Mockingbirds, storms and snakes

In my backyard, a mustang grape vine grows over the fence. In its season, the grape vine is a beautiful, bushy thing. It oppresses the increasingly leaning, wooden fence. This Spring, a pair of mockingbirds setup a nest deep inside the vine.

It was cool. The grape vine is directly in front of my back door, which is a large window, really. I loved watching the pair of birds busy foraging and returning to the nest. The returning bird lands on the fence, looks around, scootches a little closer to the grape vine. Looks around. Hops and turns around. Turns around again. Calls out. Scootches over some more, and if the coast is clear, hops on to a branch of the vine, and then in one more hop it disappears deep into the mustang grape vine, to a nest I never saw.

If the birds and I came into the back yard at the same time, I’d get this look:

one of my neighbors
my neighbor with an understandable look of, back off my nest!

I gave them room. I’m a good neighbor, though I only got gruff-looks in return. I understand the gravity of the endeavor, and good lord, whichever bird pushed for this grapevine as a good, out of the way place, I didn’t -well, I’m totally in to seeing some fledglings.

Sadly, I stopped seeing the birds on the fence or vine after some late Spring thunderstorms. Atleast, I assumed that was the problem. We had lots of rain this Spring.

This past weekend, I was in the backyard thinking about the mockingbirds when I got it in to my head to check out the nest.

I walked over to the grapevine, and pried apart the long, suspended, hanging branches to peer inside, deep where I thought the birds seemed to point when they disappeared, which was up above my head. It’s a tall fence, and a taller grape vine.

So, I’m looking up, and I see bottom of the nest, and I’m excited. Kinda nervous, like maybe the birds are still in there, and I’ve been wrong all this time, and they will peck at my eyes to protect their babies, but that didn’t happen. I saw some snails inching along, and it seemed a whole little, shady, hidden ecosystem with spiders and webs. I reached up to get the nest and there was a snake in it. A black, it was dark and I was startled, shiny smooth slithering thing. The snake was on the move. I ran to get my camera, because, you know, that’s what you do. These are the two shots I got off:

snake tail

snake tail

The snake disappeared over the fence, but still within the vine. I was peering through the fence slats, through the dark to the other side of the fence to see if I could see the snake over there, and then the snake peered through the same slat back at me. I immediately moved backward and the vine swung closed in front of me. I decided I needed some height, like a ladder. I don’t have a ladder. If I had a ladder, I could stand above the vine, and look down, see the nest, and be far enough away from the snake, which was probably still moving away, anyway. The nest was empty, the snake had no reason to come back, unless it lived there now. No, that’s ridiculous. A bar stool! I’d go inside and grab a barstool, and stand on that.

Precariously standing on the barstool, which was sinking into the moist ground, I got this pic of the empty nest:

empty nest

Maybe a snake ended the nest endeavor. It happens. Unseen, under the greatest protection imaginable, it happens.

It all reminds me of Audubon’s mockingbird family attacking a rattlesnake in the nest.

Northern Mockingbird and Rattlesnake  by John James Audubon

Peace, clear skies, time and a good coming Spring to my old neighbors. Whatever happened.

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