Tag Archives: mockingbird

The Ugly Side of Holly Berries

Sitting in the early morning sunshine, this young mockingbird sits and sings on a branch of holly on a cold winter morning. The holly bush has started showing the famous red berries that are the cause for the snipping of so many branches for holiday decorations.

Take care when handling holly though. Not only do the thick waxy green leaves have spines that will easily puncture your skin, but the berries themselves are toxic to humans. Of course, the berries are not really berries. They actually are a small stone fruit.

An adult ingesting those small red fruits could expect a severe stomach-ache and possibly some very fast, uncontrollable and really unpleasant trips to the bathroom. However, if a small child gets a hold of these fruits, then as little as 20 of them can cause an unintended trip to the emergency room or possibly death.

Some pets will become ill by eating the fruit or chewing on the leaves also. Further, if your pet can reach it, odds our your child will too. So it is a wise policy to keep both children and pets out of reach of these bright-colored fruits. Interestingly, the fruits do not have the same effect on birds.

In fact, seeing this bird on the holly reminds me of the Christmas Mockingbirdinteresting side effect that these little fruits have. In late winter after the fruits have ripened and begin to fall of the holly bushes, small birds, like our friend here, will gather around the bush and feast on the fallen fruit.

The birds will then happily spread the seeds wherever they go. This is assuming they can still fly. The overripe fruit that falls on the ground will ferment. This fermentation causes our little feather friends to get a little tipsy after eating the fruit.

I’ve watched a mockingbird try to fly while only using one wing. Try as it might, it couldn’t get both wings to flap at the same time. The result was a frenzied ballet of feathers as the poor bird could only go in circles until it got dizzy, I’m guessing from the alcohol, and fall sideways on to the ground. It would rest for a minute, get up and try the other wing with the same results.

Hopefully this young mockingbird won’t experience any hangovers in it’s promising future.

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A Fact About Mockingbirds That’ll Keep You Up at Night.

The Mockingbird Waits is the latest addition to the gallery. This is a close up portrait of a Northern Mockingbird taking a relaxing break from his springtime song and hunt for bugs. In this case, this bird sits on a dead stump waiting to hear the illustrious call of a mate nearby.

While this bird lives in Texas year round, they become more active and appear more and more as the weather turns from the chilly ice-cold Texas winters to the blazing heat of the summers.

They get the name mockingbird because of their ability to mimic other sounds around them. They sing their own unique songs, mimic other birds, or even imitate sound making devices such as whistles and musical instruments.

In fact they carry out this task of mimicry so well, the only way to tell it’s not real and just a mockingbird is that they tend to sing their imitation in songs of three bursts.

Unfortunately, they not only sing during day but also on some moonlit nights. It’s during these all night concerts that people discover just how stubborn this little bird is.

While in college on the night before a final exam, I had one of these small singers decide to sit in a tree outside my window and exclaim its joy to the world at 2 am. This lasted for an hour before I took drastic measures. Only after attacking the tree with a baseball bat to make loud noises and shake the branches did I prevail in silencing its repertoire and scaring it away.

I was lucky.  These birds are very territorial and have The Mockingbird Waitsno qualms about attacking larger animals that wander into its perceived territory. In fact, I know of at least one person who received a broken ankle and another who broke his leg trying to escape the clutches of these relentless little winged terrors. They will sometimes attack eagles or hawks by dive bombing them and pecking at them until they leave the territory. They have no fear.

My office is now on the edge of a Mockingbird family’s territory. Recently, I was privy to the continuous call of a young mockingbird chick to its mother. It is clear that the mother bird was attempting to teach the youngster to hunt, with loud protests of displeasure from the young chick.

However, the youngster was having none of that nonsense and proceeded to squawk continuously for 4 hours before the mother finally gave up and fed the darling. After three hours, I began looking for any reason to be in another place than that office.

I thought about taking some pictures but they perched in a tree by the door. I didn’t wish to scare the mother away thus leaving me with an abandoned hungry chick. Thank heaven for earplugs.

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