"Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em,
but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
~ Atticus Finch
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Over the last couple of weeks, we have been serenaded by two mockingbirds. On 'opening night', one had found a perch on the top of the power pole just outside our bedroom window. His repertoire was not only absolutely amazing...it was quite loud and continued for what seemed to be hours. As I lay there listening, I was fascinated with all of the different songs it knew; how many of them had choruses in groups of three and how there was little repetition. He even had the bark of a squirrel down to a tee!
After two nights of this gig we had a brief reprieve. However, it now seems the show has been extended indefinitely. Charlie is threatening to take action if it doesn't take the show on the road! This reminded me of the quote above...of which I gently shared with Charlie. I will admit it is hard to ignore the serenade. Shortly after we are asleep, the songs begin and we are once again awake. While sleep eluded us, I laid there listening...thinking...and remembered a story about some mockingbirds that were in our garden a few years ago.
June ~ 2006
We spent the weekend working in the garden. It was going to be another hot day ~ 90 degrees! So, we started early hoping to beat the heat. While I was busily snipping and dead-heading the climbing rose bush (next to the patio), birds were squawking everywhere! I looked up and discovered a brambly stick nest with three baby mockingbirds ~ mouths wide open ~ peeping merrily. Behind me, hanging on the string of party lights was the parent, watching my every move.
I carefully, but quickly, backed off...all the while apologizing to him/her. The parent buzzed in, deposited bits of something into each mouth and was off again. The babies went silent until the parents returned. This continued all afternoon...peeping and eating.
Several nights later, I looked out the dining room window and saw a little puffy, rolly-poly bird standing on the driveway, beak in the air...peeping softly...almost in question form, while watching the sky.
Snippet from my garden journal...
I called to Charlie and told him one of the baby birds was out. He went out back to check the nest and discovered the birds had left the nest! We heard one by the wall fountain, we knew one was on the driveway...where was #3? I went back to the bush and there he was...straddling two small branches next to the nest, obviously not keen on jumping just yet!
I returned to the driveway to check on bird #1...and came around the corner just in time to see him hop under the gate to the front of the house! Cat central!!!
...another snippet from my garden journal...
So, I followed him. He found a nice, dark, cool place just to the left of the gate by the corner of the wall. There were several large bags of mulch and potting soil next to the wall. On the ground, kind of behind/under the stack of bags, there was a bunch of old leaves, dirt and dog fuzz that had collected over the winter. In went the bird...and again the peeping began.
As the sun set, I went out to take roll one more time before bed. The driveway bird had returned from his brief and daring trip under the gate and was now under the stack of plastic chairs between the garage and log rack...and still sending up 'peeps'. The bird in the brambles hadn't moved and the one by the fountain could still be heard...nighty night, little ones!
The next morning, before leaving for work, I purposely closed the gate that separated the driveway from the back garden so the dogs would remain in the back yard and leave the little bird alone.
When I returned home, I headed to the back garden to see if the birds had regrouped. I opened the back door and Pete jumped up to greet me. Annie was lounging on the walkway, sitting like the Sphinx...with her front paws crossed. In between her paws lay one of the baby mockingbirds. Annie looked at me and without thinking, I said loudly, "No, Annie! OOHH!!!" Of course, remorse immediately set in; she didn't know why I was upset. She was taking care of the baby bird. I think she thought it was someone to play with. Unfortunately, the little bird was loved to death.
I'm not sure which bird Annie had, but she was guarding its limp little body as if it were her own baby.
The Circle of Life ~ Nature's way of checks and balances...necessary, sure. Still, I was saddened to know one of the birds wad dead. And, my heart went out to the parent birds. They had worked 24/7, flying back and forth with food to the nest. One was always close by, keeping an eye on the kids in the nest.
While we didn't see the remaining two babies again, we did hear them in the distance, peeping their signal to their parents for a few days more. Then, the silence that followed told us that the babies had taken flight. This story, while bittersweet, continues to remind us that there is always something going on in the garden...and we need to take the time to stop, watch and listen. There are many more stories yet to come! ♥