Archive for April 16th, 2009

Tonka Braveheart


When Fiddlegirl and I first opened the cage containing Tonka and his sister Moey, the little male kitten hung back nervously, letting his sister take the lead. When we finally did get a good look at him, he was the oddest little kitten you ever saw, looking thin and scrappy, not your typical cuddily kitten at all. In time, he grew into his looks. While Moey favours her tabby parent, Tonka’s Siamese heritage is easy to see in his coat colour, his narrow face and his slightly-crossed, blue eyes, a handsome, eye-catching cat. As a young cat, Tonka was an amazing athlete whose favorite game was chasing a sparkly ball on a whip-like line. He would jump, he would leap, he would twist and flip and cavort.


One summer, a tomcat stranger began haunting the screened porch, taunting the house cats. The tomcat would even try to attack through the screen and Tonka would answer his challenge. One morning when I got up, I found that the screen had been torn open on a window and Tonka was gone. He had set off to chase the tomcat. But while the tomcat was worldly wise, Tonka had never been outside and I was very frightened for him. I called and called him. Nothing. A day went by, a night, another day, another night. I had nearly given up hope on Tonka coming home. And then, as I lay in bed the next morning, I heard his peculiar siamese voice calling. He had returned to the window he left by! I lept out of bed and rushed outside and scooped him up, carrying him back inside. And that tomcat didn’t come back all that summer. Brave Tonka, the scaredy-cat who overcame.


As Tonka has gotten older, he spends more and more of his day napping. Capone loves Tonka. He often seeks him out and curls up with him, and Tonka will reach a protective paw around his pal. Moey, who is usually independent, sometimes likes to curl up with Tonka too.


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I had walked by this nest box a number of times before I noticed it. There are no other boxes around the property, so I was surprised when it finally caught my eye, tucked in against a small red pine. It was probably out in the open at one time, but raspberry canes and brush have grown up around it, partly obscuring it from view.


I’ve been meaning to get out and clean out the box so that it will be ready for a new occupant. The first spring peepers and wood frogs were heard on April 3rd, and the dawn chorus of birds has been a welcome start to the day for weeks now. Soon the swallows will be back too. Today, I finally got out and opened the box up. I cleaned out the old nest and gave the interior a bit of a wash before putting the front of the box back in place.


The nest was firmly anchored in the box and disintegrated when I dug it out. The base of the nest utilized a lot of rough twigs, while the top section had more grass lining it. There were a few large feathers, possibly from ducks. It is probably the nest of a Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor), which would be consistent with the location and type of box. I hope a new resident moves in soon.


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