Smart An­i­mals

An­i­mals bring joy to our lives

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents -

Gone Fish­ing AU­DREY J. HOLMES

When I was 15 years old, we moved from the sub­urbs of Perth to a house in Bull Creek, by the river. My cat Woody, a black and white cat, nat­u­rally came with us. He was my lov­ing pet and I had owned him for about five years. I had a ca­noe and loved to pad­dle along the Swan River, while my loyal friend Woody waited for me on the jetty. It was lovely at night to look over and see my loyal cat sit­ting by the lantern wait­ing for my re­turn.

Woody quickly dis­cov­ered that in the morn­ing when the tide went out, little pools of wa­ter were left along the edge of the river, and trapped in these pools were little fish. So there he would sit, pa­tiently glar­ing at them un­til he was ready. He’d then quickly pat the wa­ter with his paw, mak­ing the fish jump so he could gob­ble them up. Woody even learned to drag the fish out with his paw. This be­came Woody’s break­fast. The stan­dard joke in our house was that if we couldn’t find Woody, he’d prob­a­bly gone fish­ing. What a clever cat.

Hum­ming with Ac­tiv­ity MAR­ION BALL

My hus­band, Den­nis, was in our back­yard wa­ter­ing the gar­den when a fe­male hum­ming­bird buzzed past his ear. We soon found her nest on our tall prickly pear cac­tus.

As a birder and pho­tog­ra­pher, I was de­lighted to see that she had

laid two eggs. A cou­ple of weeks later, they hatched, the ba­bies not much big­ger than bees.

On the first Mon­day in April, I dis­cov­ered that dis­as­ter had struck. The mother was fran­ti­cally fly­ing around the cac­tus, search­ing for the nest. I found it on the ground with one baby still safely in­side. Sadly, the other had per­ished.

Den­nis and I took ac­tion. He held the nest while I gen­tly ap­plied some glue, and we reat­tached it to the cac­tus. After the in­ci­dent, Mum Bird formed a bond with us. She had no prob­lem with me tak­ing pho­tos or check­ing on the baby. Den­nis could turn on the hose and wa­ter the gar­den with­out fright­en­ing her or the baby. She even came in to feed the nestling while I was stand­ing there, al­most as if we were fam­ily.

A week later, the fore­cast spelled rain, and I was con­cerned that the glue would dis­solve. I at­tached pins all around the nest, hop­ing to pre­vent it from fall­ing again, but our wor­ries were far from over. Sev­eral storms were headed our way. To pro­tect the nest we rigged an um­brella on top of the cac­tus and even held the um­brella when it was windy.

One day, the sky turned black, with high winds and rain. I ven­tured out­side with my um­brella when, out

of nowhere, a mi­croburst struck. Un­able to hold the um­brella, I cupped the nest and baby with my hand and blocked it with my body as hail pelted me. When it was fi­nally over, I was soaked from top to bot­tom, but the baby was OK, sit­ting snug as a bug in its nest. Day 20 of this amaz­ing odyssey ar­rived and Mum Bird ex­hib­ited a new be­hav­iour. After ev­ery feed­ing, she would poke the young­ster on the back, as though try­ing to pres­sure ju­nior to leave the nest. The next day, the young bird sat on the rim of the nest but made no at­tempt to fly. Ju­nior fi­nally took wing, crash­ing twice be­fore land­ing safely on the back­yard wall. Mum Bird came and fed it, and from there it flew to my hus­band’s shoul­der, with Mum Bird in tow. We couldn’t be­lieve it!

Hav­ing a front-row seat from birth and early tragedy to watch­ing this little hum­ming­bird grow up was a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity.

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