Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Post in Which We Go to the Birds

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I AM WILD ABOUT WILD SONGBIRDS. The sight and sound of them, in fact, (especially when I can watch them from up close, through a window) is like balm for my soul. So in spring, as it is now, when the birds and the bees are in full reproductive swing, I become a doofy, bird watching, nature gazing fool.

So far, I have counted four birds' nests in my yard, each with a brooding female - two Barn Swallows, a House Finch and my favorite songbird ever, a Northern Mockingbird. And because the mockingbird pair was especially hospitable to my intrusions today, I hope you will indulge me while I share a bit of the photographic evidence. :)

I didn't catch the mama bird on her nest this time (as I accidentally did the other day when I first discovered it), but I did get a good look at the three little blue-speckled eggs inside.

The shrub that hides the mockingbird nest

By the way, all these photos look much better enlarged.

Before I started taking these pictures, I looked all around to see if the parents were nearby. They weren't (or at least I didn't see them). A few minutes later, however, after becoming distracted by some chatting, I looked up to see both mama and dad watching intently from a small maple tree, not 10 feet away.

They both flew when I approached, but since they didn't fly far, I was still able to get a few photos.

The unmistakable mockingbird tail
Although my point-and-shoot (Nikon S9100) camera is limited compared to a DSLR, the 18x digital zoom makes for some pretty cool bird shots.

You might wonder, with its not-so-interesting gray coloring, why this little bird makes me so happy. So I'll tell you. This is half of the reason:

Its song.

Mockingbirds sing their little bird butts off. And not only their own songs, but they can (and do) mimic many other songbirds (and frogs) around them, building up repertoires throughout their lifetimes. 

Mockingbirds also have a distinct (battle cry) call for running off nest invaders and defending their territory from other mockingbirds. 

This call (I hope it didn't startle you), plus the tenacity and bravery these birds display when defending their babies, is the second half of why I love them so much.

They take no crap from nobody.

I have seen them run off birds of prey many times their size, mid-flight. I have seen them swoop over the backs of mischievous cats. And I have seen and heard them scream their heads off at me when I've gotten too close to their babies. (I guess the current pair doesn't view me as much of a threat. Or maybe they're saving it up for when the eggs hatch.)

Yes, I know I cut its feet off. I just like the cool way the branches (and that one punch of green)
add interest to the background. 
And that is all the mockingbird trivia I have for you (today).

If I can get some shots of the babies (without getting pecked about the head and shoulders), I'll post an update.

Have a great one!

P.S. I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to post photos of our Barn Swallows and House Finches, too. One day soon.

P.P.S. I'm taking either tomorrow or Friday off the blog, depending on the weather. Sunny is good. :-)


  1. The mockingbird is the state bird of Texas. One built a nest in the shrub outside my door once--it was a real problem getting in and out of my house until the babies went away!

  2. Those pictures are awesome! I've never seen a Mocking Bird. Loved it! Great shots of the eggs!

  3. I love it! We used to get attacked by a Mocking Bird in our neighborhood when we walked Cali in South Carolina . .he/she must have been protecting the nest! Can't wait to see baby bird pics!!

  4. More bird blog posts, please. Personally, I can't decide which is my fave songbird: mockingbirds or meadowlarks. The later simply have a double whammy - a thrill, then a peace descends on me when I hear them sing. However, I adore mockingbirds and "talk" to ours frequently. Love making up little whistles that they then copy :-D

  5. Another bird nerd here. :) I was going to warn you about the tenacity of Mockingbirds but it seems you are already aware.

    I'm sad to say at least one of our nesting mourning doves has moved off the nest - I don't know what happened. :( We routinely have nesting cardinals, flickers and mockingbirds in the yard and it seems we've got some Wood Ducks who have found the area near our stream accommodating now as well.

    I, for one, will be looking forward to your pictures, especially the barn swallows since we don't get those here. Thanks for sharing them!

    (Oh and if we're voting for our favorite songbird, I'd like to register mine for the Wood Thrush. :)

  6. this was fabulous. i really enjoyed learning about the birds! we live next door to a huge park, so we get lots of different birds in our yard. unfortunately, i have no clue what any of them are. :-(


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