About a month ago, we realized a mockingbird had a nest in the crepe myrtle by our back door. Whenever we stepped out of the house, she'd fly from her nest to the nearby fence. We had to wonder if she knew that it was a little late in the year to be nest sitting. Well, we figured she knew better than us. So we kept an eye on her with delight. She seemed like a friendly bird. She had great trust in us. She'd allow me to get the big clippers to reach up high to snip off old seed pods to make way for new blooms. Amazingly, she never dive bombed me like many a blue jay has done.
Imagine our surprise when the children realized the babies had hatched! We discovered this last week. The nest is up a bit over our heads, but when she'd return to the nest, we'd see their little heads bob up with their beaks pointing to the sky, their mouths wide open, waiting for dinner! We'd be all atingle with excitement! The best part of each day was watching this. Eventually we figured out that there was a daddy bird helping too.
As a result of all this, I pulled out a huge book I had purchased in preparation to join The Outdoor Hour Challenges. The Handbook of Nature Study is huge. We learned that they hatch 3 broods a season. Ohhhhhh! They do like to build their nests near humans. They especially like gardens! =) Mockingbirds are a lot of fun. They get their name because they can imitate other birds. We also know from first hand experience that they can imitate any sound they hear, such as house alarms and car alarms. A few years ago we had a mockingbird in the neighborhood who imitated alarms all the time! Well, this is a variation of the first Outdoor Hour Challenge.
Then last week Hurricane Dolly blew in to South Texas. The next day, after she became a tropical storm, we got a heavy downpour, over 3" of badly needed rain. The winds ferociously picked up, blowing the rain sideways. Oh how I wanted to get that nest and bring the mockingbird family safely inside. Mamma bird sat on top of those birds in that nest, bracing herself while the winds furiously blew and the rain poured down. It was amazing how tenacious she was at protecting her young ones. Later we found out there was a tornado warning during this time. Thankfully there was no damage. The temperatures dropped 20 degrees and Mamma bird stayed with her babies through most of the afternoon before she started getting more food for them. They must have been starving!
That evening, ds decided to video tape them with his camera. Unbeknownst to me, dh told him to use the tripod to reach the camera high above the nest. After successfully getting a video, ds delightfully showed me the tape. I couldn't believe he did that. As charming as the birds were, I told him never to do that again. He could have lost control of the tripod and knocked the babies out of their nest. Oh. He was sad. He had never thought about that. In addition, that was teasing to put the camera up there and make them think Mamma had come with food. Oh. He didn't think about that. Also, messing with wild babies like that can cause a mother to turn away and leave her brood for good. Oh. He had no idea. He was really sad. We went down stairs to check on the nest through the window. Thankfully, there was Mamma bird, sitting on top of her babies again, this time looking around in full alert. I told him that Mamma bird must be keeping an eye out for that little boy. I warned him she might punish him like a blue jay does and start dive bombing him. But she never did! What a trustworthy and forgiving bird.
The next day, we started hearing the babies chirping. Every time Mamma bird came back with the food, we could hear their high pitched voices...."me, me, me, me, me!" It was so sweet. Every time we'd hear them we'd get a big smile on our faces.
With vacation to Colonial Williamsburg coming soon, we began to fear they'd leave the nest while we were gone. Then on Sunday afternoon, I realized I hadn't heard a single peep. hmmmmmm I looked out of the back door and lingered there a while...waiting...watching. Nothing. hmmmmmm Later ds went outback and came running in all upset. One of the babies was in the middle of the back yard, dead. DD ran out back with ds and I. Oh how sad we were. It was heartbreaking. How fragile life is. I told dh about it later and he said he saw Mamma bird carry the baby out of the nest and it looked like it fell. That was earlier in the morning when we were getting ready for church. We haven't seen the others at all. We hope they are all safe and sound.