Friday, March 9, 2012

Catus Interruptus, Birdus Correctus

Chag Purim Sameach (Happy Purim), chaverim! We have been busy getting caught up in Purim festivities here in Israel, which to our happy surprise is a much bigger deal here than it was in America. We are attending a Purim party tonight at Kibbutz Rosh HaNikra, which is just north of us on the Lebanese border. Once we have attended the party (and perhaps nursed our hangovers the next day), I will be sure to tell you all about it.

But as for the goings-on here recently, it is with a heavy heart that I tell you that our hoped-for adoption of kittens Pini and Dudu Galoshes has been terminated. After waiting another week for the kittens to be socialized, I called the veterinarian to ask if the little ones were ready for their "forever home." He replied tersely that "the attempts to socialize these kittens were not successful." His wife and daughter had been patiently and ceaselessly working with them for more than two weeks, but they just didn't want to become indoor cats, period. And that was that.

However, all is not lost. As a proudly nosy neighbor, spying on neighborhood wildlife (complete with binoculars, from the comfort of my armchair), I can definitively say that "spring has sprung and the grass has riz." There are cats all over the place going into heat, and they don't mind doing it en plein air, so to speak.

The vet knows this, too. Just as I was trying to get my head around the fact that no, I wasn't going to become the proud mama of fluffy, black and grey, Pini and Dudu (and just before Purim, too!), he said that because so many cats were in season right now, he was certain he'd be overrun with kittens about two months from now.

Can I hold on until May? Of course I can, I suppose--there's really no other choice, since we want to adopt kittens who come into the world as an "oops!" rather than as a deliberately manufactured product. But I do trust in the grand scheme of things, and believe that the right cats will come to us at just the right time, i.e. precisely when we're not ready! The particular kittens I'd hoped for this week clearly have a different path in life. I hope they will find a kind family to adopt them as outdoor, semi-feral, non-reproducing cats. Feral cats not only spread disease and have a severe impact on wildlife, but they themselves generally have a rotten, short, and painful life.

Please, if you are involved with cats at all, not only love them and take care of them, but spay or neuter them, too. As for feral cats, please call a local rescue society and let them know where you've seen them. Cat rescue and fostering is not for everyone, of course, but it doesn't take too much to pick up the phone and reach someone who is.

Moving swiftly on to happier things, some time ago I wrote of my exploits as an "Armchair Ornithologist." I was pretty sure I'd wrongly identified several birds in that post, and, as it turns out, I was right--I had misidentified them!

Here is a part of Israeli birder Yoav Perlman's email to me after I made that post, with the pictures he's referring to:

"Hummingbird is in fact Palestine Sunbird. (Oops!) Completely unrelated to the American hummers, they are small passerines (one of our smallest), while hummers are closely related to swifts. They share the same evolutionary adaptation to feed on nectar. Sunbirds are widespread in Africa and Asia, and this is the sole species we get in Israel. The male is iridescent blue, while the female is gray - brown.
"Your sparrows are House Sparrows. (Not Yoav's picture of this petronus, shown above.) You get them in the US too (though they are non-native in the US).
"Crow is Hooded Crow. We have a few more species of crow in Israel but this is the commonest and most urban species. (Hah! I knew this bird was fashion-forward!)
"Pigeon is Domestic Pigeon, the domestic form of Rock Dove." (Yep. And still boring!)
And that, chaverim, is what separates the pros from the posing, wannabe, not-even-trying ornithologists like me. Again, if you've never had the good fortune to read his fascinating blog, "Yoav Perlman's Birding in Israel," check it out at While I continue to moan about getting up at 6:30 a.m. for Ulpan, this man is halfway to lunch at 5:00 a.m. and even seems happy about it. I guess I just see the lazy birds...
Finally, if the pictures I'm referring to aren't showing up in your email, go directly to my blog at .

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