Joyce Bunting joyce@CoconutPointPress.com
D. Michael Burke, P.A.Michael@CoconutPointRealEstate.com
Makt rpt edit
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(Mocking) Bird Is The Word
By Joyce Bunting
One of my coworkers came into my ofce the other day
saying that there was a car alarm going off in the parkinglot. She said she had been hearing it off and on all afternoon but she couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from. When
we went to the parking lot to investigate, instead of nding
hoodlums trying to make off with the boss’ Volvo, therewas a little grey and black bird on a low branch alternating between car alarm sirens and a whole repertoire of calls andtunes. They don’t call them mockingbirds for nothing.
You may have noticed that your surroundings have
become a little more musical (or noisy depending on your preferences) lately. It’s nesting season for mockingbirdsand many of the males are out singing their little hearts outtrying to attract a girlfriend. I’m not much of a bird watcher but these crazy little birds are not only amazing singers andmimics, they are unusual, intelligent and playful birds thatare absolutely fearless when it comes to defending their nests and their young.In nesting season, male mockingbirds will sometimessing nonstop through the night trying to impress the females.They have a repertoire of 50 to 200 songs and sounds and
this also consists of specic sounds to communicate danger
to other mockingbirds in the area. If a major intruder enterstheir territory the birds will call to other mockingbirds tocome drive the threat away. They are very social birds and,
though you’ll rarely see them in ocks or large groups, they
take care of each other and will sometimes watch over other species of birds’ young if they’re being unattended.Mockingbirds just don’t behave like all the other birds.For instance, when they’re on the ground they don’t hop,they run. Sometimes when they’re running along the groundthey’ll lift their wings halfway, pause for a second and thenextend their wings all the way. Then they’ll run a little bitmore and repeat the same wing lifting. Is it some sort of mating dance? Some type of territorial marking? Evidently,
no one really knows. One theory is that, by ashing the
white parts of their wings, they scare bugs (the main stapleof their diet) out of hiding. I don’t know if that is true but itis fun to watch. They’re also silly when they get together.They love to play and if you ever see two of them together they’ll grapple in midair, all the while growling, or willhop sideways over each other in some birdy version of leapfrog. Mating? Playing? Only mockingbirds know for sure.If you’ve ever gotten too close to a mockingbird’s nest,
you’ll know rsthand that they don’t care how big you
are, they will go straight for your head to keep you fromtheir young. A 2009 study discovered that mockingbirdscan recognize and differentiate between humans. Amockingbird can pick a human out of group who hasthreatened or seemed to threaten its nest in the past. Thisis not news to a certain mail carrier in Tulsa, Okla. whowas targeted by an outraged mockingbird. "It goes fromchimney to chimney, tree to tree, whenever it sees the mailcarrier, following her down the block. It swoops down andattempts to peck at her." It left everyone else on the block alone. Evidently the mail lady got too close to a nest atone point. I’ve personally seen mockingbirds go after cats,dogs, humans, other birds – including hawks and eagles – and I’ve even seen a mockingbird attack a 5-foot long blacksnake. It chased the snake for quite a while, grabbingits tail and almost lifting it off the ground. They do not takekindly to strangers wandering too close to their homes.It’s easy to see why these birds have been the subject
of many stories and songs and why ve different states,
including Florida, have chosen it as state bird. They’re
erce little birds lled with personality. All that singing
and noisemaking can be a little annoying when you’retrying to get some sleep but remember, as Harper Lee said,“Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for usto enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest incorncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts outfor us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Mockingbird in the midst of the wing-raising dash Mockingbird swooping in to drive away an intruder