How to tame an Aggressive Mockingbird

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

There are several mockingbirds in my backyard, but one in particular reigns superior. She's chasing and harassing my blue birds and eating many of the butterflies that visit my gardens in my backyard. The blue birds can fend for themselves I suppose, but the butterflies are on her daily menu. This year's butterfly population visiting my yard is at an all time low. My whole reason for planting host and nectar plants is for butterfly gardening. Yet she is completely raining on my parade.

Does anyone have a solution for me? I'll be off line until Sunday and will be eager to read your thoughts when I get back on line.

Deborah

Salt Lake City, UT(Zone 6a)

Thinking netting the plants themselves or those mylar type streamers are the only thing that will do the trickof keeping the mockingbird away.

You might wanna check out the hummingbird/butterfly forum and learn how to "raise" caterpillars to release into the wild the finished product (butterfly)..........

The mylar streamers would probably scare off desirable birds too. Humming birds really don't like them. We use them mostly to keep birds from crashing into our windows. I've tried fruit tree netting with some success.

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

We live in the country so we use the bb gun if the mockingbirds gets too aggressive. We don't shoot to kill them but to scare them off. It ususally works. Sometimes we don't even have to go that far because we get alot of Blue Jays and other birds here and sometimes they will chase them off.

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

Mylar streamers? Never heard of them? Where would I get them? I'm just getting my feet wet butterfly gardening. I do visit and post on the BF forum and I'm bookmarking lots of information about raising bf's. This one BF eating mockingbird is getting on my nerves (only have one nerve left and she's on top of it).

You can cut up long strips from plastic garbage bags and that will be about the same thing. Works the same too. Other than that, do you have any old streamers from when your kids were little? The kind that attached to their bicycle handles? You can buy rolls of this in bright neon colors and I'm pretty sure I've seen it at Home Depot.

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

I've got cheerleading pompoms that are long. That may just do the trick! Thanks bunches

That should work and it would be free. What else would you do with those things after they've outlived their usefullness and the kid is all grown up.

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

I have a question about attracting birds vs hummers and butterflies that pertains to Cordeledawg's question. I also planted for all three but I think the birds are eating all the cats and preventing the hummer (I had only 1 regular visitor) from coming back. I have 1 robin and 1 cardinal nest and probably a catbird nest also. There are also wrens and doves as regular visitors to the garden. I certainly don't want to discourage the birds so I assume I just have to accept the balance of birds over hummers and butterflies?

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

We're nearly overrun with robins at the moment (2 recent sets of fledglings), and we've got 2 pairs of cardinals, wrens, catbirds, doves, etc... and I'm still seeing hummers at the feeder. They're pretty bold despite their diminutive size, so I think it's unusual for hummers to be run off by other birds.

On the other hand, we get plenty of butterflies but caterpilars don't last long.... I was blaming the birds, but netting doesn't help much, so I think wasps might also be at fault (I see plenty of those -- lots of varieties).

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

Out of desperation, I put a pot of parsley with BST cats in a fish aquarium and put screen on top. Hopefully these few will make it to adulthood. I've still got to deal with that bf eating mockingbird. The streamers should scare her away.

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

This butterfly is that mean kamikaze's prey.

Update on the cage. I bought a pet carrier for my kitty and decided to use it for my other cats.LOL

Thumbnail by Cordeledawg
No. San Diego Co., CA(Zone 10b)

After reading this and other threads, I've come to the conclusion that there is no conclusion! We get numerous finches, bluebirds, hawks and other birds of prey, king birds, and various other travelers on the migration path. None of them interrupt our hummingbirds.

The mockingbirds aren't aggressive unless someone (usually hawks or crows) approaches their nests. Do we have well-behaved MBs?

Perhaps the birds in areas that have harsh winters are more aggressive since they have shorter breeding times? Maybe because this is not a lush area like those that get lots of rain, we don't have the same clashes going on?

Otherwise, I can only think that birds are just as variable within certain limits as human beings are! Without anthropomorphizing too much, maybe they get cranky, too!

I can't speak to BFs, since I don't garden for them - though I try to have host and nectar plants around - and other than a Painted Lady swarm, we've never noticed too many. That may change since we've planted passifloras, though.

Gardening with/for wildlife is a balancing act, that's for sure. :-)

Newton, MA(Zone 6a)

I have a mocker story for you. I caught our resident mocker pinning the female bluebird on the ground. I could not believe what I was seeing. I knew they were aggressive, but never knew they were this aggressive. I just happened to be at the window when I saw the male bluebird mobbing the ground. I went to investigate just in time. Ordinarily, I have never seen them do more than run other birds off. They are particularly aggressive during the early nesting season and then they calm down. Of course, I'm afraid to tell people this because I know some people will shoot mockers. And then shooting them is against the law for one thing, but for another, I do think if we are gardening for wildlife, we have to accept predator as well as prey in our yards. Balance and diversity is key to healthy ecosystems. Animals really don't observe or understand property rights like humans do.

