Mockingbirds are violent. They chase and attack whatever threats violate their territory (such as red-tailed hawks, other mockingbirds, and cats [and, collaterally, people, although I can’t guarantee they don’t attack humans directly under the right circumstances]).
I stood outside today watching a squirrel get smacked around by a mockingbird. I realize the birds have a nest in the tree out here, and I realize squirrels pose a risk to the nest from simple carelessness. Still, the birds attack the squirrels regardless of where they are and whether or not they’re even close to a nest. I guess they have the same mean streak blue jays have.
This is the same species of mockingbird seen in this post: Mimus polyglottos, or the northern mockingbird. (As a side note for those who don’t read Latin, that scientific name is equivalent to “many-tongued mimic”, an appropriate name for a bird that can learn the songs of more than three dozen other species for inclusion in their own calls.) These avian warriors are the state bird of Texas (calling into question the “northern” thing). You’ll see the bird attack the squirrel twice, and twice you’ll see the squirrel weather the storm with aplomb followed immediately by returning to lunch. He has his priorities right, eh?
To make it interesting, the graphic I used below is a slow-motion version of one of the hits. I was enthralled with it because the squirrel starts to react before the bird even arrives (watch his tail). This happens the second time he’s hit as well. Notice it’s only the bird making noise when he hits the squirrel.
And right after the bird hits him? Well, the “tree rat” goes back to munching on the seeds and nuts I’d tossed out there for his kind and the birds.
I tried to get a shot of the bird near the end of the video. You see a quick glimpse of him sitting on the fence quite near to me. As soon as the camera is on him, he flies away (chicken!).
The video is 2:16 (two minutes sixteen seconds).
The image links to the WMV version and is 22.8 MB. You can also see the AVI version (33.4 MB) here. You can see the MOV version (28.2 MB) here. Finally, you can see the MPEG4 version (6.3 MB) here (trust me, it’s not worth it).
And yes, the bird continued to torment the squirrel for quite some time, and as the video infers, he was hitting him every two minutes or so. Cranky bastard.
For those with a few minutes and the interest to do so, I’d appreciate some feedback on the WMV, MOV and AVI versions. I’m trying to figure out which format I should go with for videos here. I prefer MOV because I have more control over the video rendering, but I know WMV has a much larger audience (still, I prefer not to support MS with that silliness). AVI and MPEG4 are industry standards and are generally supported on all platforms. The former is the raw camera data and generally is a very large file (no compression), and the latter uses great but significantly lossy compression (so the quality plummets). Anyway, are there preferences? Does anyone see a difference that would warrant one format over another? Any other comments?