Growing up mockingbird

Hi everyone,

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.

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4 comments on “Growing up mockingbird

  1. David, how fun to observe a mockingbird family’s dynamics. I met a mockingbird several years back and contemplated the lack of an original tune to their song. Here’s what I wrote:

    Mockingbird Song

    Mockingbird haven’t you been told thieving’s wrong?
    Yet high on the wire you sit taking other birds’ songs.
    Or are you merely just trying them on?

    Perhaps you have an idea for your own,
    Testing a trill or chip-chip, or a drone.
    Redeemed you would be, for then that’s a loan.

    Robin’s morning song, but higher and fast;
    Meadowlark cringes, wond’ring how long it could last,
    While Red-winged Blackbird smiles flying past.

    But why, Mockingbird, have I not heard you try
    The call of the Cock or the ruffled Hen’s cry?
    Are domestic fowl out of range by and by?

    I’ll check on the ‘morrow your progress, my friend
    As I walk down the lane and turn round the bend,
    Anticipating the melody you’ll choose in the end.

    Enjoy your seaside vacation, and listen to a shell for me!
    Janine

    • Good morning, Janine, and thank you for chipping (chirping?) in a poem in the bargain. Mockingbirds are indeed fascinating creatures to observe!

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