A new puppy (Maggie) has changed my diurnal regimen and thrust me as observer of an avian conflict.
The ongoing power-struggle for domination of our backyard Pyracantha took on a new dimension. Having taken Maggie outside for her morning toilette, I saw the neighborhood Robin perched on the clothes drying post adjacent to the eastern rock wall fence and near the scraggly Pyracantha. Suddenly, a mockingbird alighted on the mid-section of the Pyracantha; immediately, a second mockingbird landed on the upper branches; and, a third set itself down on the fence wall. It did not look good for the Robin. The first foray came from the mockingbird on the lower branches who darted toward the Rob in an upper swish. The Robin deftly flew up and back down. Just as rapidly, the bird on the fence dove at the Robin and the skirmish took a new and unexpected beauty. With the burnt sienna breast of the Robin and its black upper body coloration and the white, gray and black of the three mockingbirds, especially their spread out vertical striped black-white tail feathers, the entire combat assumed a dance-like Flamenco quality. Tails fanned and coursing , fluttering in mad, wild undulations. Wings flashing, creating crenulated battlements of color and ferocity. The Robin, like an experienced matador, parried, thrust, swerved and adroitly moved aside as he was assailed by all three mockingbirds, a Gaonera here, a Manoletina and a paso de pecho there. Bringing it all to a close with a pase de farol before setting back down on the post.( yes, these are references to bullfighting manuevers, but it was all so Flameno/Corrida in nature). The combatants looked at each other cautiously, carefully, calculatingly. And then, the most unexpected and scurvy action ensued: the mockingbirds turned on each other. They flew at one another like frantic dive-bombers, an aerial dog fight among allies. The Robin flew down to the ground and feasted on fallen berries. Maggie had been too busy listening to the barkings of the neighbor's Scottish Terrier. I, on the other hand, had just watched a tremendous Zapateado, an avian Flamenco challenge. Perhaps my many years of working with Nina Gomez of Danzas Espanolas or a more recent personal connection to Flamenco had given me these Iberian inspired visualizations. All I know is that I have christened the Robin, Errol, in honor of that great swashbuckler Errol Flynn. As for the mockingbirds, well I'm not sure if they're the Three Stooges, the Ritz Brothers or Beevus and Butthead plus one. Yet, for a few moments it was a scene of Operatic proportions.
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