Michael's Rediscovery of Nature

Ramblings and observations of a former biologist and a lifelong naturalist, who has recently returned to his roots in east Texas. After a many years of working from coast to coast in an industry far removed from biology, it has been a pleasant change of geography, activity, and attitude. No stressful job decked out in a three piece suit. No city living. Instead there is a rediscovery of the woods, of something scurrying through the leaves, of the clear notes of a bird call, and of reliving the joy that I had when nature was a playground and a classroom.

I Know Why My Frustrated Mockingbird Sings

Ah, it is Spring, and, as they say, a young man's fancy turns to love.  Well, a bird in this case. 

Last Spring, I had a Northern Mockingbird pair in my yard.  They built a nest in a tall bush about twenty-five feet from my front door and fifteen feet from the feeders.  For a couple of weeks or more it was interesting to watch their courtship and nest building.  

Mockingbird 03 26 16 2In a few weeks they were a bit more secretive and then a few weeks after that, three little fledglings appeared.  They would often sit in a group and beg whenever one of the parents got close.  All in all, as before, fun events to watch.  

Of course, later they got all their feathers and dispersed.  With fall and winter, I did not see the "family" as much, although who I believe to be the male seemed to be around a fair amount.  Admittedly, there were weeks, I did not pay a lot of attention, even though I kept the feeders full, including the mealworms for the Mockingbird. 

Somehow Spring made its way here and all at once the birdlife became much more exciting.  Rather than a few calls here and there, the morning was filled with song.  Different species were calling, fussing, and trying to find a mate.  Sometimes it was such a cacophony that it was difficult to hear individual birds or individual species. Gradually that dying off a bit as mates were found, nests were made and the annual role of male and female birds began.

Ah, but not so with "my" Mockingbird.  I say "my" because he is very acclimatized to me.  He pays me little attention unless I am trying to feed mealworms to him.  Then he may fly over and land on my shoe and allow me to slowly move the red bowl of mealworms to where he can reach in, grab one, and take off.  When he is in his favorite spot next to my driveway right up by my car, I can walk past withing 2 1/2 feet of him and he just looks at me. That has made taking pictures of him a lot of fun.  

Recently I noticed he was still singing.  Not like the other Mockingbirds nearby for they, too, engage in morning songs, occasional afternoon ditties, and sometimes, a dusk tune.  But "my" Mockingbird rarely shuts his cute little beak.  (Do you hear just a bit of annoyance there?).  He is singing when I wake up just before the dawn; he sings as I sit on the porch and drink my coffee; he sings as I cook and eat my breakfast; he sings when I leave for errands or to work; he sings when I come back home; and, yes, at 2:47am, when I venture to my bathroom, he is still singing just outside my window.  Sing, sing, sing. . .  He does take a breaks sometimes in the middle of the day and for much of the night but never for very long.

I really didn't think much of that until all at once, as I was watching another pair of Mockingbirds in their courtship "play", that I realized "my" Mockingbird did not have a mate.  I really don't know why I was so slow coming to that thought.  Well, honestly I really enjoy the birds, but am not that involved in their lives like a nature inspired soap opera.  

It is hard to avoid anthropomorphizing sometimes and when I do it is more in fun than actually believing that birds have human qualities and behavior.  

So, that said, I will say, poor lonely Mockingbird.  Calling and calling to no avail.  I do understand that from my own younger days.  I even understand the singing and looking for a mate at 2:47am.  But I will offer advice on that.  No telling what will answer your call at 2:47am.  Best to do your searching for a mate when the sun is in the sky.  

I do love watching the birds on my feeder and in my yard.  Maybe I should create a Bird Soap Opera.  "As the Feather Turns"; "The Young and Featherless"; "All My Fledglings"; and ????

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Monday, 18 November 2019
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