Whitesburg KY
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy

These ‘mockers’ are for the birds

If you’ve ever read Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, you know that the book is not at all about shooting birds.

Points East

On the other hand if you see headlines on the state, local or national news that read something like, “Kentucky newspaper columnist arrested while disposing of popular songbird carcasses”, you may safely assume that the law has interfered with my efforts to rid myself once and for all time of a congregation of mockingbirds whose only apparent purpose in their lives to date is to make my own life as miserably frustrating as they possibly can.

My intense irritation with the mockers actually began in May when they commenced devouring our blueberries as fast as they ripened or even before they were ripe enough for human consumption.

“Hey, that one’s pink, not blue,” Mama Mocker might scold. “Ahhhhh it’s close enough and actually crunchier than the ripe ones,” Papa might respond. “Don’t knock it till you try one.” And, of course Mama tried, and found she liked pink blueberries too.

We thwarted them with 25 square feet of bird netting that was originally designed to keep birds of all ilk out of cherry trees. It took a couple hours of labor to install and made simply walking past the plants and grabbing a handful of blueberries to munch on impossible. That sort of convenience was the reason I planted them in the first place. It’s now easier to run out to the grocery store and grab a quart to keep handy for those times when blueberries strike my fancy.

After several instances of getting their feet entangled in the netting and losing numerous feathers as they flogged themselves free of it, the mockers have finally given up on getting to the berries. However, we used an eight-feet tall shepherd’s hook as the center support for the netting that is draped all around it. Several times a day different mockers will light on the curve atop the hook, check to make absolutely sure I’m watching, then raise their tail feathers, squat and dump the remains of their last meal down onto the netting.

They don’t seem to realize that the blueberries are long gone and the netting is coming down. Or maybe they simply don’t care because they have found a much easier way to rouse my fury far beyond the boiling point.

The mockingbirds have discovered that I was not nearly as passionate about the blueberries as I am about my tomatoes. Unfortunately the row of tomatoes is 100 feet long and consists of 13 varieties growing on 26 individual plants. Some of the plants are nearly six feet tall and all of them are loaded with tomatoes that have been getting ripe since mid July. For every tomato that I’ve picked for eating thus far, I’ve had to throw at least four away because they were pocked with several holes where mockingbirds have pecked them.

Before you rise to defend the honor of mockingbirds, please let me assure you that there is no honor among thieves and mockingbirds are worse than thieves. I have caught them on numerous occasions in the very act of lighting atop and pecking several holes into the sides of a ripe tomato, then hopping over to another plant to render a fruit on it useless. They are far more determined to destroy as many fruits as they can than they are to simply feed themselves. I am planning to make videos this week that I may need to use in court if I have to defend myself for the slaughter I am contemplating.

I simply do not have the strength or energy to cover the plants with bird netting. Plus the only type that will actually work would cost me about $150. As of this writing the only tomatoes we’ve had to eat were picked when they were just starting to turn pink and then allowed to finish ripening on the kitchen windowsill.

I’ve tried shooting bottle rockets across the garden but instead of flying away when the rockets explode,

The mockers simply duck their heads and glance knowingly at one another as if to say, “There’s just another stupid human setting off fireworks in broad daylight. But that smoke does smell kinda cool.”

They don’t seem to realize that my Giant Syrians will be coming on this week and that I fully intend to let them ripen on the vine. They may be able to sing all the other bird songs but they would be well advised to be hanging out at some human cemeteries and learning some hymns to sing at funerals.

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