There were a couple of Song Sparrows around, and a lot of Mourning Doves. A Carolina Wren popped out of a pile of logs. The recent rains had made a pool between the heaps of compost, and a pair of Mallards swam contentedly in it. Mallards will go to some lengths for a little peace and quiet. No warblers.
I heard a medley of sparrow songs--White Throated, Junco, Song, Fox, one right after another--and scanned the trees until I spotted the Mockingbird. He flew off, but a few minutes later he was back, on top of a low fence, standing guard over his mate foraging around the base of a tree. They called to each other softly, a sort of sputtering cluck.
Mockingbird, poised for action
I was standing on ground a bit below the tree, so I got some close-up photos at nearly eye level before I withdrew and left them to their business, wishing them the best of luck.
Last year, in the late winter and early spring. I walked up Cedar Hill almost every day on my way to work. There were a pair of Mockingbirds; I saw them both as late as Friday March 15. On Monday March 18, I saw one. He was being harassed by Blue Jays in a line of Cedars on the hill, and I watched as he chased them off and remained, sentry-alert on a treetop. I surmised that the Mockingbirds had nested somewhere in those trees.
Every morning for the next three weeks, I watched the Mockingbird chase two or three, or four Blue Jays the hell away from his trees. The jays would fly in to rob the nest and--a flurry of wings, a blur of birds chasing each other through the vegetation, and finally--a Mockingbird surveying the scene from a high branch.
I can only imagine that this must have gone on all day, every day.
On April 8, I saw a very annoyed-looking Blue Jay poking around those cedars. No sign of any Mockingbirds. Mockingbirds take about 23 to 25 days from egg-laying to fledging, after which the young birds are fully independent. If the eggs were laid on March 16th, there was just enough time to get the family airborne. I think they made it.
I have great respect for Mockingbirds.
the hero of our story