Sunday, June 08, 2014

Mockingbird Nest in My Crepe Myrtle Tree

For the past few weeks, I had been noticing a few adult mockingbirds hanging around my backyard. A couple of the mockingbirds had seemed a bit comfortable with me being out in my sunflower garden and other gardens.

Mockingbird on the Roof
Mockingbird on the Roof
That mockingbird on the roof looks rather like a juvenile. I could be wrong, especially when you consider that the next mockingbird on the roof has food in its beak.

Mockingbird on the Roof with Food
Mockingbird on the Roof with Food
With all the mockingbirds in my yard, there had to be a nest of little ones nearby! But where?

Mockingbird Nest in My Crepe Myrtle Tree
Mockingbird Nest in My Crepe Myrtle Tree
In the Spring of 2012, I spent fourteen weeks with a Corona hand saw, pruning the 50 ft. growth from the crepe myrtle trees which line my backyard. If I hadn't brought my crepe myrtles into line, I would never have experienced the thrill of finding a mockingbird nest in one of those trees.

Baby Mockingbirds in a Nest in My Crepe Myrtle Tree
Baby Mockingbirds in a Nest in My Crepe Myrtle Tree
It was one of those normal days, where I was out in my backyard doing a walk around to photograph my sunflower garden from different angles. I had already encountered one adult mockingbird in the grass squawking at me.

Adult Mockingbird in Grass Guarding Nest Perimeter
Adult Mockingbird in Grass Guarding Nest Perimeter
Just this morning, the orange male tabby was walking into my backyard along the line of crepe myrtles. As he neared the fifth tree, I saw a mockingbird swoop down and throw him off balance. He shook that off and turned to approach me. I had his food out, but he was approaching me to say "Good Morning."

Adult Mockingbird in Tree Guarding Nest Perimeter
Adult Mockingbird in Tree Guarding Nest Perimeter
A couple of times a day, I will check on the mockingbird nest to see if the peeps are still active. Each time get up close to the tree, the pair of mockingbirds will appear out of the trees.

Adult Mockingbird in Tree Guarding Nest Perimeter
Adult Mockingbird in Tree Guarding Nest Perimeter
This year, I haven't had any adult mockingbird swoop down on me like it did to the cat. Perhaps they are smart enough to know that they don't need to fear me; I am on their side.

Adult Mockingbird in the Mulch with Dinner
Adult Mockingbird in the Mulch with Dinner
It is pretty amazing how much food the adult mockingbirds can find in my yard! It might be a good thing that I haven't been using too much of the Spectracide Triazicide Once and Done Insect Killer Granules in my backyard. I have been treating my front yard consistently with the Spectracide and that might explain why the mockingbirds built their nest in the backyard.

Adult Mockingbird on the Fence
Adult Mockingbird on the Fence
It was less than two weeks ago that I was looking out my front window and thought it was snowing! We had garbanzo bean sized hail for several days with the rain ... so, I was thinking, maybe snow? As I looked a little closer, I realized it was bird feathers! I was seeing the down. My eyes followed it up into the Drake Elm and I spied the red shouldered hawk stripping a bird. I opened the front door so that it disturbed the hawk who then flew off with its catch. After picking up all the down and gray, black and white feathers, it was obvious that the hawk got a mockingbird. But, was it an adult or baby? I think it was an adult!!

Mockingbird Silhouette in a Tree
Mockingbird Silhouette in a Tree
A NEW FOUND APPRECIATION

Since I found the nest of baby mockingbirds, I've become quite familiar with the babies sound when the adults are bringing food into the nest. I can honestly hear that sound, I think, from my kitchen which is at the front of my house. That's how finely tuned my ears have become to those babies.

I've always enjoyed listening to the mockingbird as it sings its musical song and emits some of the coolest sounds I've heard. They say the mockingbird can imitate many other birds's songs along with insect and amphibian sounds! How about that? As I stand by the nest a couple of times a day, I will talk to the baby mockingbirds, "Hello peeps!" I use the word "peeps" a lot ... so if you encounter a mockingbird one day that makes a sound like "peeps" ... you will know where he got it!

Baby Mockingbirds in a Nest in My Crepe Myrtle Tree
Baby Mockingbirds in a Nest in My Crepe Myrtle Tree
Researching the mockingbird, I learned from Wikipedia that the Northern Mockingbird is the only mockingbird commonly found in North America. They eat insects and fruits which makes them omnivores. What is also pretty curious about these birds is that they are intelligent. Remember I said that the mockingbirds don't swoop down at me? They are smart enough to know that I am not their intruder.

The Northern Mockingbird on average will lay 4 eggs in one breeding season. As I looked into the nest for the first time, I only saw 3 beaks! The pair of mockingbirds can have 2 to 4 broods per year. That makes me tired as I have been listening to the baby mockingbirds throughout the day. My appreciation for the adults taking care of those babies is HUGE! They are constantly on guard for intruders and constantly searching for food.

How long before those little babies can fend for themselves? It says that after only 10 to 15 days since hatching, that those little offspring will become independent! Holy smokes -- only two weeks of life and off they go? Oh my, they better be careful around my backyard as that red shouldered hawk is pretty active.

CELEBRATE THE MOCKINGBIRD

6 comments:

Susan Deppner said...

We have mockingbirds and I just love listening to them. I'm not sure where their nest is (or nests are), but I don't think Daisy has gotten close enough to warrant a warning from the adult birds. We have plenty of woods around us, though, so I think the nest is probably pretty safe. I just love that you got pictures of your resident mockingbird babies - how exciting! I hope you get to see flying lessons. I love it when I happen to catch birds learning to fly. Oh, and I saw a hawk swoop across our driveway a day or two ago which was quite a surprise as we usually just see them through the winter. Not sure what that one was after, but I'm guessing it was a squirrel. Don't you just love observing nature? I certainly do.

Tony Payne said...

Lovely photos Julie.

I loved to listen to the Mockingbirds singing when I lived in Deerfield Beach, and one that I often heard around the pool area used to imitate all the sounds of a car alarm perfectly.

I tried to capture the sounds once, but got the video on the wrong setting, but the audio isn't too bad.

squidoospook said...

Delightful and I always loved the book, 'To kill a Mocking Bird', wonderful read.

JaguarJulie Brady said...

Susan! Great to see you. Oh, if you look at my first photo of the mockingbird on the roof, I think that might be a baby learning to fly. You know, it was a sad thing this morning ... as I went to the nest and didn't hear or see the same amount of little peeps. I didn't think too much of it since the two adults were still around guarding it and holding food in their beaks. As I walked along the line of crepe myrtle trees, my eyes located something on the ground about 30 feet away. A dead baby mockingbird. I turned it over and couldn't see any obvious kill signs - its little feet were curled up. An adult flew to a limb overhead and was "talking to me" about it. I dug a little hole right there and buried it. SO SAD!

JaguarJulie Brady said...

Tony, wow -- that would be cool to hear; i.e. the car alarm. You know, how about a mockingbird that would sit outside and be a motion detector that would start sounding an alarm when triggered???

JaguarJulie Brady said...

Kevin, I don't think I've read the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, but I do love the movie with Gregory Peck! One of the top classics.