Mockingbird parent feeding a baby. Photo by Joannah Henrichs, El Cerrito, CA
My neighbor cut back a tree close to our front window in which mockingbirds were nesting. On going to the front window the next day, I saw this babe (above) in our junipers and was lucky enough to get this shot just as the adult came with a beak full! The chick managed somehow to get into another tree close by, although it was not flying yet, and we watched for about 6 days as the parents took care of it before it was able to take off.
It was astounding to see that little (or not so little!) bird being cared for and reared without its nest. I’ve wondered what may have happened to the others in the nest. But at least one survived. It’s sad when people cannot wait to cut trees, even when advised there are nests in the tree. Oh well.
It’s been a wonderful Spring!
Joannah Henrichs, El Cerrito, California
Think positive. Maybe the other chicks manage to flutter to a nearby neighbor’s yard where the mom, assisted by the dad, was also feeding them there. We can only hope.
Trees should be trimmed at the end of summer … and then, only after checking to make sure the birds have finished nesting. Anyone can check, by the way, by calling the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek at 925-935-1978. Ask to speak to the wildlife hospital. Explain you want to trim your trees and and ask if the birds have stopped nesting. Thanks for caring, folks! /Gary.
Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2012
Under: Mockingbird | 1 Comment »
Scrub jay harassing a red-tailed hawk. Photo by Lissa Heaton Severe, Walnut Creek, CA
We have a red-tailed hawk nest in our neighborhood. Every year they come back to lay eggs. The babies are about 6 weeks old now, very cute! When I went out to take a picture of the mom at the top of the tree, I noticed a scrub jay flying around it, basically squawking and pestering it. Why would a scrub jay take on a hawk?!?
Lissa Heaton Severe, Walnut Creek, California
It is the nature of small birds — jays and mockingbirds in particular — to kick up a BIG noisy fuss whenever they encounter a bird of prey. They are Nature’s alarm system that lets all the other birds know when a predator is in the area. They will also do the same when they see a cat, and sometimes a fox squirrel. Fox squirrels are known to rob bird nests, eating eggs and sometimes small chicks.
Jays and mockers are smaller and faster than hawks, so unless they get too close, or careless, they can pretty much jump up and down and scream their heads off and do what they want without getting caught. The hawks know this and will often just ignore them. /Gary
Posted on Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
Under: Hawks, Jays, Mockingbird | No Comments »
Mockingbird babies singing National Anthem. Photo by Katherine Bryce, Walnut Creek, CA
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly …
Posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2011
Under: Birds, Mockingbird | No Comments »
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."
Posted on Monday, June 5th, 2006
Under: Mockingbird, scrub jay, wild birds | 6 Comments »