Saturday, April 4, 2009

Meet Walter

Every neighborhood I ever lived in had one...the grumpy old guy on the block who patrolled his yard as if it were a separate country. He owned no pets, his lawn was immaculate and he treated children as if they were a necessary evil. His frown muscles were more overworked than the ones for smiling. A mere glare from his direction sent kids scattering...or at least crossing over to the other side of the street. He was the kind of man who regally surveyed his little patch of earth as if Emperor in a kingdom he was damn proud to own. Trespassers were not welcome. In fact, if he spoke to kids at all, it was usually to yell at them, "Hey you! Get off my lawn!"

I live out in the country. Our nearest neighbor is almost a mile away. And yet, a grumpy old man has taken up residence in our yard. No, not the guy I married. This is a grey headed little tyrant who works diligently to keep intruders off the lawn. HIS lawn.

Meet Walter.
Although I'm not sure he knows it, Walter is, in fact, a Mockingbird. Yes, I did name him. He's the only bird I've ever seen who has such a specific personality. If he were a General, he'd have five stars. Right now, he's a loud, often agitated, yard alarm system. No one comes into the yard that Walter doesn't try to chase out.

Including me. Once.

Well, I deserved it. I was instrumental in insisting we remove the crepe myrtle trees that the idiot... I mean prior home owners...had planted on either ends of the porch. Against the house! The one on the left was Walter's command post, where he kept a diligent eye on things. If a bird lands in the yard, Walter swoops in squawking as if he were an Eagle or a Hawk and runs it into the field, off of his beloved lawn. The day after we cut down the trees, I walked out the back door. From his new command post, right outside the back door, Walter gave me a tongue lashing I have not forgotten.

Walter is actually fun to watch. He marches back and forth, glaring at any bird which dares land on the lawn. This is him in "Red Alert!" marching mode. He is semi-tolerant of humans, although hubby laughed that some of his "too loud" archery customers have been surprised to see Walter fly over their heads, as if trying to find the best angle to run them off. He doesn't bother the dogs, but I've noticed that when he's in fussing mode, they tend to stay on the other side of the house.
The only day I feared for Walter's safety was the morning the Blackbirds invaded. Every year they arrive by the hundreds. Usually they scrounge around the fields surrounding us, looking for corn leftover from last summer's crop. Unable to find any this year, they decided my bird feeder would do.

Poor Walter! I thought he'd have a stroke. One by one he'd single out a Blackbird and dive bomb it, all the time squawking at them to keep moving. Amazingly, he kept on until, one by one, the Blackbirds decided there had to be a friendlier neighborhood and took to the skies. Then Walter went back to strutting back and forth. When I stepped out the back door, he called to me, as if to note all the work he has to do around here to keep us safe from marauding Blackbirds. The only bird he doesn't pick on is a female Cardinal...although he keeps her mate constantly on the move.

And yet when he takes a rest, Walter sings the most beautiful tunes! I sit quietly, out of his line of view, and listen to the wonders that this little bird has to offer. He's taken to a quick yell when I leave for work and another when I arrive home. Yep, Walter and I get along just fine. If Walter could converse with me, I'm pretty sure he'd say.....

"Hey! You there, with the camera.
Did I give you permission to stand there?
Did I say you could take my photo?
I know you live here....but GET OFF MY LAWN!"


Ken Armstrong said...

Tra La La, Twiddle De Dee Dee
It gave me a thrill
To read this post. :)

We have nothing as exotic as a mockingbird but our resident robin proves an aggressive little beggar in defending his/our turf.

I love the piccie through the branches, 'could almost reach in there.

Susan said...

What a character! Walter's a perfect name for a get-off-my-lawn-you-kids type of fellow LOL.

I haven't seen a mockingbird for years. Lovely photos!

hope said...

Ken we have lots of Mockingbirds but none as personable as Walter. Robins also crowd the lawn in early spring, but then move on. The picture in the tree was on an evening when the sky was still amazingly blue...I have a great camera as that branch was well above the house!

Thanks Susan. I actually used the last picture of Walter as the wallpaper for my computer. Hubby said Walter looked as if he were scowling. :)

Peggy said...

I'm not sure if I've ever seen a Mockingbird up close and almost personal.
I love the name Walter, what a character!
Sounds like he has a loving home now!
Great pictures!

Rachel Fox said...

I've never even seen a picture of a mockingbird before! I think I thought they didn't really exist...

Ken Armstrong said...

You know the song I was singing, right? (wouldn't like you to think I was going crazy or anything). ;)

hope said...

Peggy, if you were here, Walter would be glad to do a fly-by to prove it's his yard. :)

Rachel...funny what we take for granted. Of all the birds we have around here, the Mockingbird has always been my favorite..because they are quite the vocal virtuoso. I'll try to get one of him flying...they really are interesting in flight.

Ken...I would never think you anything but creative. Can I name that tune in 3, give me a hint. [Oh the irony! Walter is outside the window singing away!]

Poetikat said...

At first I thought you were going to say he was "Walter Pigeon" (an old movie actor). Now you've got me singing The Stones' "Get Offa My Cloud!"

Sounds like quite the character to have around. He really took on all those blackbirds? Wow! We've got some territorial blue jays, but they are transients and don't stick around except if there's peanuts on the go.

It's nice that you've worked out your position in his realm and you've developed a cordial relationship.

Wasn't it Bugs Bunny who sang, "Listen To The Mockingbird"?