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per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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listen to the mockingbird
So, I was walking from my car to work, and there was this mockingbird sitting on a street sign, running through its repertoire, pretty much oblivious to anything else. Even though I was late, I stopped to listen for awhile. It burbled and chirped and trilled, not repeating anything in the few minutes I heard, until it noticed me and decided to find another perch. It still was singing as it flew, and I idly wondered how long it would take before it would repeat itself.

Mockingbirds are as common as dirt or grey squirrels around here, but I love them nonetheless. They are attractive sorts if you like grey, with a bright eye and an expressive tail. Sometimes I'll see them on the ground, doing this jerky little dance where they unfold their wings in stages, showing off the white patches. Probably some kind of mating or territorial display- it often ends with two of them mixing it up, with much fluttering and many harsh cries. I'm also terribly amused when I hear them mixing local noises like car alarms and crossing-sign chirps into their playlist.

They often seem to be absolutely fearless- divebombing cats, getting into dogfights with crows, making menacing noises if anything they disapprove of gets too close. One of them took exception to Molly-dog one day, and started doing strafing runs on her, which discomfited the poor dear greatly. I once read with amusement that they were terrorizing pedestrians in DC who haplessly walked too close to their nesting areas. And I will never forget the day when I heard an unearthly clamor in the back yard and went to the window to see. It looked like a scene from Hitchcock's "The Birds"- birds of all shapes and sizes clustering in the trees and making a fearful racket. It seems that one of the local feline terrorists had taken a young mockingbird hostage; things looked grim, but then the commandos arrived. One mockingbird attacked the cat, while the other quickly hustled the victim to safety. I swear it looked like a well-planned and executed hostage rescue...

There have been times, I admit, when I wasn't so well-disposed to them- or at least to a certain individual of the species. Back when the Vortex and I were living in an apartment, we needed to sleep with the windows open to get some ventilation during the late spring and early fall periods where the building management refused to power up the A/C. Well, one of the little feathered darlings thought that it was a good idea to salute the dawn each morning from a tree right outside the window. I try to be nice, but if I'd had a BB gun, avicide was definitely a possibility.

But in general, I appreciate the little devils. Most of the time, they're just part of the background of my day- but sometimes it's good to notice the background.

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Similar frustration led me to shoot at one with a boffer arrow the other summer. I didn't want to kill it, I just wanted to shoo it off. Purposefully, I didn't full-draw on one of the XPI cast style bows and I just shot the branch it was on. It flew off. I am not by nature, cruel to animals, it was just that thing shrieked in the tree day and night and it was upsetting my cats and my sleeping. I didn't hurt it but I really, really upset it. The arrow stuck in the tree and it took me a couple of days to get it down. In the meantime the little bugger came back just for one day. During that one day it shit on my arrow.

What does a 300 pound mockingbird say?


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