For the last week I’ve been watching a pair of mockingbirds coming and going around the courtyard area. They were uncharacteristically quiet as they busied themselves making trip after trip carrying insects and other small creatures in their beaks to a spot in a hedge a few feet away from where I like to sit. I couldn’t see the nest but knew where it had to be. The adults would come swooping in, land briefly, disappear into the hedge, reappear, and dart away for another snack, all within seconds. At one point a small black snake came along the path and was immediately attacked by a parent and driven. One morning I noticed they were taking food to a different spot a few feet away so I figured they now had a fledging out of the nest and it was on the move. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the young one popped up to take a look at the world. One of the parents was right there in an instant to give encouragement and model how to fly.
This isn’t a good picture but you can see mama (or papa) on the hedge above flapping its wings for the benefit of the fledgling poking up from the hedge below and taking it all in.
Junior eventually started making short flight-hops and disappeared somewhere farther down the courtyard toward the gulf. I had a pretty good idea where it was because the two adults spent much of the day perched on a fence at the foot of this property. Beyond that lie brush and sand leading down to the water. Yesterday evening Sandy and I were sitting down on the deck overlooking the beach when we became aware of a soft, rather pitiful, almost mewing sound nearby. It was Junior, perched on the railing six feet away.
The young one was clearly distressed, probably hungry and frightened, and calling for help from those ever present parents. But they never came. I look around for them but they were nowhere to be seen. Why had they abandoned their prized offspring? Because it’s now time for the young one to make it on its own. If it’s hungry, it needs to find its own food. No more free handouts from mom or dad. Nature’s way.