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Listen to the mockingbird

By Gary Bogue
Monday, June 5th, 2006 at 12:43 pm in Mockingbird, scrub jay, wild birds.

Sunday afternoon I was making myself a sandwich for lunch when I heard a commotion out in the backyard. A scrub jay screaming and a sharp-sounding "Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!" I carefully peeked out the family room window and spotted Mr. Blue sitting on the fence between my yard and my neighbor’s. The scrub jay was getting buzzed by a mockingbird.

The mocker would fly up to the roof of my house, sit for a moment, then dive straight down at the jay, striking it a glancing blow with its body. It would finish its dive by swooping up and landing on top of the Monterey pine on the other side of my back fence, and then turn around and complete the circuit again by landing on my roof.

This went on for about five minutes. One dive was so violent, the mockingbird almost knocked the jay off the fence. Curiously, it just sat there and screamed back at the mocker. I figured it would go after the mocker and peck its little heart out. Nope.

The jay was bigger than the mocker, but in the wild, it’s the aggressiveness of the animal that counts. If you’ve ever seen a mockingbird working over your cat, you know what I mean. I’ve lost count of the e-mails and letters I’ve received over the years, complaining about those "mean old mockingbirds" that are "hurting my poor kitty and terrifying it to death."

Fact of the matter is, a mockingbird couldn’t physically injure a cat if it tried (and believe me, they do try!).

As I said, it’s the aggressiveness of the bird that counts, and its ability to psych out other animals. Scrub jays are bigger than mockingbirds, and this one in particular, Mr. Blue, had been ruling the neighborhood for the last several years. But for once, it looked like he’d met his match. This mockingbird was totally working over that mean old grumpy scrub jay.

Looks like we have a new "King of Gary’s Backyard."

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6 Responses to “Listen to the mockingbird”

  1. Catherine Says:

    I just found this while googling issues relating to mockingbird aggression. There’s one in our parking lot at work that’s been dive-bombing me in the exact way you described. I’m really really sick of that bird and need to figure out something to do before I get bitten or pecked or something.

  2. Bob Reading Says:

    Gary, the fix for the mockingbirds, is to go up the tree as far as you can and tie a rope to a branch. When the bird starts his loud song, go out and pull hard on the rope, it will shake the tree and after about 10 times doing this, the bird will go away. When I did this he went to our neighbors yard, and keped him awake an we enjoyed a peaceful sleep.

  3. Kaye Says:

    I have a 1 year old cockatiel that talks a lot and likes to be outside in his cage. Lately I have heard a mockingbird repeating some of his words and phrases. It’s really fun but am I hearing things?

  4. Gary Bogue Says:

    Kaye: I’ve heard mockingbirds imitate some pretty strange things so it wouldn’t surprise me that one would imitate your cockatiel. Cell phone rings, washing machine and dryer beeps, cat meowing, etc. Pretty amazing birds. /Gary

  5. Kathie Says:

    I’ve been feeding finches in my backyard for years and thoroughly enjoying watching them feast on the thistle seed, drink for the water dish, and build their nests in the vines that grow up our garage. Last year, in the matter of one week, all three of the vine nests have been disturbed and the eggs were all gone. A mockingbird started taking over the yard and chasing the finches away. I don’t know if the mocker took the nests out or it was another animal, maybe a rat? This spring the finches were back, building their nests and feeding happily. Then a pair of mockingbirds started diving on the finches at their feeder bag, and again, the nests were taken apart and the eggs disappeared. Later I found three nests inhabited by mockers in my grapevines growing over our patio. I don’t want the mockers in my yard, I only want the finches. That’s why I just put out the thistle seed in a sock hoping to keep the bigger birds away. Is there anyway to get the mockers to go away? I took their nests down (two were empty), which didn’t make them happy, but they’re still coming around, “singing” all night, and scaring the little birds away. Help!

  6. Mary Jo Says:

    Hi Gary,
    May 8, 2011. Sky Valley, CA. Yesterday I saw a pair of mockingbirds drive a very large crow out of the Green Palo Verde tree in my back yard. One of the mocker’s danced all around behind the crow and distracted it, while the other one, who was on a branch in front of the the crow, continually made a very good imitation of a rattlesnake’s rattle! This went on for at least 10 minutes before the crow decided to leave. As the crow tried to take flight through the tangled maze of branches, the mockers attacked and ultimately chased him through the sky for a quarter of a mile!

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