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

Well, after reading the posts and with much agreement on balance of nature, (although this mean bird is cheating on her share), I decided to give her what she wants....Food! The "no melt" suet cakes are up and she seems content. Suet cakes and black oil sunflower seeds are the only two foods I use anyway. I'll just have to use them year round.

Update on the pet carrier as a bf cage. It's not pratical. Can't cover the slits well and can't view the cats either. Opted for standing mesh clothes hamper instead.

Thanks y'all for giving me some peace of mind.

Oh my gosh, it's Christmas in June for me. Good to see you Von76!

Yes, I agree with your comments regarding those two indigenous species. I wouldn't like it, but I would let nature take its course.

A standing mesh clothes hamper sounds ideal!

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

Von76, now that's what I call an aggressive mockingbird!

No. San Diego Co., CA(Zone 10b)

Amazing how much we can learn listening to people from other places! I had no idea the MBs could be so bad!

My own story: At our old house we had bird feeders. We also had hawks. One day I heard a horrible squealing and ran outside to find a huge red-tail hawk - close to 2ft tall - with his foot on a towhee. Towhees are one of my favorite birds and this just upset me no end. The look that hawk gave me was enough to kill. I just told him to get on with the job and went back in the house - nothing else I could do. I took the feeders down and haven't had one since. We plant for the wildlife at our new house - things with berries and seeds and nectar - but I do feed the hummers.

Sometimes balance is painful. :-(

South/Central, FL(Zone 9a)

I saw a blue jay holding another bird down the other day. Two more BJs were real close and squawking. I ran out and scared them, and the other bird flew away. (couldn't tell what kind it was, smaller than a BJ, tho) It was screaming bloody murder while the BJ was on top of it.

Maybe it stole something. Those BJs can be brutal.
Usually, all my birds get along. (2 kinds of Doves, wrens, cardinals, 3 kinds of woodpeckers, blackbirds and 1 hummer)
~Lucy

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

Bj's will eat small baby birds. :( Mocking birds just fight for territory. :/

1 lone hummer? Bless your heart. I have only two this year. Miss the 7 I had last year though.

It's strange how bj's, mocking birds, wrens and blackbirds will band together, though, when a prey bird comes in the yard. Today, a red tail hawk landed in my dogwood tree and all the above mentioned birds went belistic chasing him away.

South/Central, FL(Zone 9a)

I think my one lone hummer is the same one I had last year. She sometimes hovers like a lil helicopter about 5 ft from me and looks straight at me. She makes sure you see her.

She loves my aloe plant by the door. Last year she would drink from the feeder. This year she will not. Something must have scared her from it. I'm gonna move it to another place and see if she will use it. I change it every other day, so it's always fresh.

Yes, I've noticed when a prey bird is around the other birds do go ballistic. : )

Frankfort, KY

My neighbor found a robin entertwined in the grass and unable to fly. She got some heavy duty gloves and went outside to untwine it. She said the bird was o.k. after freeing it. I've never heard of this. Apparently the robin was digging for worms and got tangled up.

Newton, MA(Zone 6a)

Hey there, Equil!! Yah, I'm just hanging around reading.

This is the only forum where I would dare mention the mocker story. People here seem to have a realistic view of how predator and prey interact and how much humans should and shouldn't interfere. I have seen the hawks doing their thing, and it is upsetting. I love the way the Indians used to rationalize it.......at least the way I saw it in a movie once...........could be totally wrong for all I know, but they explained that hawks help prey by taking the weakest ones.

To be honest, I have really enjoyed watching what I call the "mocker wars" all winter long. The bluebirds would stay on the roof of the house and the mocker would hang in the tree in front of the house and on the mealworm feeder (even though the mocker had no way to get a mealworm out of it. Somehow s/he knew they were in there. Maybe they found one that dropped on the edge or something). Anyway, the blue birds would fly up to my roof and watch for the mocker to get distracted and then fly in and eat mealworms. Sooner or later, the mocker would come back like an air force jet and the bluebirds would escape, just in time, to the roof. It was pretty comical........like a siblings or a playground fight. This went on all winter. So, I used to tell people that animals find a way to work it out and humans should just stay out of it. Because, as I said, I have seen people talk about shooting mockers because they are bothering the other birds. I actually think mockers are quite plucky. I admire the heck out of any bird that will take on a hawk. I figure on top of being native birds, that has to do help out the other species living in the yard.

