Birds of
San Diego

Chris Fisher,
Herbert Clarke

(Lone Pine)
Some of us are not very good at bird-watching. We tend to confuse bumblebees with Rufous Hummingbirds, and get excited when we see a Rock Dove which --- the authors inform us --- is the common street pigeon.

For us (and our myopia, and our astigmatism) the Western Gull could just as well be the Loggerhead Shrike or the Bufflehead. God knows, we couldn't differentiate between Brewer's Blackbird and the Brown-Headed Cowbird, much less a Bushtit (or, for that matter, bird shit).

Anyway, Birds of San Diego is a misnomer...there are damn near no birds left in the area. The reason, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article, can be laid at the door, or on the plate, of the common house cat.

Each domestic cat --- even well-fed ones --- will capture and consume over a hundred birds a year. The feral ones do much worse. With the feline population of southern California reaching 50,000,000 and growing steadily, we would guess the time will soon be upon us when the trees will be bare, except for garage-sale signs, and the only bird songs we'll hear will be the shriek of the alarm on the neighbor's car as its being rifled at midnight.

Nearby Mexico sports a far richer bird life than southern California because there aren't that many domestic cats (most Mexicans don't like felines). Obnoxious birds --- sparrows and sea-gulls --- are not protected there.

For some peculiar reason, it is a misdemeanor to cook up a sea-gull in California, whereas Mexicans regularly cook them up in little gull pies. Hell, the Indians (of India) impale those ghastly street sparrows on long picks, cook them entire on a coal fire, and chomp down on them --- feathers, eyeballs, brains and all. Yum!

--- I. A. Schwartz

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