Bushy Tails

I crossed the first floor as I was getting ready to leave the house at midday yesterday and discovered both cats, one perched on a chair back, one halfway up the stairs, respective tails bushed out like lambswool dusters, registering weird alarm but not mutual hostility.

I’m probably getting blase. As soon as I decided they were not preparing to drub each other I went out, then remembered something (which happens more often than not) and walked back in, this time making a direct sightline with one of the rear windows.


I usually get smaller guests on my back porch. This was the only good shot I got before sir or madam took off.

I got a little bushy too, for a moment.

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22 thoughts on “Bushy Tails

  1. That’s a great picture. According to our resident bird specialist (wife) that is a Barred Owl. Get two feet tall, and have a call that has the same rhythmic patterns as the phrase “who cooks for you?”

    • Thanks (and welcome!). I had heard of Barred Owls, never seen exactly what one looked like, but I did wonder when I saw the feather pattern if that was what “barred” meant. And I’ve heard that call from time to time hereabouts.

      It was not exactly the hooting hour. Wonder what brought him or her out.

    • It was a hard call. The face seems shallower than I would associate with a hawk and I was thinking owl too, specially since the barred ones are apparently the ones you sometimes hear in the daytime. The upright posture was owllike too. But those breast feathers were what kept me looking. That sort of heart-shaped tipping.

      I learned a lot about local owls by following up your original call. Apparently we have a teeny tiny one around here called the saw-whet. Now I have to add that to the list of things to watch for at dusk when I’m bat-gazing.

    • You just can’t resist baiting me, can you, Richard?

      One day when you least expect it a red fox will chomp your shin gravely and meditatively, and you will find yourself reflecting as you apply Bactine that the fox looked a lot like me.

    • Crows. A couple summers ago a hawk or falcon perched in the very top of an old oak on the nearest property. One crow soon settled on the adjacent trunk, then another. They cawed, and more crows came from all over. Soon the branches were thick with them, uttering a cacophonous racket, and suddenly they rose in a body, wheeled around and bore down on the hawk like a wave in a Hokusai painting. They were last seen pursuing it north.

      Territorial, crows. And articulate. Not to mention organized.

  2. Had red-tailed hawks in the oak trees on my old property. I guess it’s still my property, legally speaking. Anyway, they were a delight to see, but inspired me to put netting over the chicken run. Also we couldn’t let the brand new kittens out unsupervised.

    I love urbanized wildlife. They remind me were not quite as uniformly destructive as we fear.

    • I ran my chickens in moveable pens (chicken tractors) of wood and chicken wire on top and on the sides. One day a beautiful juvenile red-tailed hawk landed on the tractor. The terrified young chickens huddled together, the hawk tried every way he could to try and get into that pen. Eventually, he moved on.

      With the chickens protected, the hawk actually becomes a good animal to have around the farm. Instead of chickens, he will eat vermin.

  3. One night, while on my walk in just the last seconds of twilight, I looked up and saw a huge owl sitting on a powerline. I looked away for just a second, and when I looked back the owl was gone. Not a sound. It was the biggest owl I’ve ever seen.

    Owls look like cats with feathers. They seem like felines equipped for silent, swift flight in the night.

  4. The cats got bushy-tailed because birds are not supposed to be that big in their feline world, because as gods they did not decree it. It’s a hard thing to take, the first time you realize you’re not necessarily the top of the food chain.

  5. I get some astonishing wildlife for a location walking distance from the White House (for an athlete, about an hour for me if I push it). More than the occasional deer, coyote, Mr. Raccoon, a couple of weeks ago a fox. The local nature centers care for the occasional injured horned owl and copperhead. In fact I almost picked up a young copperhead who looked to be in the path of traffic once, until I realized what he was. And of course I get Brer Rabbit (his tracks are in the snow outside as I write) and galore chipmunks and opossum.

    We don’t own the land, we share it.

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