A Mockingbird Bully – and a Dissatisfied Sparrow

A Mockingbird has been doing its best the past few days to keep all other birds away from the two feeders in our front yard. So far it hasn’t succeeded completely, but I think it has discouraged a few. There seems to be less activity than usual. It sits on top of the hanging block feeder, or squeezes awkwardly onto the tray of the tube feeder and hunches over there, taking a bite now and then, but mostly just looking around.

The Chickadees and Titmice hang out in the branches nearby, and whenever the Mockingbird leaves its post for a while, they take advantage of the break and come back to the feeders quickly. Today I’ve also seen Brown-headed Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Carolina Wrens and one or two Goldfinches also come to the feeders during times when the Mockingbird is somewhere else. Then after a few minutes, it swoops back in, white wings flashing, scattering all the smaller birds away, and takes up its belligerent watch again.

Meanwhile, the bully on the feeders doesn’t seem to bother other birds in the trees and on the ground. White-throated Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a few Juncos, Cardinals, and Mourning Doves have all been around. Today has been darkly gray and drizzly, with temperatures barely above freezing. Some slushy ice remains in sheltered spots from last night’s brief but lovely snowfall, but mostly everything is just very soggy, cold and dreary.

White-throated Sparrows seem to be everywhere – perched in the bare limbs of a crape myrtle, kicking up wet brown leaves beneath the feeders, and searching under bushes, around tree trunks and in the grass for food. While most of the sparrows industriously went from spot to spot kicking up leaves and pecking at the ground, I watched one for a while that spent most of its time, instead, watching other sparrows. Whenever one of them looked like it had found a good spot, this one hurried over to chase that one away and try the spot for itself. But once it got there, it always seemed to find the spot wasn’t so good after all, and the next minute it was looking around at the other sparrows again. Looking for an easy meal, I guess – but it looked like a losing effort.

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