Spending part of the year in the Pacific Northwest is a joy. One of the few drawbacks of living this far north, however, is not being in my native Texas in the spring when the mockingbirds are in their vocal splendor. The long-tailed gray bird with the white wing patches is a member of the Mimidae family. They sing year around, but in the spring, during mating and nesting season, the mockingbirds seem to serenade throughout the entire day. Although their repertoire might include as many as 200 different melodious tunes, most are not all original. They mimic other birds, as well as the sounds of insects, amphibians; the barking of dogs, the mewing of cats, and the squealing of pigs. So, if you'd like a little entertainment while relaxing on a lazy afternoon, put out some wild bird seed or even grapes, raisins and chopped fruit, and wait for the Northern Mockingbird to come a calling. And if you spend time in the Northwest like I do, you may have to fly south to take in a few avian concerts.
I wonder if the mockingbird perched on
a branch outside my window remembers.
He is still; his eye focused on me,
sitting in a chair at my desk.
We stare for a moment and he flits
to a higher branch for a better look.
Two springs ago, I raised three orphaned
mimids and released them in my backyard,
putting seed out for a few days until
they got the hang of foraging.
And every once in a while, one visits
and I regret not having placed little
yellow tags around their legs.
But release means more than opening
a cage and watching the birds fly away.
It means not holding on to something
that is not mine, and I think I know how
God felt when he gave us free will.
Next week: The Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas, Texas