To “Shoo” a Mockingbird

To “Shoo” a Mockingbird

By

Maureen Nitkowski

The glorious repertoire of the mockingbird(Mimus polyglottus) is a wondrous entertainment every spring. Our local bird decided that the top of our chimney was the best place to perform, and perform he did much to the irritation of our indoor tabby cat as she sat in front of the fireplace hoping (if cats can hope) for him to tumble down to her. To date we have  had no tumbles.

Aside from chuckling about the tabby’s dilemma, I paid little attention to the bird until I noticed that a loggerhead shrike(Lanius ludovicianus) was nesting in a live oak tree in our front yard. As I looked on, the shrike’s eggs were dumped from the nest by the mockingbird. The following year this destruction was repeated on a cardinal’s(Cardinalis cardinalis) nest in the yaupon holly. This singer of stolen songs was a territorial bully! He finally did get his comeuppance by a pair of bluebirds who refused to be intimidated out of their nest box.

The next mockingbird dustup occurred when the bird took to poking holes in our peaches as they ripened. I did not mind sharing the harvest, but this was wholesale destruction. I reminded myself that this critter was (a) a songbird and (b) the state bird of Texas, so I could not wring its little neck and sleep with a clear conscience. My solution with the peaches was to cover the fruit-bearing branches with very fine netting which was used again later in the summer to protect swallowtail caterpillars feeding on dill plants from the hungry mockingbird. My landscape might look like an over-the-top bride in a windstorm for part of the summer, but at least the mockingbird and I have reached a truce.

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