It's for the Birds!

Birds Demand Better Housing!

One afternoon, last week I was out in the garden, surveying the mass of dead, brown stalks which stuck out from the hard, brown soil. Winter was upon us. The bird feeder was crowded with sparrows who had dropped by for a meal. Above my head, in the pussy willow tree, four birds had gathered to play a few wings of bridge. As usual, they were arguing among themselves, accusing each other of cheating at the game of cards. I've seen this quartet before and I ignore them. Today, however, they did not ignore me. "Hey cat!" chirped one of the birds. "You there, cat!"
At first I paid them no attention but they started to pull dead leaves from the tree and throw them at me. "I beg your pardon!" I hissed, "but the name is Henri, Henri of Twin Brook!"
One of the sparrows ruffled his feathers. "Whatever!" he chirped. "I wanted to talk to you about the condition of the bird houses in this garden."
"Okay," I meowed, "what's your problem? My person cleans the houses every fall and spring."
"We know that," replied another bird, who was dealing cards from a very small deck to the other three birds. "Our problem is about the style of house we must live in. When our ladies are building nests and laying eggs, this kind of house is fine, but in the winter time, we don't build nests and the ladies don't lay eggs."
"And?" I waited for an answer.
One of the birds pointed his brown wing at the birdhouse attached to the pussy willow tree. "This is a nesting house. What we need in the cold months of winter is a roosting house".
"I'm not sure what you mean, bird. I've never heard of a roosting house," I meowed. "Where can you get one of those things?"
Without another chirp, the bird tucked the deck of cards under his wing and flew away. My feet were getting cold and I then decided to return to the warm rooms of my person's house. Before I had reached the deck, the bird swooped down from the skies. He was carrying a large piece of paper in his mouth. He dropped it at my feet. "That, kitty, is a picture of a roosting house!The telephone number and the e-mail address are on the bottom of the page. Next to the picture is the catalog number. If you can't meow over the phone, I suggest you send your order via the computer."
I studied the page carefully. "That's going to cost a bit of catnip," I replied.
The bird ruffled its feathers again. "Well see what you can do, Henri of Twin Brook!" He flew away to a branch on the tree and began to deal the cards to his partners. I dragged the catalog page into the house and placed in on my person's desk. Maybe he would buy it.
I settled down to take a nap on the desk, but moments later I heard the sound of claws scratching at the window pane. It was of course, Raymond Hazelwitz, rodent activist. I pried the window open and my friend slipped effortlessly through the narrow opening, pulling a pair of running sneakers after him. "Cold out there, Pussycat!" he chattered.
It's winter time, Raymond. It's supposed to be cold," I replied.
"Yeah, you got that right." He rubbed his paws together, then unwrapped the scarf from around his neck. "I heard you have been talking with Milton."
"Milton?" I asked. "Who is Milton?"
"Milton is the brown sparrow who hangs out in the pussywillow tree with his buddies," answered Raymond. "He said that he had conned you into buying a roosting house for him and his cronies." Raymond began to laugh, clutching his belly with his paws. He had gained considerable weight over the holidays and I could see where going for a brisk run was something he needed to do.He was a vain rat and did not want to become "pudgy".
"Conned?" I meowed. "What do you mean when you say that he has conned me? I'm not at all sure I can afford to buy that roosting house for him. My allowance isn't that big, you know."
Raymond smiled, showing his sharp white teeth. "Pussycat! Milton doesn't want a roosting house! He wants a club house! He and his buddies need a place to play poker and watch football on a wide screen cell phone, newly acquired when some human dropped hers in the park. And I do believe that there is a lot of drinking going on too. The lady birds won't stand for it and the last time they had a party, the girls kicked the boys out on their feathered butts. So now they have been trying to find some innocent cat like you to buy then a roosting house! Got it?"
I felt betrayed. I had been very nice to the bird called Milton. I had listened to him instead of having him for an afternoon snack. I would certainly have to re-evaluate the situation if it is true what Raymond Hazelwitz has told me. I patted the rat on the head. "Thanks for letting me know, Raymond. You are a good friend."
Raymond rubbed his whiskers. "And you are a good cat, Henri of Twin Brook!" I found some cheese in the refrigerator and some crackers in the cupboard. I ate some of the cheese, a sharp Cheddar from Vermont and Raymond ate both the cheese and crackers. "I like Swiss cheese a little more than sharp Cheddar," he remarked. We curled up near the window. The sun had dipped below the horizon and we both fell asleep.

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