Thursday, June 24, 2010

What I Learned From A Mockingbird

BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS

Northern Mockingbird

There is a pair of northern mockingbirds resident in my yard. They usually disappear for a time in the fall and winter months, only to reappear in the spring to nest. Now, I have watched other songbird parents raise young to great success, but this pair of birds seem to have it harder than others. I've never cheered birds on, or mourned for them, quite as much. But it set me to thinking that there is a lesson to be learned. The biggest one of which is the power of persistence.

This year I observed as 1-2-3-4 times these birds built a nest, laid eggs, and attempted to raise young. It seems there are a lot of enemies to a mockingbird. I'd never thought about that before. On every side there are black snakes or huge, cawing crows, just ready to rob the nest. This is what happened to nests one through three.

I cannot imagine living so "exposed" all the time. Their nests are well built enough. In fact, they are amazing to look at. But no matter how high or how hidden they attempt to place them, something always scopes it out. Yet the mockingbirds are undeterred. They simply relocate and try again.

Northern Mockingbird Eggs

In nests one through three the eggs disappeared, only one ever hatched and then the chick disappeared. Nest four had several youngsters, which we watched grow. Here is where comes in lesson number two - protect what is yours. Mockingbirds are known for being defensive. Male mockingbirds will fight to the death over a female. They are no different as parents. In fact, they have a certain reputation.

Female Northern Mockingbird

It must be exhausting to be a parent mockingbird. Every minute of every day they are watchful for anything that might approach the nesting area. We saw many an aerial battle, Papa bird squawking and pecking at other passing birds, especially those crows, or flying in the face of visiting squirrels. The size of the creature didn't seem to matter. He defended what was his, no matter what.

And in the face of it all is lesson number three - their inherent cheerfulness. Now, I don't propose to speak mockingbird, but every morning rain or shine there they'd sit singing away. We sat and listened to hours-worth of their beautiful trill. Now and again, one would perch atop our chimney and the song would echo through the house. It was nature's music at its most marvelous.

Nest four appears to have finally been successful. I am glad for that. Despite life's circumstances, these birds never quit and never gave up. They kept at it, and they reaped the reward. They did what God created them to do, and they were most determined in the trying. I think we can all learn something from that.

Northern Mockingbird

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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