Monday, August 2, 2010

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 08/02/2010

I’ve watched them secretly through the glass wall that opens on to my “garden”. In early spring the parents busied themselves with home building and remodeling duties. A flurry of wing beats would catch my attention as they powered through the air, twigs, dog hair, and grasses beak-held for delivery to the nest. And, there was the constant and plaintive call of my resident bachelor mockingbird desperately seeking Miss Mocker—all day and all night!

And then, it was all quiet in the garden—time to get down to business. It was surely egg laying time. Not much bird activity was evidenced beyond the sudden rocket ship evacuation of the hidden mother quail surprised by my watering the pot she dared to lay her eggs in. On that occasion I fretted at my rude interference and waited for her return watching with binoculars from a hiding place. No harm done and definitely no more watering.

As the days passed food deliveries increased. There must be big mouths to fill. Mostly I watched bugs caught on the wing, but there was the occasional grackle robbing the babies from the sparrow’s nest to feed her own...horror, squawking, and then acceptance. It is nature’s way. Peeping increased as parents were spending more time hunting, overseeing chicks’ growth from a nearby branch, and letting quickly growing chicks spread their wings….and actually there was little spare room in the nest.

Now it is all tough love in the garden. Junior flutters around from perch to ground dogging exhausted parents—begging, begging, begging! The weaning process, both difficult and amusing to watch, is well underway. Has the training been effective? Will the little ones figure it out? Will they ever fly the coop and give the folks a rest? The garden is now replete with pleading cheeps answered by stern words, tormented and imploring eyes and flashing, impatient glares, submissive postures, snubbed reactions.

Yep, it’s tough love in the garden.

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