As for birds who eat other birds......BJs seem to have the worst reputation, but they aren't the only birds that do that. I have heard grackles will eat the heads of small birds (like HOSPs). Something about feeding the brains to their babies! (YUCK) Not sure if this is urban legend or not. As much as I have no sympathy for HOSPs, that has to be one of the grossest things I have heard. I also think crows are pretty good at finding other birds' nests. In fact, I saw a couple in my yard recently jumping around in a spruce tree and then I saw two Baltimore Orioles throwing a huge fit. Of course, I did go out and scare them off. (I know, I said I don't interfere, but I just clapped my hands loudly). I'm sure if there is a nest in that tree, they will be back. I actually walked out there for a look, but didn't see anything.

Anyway, that's about all the bird stories I have for today.

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

Where do y'all get meal worms? Bluebirds in my yard would love to have some. Not to mention that mean ol' hateful mocker I'm trying to put up with.

Speaking of birds eating birds, sparrows (non-native) will kill baby bluebirds by amputating their heads. :( That's one good reason for not putting perches on BB boxes and keeping them low, say 5' or so.

Newton, MA(Zone 6a)

Coreldawg, I get my mealworms from Reptile Foods. If you go through the Purple Martin website, they get a small donation each time you order. I like their packaging the best. They are pricey though. I have to warn you. I feed them really sparingly. I don't feed anything else artificially because I feel like I'm unfairly making the birds suseptible to predation by hawks. I figure the berry bushes are a much more healthy way for them to feed. The birds are less concentrated and have some cover to hide in. I also think the less concentrated the birds are, the less chance of passing diseases like conjunctivitis. Just my opinion though.

I have witnessed what you are talking about with my own eyes. I saw the male HOSP exit the house and went out to find a dead mother tree swallow on a nest of cracked eggs. For this reason, not to mention the fact that HOSPs are non-native and take a huge toll on native cavity nesters, I aggressively rid my yard of them. I don't feel as though I can lure any birds to my yard with boxes unless I try to keep them safe to some degree.......ground and in-box traps work well for me.

I though the perches attracted house wrens? I didn't know they also attract HOSPs........actually, I think HOSPs will nest about anywhere perch or not don't they?

Newton, MA(Zone 6a)

Coreldawg: By the way, here are some plans for a homemade mealworm feeder: http://md.fpemad.com/p2/feeder.htm

Here is the link for Reptile foods through the Purple Martin Conservancy website: http://www.reptilefood.com/reptilefood/affil_select.asp?affilkey=PMCA

If you haven't yet visited this site, it is excellent: http://www.sialis.org/feeder.htm
This is the page for feeding bluebirds.

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

Most surely, those crumb snatchers (HOSP's) will nest just about anywhere, and in anything , even in an old shoe!

Cordele, GA(Zone 8a)

Thank you so much for the links! YEEPEE!. I've been back and forth on Dave's and Googling; too many sites out there got me so confused.

Huntsville, AL

Here is how to make an inexpensive mockingbird "tamer" that will mediate your mockingbird's aggression. Take either a quart or gallon heavy-duty zip-lock freezer bag. Poke two small holes at the top of the bag above the zipper part, far left and right. Take either three or six shiny copper pennies. Fill half the bag with water. Drop the pennies into the bag and seal. Take two short bungie cords and put each of the hook ends of one bungie through the holes as a hanger. Take the other bungie and tie a knot over the middle part of the first bungie. Now hang the bag using the second bungie's hooks. We use the house gutter in the back. When our mocker saw the tamer, I cannot describe the expression of consternation and alarm on that bird's beak. I laughed so hard I cried. He carefully and quietly tiptoed over the back of the roof, peeking over the roof's edge at the tamer very, very cautiously; then studying it with a degree of intellectual consideration that I did not expect. Then he suddenly got very polite and mannerly, almost immediately allowing the other birds to eat from our two feeders. I was told by one person that the combined reflection of the water and the copper pennies look (to mockingbirds) like some kind of big monster eyes. The other birds are not afraid of it. We leave the tamer out all year, through freeze and thaw. The mockingbirds now decline to nest in our trees, and have stopped chasing off our other birds. However, they continued to poop on our mailbox, perhaps as an act of revenge. I looked this up on a bird psychology page and, yes, they are perfectly capable of doing this. I went to our local party store and got colorful, shiny mylar streamers attached to sticks that are used as table vase decorations. I used self-sealing black silicone plumber's tape to attach three of these by the stick end to the top of our mailbox. No more mailbox "decorations"!

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Glad you found a solution. Thanks for telling us about it -- made me chortle, picturing your mocker's response.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

I need one for BJ's - always knew Mockers were 'bossy'. We raise our own mealworms- at least when I am home- but here in the south the mealworms in old deadwood get as big around as your thumb. My hummers dont care for the feeders in Spring- flowers lure them most and I think the sugars are too strong in the feeders while they are laying. The birds are my irritation since they are hard on the bfs no matter what.

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