Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to
Every single day now for the past week, a red cardinal crashes into our living room window over and over again for two hours in the early morning. Then it is gone for the rest of the day. The poor bird does this with such intensity that his feathers get knocked off and stick to the window. We have lived in this house for 24 years and we have never experienced this situation before. Why is the bird doing this and what can we do? It does not seem as if he is hungry. We see him at the bird feeder in our yard in the afternoon. -- Roberta Smith, Lakeview
In the spring, when the daylight hours get longer, native birds experience raging hormones. Males in particular will fight with others of their sex and species with severe intensity to protect their nesting territory. It seems that in the early morning the angle of the sun allows the bird to see its reflection in your window, and, being a bird, it thinks that reflection is another of its species. Thus far the only animals that have been proven to have self awareness of their reflections are apes, dolphins and elephants.
(When I had my raven Dante and first showed him a mirror, he would peck at the refection, however as time went on he ignored it totally. I am not sure if he thought it was himself in the mirror but he certainly did not think it was another raven.)
At any rate, after the sun gets higher the light's angle probably no longer allows the cardinal to see its reflection and that is why the bird stops attacking it. This situation is very stressful for the bird though and means the bird has two fewer hours every day to perform parental duties.
You can easily solve the problem by taping some paper to the outside of the window. It does not have to cover the whole window, just the bottom 8 inches or so. That way, the bird can no longer see its reflection and will think it finally chased that pesky interloper out of its territory. Only then can it go on with its life.
My spayed 5-year-old indoor calico cat is not normally vocal. However, in the evening she carries her fabric lanyard in her mouth, wailing mournfully, until she drops it. I am puzzled as to why she does this and what this behavior means. -- Judy Bishko, New Hyde Park
It really does not mean anything -- it is just something that she likes to do. A spayed cat has no estrogen, so she cannot have any mothering behaviors, so it is not like she thinks it is a kitten.
It could be that she is treating it like a prey animal she may have just caught and is looking for a place to hide it and then is not satisfied with any of the spots she encounters and then forgets the idea. Or it could just be that she did it randomly one day and liked the way that you reacted to her behavior and learned that when she does this you will give her attention so it has become a game. Whatever the reason, it is not a reflection on your care of her and it is not because she is lacking anything in her life.
When I was a kid, I had a cat named Frosty who lived outdoors and indoors and spent the whole day roaming the woods. He lacked nothing in his life and yet he liked to just pick up things and carry them home. He would bring back sticks and small rocks and leave them on our back porch in a pile. It was a hobby of his and only Frosty knew why he liked to do it.
About 4 years ago my husband and I saw a strange squirrel in our yard. He is completely hairless. His tail is long and curls, but he has no hair or fur. I feed the birds in my yard and he also came to dine. We thought he would die over the winter, but lo and behold he is back. He fights with the other squirrels. It is funny to see this weird squirrel. We then saw two other hairless squirrels. Is this a disease or is it genetic? -- Lorraine Todaro, Smithtown
The lack of hair is not due to a disease but rather to the same hairless mutation that occurs in other rodents.
I have had hairless mice, rats, hamsters and guinea pigs. Either this squirrel has bred and passed on the mutation or its parents have had others, and thus there are siblings surviving in the neighborhood.