawl with two other birds,” Oliver explained to us later on.
Paris flew from the pile of seeds by the sundial over to the hanging wire basket. There’s plenty of room for three small birds, but after close observation, the birds generally stick to no more than two feeding at a time. Paris approached the basket where two others of her species were taking their time choosing which morsels they wanted. Her appearance was unwelcome for those precious seconds choosing between sunflower seeds. They simultaneously launched at her. She was knocked back and immediately flapped the air to get some stability.
The trio of titmice swirled and tumbled through the air. In all the confusion, Paris was disoriented and flew into the glass! She dropped immediately to the concrete steps. The two assailants swept off towards the fence and circled around to the Japanese maple tree. That’s when the incident caught Ollie’s attention.
Oliver found the tufted titmouse, Paris Bael, outside his door. He found it unusual that she wasn’t on a branch and was being uncharacteristically quiet. She was stunned and traumatized. Eventually, she found her voice and the ability to chat with the cat detective. He listened to her story and asked if she wanted to report the names of her assailants. Paris was too scared of repercussions and would not say who they were.
Case Status: Closed