The state bird of Florida is the mockingbird. I’m not sure why. You’d think that our state bird would be a little more distinctly Floridian. The great blue heron, the pelican, the snowy egret, or one of our seagulls or terns would have been much more logical and iconic.
Mockingbirds are not distinct to Florida. They’re everywhere, and there are zillions of them. Maybe that’s why the legislature chose them. Or maybe the mockingbird lobby was more vocal than those of the other birds. It’s hard to explain why our state legislature ever does anything that they do.
Mockingbirds are apparently not very smart. A pair of them has built a nest in a large bush in my back yard. For a bird, that is an intensely dumb thing to do. No other birds have been stupid enough to do that. Just the mockingbirds.
Why is that so stupid? Remember – my back yard is patrolled by a very large bird dog. When he sees a bird, his immediate instinct is to retrieve that bird. When a bird is already deceased, being retrieved is not particularly a problem for that bird. However, when a living bird is retrieved, it can be disastrous for said bird, in a fatal sort of way.
The problem is that when a baby mockingbird is learning to fly, it first drops out of its nest to the ground and hops
around a little bit. Sometimes, it will perch for a while on the lower sections of a chain link fence. That’s okay when the bird dog is not patrolling. But, when bird dog and baby bird meet, bad things happen.
Three times, I’ve had to drag Ralph away from a baby bird that was on the ground inside my back yard fence, or resting on a low link of the fence. The parent mockingbirds put up a real commotion, of course. You’d think that after three times, they’d learn to not let their kid play inside the fence where he might encounter a bird dog again. But noooo.
Mockingbirds are real bird brains.