My tiny, affectionate feline killed that bird deader than dead, and then she left the corpse, untouched in any other way, on my patio. The obvious message would be very clear, at least if you were a bird. It was quite succinct and elegant. Do not trifle with me, my cat instructed.
I was a little sad to find a dead Mockingbird on the patio, because it made me think of that quote from the book, about what a sin it was to kill such a bird. However, I knew something that the rest of the animal kingdom did not.
The bird had it coming.
Mockingbirds do make very beautiful music, and it is indeed lovely to listen to them on a spring morning while a person works in the garden or sits on the patio, cogitating. The Mockingbird is the state bird of Texas for one reason: people love them. I have enjoyed many hours of watching the Mockingbirds around me. They are very intelligent, crafty creatures.
For the past thirteen years, my poor cats have been hollered at, pecked at, and dive-bombed. When any of the cats would try to sun themselves on the patio, they never got a moment's peace. Even the feral cat Lalo, who is now on three legs and appears to be blind in one eye, gets his share of the fun.
The Mockingbirds are not engaging in this behavior because it is nesting season. That would be completely understandable. The Mockingbirds do this sort of thing to the cats year round. It never stops. I finally had to face the very real possibility that Mockingbirds just liked messing with cats. They're thrill seekers, playing a game of chicken with a predator.
None of my other cats ever fought back against the attacks of the Mockingbirds. They were just doing their own thing, after all, minding their business. They put up with the random pecks to the head and tail, the sudden dive of feathers, and the noise, while I ran out with a broom to rescue them.
Zena is a different kind of cat. She is tiny, barely 8lbs, but she is fierce. Lord, she is fierce. I've seen her go after raccoons without even a thought. Zena studies everything. She sits in the window and watches. When she gets to go outside, she jumps on top of our barbecue grill, or perches on top of the fence...and waits, her tail twitching, her ears back.
It is so easy to underestimate small things. We are unthreatening. Easily dismissed. Overlooked. Small things can be very capable, however. And sometimes dangerous.
I am sure that the Mockingbirds thought they were safe. After all, not one of my other cats was a match for their flying speed, even if they had attempted a counter attack. Zena likely waited for them to feel that air of superiority, and then she launched herself into the air, claws out and jaws ready. The Mockingbird probably had no idea what hit them.