In Search of Ponies: Dogs adept at catching birds

Oh yeah, they eat crow. And pigeon, dove and grackle too.

In fact, their prowess has grown to the point that I am actually starting to think Sylvester was miscast and should have been played by a dog.

You would think the fly-boys and girls would spread the word amongst themselves to avoid my yard, yet every morning they march across the porch like a bobble army, searching for leftover pieces of kibble. For each on the porch, there are at least two more perched on the edge of the roof as if they are waiting to see how their comrades fare below, craning their smooth heads and beady eyes to watch as they explore the food bowls and make way to the water dish.

Morning isn’t the only busy time, with the bobble-ones also choosing to visit when the yard is nice and quiet during the dogs afternoon nap, making the porch a madhouse of tweeting, hopping opportunity.

For the winged ones, the back porch is the cultural Mecca of birds, a nexus of societies and a melting pot if you will, with everything from outspoken grackles to peaceful doves gathered there in hopes of finding just one beef flavored pellet.

The dogs usually seem to ignore it, lounging on the warm concrete in the sun, or snoozing on the nearby grass with their legs sticking up in the air.

But occasionally, a slightly lifted lid in an otherwise frozen body will reveal an amber orb intently following the flitting visitors from one side of the porch to the other.

And inevitably, one of the sleeping ones suddenly animates, bounding forward, jaws snapping. The charge is followed by a multicolored squawking cloud rising to the air as the birds make their way back to the edge of the roof to wait for the pooches to go back to sleep again.

I can’t help but wonder if they think it is some hyper-interactive game of ball, where the ball changes direction in mid-air, evades and squeaks. Or perhaps dogs take to playing ball so well because it’s the closest we humans have come to replicating their beloved pigeon game.

Having seen the attempted snatch-and-grabs, but have never witnessed them succeed, I still have had no doubt the dogs are quite good at the game.

Not because I just believe it, but rather because the feather piles around the porch are kind of giveaways.

Admittedly, it was a bit surprising the first couple times I found a dead crow in the yard because I had always associated bird-catching and hunting with cats; credited much in part, I am sure, to Sylvester and Tweety.

Had Looney Tunes chosen instead to make Sylvester a burly bull dog or snappy schnauzer, maybe I would have seen it differently. So too, might the birds on my porch, because they don’t seem to get it that the dogs are a threat to them until it’s too late.

That’s not to say the cats don’t try. Any given day you can see them skulking through the yard, or tucked behind some tall brush watching a fowl foe nearby and it seems most of their time, when they’re not dozing of course, is spent in some type of hunting, stalking or thinking about hunting.

Of course bird hunting does fit cats quite well, with their agile, tree climbing ways and of course the fact they always land on their feet.

But at least at my house, the dogs are far more adept at it — their feather piles outpacing the barn cats at a rate of about 5-1.

The cats don’t even have the corner on mousing, considering I saw one of my pooches happily toting one around in its mouth not too long ago.

You know, on further consideration, maybe Warner Brothers knew about the dog-bird thing and made a wise decision in choosing a cat instead.

After all, thinking back to those cartoon days, what made the cat-bird combo succeed was all about how many times and ways the cat failed.