Monday, October 29, 2007

Mockingbird Takes Over Our Yard

One lonely Mockingbird almost drove all of our other birds from the yard. We work hard to attract as many birds to our yard as possible. We keep them supplied with food and fresh water, and do our best to keep predators away. We feel them the "good stuff" and not the cheap mix you get at the home improvement stores. We discovered a type of birdseed that they really love. It is called "Nut and Berry" and is made by a company called 3-D. We find it at Walmart. It smells like nuts and cherries. The birds love it, and there is no mess. The squirrels love it as well, but that is another story.

Anyway, back to the Mockingbird story. We have attracted a lot of birds to our property and really enjoy sitting on the front porch watching our birds.

Sometime last winter, a Mockingbird showed up. We were glad to have a new bird. The ones we had in our yard in Florida were great wonderful songbirds and weren't mean. We were happy to have this bird here until he started getting mean and chasing all the other birds away from our yard. One time I actually saw him collide with a tree while chasing a Tufted Titmouse. The Mockingbird constantly chased our other birds. He was so mean that I named him "Ivan the Terrible." He kept this up for months, until he met a girl bird and fell in love. He became much nicer and was too busy with his girlfriend to chase the other birds. We named her "Ivana." She was a good bird, except when she ate ALL of the strawberries I had been growing on my back porch.

Ivan the Terrible and his wife Ivana eventually became parents to two little baby "Terribles." They kept mom and dad very busy begging to be fed. I was so impressed about what good parents they were and soon I decided I actually kind of liked Ivan. The babies kept him so busy, he no longer had time to chase the other birds. They eventually had another nest with 2 more babies but continued to feed the first two and kept extremely busy tending to 4 demanding babies. Ivan was much too busy to chase anyone unless he thought it might hurt his young. He would constantly chase the Red Shouldered, and Red Winged Hawks that live on our property. It was quite amazing watching this little bird go after the much larger hawks. He was also known to chase crows and squirrels. He was such a good daddy.

One day Ivan was not able to discourage a crow and the crow got one of the babies. My husband Al heard a lot of commotion, ran outside and was able to chase the crow away. the baby was injured so we rushed it to the Vet, who referred it to a wildlife rehab organization. The baby had some injuries but they felt it would recover.

Ivan and Ivana continued to feed the 3 remaining babies most of the summer. One day, Al happened to see 2 Mockingbirds flying away and we haven't seen Ivan and Ivana since. We still had the 3 babies and they seemed to do fine on their own. They would hang out together and never fought with each other or chase the other birds. Eventually one of the babies started showing signs of dominance. He started chasing his siblings once in a while and we think he finally drove them away from the yard. We are back to just one Mockingbird, which we have aptly named "Ivan Junior." He has been a pretty good bird, but recently has been showing some of the characteristics of his father and occasionally he will chase the other birds. We don't know where Ivan and Ivana went but I did find an article about Mockingbirds which said they have summer and winter grounds. We're anxious to see if they return and if they do, will they chase Ivan Junior away? We have wondered about this behavior and have decided that having the parents leave the territory it is natures way of keeping them from inbreeding. That is my guess anyway. If one has any other ideas, we'd love to hear them.