This past Sunday, I walked out onto the patio to take in some coolness before the southeast Texas heat made it impossible to enjoy being outdoors. I immediately heard mockingbirds squawking and making a stir, so I looked around to see what or who had the gall to invade their space.
I spotted a large falcon perched on top of a utility pole about 50 or 60 yards away, and probably 50 ft. in the air. Since I’m a very poor judge of distance, I’ll just say that it was far enough that my current camera couldn’t have zoomed in well enough to get a reasonably discernable shot.
About 5 feet below and a few yards away from the falcon, there were two mockingbirds perched on the utility line. They apparently intended to make it clear that this was their territory, no falcons allowed. The falcon ignored them, though one of the mockingbirds repeatedly flew behind him and dove at his back with swift, glancing blows at first, but finally began striking hard enough to ruffle feathers. The falcon didn’t budge, focused on his task of perusing the landscape below for his next meal.
The second mockingbird seemed to be the aggressive bird’s wingman (ha-ha), watching from what he perceived as a safe distance, sometimes seeming ready to join in and help his pal. Ultimately, the wingman remained perched on the line, safe unless the falcon decided to launch his own attack.
I was amused when the aggressive mockingbird took brief breaks to perch alongside his companion to have a (loud) discussion. If I were to imagine what the two birds were discussing, it would be that the aggressive bird was admonishing his companion for failing to come to his aid against such a formidable enemy
I stood there studying the falcon’s ability to ignore the attacks, intent on his mission of having a good breakfast that morning. As the battle raged on, I thought, I will be like that falcon, immovable when faced with a challenge, never distracted from my mission and never allowing my progress toward my goals to stall.
As I continued to watch, I was struck by the tenacity of a small bird bravely confronting a deadly enemy that only remained perched with complete equanimity during the onslaught. Since mockingbirds are well known for their protective instinct, I fully expected the bird to continue until the falcon had had enough, and turned in one swift movement to permanently end the stoic bird’s attack.
What happened next was much more impressive. I witnessed the result of the small bird’s persistence when the falcon took flight and perched on a different pole, more than 100 yards away from his adversary. The falcon continued his visual sweep of the landscape from his new perch, in search of his morning meal, while the mockingbird made a single winged pass to mark the line the falcon was not to cross.
And then I thought, I will be like that mockingbird—courageously pursuing my goals with confidence, better ideas, and an unwillingness to accept anything less than success.
If you listen and observe, nature will teach you much of what you need to know about the things really worth knowing. The rest are the details, and it’s important to give them your full attention, armed with the things really worth knowing.
By the way, the mockingbird is the State Bird of Texas, known for it's beautiful song and ability to mimic the song of other birds, frogs, and even barking dogs and most any sound they pick up in their environment. The following video contains just over aminute of mockingbird song. It's fascinating to hear the range of the bird's song. I noticed there are some lengthy audio recordings of the mockingbird song on YouTube. At least one of them is perfect for listening while relaxing, or even for peaceful sleep.