Tuesday, July 12, 2011
To Kill a Mockingbird
There was new life.
And now it is gone.
We had a nest of mockingbirds built in some vines entangled around a porch post. We first discovered the nest when we were gardening, and I asked Julie to trim said vines. As she was doing so, she discovered a small bird's nest, complete with little eggs, tucked deep in the tangle. Moments later, we started getting bombarded by Mama and Papa.
We left it alone and let the vines do what they would, though it meant giving our entrance a decidedly abandoned look.
Any poor misguided delivery person that chose to approach our house from that entrance took his life in his hands as he faced the wrath of Mama and Papa dive-bombing and screeching in Alfred Hitchcock fashion.
One timid city-slicker-looking pizza-delievery young man ran out of there as fast as he could with his tail tucked between his legs as soon as tip was in hand.
The eggs hatched, and we kept our distance, but continued to marvel at the dedication and hard work of the parents as they fended off threats real or imagined, and brought food to their babies non-stop.
A couple weeks later, Daniel discovered three of the babies on the porch beneath the nest. He scooped one up and brought it to me, urging me to come quickly to help get them safely back. By the time I got to the porch, one of the babes had been carted off by a fiesty feline. But we put the other two back into the nest, and retreated inside to watch through the windows till the parents seemed to resume their normal activity level. We had been afeared they might abandon the nest but were glad to see they never entertained such a scandalous notion.
Fast forward to a couple days ago. I had been away for a couple days with some of my kids. When I got back, I checked on the nest first thing the next morning. Sadly, it was empty. And no parents to chase me away. I know the babies were still too young to have left the nest on their own, so I can only imagine a cat got to them. One of mine, or possibly the stray Tomcat that keeps slinking around here that we have nicknamed Smoky.
Truthfully, it wasn't a very well-placed nest, just a couple feet from the door, and only perhaps five feet from the ground in a ladder of vines any number of critters could have easily scaled.
But what they lacked in common sense, the parents made up for in effort and bravery. People would literally duck and run from these two tiny winged creatures because they knew they meant business when they screamed to keep away from their babies.
I'd like to think the cat that got them looks the worse for it. Maybe missing an eyeball and a patch of fur the size of a dinner plate.
Better luck next time, Mockingbirds. Godspeed to your babies.
Chirp. Flutter. Click.
Thank you to Buckley.editme.com for picture of Mockingbird.