Posted by: notsofancynancy | May 19, 2015

Mockingbirds, natures early alert birds

I have been observing our mockingbirds. They are annoying birds that never stop talking, but I have come to love them. I know you are curious so I won’t hold back. They have now alerted me to the last four snakes in my yard. I now LOVE mockingbirds!

My Woman Cave

My Woman Cave, note the birdhouse on the left side just under the eve. There were babies in there

I live in the high desert of Southern California, two miles up a dirt road and have only two neighbors. Two sides of my property are nothing but desert. If you have followed me in the past you may have read my post “Snake Season.” I always know that I will encounter a snake this time of the year and once again I was not disappointed, well the only disappointment was that I saw one. I was really hoping for a snake free year. Bear with me this is good.

Snake on the fence!

Snake on the fence!

My husband and I have noticed that if there is a snake in the area the mocking birds act funny. They squawk, jump around on the ground. They throw their wings up trying to make themselves bigger. I now listen to them. Ok I am a little obsessed with them. Anytime I hear their squawk I pay attention. So was the case last week.

Like walking on a tightrope!

Like walking on a tightrope!

The day was warm and the desert breeze blew the sent of sage in the door. The dogs (I have four) were taking their after breakfast nap. All of a sudden I heard the squawk of the mockingbird and without knowing what was going on I got up to check but first I slowly walked into the kitchen and put the dog door on securing my dogs in the house.

Shoo, snake, shoo!

Shoo, snake, shoo!

Now the birds are really squawking and jumping around. I knew it was a snake even before I saw it. Snakes never cease to amaze me. I have seen them five foot up a pine tree and climbing. I still have not seen it but I know there, somewhere. I have two acres of land and we have fenced off a sub-yard of a nice size. When we got Chihuahua Roxi, she was so small she could have fit through the chain link so to keep her in and other animals out my hubby lined the fence with two feet of hardware cloth and has cemented the bottom to keep diggers in/out.

I am not closer to the snake I zoomed!

I am not closer to the snake I zoomed!

Ok it is time to go out and see what the ruckus is. I made the dogs stay in the house and pulled the slider shut, just in case. I was still hoping the it was just a false alarm, but the last three times they did this we had a snake. I watched those birds making a ruckus so my blood pressure was going up and was heart was beating faster. It was kind of like walking into a haunted house. I was that scared. I pulled up my panties and looked. AND I SAW IT!! It was on the top of my five foot fence trying to get to the birdhouse on the shed. OH MY GOODNESS!! (my thoughts had lots of expletives in it.) I may have peed a little .

The moment of truth. If it comes on the outside of the hardware cloth we are good.

The moment of truth. If it comes on the outside of the hardware cloth we are good.

I took a deep breath, lots of deep breaths The first order of business was to identify the species, well first I got the camera then I looked at the snake, Lets see. The facebook desert wildlife group I have belonged to have taught me a lot, so as I am trying to identify it as not being venomous so I have to look at it. Point tail, good sign, rounded head, ok, ok it is non venomous. My heart is still trying to beat out of my chest but I feel a bit better. Then it started to snake its way across the fence in the sub-yard. Lord please help me now. Funny, this whole time I am taking pictures until. . . That snake started winding its way down the fence. What I have not mentioned is this whole time I am trying to shoo that damn snake to the outside of the fence. Now he is almost down to the hardware cloth. I am shooing and cussing at the thing. If it goes on the outside of the sub-yard we are good. I wouldn’t have to do anything other than watch to make sure it gets out of the main yard. I am ok with them out there just don’t come in here where you can injure my dogs. I mean even though they are non-venomous they still bite! I know, I have seen it happen! Although it did get the dog out from under the shed, where she had been the last hour trying to kill that thing. But that is a whole other story. She was fine.

DSCN0107

So where were we? The snake is coming down the fence, I am screaming and hollering, and the dogs are in the house barking at me making a fool out of myself by trying to shoo a snake out of the yard. What was I thinking? I want to make sure it did not get on the inside of the hardware cloth, but how in the hell is that going to happen? He was getting close and so I thought I am going to get the hose and try and squirt him out of the yard. It would work with a dog, It did not work on the snake. He slid right into the yard and then it curled up on the ground, looked at me and I swear it turned around and started licking the water off its back. Now it was trying to make me feel sorry for it. I am not falling for it! It did try to get out of the yard BUT THERE IS TWO FOOT OF HARDWARE CLOTH SO IT CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET OVER IT!! OMG will this day ever end? That is it I can’t win I am out of there. The mocking birds were on their own!

It is licking the water off its back

It is licking the water off its back

I am in the house now watching it come straight for the window I am looking out of. I reach up and lock the window. It lied in the shade of the porch swing for a bit and I watch it make a left and skirt the cement patio. I ran over and locked the sliding glass door and watched as the snake got with in two feet of the side of the house. I was now watching it as it was heading towards the garden. The last time I saw it, it had crawled under the box that covers the water valves. I was not  lifting it off to see if it was under there. I got the dogs settled and tried to relax. It was one o’clock and hubby would be home at three. I would just wait for him to come home and make sure it was all clear.

Home free, on its way out of the yard

Home free, on its way out of the yard

Ok I did go out and tried to look in the side of the box, without getting to close but I could not get a good view. I checked a few more times but the view never changed. In the house our old deaf dog, Max kept checking to see if the dog door was open. Click, click, click of his toenails across the linoleum in the kitchen and then back, click, click, click. Every ten minutes he checked. Doug got home a bit after three and from the window I watched as he slowly lifted the box off the valve. It was not there. Darn it I NEED to know it is not where it can encounter our dogs. My hubby located it in the garden. He got the grabber and lifted it over the garden fence and we watched as it made its way out of the yard. As I look back on this incident I realize three things. One, snakes can climb. Two, you cannot shoo a snake, like you do a dog, and three, mockingbirds ARE natures early snake alert birds. Now if I hear the snake squawk I will certainly listen. I do love my mockingbirds now.

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Responses

  1. Phew – we’ve got a snake we meet on walks. Big one, not venomous but eek!

  2. Here the mockingbirds and blue jays squawk when a snake is around. The blue jays are the loudest. They will encircle a snake in a tree and raise a ruckus.

    • Ruckus is the perfect word for it. You know that saying to “stop and smell the roses?” I now believe it should be “stop and listen to nature.” It is amazing how much we can learn from it. I LOVE that I Know, for sure if they do start raising a ruckus I need to secure the dogs and check it out. They got me covered.

  3. It’s wooded behind my house. You can tell what’s going on by listening. Native Americans knew this as did early pioneers. As a kid I hung out in the woods. That was my entertainment.

  4. you are better than me as I would have killed it first then ask questions later. Don’t care if they are good or bad as they eat baby rabbits and they can get to the birdhouse if they so choose too.


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