A Dog, A Bird, and a Crazy Encounter


Chloe attempts to reach the bird with her paw.

Under the heading of hunting dogs cocker spaniels are part of the broader classification known as gun dogs. It’s also a category of canines that are subdivided by their breed which includes the retriever, the setter, the spaniel and the pointer, with each group having its own unique characteristics of attention, patience, and specialty traits that make them excellent partners with their masters in the art of hunting. For example, the retriever does exactly what its title reads, i.e., retrieve downed game for the hunter. The setter and spaniel have the instinctive ability to flush out small prey upon command. Pointers also practice what their name implies by pointing hunters to potential prey.

From centuries of breeding, the hunting traits are still in these dogs regardless if they are conducting a hunt, or hanging out with the family. Chloe’s fondness for the hunt is often on display when she's out stalking lizards, insects and birds. Her most recent encounter with one young bird in our backyard took on Chloe’s full measure of persistence in the hunting game. In fact, it was a level of extreme patience I’d never seen in our cocker spaniel before.

This story begins when a baby bird was pushed out of its protective nest by its mother.  The nest sits under the corner roof tile of our two-story house, at a height of nearly 20 feet. Instead of taking the hint it was now time to leave home, this young bird went crashing to the ground instead of taking off in flight.  How do I know it was pushed? Let’s just say, this was the second baby bird I saw come from the nest, with the first one not surviving the fall. That one I quickly scooped from the ground, and away from Chloe who was roaming the backyard.  Both birds had plenty of feathers, and both looked overdue for leaving the nest. 

The second baby bird that came crashing to the ground miraculously was uninjured. Sensing its sudden plight, the young bird scampered off for the protection of the nearby railroad tie and picket fence wall. The mother bird realizing that her second baby didn’t instinctively fly off as expected, began a non-stop scolding as she continually flew over the youngster squawking on each pass. It was a noisy commotion, and one that instantly drew Chloe where she discovered the young bird hiding in the wall’s shadow. Chloe also found the bird just out of her reach where she tried many times of putting her paw through the picket fence. Her instinctive hunting game was on!

Chloe waits patiently for the bird to emerge from hiding.

Finding no such luck in grabbing the bird, Chloe planted herself sitting upright on her hind legs five feet from the picket fence. It was here, that I couldn’t believe Chloe’s amount of patience and determination to get her prey, as she sat for hours watching and waiting for the bird to come out. Even when I called for her with a Charlie Bear treat, Chloe would come, down the treat, and return to her sentry post waiting for the bird to emerge.

By nightfall - yes nightfall! - Chloe was amazingly still sitting and waiting for that poor bird to make an appearance! Finally, I decided enough is enough, particularly since it was now dark outside, and it was time for us to be inside. With the help of another treat, Chloe came into the house, and we went to bed!

The next morning, Chloe again took up her stance of waiting for the bird to come out. At first I couldn’t believe that the bird was there, but apparently, it had remained huddled through the night against the railroad tie wall. Not knowing who to feel sorry for the most, the bird which was afraid to leave its protective cover, or Chloe who was all consumed with the hunt, I decided it was time to step in. By the way, that mother bird was still on the scene making a fuss above the youngster’s head.

The young bird hiding in the shadow of the railroad tie wall.

My bold plan of action - MOVE THE BIRD! I figured that would diffuse the situation, with the bird out of harm’s way, and Chloe would snap out of her trance! With the goal set, I decided that I needed something to scoop the bird out from its position, and with my utensil of choice - I grabbed a large serving spoon from our kitchen cabinet. 

In one swift motion, I had the bird sitting safely in the spoon's depression. With a second move, I set the bird on top of the adjacent masonry property wall, where the bird hopped off the spoon, but with one-to-many hops, it went over the wall where the mother bird dived bombed in support of her youngster. Although I had wanted the bird to stay on top of the wall, I had at least ended the dog and bird standoff; I thought!

The young bird now having vacated the scene, and the mother bird nowhere in sight, Chloe returned to her usual daytime activity of backyard stalking and hunting. That was until the next morning, whereupon Chloe bolted the house and took up her hind leg sitting position at the same place I had previously scooped out the bird just a day earlier.

Going over to the wall for a good look, I couldn’t believe it! That young bird was back for a second time where it sat just out of Chloe’s reaching paw again. This was now crazy! Another standoff encounter between the bird and a cocker spaniel on the hunt!

My plan of action for the second time - MOVE THE BIRD! Although I’m now thinking of flinging this bird several properties over, so as not to make Chloe an obsessive compulsive hunter! Reaching for the bird with the spoon again, I gently moved it to the top of the other adjacent property wall–where it again hopped off the wall, falling to the other side, but there was no mother bird this time, and all went quiet. 

Chloe had watched me move the bird for a second time, and upon seeing the bird go over the wall, she left her hind leg sitting stance and went about her daily activity of recreational hunting of lizards, butterflies, and birds!

A dog, a bird, and a crazy encounter

1 comment :

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