Growing up on a 500 acre farm in Minnesota, I would have thought I would laugh at anyone writing about his 1/4 acre piece of high desert land in California. As a long time retiree(12 years), I have changed my mind about interesting things that can go on the quarter acre of high desert landscaping. Hope you agree.
Two years ago a pair of mocking birds moved into the 1/4 acre and I mean moved in! The noisy creatures squawked, screeched, and screamed at anything and anyone who entered their domain. They dive bombed our 15 year old cat who we thought age had made harmless. Mocking birds, most aggressive creatures we have ever seen.
Last year they built a nest in our thick hedge and worked untiringly feeding their babies insects of all kinds from our 1/4 of an acre. We were fascinated by their non-stop hard work and their dedication to their growing family. Alas, disaster struck! Our old cat Slinky who truly hated the mocking birds for their non-stop dive bombing of her daily rounds of the property, put together a plan of revenge. She carefully watched her busy enemies flying into the hedge time and time again until…she struck. We by accident saw Slinky quietly munching on the half grown mocking birds in the garage where the adult mocking birds could not get in. The mocking birds stayed a couple of days guarding their now empty nest and then quietly disappeared.
We felt bad for the mocking birds and even scolded the cat who had adopted us 14 years ago. Scolding a cat for hunting. Like that will work.
We were thrilled this spring when the mocking bird pair returned. Were they the same pair? We liked to think so. They were back to try again to raise a family. They harassed the cat and any other living creature again and if anything, worse than last year. The pair decided that the thick hedge was not safe for their nest…learned from last years experience? They instead built their nest 40 feet high in the 60 foot tall pine tree. The old cat would never venture that high! The birds were right. The cat was so intimidated by the constant harassment of the mocking birds she nearly became a “house cat.”
We watched the mocking bird pair work non-stop to feed their hungry babies and we couldn’t wait to see when the babies grow up and learn to fly. One morning last week I heard the naturally irritating squawking of the mocking birds change to a nearly hysterical din. I headed out the back door to see what was going on when I saw both mocking birds attacking a huge black raven who was sitting by their nest killing their babies. The raven nonchalantly picked up the two dead baby mocking birds in his/her huge bill and fly away with the two mocking bird parents in hot but futile pursuit. The mocking bird pair came back in about 10 minutes and sat forlornly by their nest. They left two days later.
As I write this, I see the black raven, one of a pair who call my quarter acre home, sitting on the fence looking for more “food.” Wonder if the mocking bird pair will be back next year again or will two years running of “death on a quarter acre” be enough for them.
A pair of starlings moved in to the niche that was left open by the mocking birds. The cycle of life continues.