The trio of mockingbirds has established a no fly zone around the nest that extends throughout our backyard and beyond. Grackles loitering insolently in small gangs, whistling and catcalling are not tolerated. The dog can’t catch a nap in the yard without endless hassling from the birds. The other night around eight I stepped outside and heard a soft hoot. Up on the rocks behind the house, a great horned owl leaned forward and thrust his tail up for balance while he projected his eerie call. But warrior mockingbird was on the scene almost immediately, buzzing angrily and chasing the big owl away.
Yesterday morning I glanced outside and there on the neighbor’s wall hulked a great turkey vulture. I was able to take pictures out the window as he cast his rather terrible red head from side to side, examining the area for a potential meal. He appeared relaxed, ruffling his shiny feathers, preening a little. Then he gave a long stare over his shoulder and began to step from foot to foot. Guess who? Yep, those fiesty mockingbirds were not going to allow such a presence. One kamikazi flew repeatedly at the vulture, actually brushing against the feathers on the huge bird’s back. Another mocker shrieked in outrage from nearby. After only three passes the turkey vulture lumbered into flight. Can you imagine the mockingbirds exchanging an exuberant high five? I’ve begun to wonder if it isn’t a game of intimidation for these birds, from the very start. They have terrorized the lot of us. This morning even I, their biggest champion, received a severe scolding just for venturing out to water my cantaloupe seedlings.
The hatchling mockers leave the nest after about 11-13 days, although they won’t be able to attain true flight for another week. During this time the parents will be on red alert, as they attempt to keep the grounded fledglings from harm and continue to feed them. Perhaps this period of extreme vulnerability is what the parents have been preparing for all along. It’s incredibly nerve wracking if you ask me.