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Monday, December 10, 2012

Krueger’s big chance



I had a cat named Krueger, back when I was in college.  Krueger lived in Akron and I was in college in Cleveland.  This was 1961, and didn’t involve a nightmare, saving perhaps Krueger’s.

The house at 729 Moraine was built on a lot several feet lower than the lot of our next door neighbors, the Coles.  A stone retaining wall ran the length of the lot, and in our backyard orange tiger lilies cascaded down the wall every summer. 

Our grape arbor flanked that wall in our back yard.  The grape arbor was built of several whitewashed phone poles with cross arms at the top and chicken wire forming a roof for all the grape branches.  The grape clusters hung down for picking every September.  They were nearly six feet overhead; Mom had to reach up to pick them.  Dad had a bird feeder hanging down from the heavy grape branches and he kept it filled every winter.  Krueger, of course, sat under the feeder waiting for a bird to fall into his mouth.  One never did.

I was home for Christmas vacation.  It was a winter that couldn’t stop snowing, and the snow my brothers’ shoveled from off sidewalk from the back door to the garage grew steadily deeper on each side of the walk.  The retaining wall stopped the wind from blowing the snow away, and it just kept accumulating.

The snow cover in the area was so bad that dad wondered where the birds were finding food, and made sure he kept his feeder filled.  When he could no longer reach it, he threw cups full on top of the snow, which had reached shoulder height on that side of the yard, under the grape arbor.

I looked out the back window one afternoon and saw quail at the feeder, which sat on the five feet of snow accumulated under the grape arbor.  I reflected how bad the winter was for them that they had come up over the hill to forage at a bird feeder. 

Then I saw Krueger.  The big black cat had sprung to the top of the snow pack and was slinking along the surface, going to get him a quail.  Should I run to the back door and yell at him?  It was two rooms away, would there be time?

Dad stopped behind me at the window.  He tapped my shoulder and pointed a little higher.  There on the wall, beyond the quail under the feeder, sat another quail, coolly taking in the situation.  The quail on the wall watched Krueger get closer and closer and closer.  Then he said, in quail language, “Now, boys.”

Those quail fell on Krueger from a feet first descent, then wings pounding.  There was five feet of snow available and they put him down about four feet before they dusted off and left. A very subdued cat emerged and slunk away.  I didn’t feel the least bit sorry for him.


Bobwhite quail.  I have not heard a bobwhite since I have been an adult.

26 comments:

  1. What a great story..oh but, poor Krueger.

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  2. Terrific story, well told! Thanks for the laugh.

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  3. Ha! Poor Krueger. Bet he didn't expect to have birds go after HIM. I didn't know quail would do that either. Fun story.

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    1. The one on the wall, my dad said, was the sentry.

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  4. What a cool story.

    That's way too much snow. Fourteen inches is the most I have seen and it stopped the entire county.

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  5. I am feeling bad for Krueger as he was only following what nature told him. I used to hate that my cat, Martian, was a hunter even though we fed him very well. However, nature had programmed him and he could not be change so he would bring me feathered presents all the time.

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  6. Poor Krueger was well and truely ambushed big time.

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  7. What a hoot! I think cats usually catch the birds that are weak or ill for the most part, ones that would have a tough time making it through the winter. Good job, quail! Good story, Joanne.

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  8. What a cute story. Krueger thought he was finally going to get his chance! I'm sure he learned a lesson after that wet cold adventure! I never heard of bobwhile quail but we had quail (but what kind I don't know) where we used to live. I just loved watching them run back and forth behind our fence. One would make a sound that always got Koda to bark; I think it was teasing him. Loved their babies too (but not the snake that was looking for the babies). Mind you, this was in the middle of the city with all this wildlife :)

    Thanks for sharing this memory with us!

    betty

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  9. Thank you for the lovely story. I do not feel sorry for the kitty at all and kudos to brave quails.I almost can see that snow flying 5 feet high :)

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  10. Poor Krueger, but then again, if he had got a quail, I would be saying poor quail. I think it's great they posted a sentry, I imagine most birds do something similar. Most wildlife does, at least that's what I've seen on TV.

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  11. What a great story, never knew quail would attack a cat but I have seen them in pairs with one keeping an eye out and singing the alarm for the other one.

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  12. Wonderful story. I do so love it when the birds triumph. Some years back we had a cat (Moby) who was sitting under a gum tree in the back yard chittering at the magpies. He wanted one. Badly. Then, all of a sudden, he came streaking up the yard and ran into the kitchen. When I went to investigate he was nonchalently cleaning a very large bird poo from his back and sides. Direct hit.

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  13. I found this animating. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. What smart birds! I have noticed in my yard that the bluejays are extremely smart. They tend to pick on the tiny wrens who come to feed at the bird feeder. Those little wrens used to end up eating the seed that had fallen to the ground, putting them in danger from predators.

    And then I found a tiny little bird house that would only fit wrens. I would scatter seeds in there every week for them, so they not only had a place to eat, but complete privacy.

    Just desserts for bullies....

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  15. great story I didn't know quail would attempt such an attack

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  16. I'm sorry, I can't get past your cat's name!!!

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  17. Love this story! Thanks for sharing it!

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  18. Great story, Joanne. I miss my cats, haven't had cats since 2008 due to finances.

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  19. wonderful story--and i love the bob white!

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  20. That's hilarious. I bet he learned his lesson.

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  21. Funny stuff. I saw bluejays dive bomb my cat when I was a kid, but I never saw a group of birds with a lookout/ringleader.

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  22. What a surprise! I had no idea that the birds could actually fend off a cat. Pretty darn amazing!

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  23. ah! That was great! I laughed right through my sore throat. Nice story!

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