My neighbour’s cat has been roaming my garden for some weeks now, typical with most cats. It is rather tame and allows me to carry it. Many times the cat lies quietly in wait for some unsuspecting bird. I have even saw it stalking a myna on the ground. But so far the cat has not managed to catch any birds, or so it seems. I have yet to find the remains of any bird on the ground.
The Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) are trying their best to outwit the cat. They have ganged up to sound the alarm of harsh and loud calls whenever the cat is around. The birds will hover around just within harm’s way, following the cat, making their alarm calls all along until the latter is gone. Recently I was alerted to the loud calls of the plantain squirrel or common red-bellied squirrel (Callosciurus notatus singapurensis) sitting on a branch of my artocarpus tree. Each time it called, its long bushy tail was flicked upwards. This went on for about five minutes. Then I noticed the presence of the cat in the garden. Apparently squirrels also make alarm calls when they spot a cat prowling around. I wonder whether they make such calls when a dog is around.
Over at my neighbour’s house in front of mine, the little dog there has been harassed by these same mynas on and off. A group of mynas will take turns diving at the dog, always missing by centimeters. Intentionally? Anyway this scares the dog that usually scamper to safety every time. This can go on for about half an hour. I am not sure whether the birds are doing this for fun or can it be that a pair of birds is nesting nearby?
Dr Chang Li Lian told me that her dog is so scared of these mynas that flock to the latter’s feeding bowl that it moves under the cover of the garden plants to reach its food.
Input and images by YC.