It’s spring in Texas. A pair of Mocking Birds have nested in our neighbor’s tree—just over the privacy fence that divides his yard from ours. The birds recognize no such division but consider our whole backyard their nursery. As such it does not belong to us and we are trespassers every time we water the thirsty grass or even when we dare to fill the birdfeeder and birdbath. From my back bedroom office window I watch the mother and father’s cautious approach to the nest. Worm squiggling in his or her beak, bird parent settles on the fence, cocks an eye at me gazing with the same intensity I do mornings as I watch my sixth grader walk the half block to middle school. Only when they are sure no one sees do they venture into the tree with the prized breakfast. We have much in common. They fear the cat that roams our street, and the human and canine and feline inhabitants of this house. I fear other predators who may be lurking in shadows, watching and waiting for my daughter, for other daughters and sons.
Yesterday I heard a raucous aviary remonstration while I was trying, unsuccessfully, to read a book. I went to the patio door to see what was amiss. There I found my cat peering keenly through the window at one of “our” (we feel a sense of ownership) mocking birds who was assailing her with bitter invective, casting, I am sure, aspersions on her character. It was a true birdy bitch-fest, a sight to behold—or rather—to hear. This went on for about an hour and a half during which I heard not a peep from the babies in the tree. This worried me. I thought perhaps the outside cat had got them and the inside cat was being made to pay for the crime. So I gingerly let myself out only to have the angry parent launch a new assault on this well-meaning citizen. I was relieved some time later when the parent resumed feeding operations and left me and my cat alone. As soon as the aviary curses subsided the babies began to cry again in earnest. All is well with the world!