Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Six:
Case File No. 08-268
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Where We Left Off:
The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency provided updates to our chipmunk population. We are constantly keeping our eyes on the chipmunk mafia, innocent bystanders, and the X-Munks.
Happy birthday, USA. I would type that with much more enthusiasm if we weren’t a total embarrassment to the rest of the world. I don’t understand what the fuck is going on with the Jan 6th insurrection hearings. The judicial process at that level is confusing. The primary instigator of that didn’t get arrested. And we continue to ignore the planet’s destruction while rewarding bazillionaires. On the show Housebroken, the episode about July 4th is called Boomsday and it shows how much the animals hate it.
Back at the estate, things are far less volatile. The baby critters are growing up despite Gus trying to catch and “play” with them. The Grumpy Old Man saw one of our bear friends. The man across the street saw a “huge” momma bear with two cubs. Our front bird feeder has been vandalized twice; the back bird feeder is emptied quickly anytime it’s refilled. The robins successfully made a nest in the burning bushes even though I scared the crap out of them; and the babies left their nest one day early because of me. Luckily, there were ready to go. There are more robins in the neighbors’ small fruit tree.
Near the back bird feeder, I wrestled with a hedge trimmer that didn’t want to stay plugged in and cleared the pathway behind the boulder. Sort of. I didn’t do a superb job, but now it’s possible to see through to the trail side in Bunny Hollow.
That jungle of brambles, forsythia, and creeping vines of who-knows-what is still out of control. However, it serves as a place for the catbirds to nest. I don’t think they chose well. It’s a hot spot of bird and critter activity. The blue jays are always there looking for peanuts. The catbirds are not nearly as badass as the robins (seriously, I was so surprised to see robins aggressively beat the hell out of the jays) but they do a fair job. The catbirds squawk and chase the blue jays out who come right back. I even tried to throw the peanuts away from the bushes for the blue jays hoping that would give the catbird parents some rest. I don’t think it worked.
I’ve also never read how catbirds behave towards each others’ nests. There are definitely two protecting that particular jungle mess of bushes. So many other catbirds are around and they don’t get chased away like the blue jays. I wonder if they help each other out.
On June 5, 2022, it was purely by chance that Gus and I discovered a crime scene! It’s all because he has become compelled to nibble on the grass growing up through the edges of the pavement at the end of the driveway where it is extremely dangerous. Yet, if he hadn’t wanted that grass, we might not have found the body at the bottom of the concrete stairs. Concrete? Cement? I don’t know. Hardscaped stairs of a rocklike substance.
The video below shows this crime scene discovery. Still photos are under an accordion though, I will say, it’s not gruesome at all. The body is in tact and looks simply peaceful. Poor little thing.
This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered the death of a catbird. In 2020, Year Four: Case File No. 25-181 code named “The Jazz Bird,” we found a body at our back door under a pile of fall leaves. That case had a twist about why Imogen the catbird was killed. It was solved because Cheeks Moretti was still around to give us the scoop. Cheeks has since retired leaving a couple of very young, supremely energetic chipmunks to run his turf from the rock wall up to Bunny Hollow where Chipcent Donofrio, Munka Kelly, and the X-Munks live. We had to find a new source of information.
One thing Gus and Oliver have made sure of is that we have a lot of confidential informants. I guess they’re not so confidential if I always write about them, but I don’t tell the other critters. There’s a problem though. A Deep Horizon type of problem. The Grumpy Old Man has been putting poison in the burrows to stop the voles and moles and groundhogs. He said it’s not working. New tunnels and holes are popping up all the time. Although, Gus and I have only seen one mole recently (tiny and adorable). He also puts weed killer on the weeds that grow between the pavers.
