“One for the mockingbird.” – Cutting Crew
A happy belated new year to you all! Hindsight is indeed now 2020. Hey-oh!
One thing 2020 brought more of to me personally was bird-watching in my backyard. I hung up more bird feeders. I read books and internet articles about birds and birding and how to identify birds and what kinds of food to provide. I even started watching bird cams on YouTube. Bird. Nerd.
Sometimes while I’m watching the birds in my backyard now, I’ll just watch the mockingbird now and think to myself how exhausting it must be to be a mockingbird. While the mockingbird undoubtedly has some of the most beautiful songs, one of his peculiar lots in life is to be so territorial that he must consistently chase birds away from “his” feeding station like a drug dealer defending his corner to sling dope. Everyday he swoops, he chases, he harasses all of the other birds flitting about at the feeding stations. Friendship and sharing be damned! This is survival, so he presumes.
The problem for the mockingbird in my backyard though is that I have about 7 or 8 different feeders hanging from two different trees. This makes the influx of birds constant which means the mockingbird swoops and chases birds continuously throughout the day. The feeder that he tends to relentlessly chase birds from has a mix that includes about 10% dried cranberries, and the mocks love their fruit.
It makes me tired watching him, but he never gives up. Sure, there are lulls in the action where he’s decided to perch on top of our roof or watches from a nearby branch while he gathers up the energy needed for a few more fly-bys. Oh, and besides that one feeder, don’t even think about invading his holly trees with those red berries lest you be on a mission to lose a few feathers.
“I have learnt, time will tell, years will pass, tears will fall,
Don’t be fooled, fed by words, their sweet songs, Mocking-birds!”
The mockingbird is the state bird for many states including my state of Arkansas. One of these days soon I’ll create a separate mockingbird feeder just for him so he’ll leave the rest of the birds alone (so I hope). I don’t mind him chasing the teenagers out of the yard though. And by “teenagers,” I mean the European Starlings that come in like a gang of teenagers at a mall food court loudly squawking at each other, fighting, and pretty much making life a nuisance for everyone else there trying to eat in peace. (Note: keep the suet to a minimum – the starlings love that stuff like teens and a Chick-fil-A nugget tray.)
Even though the mock has this annoying tendency to scare away all of the other pretty birds, I do admire its’ consistency and persistence. There’s definitely something to be said for those two traits, and whatever that may be, it is in the eyes of the beholder. But frankly, I think we can learn from the mockingbird. Snow, rain, heat, it doesn’t matter to the mock. Whatever condition his surroundings hold, it doesn’t keep him for his hyper-focused drive to protect what he deems to be his. He keeps consistently and persistently swooping and chasing and defending, and it’s admirable if not ultimately futile.
What are you hiding from?
Why do you lock the door?
Open up the door!
So I plan to take more of those two traits with me into 2021 and hope you do as well. 2020 already did a fine job of testing our persistence and mental stability, and chances are 2021 will continue to do the same. But I think as long as we can stay consistent in whatever we’re doing and persistent in the tasks before us, that 2021 will be a year worthy of a comeback.
And during those times that you may be frustrated by your personal mockingbird, keep in mind persistence and consistency, and if it helps feel free to revert back to your high school days and the wise words of Miss Maudie – “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
“I have learnt through all my past mistakes
Not to let the hurdles sap my energy
Time will tell and time is all it takes
You won’t see the bastards knock the running out of me”
Disappointingly, there are no actual mockingbirds in today’s featured video though lead singer Nick Van Eede does belt out a few screeches at the end of the song. I’ve never heard the mockingbird make those noises before, but doesn’t mean they can’t. This band that formed in London in 1985 got its name from the definition of a band that doesn’t play concerts, but instead stays in the studio recording or “cutting” new songs.
A minor hit only reaching #38 in the U.S. in 1987, this song is also (IMO) about persistence. No matter the set backs or put downs, stay persistent and don’t pay attention to those who want to hold you back or tell you that you can’t do something. That type of person is referred to in this song as a mocking-bird. So here is Cutting Crew with one of their more underrated songs, and a song that can be found on my Spotify “I’m Watching Birds” playlist – “One for the Mockingbird”…
Thanks for reading.