Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The mob mentality

Just yesterday, I shoved away from my desk and marched outside to fuss at a LOUD-MOUTHED juvenile mockingbird. I was trying to work, but I kept hearing it SCREECH SCREECH SCREECH. When I stepped outside the garage, I spotted it on the front porch walk, hopping beneath the Texas lantana. Mom or Dad was nearby, trying to scare up an insect for lunch. When everyone saw me, they flew off.

Peace. Finally.

James was surprised that I heard the ruckus from in my office. He didn't hear a thing at the dining room table. 

Today, however, HE heard a ruckus, and I didn't.

"C'mere!" he told me from the hallway. "There's a snake up in the trees!"

We walked outside to the front yard, and James pointed at the rat snake, high in the live oak branches. All around, an army of birds shrieked and yelled...titmice, mockingbirds, cardinals, wrens, blue jays, woodpeckers. It's a bird behavior called "mobbing." Look in the bottom left hand corner of the photo above, and you can just make out a bird and its tail, perched on a branch. The snake's barely visible in the middle of the photo.

Even the white-winged doves were upset. They gathered in some dead pecan branches in the back yard.
This female northern cardinal was ready to put up her dukes.
See the rat snake's head? You have to look hard in the middle of the photo.
Here's the same photo, cropped in closer so you can see the snake.
After a short while, the ruckus died down. But this female house finch still didn't want to give up!


Linda/patchwork said...

We've had this a couple times here. It's a bit creepy. We watch where we put our feet. Now we wonder if we need to be looking up, too.
Good shots....

Steph@RamblingWren said...

Interesting post. I witnessed something similar today. I saw several different types of birds in one tree. They were all upset and very vocal. I finally realized there was a hawk on the fence post. Thanks to your post I was able to identify this birding behavior.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Birds in our neighborhood also mob ravens when they're flying overhead. I often feel sorry for the big ol' birds 'cause they're not liked AT ALL by their smaller coherts.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

P.S. Birds around here also mob owls and, as you observed, Steph, hawks.

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