I suspect this polluting is why the wolpertingers rarely venture into our yard other than Bunny Hollow. The lawn next door is probably organic based on the amount of white clover blooms they have. We hardly have any squirrels now too compared to what a rave it was for them in the past. I can’t blame the poison entirely because before The Grumpy Old Man did this himself with the buried kind of poison, he would hire a man to coat the grass for weed control (swearing it was safe). That man moved away.
That’s a long explanation to say, we haven’t spoken to our informants in months. The best contacts we have are the chipmunks and the blue jays. If a blue jay is responsible for killing the catbird at the bottom of the steps, I don’t know if they’d be willing to talk about it. They do like to talk a lot though. It was worth a shot going to them with a bucket of peanuts to see if it would loosen their tongues.
“Gus, what are you lookin’ at?” I asked my companion.
“Did you notice that?” The cat detective slinked his sleek black body carefully up the rock wall avoiding the loose stones.
“Obviously, no or I wouldn’t have asked.” I continued my terrible job of trying to throw peanuts fifteen feet. It’s harder than you’d think. They weigh nothing.
“One of the doves hangs around on the edges of the other birds. It only talks to its mate, but it acts like a spy. Just sits nearby – listening. Then goes in a different direction when the other birds leave.” Gus sniffed around the top of the wall where a chipmunk could be hiding any given moment. He walked all the way across two sides and stopped near a lilac bush.
“I think the doves may be excellent witnesses, you inferior genetic meat sac.”
“Hey! I feed you!”
“Everybody feeds me except the old man. I get what I want.”
“Damn, Gus. You’re cold.”
“Nah, I’m just smarter than you,” he said as he climbed down from the rocks and headed up the private road towards the mobile command unit at the edge of the junkyard.
He wasn’t wrong. I began to notice that the mourning doves hung around on the outskirts. They’re not aggressive like their rock pigeon cousins. Sometimes it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Gus went under the mobile command unit to put his ear to the ground and listen for rodent activity. I saw one of the tiny, young chipmunks run across the driveway, stop in confusion and panic, and keep going. I tossed a couple peanuts in the grass for it.
Gus didn’t come over to terrorize the chipmunk so she was willing to come out and talk to me. It was Wanda Maximunk, one of the most powerful chipmunks we’ve ever encountered. Gus has had several tangles with her twin brother Pietro. I asked Wanda if she knew anything about the mourning doves who linger around the Blue Jay Gang. She filled her cheeks with three peanuts, ran off, came back, and told me what I needed to know.
One of the doves is called Nosey or Big Nose John Aves. He always has his nose in other critters’ business. He’s basically a flying filing cabinet of data on everyone at the Winchester-Nabu estate and neighboring turfs. I thanked Wanda for her gossip and went to find Gus in the junkyard. He was peacefully sitting on a stack of cement blocks which serve as a decent observation deck for chipmunks and to stay cool.
All this comes back to the murder of the catbird, I swear.
I didn’t think Gus would be the right detective to make contact with Nosey. Oliver was more qualified. The birds aren’t afraid of him while he’s inside his carriage or on the balcony. They end up having some good conversations no matter where Oliver is.
The plan was agreeable by the staff and detectives. Oliver didn’t need anyone’s help. He took up a comfortable place by a screen window and waited for the right bird to come to the feeder. In time, Nosey Aves was there. At first the dove pretended he know anything about anyone. Oliver replied with a loud chatter and it got Nosey to talk. And talk he did!
“Mickey Blue” Paradiso, a heavy thug and underboss type of guy in the Blue Jay Gang, was seen fighting with another bird in the trees across the way. Nosey couldn’t confirm if that was a catbird or not. It might have been another blue jay. But somehow, the catbird got fatally injured because of the fight. Mickey got into a swirling mid-air brawl and this catbird got worried about its nest. It tried chasing off all the fighting birds and Mickey knocked it into a passing car. The dazed catbird landed. It tried to fly off and that’s when it hit the kitchen window falling down to the sidewalk. It stumbled until it couldn’t move anymore and died at the bottom of the stoop.
Case Status: Closed