Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It Takes a Village

They must have been a young couple, in a hurry to find a home.  The spot they selected wasn’t exactly in the best of locations, if you know what I mean.  They put things together rapidly in order to prepare for their little ones, who would obviously be arriving soon.  The old saying “the wolf was at the door” was very close to the truth for this pair.  In spite of the problems that could easily be foreseen by outside bystanders, the couple forged ahead.  They showed teamwork, communicated well (although sometimes I thought she sounded a little chiding), and made a good solid effort to keep their home and their young brood together.  All in all, I completely enjoyed watching their daily activities.

When I heard Ben yelling instructions at the dog and both kids, I knew immediately that something was wrong.  Georgia-Lee quickly moved Max to a secured location; his canine curiosity was definitely piqued.  Benjamin ran to get the tallest ladder we owned.  Before I knew it, he climbed the ladder 15 feet into the maple tree and placed the squawking baby mockingbird back into its nest.  A nearby nest mate didn’t fair as well.  Both Mama Mockingbird and Daddy Mockingbird seemed none too pleased with the order of the morning.  I breathed a sigh of relief once the baby was back in the nest, sure that the world was now at peace.

Morning excitement as Benjamin places Baby Mockingbird back into its nest.

Within 45 minutes or so, just before we were scheduled to leave home for several hours, we once again spotted the baby bird on the ground under its nest.  When we looked up at the nest in the maple tree, we saw a gaping hole in the bottom side of the nest.  What could we do?  Due to time constraints, we were forced to leave the little bird on the ground.  Mama Mockingbird and Daddy Mockingbird watched and chirped.

Baby Mockingbird looks a little unhappy about a second fall from the nest.

The nest remained quiet and still when we returned home.  The ground beneath the tree revealed no baby bird.  The attentive young couple was nowhere to be seen.  We released Max from his captivity.  Georgia-Lee and her friend braved the heat of the day, playing on the tire swing and talking beneath the shade of the oaks.  With great excitement, they yelled that they found a baby bird.  Sure enough, more than 100 feet from where it fell from its nest, the baby sat on the ground, beak open and squawking.  Georgia-Lee quickly confirmed that it was our much beloved Baby Mockingbird, especially since both parents were watching (and fussing) nearby. 

Concerned parent

As a little boy, Benjamin always claimed he wanted to be a veterinarian.  When he carefully repaired the nest and gently placed Baby Mockingbird inside of it (for a second time in one day), he certainly was getting on the job training!  Not long after human commotion subsided, Mama Mockingbird and Daddy Mockingbird returned to the scene.  They showed up, showering their little one with attention and with food (much like many of us Southerners do when something is wrong with someone for whom we care!).  

One of the parents rests on a branch of the maple before moving into the nest, hidden in the branches and leaves.

I have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child.  I also know that natural selection removes the weakest from nature.  I hope that in this case, we are the village.    

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