Date: 5/29/18 8:29 am
From: John Bailey <johngregorybailey...>
Subject: [sbcobirding] Mockingbird Behavior
The other day I observed Northern Mockingbird behavior I’ve not seen before—

After birding lower Carpinteria Creek—radically altered following this winter’s flooding and the retaining wall work going on beside the sewage treatment plant—I observed a Mocker apply the breaks for a telephone wire landing while simultaneously reversing course to alight facing the direction from which it had come, a maneuver of a fraction of a second that left me rubbing my eyes—had I really seen what I thought I’d seen?


In the evening, from the perspective of a poolside hot tub, I witnessed a three-pack of Mockers zoom the surrounding deck, with tail-end-Charlie dropping off to forage the deck itself and a close-by shrub bed while the leaders of the pack took up observation perches. Occasionally, tail-end-Charlie—obviously, a fledgling—would gape in the direction of his/her parents begging for food then reluctantly return to foraging, perhaps under the compulsion of an empty stomach and night coming on. I was watching two instincts stretch a rubber band to the breaking point. Another day or two, TEC’s on his/her own.


From this same hot tub, I’ve learned to distinguish Mocker territorial boundaries—three coming together poolside—and to distinguish from among many calls (Mimus polyglottus, remember) the one that says “CAT,” a call I can myself perform, a rough kissing sound. Even with no cat in sight, I know a cat is present, skulking about as is their want. Sadly, the cat most often called out in this manner is the same one bringing Mocker nestlings to my back door—warm, dying, inedible.

John Bailey
Carpinteria

 
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