Musings From The Bird Gossip


Wow, did I get sidetracked today. Beth called my bird-related musings “bird gossip” and I just had to run with it. In fact I like it so well I’ve added it as a category so bird lovers can find those posts easily.

To bring you up to date, the mockingbird hasn’t menaced me in a week though I am told one or two continue to perch on nearby utility wires. The Anna’s Hummingbirds have relocated to the backyard but a Pacific-slope flycatcher has moved into their former digs, a camellia tree that brushes against my kitchen window. I miss the hummers but the calm presence of the less flighty new resident is a worthy replacement. He is more difficult to spot even at close quarters. That lovely, soft green is nearly indistinguishable from the camellia leaves, the perfect camouflage against any predators. He is quite the clever fellow for finding such an ideal home.

Yesterday a robin serenaded us from the patio and was quite miffed when he spied me listening through the french doors. The acoustics of the 3/4 enclosed space are wonderful as we’ve learned over the past several years when Mourning Doves nested there. I hope the robin returns soon for another concert.

Mid-afternoon is nap time but around 5:00 or so the finches and sparrows chime together reminding us life is good and we should take time for some joy when the day’s work is done.

But that does make me wonder. Since they are so chatty, do they gossip about us, too?



  1. Thank you for the Bird Gossip category!

    I was reminded of this yesterday as a cormorant sailed high over the pond behind. The crows were definitely keeping up a running commentary on wind speeds, flight trajectory and potential landing zones.

    A humble sparrow checks out the orange seedlings and the rusting iron garden chairs close to my bedroom window. Like the little lizards, the sparrow discovered the close-set pots provide wonderful cover from the young hawks fledging in the pine trees. The long thorns on the young orange trees are still too soft to provide any defense, they’re easily bent. But as the little trees grow, they’ll be 2 inch spikes that will add to the defensive barrier.

    The cardinals lost their lovely home in the scrub to a mess of poison ivy vines that regrew after the realtors stopped maintaining the mess behind. The wasps are back, rebuilding the nest the maintenance crews disposed of and there’s a frenzy of aerial activity. At least the hostile growth cut back on the constant invasive tramplings of the four undisciplined offspring of the current tenants, so I try to view the mess as a defensive barrier for the wildlife in the area.

    Unfortunately, as the pests return, so does the huge blacksnake, which left an old skin roughly five feet long and as wide as my wrist under my shrubs along the fence line. He seems to have displaced the mockingbirds to a neighbor’s yard two houses down, leaving the crows as my early warning system. He’s a climber and had a disconcerting habit in previous years of poking his head out near the top of the shrubbery to taste the air.

    Like the birds, I will be hesitant to enter too far into that shrubbery unless my guard crows sound the all clear.


    • Thank you for triggering the new addition to Inkophile. It may not be a frequently used category but it will always be a colorful one.

      Your backyard is so active but then as a writer you know how to find things others might miss. It’s the eye of the artist but turned to written form.

      Your black snake sounds intimidating but doesn’t he also keep in check the vermin? Perhaps this is an unseen benefit. Rats use the utility wires as thoroughfares here. Should one of the furry thieves foolishly descend into my yard, I wouldn’t mind a creature that would scare the invader out of a few year’s growth. If rats share intel, then I could be safe for the season and that would be very welcome indeed.

      In my neighborhood, undisciplined offspring are mostly of the four-legged variety as in cats and dogs. (The two-legged ones are old enough to have whiskers and know better but that’s an entirely different subject.) The dogs are vocal though occasionally a pack will wander in from neighboring territory putting all at risk. The cats are unrestrained hikers but are well-fed and disinclined to exert any effort at foraging. The local wildlife is safe unless unlucky.

      There are coyotes and wildcats along with the occasional owl, hawk, or falcon. I’ve read about bears and wolves visiting homes in the foothills but that is rare. Lizards are common and some can grow quite large. No snakes but black widows are abundant. They appear after dark usually within five feet of the ground so we are very careful when venturing even so far as the patio at night. All summer we check surfaces near exterior doors and under sinks for the rare incursion. The birds are high enough in the trees to be safe from the widows at least. I always miss the birds when summer ends but the spiders not so much.


      • Blush! Guess it was that writer’s tendency to name things. I’m glad it resonated with you as well.

        Our rats have furry tails and are called squirrels. Otherwise very little difference in damage or behavior.

        I’m counting on Jethro – we’ve named the snake! – to keep down on pests. The lizard count is noticeably smaller, but so, too, are the huge water bugs.

        Our spiders are huge and noticeably aimed at the heavy mosquito population, so they leave me alone and I – mostly – leave them alone.


        • Welcome to the family, Jethro! Keep up the good work.

          Lots of squirrels here but they stick to the fence tops for travel. If it weren’t for them, I’d put out seeds for the birds. One particularly cheeky one whom we called Nutkin was so tame she would eat from our hands and come to the front door to see what we were doing. I swear she would have explored my house if invited.

          Spiders are welcome to inhabit the great outdoors but I draw the line at the sill be it window or door. Cross that line and spider be dead. No exceptions unless I miss. Many years ago I had a miniature dachshund who thought killing spiders and roaches great sport. Now that’s my kind of roommate!


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