Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Northern Mockingbird Connection


It’s feeding time, or any time. When I arrive at the bird feeders with food and a greeting, all birds flee, but I’m never alone. The only two birds who show trust, or I should say boldness, are the Northern Mockingbird and Carolina Chickadee.

Mockingbirds intrigue me. And, as seen in these photos, I think Mockingbird is intrigued by me. Often, I have complained about its haughty nature and also vowed to never complain again. Consider this as my truce and a tribute to a bird I continue to stumble upon, rescue, and spoil. There are several Mockers who reside around the house. I held one of them close to me during a rescue from my sunroom. Ahhh…I’ll never forget our eye-to-eye.

Is it possible for a backyard bird to recognize a particular human as being trustworthy, to a certain degree? Can it form a relationship with a human? Let’s flip the question and answer it here. Yes, it’s possible for a human to form a relationship with a backyard bird.

We talk. For you non-birding folks, conversations with birds are no different than having conversations with household pets. The Koi in the pond listen to me, too. Think I’m nuts?

It’s quiet in the yard. The birds fled. Not a bird in sight.
Dive. Smack. Plop.

Hey lady. Where’s the suet?

There’s no suet in the cup. Do you hear me? No suet.

Oh gosh, it’s you again. Be patient, Mocker. It’s coming.

I’ll wait right here. You may take a photo of my right profile for your homemade suet.
Or would you prefer my left profile?

Is this pose worth suet and worms?
And, by the way, my grapes are gone. Someone ate my grapes.
I need more grapes.

Obviously, Mocker, you have not been on guard often enough…


How do I describe a Northern Mockingbird?

Type A, drama kings and queens, protective of its own, combative, territorial, intuitive, good communicator, possessing the sweetest, most melodic voice of all songbirds, and

Elegant. Flashy!


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Me first!! Me first!!
I love your mockers May. Wish we had them up here. It's because of you that I get so excited to see them when I go out of state.
I talk to my birds too. And yes, I'm sure that certain of my yard birds know me and recognize me as the food lady.

No matter our political views, it's always an exciting day when a new president takes office.

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures! Yes I talk to the birds while I'm filling the feeders.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
I also have a relationship with a Mockingbird. I love him...
I would like to think he would visit food or no food but it is not so...I am only a meal ticket.
Many people are filled with hope today.

Kerri Farley said...

OH Mary.....what a stunning series of shots of the Mockers! I talk to the birds too! And sometimes I think they talk back to me :)

Dog_geek said...

Beautiful pictures! I just love Mockingbrds - I think I commented before about my dad's special mockingbird friend when I was growing up. They will always have a special place in my heart!

Balisha said...

Those pictures are outstanding. Wish we had mockingbirds. I also loved the ice pics.
Big day for us here in the USA...I'll be watching with excitement.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I have mockingbird envy! I have yet to see one here. Today I'm battling the starlings! I'd much rather have mockingbirds.

Your pictures are wonderful! We've said before that you are the bird whisperer.

I think some birds are definitely more trusting than others. It looks like you have won this fellow over!

Vickie said...

Mary, that was outstanding! I especially enjoyed the left profile intimate eye-to-eyes! I am loving the mockingbirds that come to my birdbath. I notice the other birds don't approach while he's drinking. They patiently wait their turn!

Kathleen said...

Crazy? You? Only like a brilliant mind with a kind heart. I would be disappointed if you didn't talk to the birds.

I laughed when I saw who ate the grapes! Only a few minutes ago I was watching a squirrel steal peanuts.

Enjoy today, Mary. Celebrate!

NCmountainwoman said...

I just love mockingbirds. I have seen them in the area but not near our house. Lovely photographs of your accomodating mockingbird.

Anonymous said...

I'm watching Day 3 of the Siege of the Ultimate Platform Feeder, wherein a territorial male mockingbird has taken control of the feeder and will not allow any other birds to land on or near it. Not that he's eating any of the food at the feeder, mind you, he's just claiming it all as his own. Mockers do have personality plus, don't they?

SaraG said...

Beautiful photo's. That is a real nice picture of the Obama's too.
Thanks for sharing!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think it so strange that the birds or squirrels in our neighborhood don't eat grapes. It always amazes me when I see these photos.

Of course you can talk to the Mocker. They are very intelligent birds.

Good Luck Mr President.

jason said...

These are great shots, Mary! Beautiful.

You're not alone with having the mockingbirds stay nearby when everyone else leaves. I've noticed while out for walks that almost always at least one mockingbird follows me and keeps an eye on me. And they don't mind getting in close so they know what I'm doing. It's rare that I don't turn around and find one perched nearby watching me intently.

I think you're right about birds growing to recognize individuals and knowing whether there's trust there or not. Like all animals--humans included--birds form relationships based on experience and familiarity. And like all animals, the quickest way to comfort is through food, so you've definitely bridged that gap.

Cheryl said...

Hi Mary......I am so glad that I am not the only one that talks to bird. My robin and I have regular conversations.....he even comes into the shed and watches while I restock feeders......
I love your photographs.....they are stunning......
President Obama seems a good man.....I for one feel he will be good for the world not just America. I wish him all the luck in the world......

Heidi said...

Oh Mary! Love that demanding Mocker!!!

That sure was a lovely photo of the Obamas :) It'll be nice seeing little kids in the White House again. I'm grateful for the peaceful transition of power (although i totally expected that) and pray he has a good 4 years. Our country needs to move on and have faith in itself again.

