On 15 June I wrote about a family of mockingbirds that had roosted outside my laundry room window. I think it only fitting that I tell what has been happening of late with them.
First, they only had one chick that hatched. This one chick was guarded ferociously. During the hottest parts of the hottest days (and they were HOT–110 hot) the mama bird would sit on the nest with her mouth gaping and her wings spread shading and fanning her baby. There were days I felt sure her little one would not make it. A baby bird only has about half a teaspoon of blood. Even with its mother’s best efforts, how could it survive? But, it did. In fact, it had some actual mature feathers the day it fell out of the nest and held statue still by the back door, trying to make itself invisible.
I discovered that sometimes the internet is right. Last year when we had the terrible drama of the babies falling out of the nest and dying, I studied up on the mockingbirds on the internet, and the most authoritative sites gave strict advice to leave the little guys alone. Their parents would remain in the area and care for them until they could fly, and even longer, but we must not meddle with the babies in any way. This year when I saw the semi-floppy fledgling on the ground, I followed the advice. I made sure we stayed away as much as possible. I even tried to avoid looking for too long. I made the cat move out of her window when the parent birds (yes, they did stay around) flapped at said window with crazy protective instincts just to scare her away. Here’s a picture showing the evidence of their close dives.
There is dust on the outside of the window from some little sprinkles of rain. There are little dabs where the cat presses her nose to the window. The things that look like scratch marks are actually wing marks. They’re pretty, in a way.
Since I already knew how young birds sound, I would keep my ears tuned to their call, and I would hear the little guy, hopping around in our yard. The parents talked to him (or her, I have no idea of the gender). Every little bit I would spot the baby taking short hopping flights, either around our gazebo or under the trumpet vine. Sometimes I would doubt that the little thing was still there, but every day I would hear the little begging song of the baby, and I would sigh–pleased to know it had made it another day.
It’s now a flying teen bird. It still uses its baby call, and it’s still fed by its parents, but now it can fly into the limbs of trees. I had to shoot these two next pictures though a window screen, so that’s what makes them look a bit misty.
The mother bird is perched above her offspring. The teen bird has fluffy and speckled breast feathers, but it is almost as big as its parents now.
It makes me feel happy to know it’s this far along. It has begun to show some funny behaviors all its own. The grapes on the vine where is was born are ripening, and all sorts of local birds are coming in to partake. The teen mockingbird does not like it one bit. He hops around in the vine and complains of thievery. He was born in the vine, and he considers it his property. (Not so different from we people, of course.) Maybe it is his property. Maybe not. I don’t mind his attitude. I really don’t think he belongs to me, but there is a kinship in my heart. He has come into my life. He is funny and cute, and he’s full of his own importance. He’s lively and his parents are bossy. He could be in one of my English classes.
I hope he lives to be an old and very wise mockingbird. I hope he has a brilliant career and has a nest of his own, a fledgling of his own to guard. But there are no guarantees, are there? What he has is fleeting, and he doesn’t own anything. Nothing, that is, but the sky.