Through my kitchen window I see the story unfold before me. Many are oblivious to the siege that is happening, right outside my window, in plain sight for anyone to see. Everyday, it's a battle for territory, for food and shelter. Everyday, it is a battle to survive. The authorities know absolutely nothing of this. The players in this story are rather inconspicuous, they conduct their affairs under the radar, planning their next move, plotting and scheming each other. It's inconceivable to think that they have so much to fight about, that they don't get along. How long this has been going on, no one can say.
It's taken me a while to identify all the various characters in this scenario, but I've put them in two main groups – the hooligans and the lovers.
The hooligans – there's three in this group, you won't believe it, but even though they're supposed to be peaceful, Doves are hooligans, yes, they're always jumping on each others backs and attacking one another for space in the garden. They jump on the kitchen window ledge as if to ask us 'Where's the food?' They raise their wings at any other birds and even their own kind at the first sign of trouble. They run around in circles chasing each other. They make absolutely no sense.
Next comes the Kiskadees, they perch on the lime tree, wait, then swoop down to steal food from everyone else and they grab the whole lot. They move in groups of threes and make enough noise to wake the dead. Their only saving grace is that they are quite comical amongst themselves.
But the real hoodlums in this group are the blackbirds - beady, yellow eyes. I was in utter disbelief the day one puffed up all his feathers and stared at me with his mouth open as if getting ready to strike, I quickly ran inside. And yet another time, one pecked my head while I was walking. They move in packs, stealing the neighbour's dog food, soak it in the water container on the lawn, then proceed to eat the soggy dog pellets, and hence the idea of a flock of birds is nonsense. They're a pack of blackbirds, like wild dogs, and they're dangerous. When they land and comb the area by mid-morning, every other bird flees in fear of their life.
Luckily, the lovers are smart and quick to manoeuvre away from danger. Thankfully, they outnumber the hooligans. The green, blue and white-lined Tanagers, the spectacled Thrush, the yellow Oriole, the Bananaquit and the Hummingbird.
The Oriole, Bananaquit and Hummingbird are loners. They have the sweetest whistle and never disturb the others. Although I've noticed the Oriole likes to peck at my garbage, so it's noted here he's got a sanitation problem. The Hummingbird just sits on a lone branch on the lime tree and turns his head from side to side, as if just observing what's going on. The spectacled Thrush knows that the apple-cores and bread are coming from me. He and others of his kind come to the window whenever I throw down food, almost as if to say 'thanks'. They bathe in the drinking water daily, jumping in and out numerous times. Recently the Thrushes have started challenging the Kiskadee for food, which is also quite comical and rewarding to see, a lover being a fighter when needed.
The strangest thing is, they all share the same tree to bear their children, it's almost as if they have a peace treaty when it comes to having offspring, that and a time-sharing option on the Exora tree. Food and water are grounds for war, but not the rearing of children.
Occasionally there's a baby owl or a huge corn bird that visits and thus wrecks havoc in the order of this 'community'. When that happens there's mass confusion and the Kiskadees ring the warning bells. They then assemble and try to chase away the strangers. It's quite the entertainment - war in the garden.
But everyone jumps to attention when a Mimus Gilvus (Tropical Mockingbird) comes along. Maybe it's the grey tail that sticks out so dignified at a 45 degree angle, maybe it's how upright he stands. He spreads his wings in a two-step fashion, almost as if preparing for flight, then runs along hurriedly. He is fearless and swift. Whenever a Mimus lands, birds scatter. I had a conversation with a Mimus once, it was raining and we whistled back and forth for over ten minutes, looking at each other through the window. He probably thought 'Man, that's a weird bird!' But he's my choice for the man-in-charge. I know some may disagree, but after careful consideration and thorough observation, I can only cast my vote in the Tropical Mockingbird's direction. When it's a clear sunny day, he will stand atop the tallest tree and whistle his song for nearly an hour, without a care in the world.
So, whenever I go into the garden nowadays and the black birds watch and size me up for an attack, I tell them very sternly 'Hey, I know the man-in-charge, so watch it there guys!' They usually back off, mumbling to themselves.
And that's why, it's always important to know someone at the top, especially the man-in-charge.