KGMom said...

Me too, love mocking birds.
I love it when one decides to sit high atop a Douglas fir next to our house and sing--all day, for days on end.
Squirrels eat grapes? Who knew?
And I love the family photo--very sweet.

Susan Gets Native said...

Mockingbirds...another bird with floofy bloomers.
: )

I cried today. For joy.

Beth said...

I'm with Susan - I cried too. How exciting to be part of this amazing time in history.

Love the mockingbird pix. I don't doubt that he was talking to you. I know my birds talk to me!


Tina said...

Oh yea, I talk to the birds, the dog, the cat and to myself..alot! I do think birds recognize who feeds them..and give way for you to do so..I often see many of the birds that were at the feeders sitting only a few feet away...and when I'm done filling the feeders and back inside.. I see a lot of flapping and their back..nibbling away!

Great shots of that mocker..such up close and personal..nice detail. love it!!

Larry said...

Great Mockingbird photos.-I know that Mockers are known for protecting their food sources.-So maybe your mocker looks at you as his meal ticket.-I am looking forward to a change in direction for this country and welcome our new president and wish him good fortune-He's going to need it.

Julie Zickefoose said...

You are killing me with these mocker pictures. He has you right in his little gray pocket, girl.

Sharp as a tack and luscious. I hope you are dusting your Vagabirding Magazine Amateur Photographer of the Year award. Daily.



Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures!
Yes, I talk to the birds too. Last winter I had a whole flock of Canada Geese that I fed and they would come when I called them. At times they came when I didn't call also..... as soon as they saw me (trying to sneak into the house unnoticed)they would start flying/walking over to my yard. If they didn't see me outside some of them would look in the livingroom window to remind me.
The Stellar Jays are also great friends, last summer I had some of them taking peanuts from my hand, and if I should happen to forget to put peanuts out they would be screeching at me from a tree.

Mel said...

Hola Mary :)

Beeeeeeeaaautiful pics!! That bird is such a great model ;)
A Vermilion Flycatcher waits for me every morning before I go to the office, then he flies away.



Kim said...

Seriously, those are some of the nicest mockingbird pictures I have ever seen. I am a mockingbird fan and find that they are very brave.

Love the squirrel pics too. I put out grapes for the wildlife in my yard too. They love it, especially this time of year.

beckie said...

Mary, I love to hear the mockingbirds and thanks to you I am finally getting to see them up close. Gorgeous pictures! And yes, it's alright to talk to birds. I'm sure your neighbors don't think any thing about it. :}

'Replace fear with hope!'

LauraHinNJ said...

I love your mocker pics - especially his beautiful yellow eyes!


Mary, I am utterly charmed at 6:45 a.m. from your posting.

PJ said...

LOVE the last picture! I miss the Mocking birds of the south...CO doesn't have any. Thanks for sharing your Mocking birds!

Kathie Brown said...

The shot with the mockingbird leaning over with that intense look in its eye makes me see why they are grouped with thrashers. You got some nice shots of it, especially with the light glinting in its eye. As always, your writing is spiced with humor. Your backyard is a pleasant place to visit.

Corey said...

I fully expected my neighborhood mockers to return when I put the Zick dough out the other day. So far, no sign of them. I'm equally as jealous of your Pine Siskins . . still not one on my thistle.

Anonymous said...

Mockingbirds are such elegant birds. Wish they could be found around my home!

Philip said...

I dont think you are nuts I talk to all the birds which visit my garden and you have take some beautiful shots !!

Naturegirl said...

Mary: Today I will attend my mothers funeral so I needed some comfort from my Nature world so I knew where to come and see them and smile and take a bit of the stress away. You always make mw smile Mary with your amazing photos and humorous prose about those little heartbeats that you and I love!Blessings to you.

Rose said...

Mary, I talk to my pets, too, and I did have conversations with the hummingbirds this summer. I was always trying to persuade them that the camera was harmless and would they please wait till I zoomed in, but of course, they didn't believe me.

Mary, I taught To Kill a Mockingbird for 34 years in the classroom--still one of my favorite books of all time--and I always think of that when you write about mockingbirds. Once again, the connection works--seeing President Obama shows how far we have come. Inauguration Day was an awesome day for this country, and I hope we can keep this feeling of hope and optimism.

Appalachian Lady said...

Great photos of the mockingbird. I don't think I have ever had any come to the feeder or stick around.

Yes, so happy to see Obamas in the White House. What a new era

Donna said...

We have quite a few mockingbirds at our house. They're always diving at the dogs. Love them anyway, and I talk to them too!

Great photos!


RuthieJ said...

I talk to my birds too.
Do you think you could ever get those mockingbirds to eat suet or grapes from your hand? That would be so neat.
And lastly, I had no idea squirrels liked grapes--those pictures were too cute.

Anonymous said...

Mary you have inspired me with those amazing Mockingbird captures. Absolutely beautiful. I love the squirrel photos as well. You obviously have a friendly yard.

I also want to thank you for posting the great photo of the Obama family. I am very excited about the turning of not only America, but the world, to a more positive attitude. I feel a move toward humanity I have not felt in years!

Anonymous said...

Mary, I think that people that don't communicate with wildlife are nuts. It is fun to have a trusting relationship with a wild creature.

Leedra said...

Love the mockingbirds!

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