Wednesday, March 4, 2009

To kill a mockingbird ...

not the book - the mockingbird in my front yard! I knew last spring that he was "around", but he hadn't claimed my yard as his. This winter he was around a little more, but was not a nuisance. But NOW, with spring around the corner, he has staked his claim!

Let me back track a little. Since we have bird chasing dogs in the back yard, and since we do most of our viewing out the front window, I designated the front yard as my "bird sanctuary" when we moved here three years ago. I planted butterful bushes, hollies, a dogwood tree, flowers of all sorts, supplied premium bird seed, suet feeders, and purchased a bird bath. Even the neighborhood kids have gotten in on the excitement of so many birds (a 13 year old girl across the street wants me to put a bench in the shade so she can sit and watch), and I've had neighbors stop to gaze in wonder at all the hummingbirds. So far I've been getting mostly sparrrows and dozens of finches, a beautiful pair of doves and the occasional blue bird. Also the occasional grackle or starling, but they hit for a day or two and head on their way. I put a finch feeder in the front window, and we have thoroughly enjoyed watching them all year round, especially as they change colors for the different seasons from mousy brown to bright yellow.

Then, all of a sudden, they all disappeared, even with fresh new food available! Nary a one! I finally saw the problem when a finch sat on the perch of the feeder, and the mockingbird swooped from out of nowhere to chase it away! The scene is replayed over and over throughout the day. And the irritating thing is that the mockingbird doesn't eat any of the food (except the suet), so I've had to move everything out back where we rarely see the birds!

I wouldn't literally kill the mockingbird, as I actually enjoy them for their singing and bug and dust dances. I also have a sentimental connection in that at a former house we had a mockingbird nest that we were keeping an eye on (I can't remember if it had eggs or nestlings), and the mama was killed (maybe by one of my cats, but I'm vague on that memory). The daddy mockingbird cried and cried (well, screeched and screeched would be more like it) for days, I mean to the point where we were in near tears ourselves as he called for his mate to return. Which she didn't do, so he eventually had to abandon the nest. But I respected that he had made such a valient attempt to sing his mate home. (Yes, I know. The more valient thing would have been for him to step up to the plate and actually see the job of parenthood thru to completion, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't happen in the mockingbird world.)

Be that as it may - I don't want this mockingbird claiming my yard as his own and chasing everyone else off! And before you know it, he will have a mate, and they will have babies, and he will be chasing us when we attempt to travel from car to house! (If you've ever been attacked by a mockingbird, you know what I'm talking about!). I've chased him myself, and pounded on the window, etc. And he just looks at me from his rooftop perch, knowing that he has the upper hand in this situation. (Yes, I know I used a lot of bold words in this paragraph. It just illustrates how irritated I am with the situation.)

And, as I said, here we are going into spring. If you have any ideas or methods you've tried to get rid of a nuisance bird, please share your story with me.


Malinda said...

Wow, your yard sounds beautiful! I wish I knew of a trick. I'll be calling you for advice on how to make my own bird garden! Our neighbors would freak out though - they are scared of other living things including butterflies! Maybe your mockingbird could come make friends with my neighbors, and we could "kill two birds with one stone" wha,wha,wha!

Wendy said...

Give the boys a couple of super soakers and plant them in the front yard to defend your territory. Do birds mind water? Maybe put some hot pepper sauce in there or something.

Jenny said...

Not that this is super helpful, but this site ( recommended you put up 4-5 bird feeders. The thought it that the mockingbird can't defend all of them at once... but it sounds like you already have several. Good Luck!

Jenny said...

Several feeders, that is.

Also, another site recommended moving a feeder that the mocking bird particularly likes to a certain area in a far off corner of your yard. Then add lots of other, non-mockingbird friendly (like specific humming bird feeders), in other areas.

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