There is a large bougainvillea bush right at a fork in the pathway to my house. It has beautiful dark green foliage with purple flowers, and an abundance of long thorns. My son and I heard peeping one day and decided to investigate. We looked into the bush and found a bird’s nest with 2 or 3 baby birds inside. When we went outside later that day, we were greeted by two adult birds who were staring at us and chirping loudly. We kept our distance but they wouldn’t stop until we were out of sight.
I looked them up and found out that these birds are Northern Mockingbirds (Florida’s State Bird!), which are extremely intelligent birds. They are also extremely protective birds, everyday since our initial encounter we have been harassed by the mommy and daddy mockingbirds. They are even able to recognize individual people, especially if they are a possible threat to their nest (really don’t go near their nest).
Unfortunately, since their nest is in the bush right outside our house, we have to get relatively close to the nest every time we go outside, which is pretty often. We have been moving quickly past to keep our distance but after another few days they became more agitated at our lack of moving away. They blacklisted our dog by association and began to swoop down at our dog as well, these birds are fearless... My dog is not a small dog!
Good news is it does not take long for the baby birds to mature and leave the nest. Around 10-15 days after the eggs have hatched the baby birds have feathers and are ready to leave the nest. That’s when they start jumping out of the tree and venturing off. We were SO LUCKY to witness this! About a week later, we stumbled upon one of the baby birds in our backyard garden! We had just gone out to water our plants when we saw the baby on one of our pots, both mom and dad mockingbird were nearby and extremely offended by our presence, so we decided to skip watering and head back inside right away. We watched the mockingbird parents watch over, and chirp at, their teenage bird as he (or she) was learning to fly. It took many hops and slips but after about an hour we caught on video the bird flying up to a tree and was on its way!
This does not necessarily mean our time with these mockingbirds is over! They will have 2-4 nests during this mating season. If they choose to have another nest here, we will surely maintain as much distance as we can. Definitely do not ever look at a bird’s nest unless from a safe distance with binoculars or a camera, as to not disturb the birds. We need to remember that habitat is severely reduced in suburban areas, any space we can provide to any wildlife is critical to conservation efforts.
Mockingbird Fun Facts:
· This chatty bird is capable of making 200 different calls! Including mimicking different sounds: from other birds, to car alarms, and they can even bark like dogs.
· These birds are omnivores, eating insects during spring and summer time and in the winter they eat fruits and berries.
· Male and female mockingbirds mate for life!
· They produce 2-4 broods during mating season with 4-6 little green spotted eggs.
Photo credit: Baby mockingbird by Kayla Caldwell