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Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Battle Of The Birds

By Laura Doering
Join in on Laura's fun and experiences of bird ownership, and share in her adventures as the editor of BIRD TALK, the world’s most widely read pet bird magazine, in Wayward Feathers.

I got delayed heading to the office this morning because there was an all-out bird war going on in my backyard. My first clue was Ollie’s alarm call. He’s a nanday conure, so of course you’re probably thinking, “Isn’t every call an alarm call?” Actually, Ollie’s pretty quiet. But when I hear this particular ear-piercing shriek, I know something is scaring the bejabbers out of him. Then I heard the wild birds screeching what I presume were birdie obscenities at something. I looked out the window and there it was … a hawk, perched on my plastic lawn bench.

I opened the back door and the hawk flew to the nearby tree. Ollie calmed down and the mockingbirds quieted down, too. (Oddly, my cockatiel has the same view of backyard as Ollie but he didn’t seem as concerned.) Then the hawk flew down to his previous spot on the bench. The mockingbirds were back to yelling at him (I counted three) and one swooped down at him. I went out again, this time with a broom (just for show) and the hawk flew out of sight.

I knew this skirmish had something to do with the nest I wrote about last week. But I wasn’t sure where it was. Then I looked down and saw a little mockingbird fledgling sitting quiet as can be in the corner of our backyard wall. That would explain why the hawk was perched so low. One of the fledgling’s parents dutifully stood guard above it on the wall.

 I must have gotten on the mockingbirds’ good side when I chased the hawk off, because they ignored me, and I was closer to their baby then the hawk ever was. The chick was fully feathered and looked healthy. It so reminded me of a little cockatiel chick with its compact tail still needing to grow long and gray and white coloring.

 I went back in the house and watched from the birds’ room to see if the hawk was coming back. I called an acquaintance who is friends with a wildlife rehabilitator and learned that mockingbird chicks often hop out of the nest to the ground, and that is a transitional period from when the chick leaves the nest until it can fly. The parents care for it for until it can forage on its own. They suggested that I place it in the low part of a tree or in a shrub if it looked in danger. A half hour later, no hawk in sight. The youngster practiced some wing flaps, walked over to opposite corner of the wall and perched on our garden hose.

 I headed to work and my husband took over watchman duties. He called a couple hours later to say the chick was no longer there. I hope that means he fully fledged. No doubt, I’ll be combing the backyard when I get home though.

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