Life in the rose bush

Written by Dr. Dolittle on March 20, 2013 – 7:14 pm -

baby mockingbirds

Hopefully this year the Mockingbirds will return to nest in the rose bush. That would be the bush I forgot to cut back earlier this year. The first year the birds nested in the rose bush I watched with anticipation. They labored just outside my office window, giving me full view of their nest building efforts. Once the eggs were laid I chanced a peek into the nest while momma was off doing whatever it was she needed to do. Three eggs!

I made it a habit to check egg progress at least once a week so I wouldn’t miss the newly hatched babies and I wasn’t disappointed. The featherless bodies looked like just a beak and little else. From the way the parents kept up a running buffet that seems to be a fair assessment of the babies. I watched daily until little feathers appeared and the youngsters became more active. One afternoon I had just sat down at the computer when I noticed the Mockingbird parents dive-bombing the bush, screaming and protesting. Something was terribly wrong. I dashed outside and cautiously peeked into the bush. The nest was empty. With a sinking feeling I looked around until I spotted a chicken snake wrapped around the bottom of the rose bush. It was evident she had just consumed something and there was nothing to be done. I called my husband outside so he could move the snake into the wooded area beside the house, out of harm’s way.

The following year we started playing this same song all over again, but once the eggs were laid I intervened in a roundabout way. Snakes don’t like sulfur and normally won’t cross it. I put down a barrier, a ring of powdered sulfur all the way around the base of the rose bush. And again, once the constant feeding was going on I would go peek. I started speaking to the baby birds while the parents were out shopping for more groceries and the little birds seemed curious about the strange noise directed at them. The babies became accustomed to my voice and even as they grew older and could hop from branch to branch, they tolerated me just inches from them. This would be the year the youngsters would fledge, one by one, proving we don’t have to kill in nature to intervene.

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