This morning I let the dog out in the backyard as usual and proceeded to get the girls breakfast and dressed for the day. This took longer than usual, and the dog was outside for a solid hour. Admittedly, I had forgotten about her until I heard her barking in the back yard. This was not her typical, hey-you-forgot-me-again bark, this was a vicious-defending-the-property kind of bark and it caught my attention quickly. (We have had numerous break-ins in the area with people going through the back yard in the middle of the day and I'm pretty sure someone has been in our garage twice in the last month.)
I went to the back and looked out the sliding glass window to see Missy, hackles raised, jumping at the side fence where our neighbors, on a ladder, were intently examining their orange tree. Not too unusual, they keep up their yard nicely and I often see them tending to their plants. I opened the door and yelled at Missy to stop and tried to get her inside. She stopped barking, but decided to keep vigil at the fence.
A short time later, we were getting into the car to take Ella to the doctor to get her face rash looked at (she has a contact allergy from something), and the wife came up to me. She wanted to look around our driveway because her two six year old finches had escaped. They had been in the orange tree, but flew away and were last seen flying over our fence toward the driveway. We looked, no such luck. I told her I'd keep an eye out for them.
After lunch, the girls and I headed out to the backyard to play. I needed to water the plants. I headed up to the top of the yard, Ella following behind, and heard the tell tale "peep peep peep" of a finch. I could tell it was in the large tree just on the other side of our back fence, but with the thick foliage, I couldn't see the bird.
I decide to go next door to see if maybe the bird would come to my neighbor. As I turned, I saw standing in the middle of our top tier, holding something over her head.
"Stick, Mommy," she said.
I looked. Sticks aren't bright orange. I go and grab it out of her hand. It's a finch leg.
"Ella, where did you get that?"
"Wight dere," she said, pointing.
I go to look. There is the rest of the bird, covered in ants, and completely featherless. Plucked like a chicken. Nothing else obviously missing.
As I'm contemplating exactly how that happened, (how could 50 lb Missy pluck a bird and not mangle it in the process, how could even Tabby manage it, very strange), Ella sticks her finger in some cat poop I had failed to pick up.
Into the house to wash hands, then back to pick up bird and poop. Then, heading over to neighbor's with the bad news.
As I'm heading over, I hear the "peep peep peep" again. I look up. Finch #2 is sitting in our tree, too high for me to reach even with a ladder. I ran into the neighbor, coming up her driveway. I tell her about the unfortunate finch #1, we go to look for finch #2, who has flown away by now.
She asked for the body. Being a veterinarian, my instincts to shield people from seeing their pets after horrible accidents kicked in. I told her I threw it in the trash, but I could get it if she wanted. She didn't.