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Terror in the front yard: Feathered bullies cause big flap in the neighborhood

By June Mathews

Some mockingbirds have set up housekeeping in our front yard, and it’s not just a single family nest with a mama, daddy and kids. Apparently the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma and grandpa have moved in, too. It seems like mockingbirds are everywhere.

To make matters worse, they evidently think they own the place. But I guess that’s a fair assumption on their part since they outnumber Jimmie, the dogs, the parrot and me by a dozen or more.

And considering they’re the newcomers around here, their lack of manners toward those of us who were here first is astonishing. They perch high above us in the trees and loudly scold us for such offenses as sitting on the steps, walking across the yard or watering the plants on the front porch.

When I dared to pull a few weeds from one of the flower beds, one of the bigger birds set up a fuss, swooping back and forth between two tall oaks directly overhead. I got the distinct impression it was about to use me for target practice, reminding me of the time long ago a pigeon landed a rather sizable stream of poop on my aunt’s newly coiffed head as she strolled through a downtown park. I quickly retreated inside.

But my issues with the mockingbirds are nothing compared to what the dogs have been going through. Remember the old Alfred Hitchcock movie, “The Birds”? The Chihuahuas, bless their hearts, are living it. Whenever they make their routine morning round of the front yard, they’re subject to strafing by a low-flying bird or two. I’ve witnessed at least two instances in which birds came within an inch or two of landing sidesaddle on a furry back.

The proximity of the fluttering wings, however, didn’t seem to bother the dogs too badly. They simply ducked their heads and with squinted eyes and flattened ears, plowed through the onslaught. But I figure living with an indoor bird, namely, Murray the Evil Parrot, is tempering my buddies’ reaction to the attacks. They’re used to flapping wings. In fact, they’re often the cause.

One of the larger Chihuahua’s greatest delights is jumping up and popping the base of the bird cage with his front paws, causing Murray to madly flap his wings while struggling to remain upright on his cage-top perch.

In the meantime, the smaller Chihuahua dances underneath, obviously hoping for a nip or two should Murray hit the floor. What both dogs fail to consider is the pinching power of an Amazon parrot’s beak. One swift, well-placed bite could take the end of one of their noses off.

So truth be told, the pesky mockingbirds are only giving the dogs what they deserve, causing me to wonder if the yard birds and Murray, through some mysterious avian ESP, could possibly be in cahoots.

Whatever the case, I usually enjoy feeding and watching the birds that visit our yard each spring and summer, but this terrorist variety is getting on my nerves. Once the babies leave the nest, I’m hoping the parents will move on and take the relatives with them.

Until that happens, the Chihuahuas would do well to – quite literally – watch their backs. Otherwise, they could soon be giving the newest generation of mockingbirds in the neighborhood what amounts to pony rides around the yard.

Email June Mathews at jmathews120@charter.net.

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