Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Native intelligence

We spend every evening after supper sitting on the patio, watering the flowers, filling the bird feeders, and watching the panoply of nature around us. Last night, we got a reminder of just how adaptive that natural life is.

One of the faucets on the back of the house has a slight leak no matter how hard you tighten the shutoff. It hardly drips at all, once every few minutes, if at that. It's the kind of small problem everyone has but doesn't hurry to fix. I didn't know until last night that someone had figured out how to benefit from that drip.

This little fellow sits in the dogwood tree until a large enough drop of water has formed on the end of the quick-connect nozzle. Then he flies over, perches and has a drink! Then it's back to the dogwood tree until another drop has collected. This time of year the water in the birdbath gets pretty hot in the sun. This black-capped chickadee has figured out how to get a nice cold sip.

On another bird front, I wasn't aware that a northern mockingbird had made a nest in one of our japonica bushes in the corner of the yard beside my neighbor's driveway. For one thing, I didn't know they nested this late. And all spring a pair of mockingbirds, probably this pair, harassed me in my side yard, so I thought the mockingbird families were all grown and gone.

Last week, I asked the lawn guy to trim those bushes because they had grown tall enough to block visibility when my neighbor backed out into the street. When I went over to pick up a few clippings after he had left, I found a bird's nest in the bush, now only 4 or 5 inches below the shorn top. I wasn't sure what kind of bird it was but was afraid the sun was too hot on the little downy hatchlings, so I gathered a few long clipped forsythia branch from the brush pile and spread them on the top of the bush to shade the nest.

The next day I visited the nest to make sure the clippings hadn't withered too much to provide shade. Mama mockingbird did not take kindly to my visit and dive-bombed me. She brushed through the top of my hair on her pass, then perched in the maple tree and began to cuss me out in strong mockingbird terms. I beat a hasty retreat from the side yard.

This morning, I was still worrying about the little birds, so I crept out to check the nest, after making sure the parents weren't around. At least I thought they weren't. This time, she whacked me in the back and was circling around for another pass when I hurried back to the house. I don't need to be concerned about the babies - these are diligent parents!

6 comments:

animal lover, quilt lover said...

I love your story about the birds!!
All the animals are so much smarter than most people think..
I live on a 3 acre wooded lot. I have gotten to know the animals real well. And love them all!!!!

Morah said...

Absolutely incredible picture!!!! Incredible birdee too!

julieQ said...

How clever of this little fella to figure out the drips...nature perseveres!

Mart Bright said...

Wonderful photo! When I lived in Alabama there was a mockingbird mama who used to dive-bomb me every time I went running. We have them here, but they're much more polite!

AJ said...

Love the picture of the bird.

The Calico Cat said...

Lovely photograph!