Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Territory is Yours

Isn't this little guy cute?  I took this picture of the mockingbird in our yard, our new frequent visitor to the back deck.  By frequent, I mean constant, as he is never far away.  If he's not sitting on our deck, eating at the feeders, or drinking from the birdbath, he is sitting at the top of the juniper tree in our yard, just a few feet away, keeping watch.

He's keeping watch quite literally, actually, because true to his mockingbird heritage, our little friend is extremely territorial. He has planted his "flag" on our deck, claiming it as his own.  He guards his area at all hours, never allowing any other birds to come near it.

Oh, they try, mind you.  It's been unseasonably cold and snowy here in the Nashville area, and these poor birds need to fatten-up to make it through the frigid nights.  I've seen wrens, sparrows, finches, titmice, and chickadees all approach the feeders, hoping to grab some nourishment.

They last all of a few seconds before our mean little soldier flies straight at them, angrily shrieking and squawking.  When the poor, startled things fly to a nearby tree, this, apparently is not far enough.  He again dive-bombs into said tree until the trespasser gets the message and flies far away and out of sight.  It's only then that he relaxes, puffy and content once more on his deck rail, victorious once again.  (We've appropriately named him "Butch," after The Little Rascals bully who also had social issues!!)

I've tried EVERYTHING, people!  I put up more feeders, with lots of space between each one, hoping some of them will fall outside the "zone" of Butch's territory.  No luck.  I've even filled some of the feeders with thistle and other seeds that are undesirable to mockingbirds, only to the smaller, finch-like breeds.  Butch doesn't care.  Even though he doesn't prefer the food, he doesn't want anyone else eating it EITHER.

Here's the thing about Butch:  there is more food out there on that deck than he will ever be able to consume.  With the snow falling, it's going to go bad and soggy before he could EVER finish all of it.  But something in Butch tells him, "This is MINE! I don't CARE if you are in need, get your OWN!  If you don't, I'll HURT you!"  Childish, don't you think?

Yet, as I've watched the events unfold from this past weekend's tragedy, I can't stop thinking about that intolerant little mockingbird.

I made a pact with myself when I started this blog that I would never discuss anything political, and I'm definitely not planning on starting now.  I am the LAST person I would go to for advice on any political subject.  But those who know me also know of my intense dislike of rudeness, my passionate contempt for hurtful words and violent behavior. I don't know if harsh, hateful words caused the tragic deaths in Arizona this past weekend, I doubt we'll ever find out.

The fact remains that there are still so many needlessly hurtful, bitter words being used, all in the name of "debate," and one-upping each other as we scream loudly back and forth on "news" programs. We're so much better than this.  All of us.

Like I've been trying to teach poor, territorial Butch: there is sooooo much space for EVERYONE.  We may differ in size, shape, and opinions, but can't we still co-exist, and respect the fact that we're all here, in this beautiful place, with plenty of room to hold us all? This is my prayer today, for all of us.  (Butch included!)

Thanks for Reading!


Shady Del Knight said...

Very nicely expressed, Joan! Your bullying bird doesn't know any better but people sure do. The incendiary political rhetoric must stop or tragedies like the one in Arizona will continue to unfold. What happened to the unified America we had for a few weeks in the wake of 9-11? We put up banners vowing that we would never forget. We might not have forgotten the attacks themselves but we have forgotten how powerful it was for us to set aside our differences, reach across the aisle, and think and act like the United States of America.

Kara Hoag said...

I love the statement, but I also found the story about the mockingbird hilarious! Poor other birds.

visions unto myself

ReformingGeek said...

Butch is afraid just like many of the people saying the horrible things that are being said.


Awesome post, Joan.

Anonymous said...

What a great post. Your prayer has been the same as my prayer for a very long time. Whatever happen to showing kindness and respect. A lot of things that are happening now days has no place in our great country. If we all would just treat others the way we would like to be treated.

Your "Butch" is a little stinker. We have mocking birds but they are well behaved and share. Now the blue jays are another story.

I really enjoyed reading this post. Hugs

Unknown said...

What an excellent post! And you're so right!

lifeshighway said...

Nice job of not being political but getting your message out. I heard you.

And I agree, Butch is a little stinker.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Great post Joan!

Jessica said...

Great post, Joan! I was all set to type out an angry rant on my blog, but deleted the post. There's been enough ugliness.

Liz Mays said...

It is most certainly an interesting parallel. I don't think your little mockingbird is going to come to his senses, but I sure hope people do.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I've seen the squirrels, the blue jays, chickadees and nuthatches come to an agreement of sorts, to share the feeder outside my kitchen window. Your post is a very good analogy to recent events. Oftentimes, much good comes from great tragedy. Perhaps it will begin something new in public discourse.

Sandra said...

I just experienced this surge of love for that little bird and his bullying tendencies.

Gorges Smythe said...

When I was young, I used to get disgusted with people and compare them to animals. Now that I'm older and wiser, I sometimes get disappointed with animals and compare them to people. I always end up apologizing to the animals afterwards, though.

Anonymous said...

Every neighborhood seems to have a "Butch"or two. I only wish they were all birds.


Shan said...

So true. On a side note, I'm happy to see you have another deck. Your old home with the deck in the back (I'm assuming it was the back?) was so pretty. Glad to know I might spy some new pretty yard shots in the spring (I have backyard envy, pure and simple).

Banjoan said...

Having inherited my father's territorial instincts, I'm sure I was regarded as the "Butch" of Trucksville, Pa. Unwilling to share, I kept a watchful eye on anyone bold enough to touch my toys. I'd like to think that I've softened over the years, but I'm sure my husband would disagree.

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