Sunday, July 29, 2012

From Wine Dog To Bird Dog

A mystery: Sparrow caught in net to protect grapes from birds. Sparrow's head missing. How could that have happened? A coyote? But a coyote would just rip the whole bird out, no? Besides, I noticed no bird there 10 minutes earlier. Inspect the scene: fresh blood on the ground underneath the sparrow dripping from the headless carcass. And where is the head? Missing? Could this be the work of Bluey the wine dog? Where is that Aussie? I see him in the row below following the flapping noise of a bird caught in the nets frantically searching for an escape.

"Leave it!" I command, which he understands to mean leave it alone. I walk down to the row and he's in an attentive sit, staring at the bird, no longer moving. This one has its head, but the body is wet with dog slather. The mystery is solved as I hear Bluey sing a new song:

"Love to catch those birdies,
Love to chomp their feet.
Love to bite their heads off,
Love a delicious treat."

The bird wars have begun and despite the two causalities the birds are winning. They have damaged 3% of the Tempranillo crop so far and we are behind the curve, but hope to get caught up today. We are the first vineyard in the neighborhood with purple grapes and the birds know it and are throwing a party and inviting all their friends and family. I was able to save two birds (one last night and one earlier this morning) and I'll keep a closer eye on Bird Dog. Enough writing and back to netting.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure the dog wasn't trying to rescue the bird from the net and ACCIDENTALLY decapitated the first one while trying to get it out? We had a dog who would carry a kitten in his mouth, thinking he had "rescued" it. Kittens were unhurt but caught cold from getting drenched in dog drool. Thanks for the story, as it brough back that memory from long ago of sneezing kittens.

Craig Justice said...

Dear Anonymous,
Alas, poor bird, Bluey, around birds, turns into an Aussie Salt Water Croc with chomping jaws. Yes, he's trying to rescue the bird from the net into his stomach. I once discovered a missing chipmunk -- with the tail sticking out of the dogs jaws. However, I remember one Spring when Bluey brought us a baby bunnie. This was a rescue operation. He brought it to us (wet in his mouth) but as if he were carrying a pup. If you're a bird flying near our vineyard, beware!