Lady Baltimore

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lady Baltimore back when there was still green in the garden

I found Lady Baltimore dead on my front porch late yesterday afternoon. I would say without a doubt, a cat kill. I had been looking for her all day. She has been a fixture at my bird feeders all day every day since November 17th. I've made sure she has had a constant supply of big fat red grapes, her favourite, to go along with the suet, peanut butter and black sunflower seeds that would keep her fat & healthy through our long Nova Scotia winter. Yesterday morning, before 7:30 am, when les chiens and I were getting ready for our walk I noticed that she wasn't at the feeders (she's usually up by then and having her breakfast). Throughout the day I continued to look for her and I kept thinking that it was strange that she hadn't yet appeared and I wondered if something had happened to her. According to The Nova Scotia Museum only 50% of Baltimore Orioles that stay in Nova Scotia for the winter survive and I had noticed that the feathers on her head were looking a little messy, mangy - not smoothed and sleek like a healthy bird. I was worried that she had died a natural death, of a bird illness or death from our cold & bitter weather.

She has not missed a day at Black Street since that day in mid November when I first noticed her and her beautiful bright orange breast. I had become very attached to her. At noon, while I waited for Helen to pick me up for our lunch date, I cleaned & swept the light dusting of snow off the porch and I know that her little body was not there then. When Helen dropped me off a few hours later Bleet was sitting on the front porch - I do remember that, because he skittishly ran away and I had to call him to come in.

Later at 4pm I had just returned with the dogs from our afternoon car ride and walk, I put the dogs in the house and came back outside to fill all the feeders and I gazed up into my tall blue spruce trees, a sheltered safe place that she liked to hang out, hoping to spy her. As I was going back into the house I noticed something, lying on my freshly swept wooden porch, out of the corner of my left eye. It was Lady Baltimore.

I still had two drawings I had to finish, scan and email off to customer No. Uno and I could barely see to draw I cried so hard. I cried and cried and cried. I felt devastated. And of course most of all because I wondered if the culprit was big fat Bleet, had I inadvertently lured her with fat red grapes to an untimely death, by cat. Throughout last evening I tried to convince myself that maybe she wasn't really all that healthy, and that had made her an easier target or maybe it wasn't Bleet after all, who did the horrible deed, maybe it was the white and grey stray tom cat with the crooked ear that's been prowling around the yard lately. Or maybe she had died of natural causes and was discovered by a roaming Bleet, picked up, toyed with (as cats are want to do) and then placed on the porch for me - a trophy gift. I wondered why, when literally hundreds of birds visit my feeders each day, why did it have to be Lady Baltimore?

I still feel sad this morning. For nearly a month she was a regular part of my day - I worried and fretted about her, I watched her flit from grapes to suet to sunflowers seeds and back. I watched her squabble with the starlings who would try to boss her out of the way. I looked forward to seeing her every day and I felt SO grateful that she had decided to make her winter home here at 29 Black Street.


  1. I'm so sorry your little friend is gone. From your description, it does sound like she died a natural death and was just picked up by Bleet afterwards. It's a tough world out there for little birds...but you made her life luxurious in her last days. You should feel good about that.

  2. Awwwww .... I am so sorry that she died Susan. I am crying myself, just reading about her....
    I hope you are feeling a bit better as the day progresses.
    My sister had the same problems...feeling as though she was luring little birds to a dangerous...she has 6 cats. She finally had to give up her bird feeding...which is such a shame as they are so much fun to have as visitors and to watch.

    I think the same as Patti... probably the weather and having to fight for her share.. was already getting hard on her and Bleet found her later...
    All you could do was your best and you surely did that for her.

    hugs, V.

  3. thanks Patti & Vee, ... is it crazy to feel so sad about a bird? she just really brightened things up around here and because there was only one of her I could always pick her out of the crowd of birds and she was here every day ...enjoying her red grapes. I really enjoyed looking after her ... everyday for nearly a month.

  4. It's never crazy to feel sad at the death of any living thing. Indeed, we would fear you crazy if you didn't.

  5. Well, if you are crazy... don't worry to much.... lots of us too.
    Some of us just feel more kinship with animals than other folks do I think.

    I cried when I read this story too... but it is a happy ending...check out Crinkly the swan.


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