After last year’s catastrophic outcome for the northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) nest in my tree, the death of four nestlings did not dissuade a mockingbird couple from trying again this year. Same couple? I don’t know.
I’ve watched them flit into the tree quite a bit over the last few months. At first I thought they came and went as they stole nesting materials from the various leftovers still held within its branches, but I realized I was wrong when over the last week or two I’ve noticed them bringing insects to the tree and leaving shortly thereafter—with no insect in tow.
Only today did I finally hear the first nestling as it responded to one of the parents landing nearby. After both parents left, I saw a tiny bit of movement through the branches. So I know at least one baby resides in the nest.
The parents watch me closely when I’m outside, and more importantly, they watch everything on the tree closely. The other day I saw them violently expel a fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) who unwittingly climbed the trunk that would take it directly to the nest. Both birds swept in and assaulted the rodent until it jumped from the tree, then they chased it for some distance, the squirrel running for all it was worth as the two avian combatants hit it repeatedly as they flew along with it.
I don’t blame them for being so watchful, so adamant about protecting the nest. The hatchling (or is it hatchlings?) must be quite young to have only recently found a voice. And only recently did the parents begin delivering fresh meals.
My hope is that, unlike last year, the young bird or birds stay in the nest until they’re more capable of handling the outside world. I’ll be watching closely to make note of their progress.
To add delight to the thriving community in this one little tree, yesterday I watched a male green anole (Anolis carolinensis) as he challenged me. Yes, challenged me. Each time I moved, he changed positions until he could face me directly, then he would do that marvelous little push-up maneuver with his impressive throat fan displayed.
I tried finding a spot where I could watch him without challenging his manhood. It didn’t work. He kept a very close eye on me and waited for me to stop before he again started his display.
Why? Apparently he already had his eyes on a young lass also scampering about the tree, one watching him closely to see just how far he was willing to go to stake his claim and win the prize. I stepped inside briefly to fetch a beer, and when I returned to the patio I obviously had provided just enough of a respite for her to think him the winner of our encounter.
He did indeed win the prize, and I was happy for him as I didn’t particularly find her that attractive. Pretty, yes, and fascinating to say the least, but she really wasn’t my type.
Oh, sorry for the gratuitous lizard sex. Maybe I should have posted a warning.