They Do Not Fool Around

It’s the time of the year again when mockingbirds and starlings are checking out the most desirable spaces to start nesting and raise the brood. Mockingbirds move into lushly green trees, starlings into more barren spaces underneath eaves and rain gutters. Both camps seem to be of the opinion that they have a wing up over the other. “Living in a tree – how can one?” “A hole in a wall – those guys just don’t have taste!”

Anyway, when mockingbirds and starlings prepare to decorate their nests in preparation for starting yet another family, crows get interested in the area too. The idea of a fresh egg for breakfast or – even better a while later – a juicy fledgling has a certain allure for the average crow.

Needless to say, mockingbirds and starlings do not quite share this view towards their offspring. As pesky as the young may be, they are definitely not breakfast. And so the fight is on again; any crow hanging out too long in the neighborhood is chased away by mockingbirds. It is not a rare sight to see one crow winging it, being chased by two or three mockingbirds in hot pursuit. Starlings do not take part in those “keep the neighborhood clean” flights – no crow can invade a nest under a rain gutter or some eaves. “That’s why we live in a hole in the wall, silly!”

This morning this female Purple Finch and I were treated again to some amazing flight scenes.


Those mockingbirds do not fool around. David against Goliath comes to mind every time. And just like way back then – smaller is smarter, faster and better.

I am quite sure that the three mockingbirds afterwards congratulated  each other on a job well done.

4 thoughts on “They Do Not Fool Around”

  1. Mockingbirds are quite aggressive. More than once, I’ve seen a lone mockingbird attack a cat that had strayed too close to its nest. The mockingbird will ambush from the back and deliver a sharp peck to the cat’s hindquarters, then dart off. Very annoying to the cat.

    I’ve always been amazed at the black capped vireo. It’s considered endangered. The cowbird will push the vireo’s eggs out of the nest and replace the vireo eggs with its own. The vireo is too stupid to know the difference, and incubates the eggs and raises the cowbirds. It’s no surprise anything that stupid is endangered. It probably should be allowed to go extinct, rather than be protected.

  2. Another bird taking this route to raising its young is the cuckoo (not represented in the Americas).

    They pop one egg into the nest of another bird, usually much smaller than the cuckoo itself. Once the young cuckoo has hatched, it throws all other eggs or other fledglings out and screams for food. Here you can see a photo of a typical situation:

    Nature can be cruel, can’t it?

    Imagine that Reed Warbler couple: “How could this happen?” Or even worse, glaring at each other: “You are not going to tell me, that that guy at that party a few weeks ago….?

    In German there is a word for that: “Kuckuckskind” (cuckoo’s child) for a child not fathered by the husband, but raised as his own without knowing about the real origin of the progeny.

  3. I haven’t seen starlings around here in a while. I used to see them all the time. I wonder where they’ve gone.

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