Strange Alliance

Strange Alliance
Cat plays hero to birds. Goanna attack rebuffed.


The bird cries alerted me. A glance from the window confirmed that there was trouble in the tree-tops. Such a gathering of species, from noisy-miner birds, swarming like angry wasps, friendly honey eaters, equally agitated, bold magpies and butcher birds showing macho determination to settle the matter. They usually did. I left them to it. With my arm in plaster I was not game to get involved.

The hubbub intensified. Four crows had joined the mob, cawing angrily. This demanded investigation. On arrival, I found Ada, our cat sitting at the base of the gum. Some birds were flying dangerously close to her reach, but her attention was held by something way up above. Disregarding this, I grabbed her with my one hand and carried her kicking, out of range. Nothing changed in the bird behaviour, other than an added momentum to the shemozzle. With a sudden quick wriggle, Ada jerked herself free, to return to her position beneath the gum.

Some of the smaller birds migrated downward to encircle her. It occurred to me that they were urging her to action. I became convinced of this when a magpie landed right beside her, and a tiny miner joined them for a brief moment before darting upwards once again. The intensity of the afternoon sun drove me to the shade of the house decking. The shrieks, screams and flashing colours heralded the arrival of lorikeets.

I turned about, just in time to catch the glimpse of a flash of light on shiny skin and the lightning descent of the reptile, a one metre long goanna (an Australian lizard with a snake’s head). Ada leapt forward to give chase. My heart was in my mouth, fearing that she might jump it. She drove it into the long grass of the surrounding bush.

As she slowly retraced her steps the quiet was noticeable. Our tame Magpie swooped gently down, almost brushing her, their Hero.


– Sylvia Roff-Marsh

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