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Letter: To thrill a mockingbird or water baby

Something interesting happened last Saturday. I was having lunch and looking out in the yard at the pool. We have Phoebes, which are a black and white fly-catchers. They will sit on the edge of the pool and dive into the water to catch bugs on the surface.

A mockingbird was at the edge of the pool watching this and looking down at a bug. He started walking on the very edge, having to use his wings for balance.

I said, “He’s going to fall in!”

“How does a bird fall?”

The mockingbird flew down to the water dragging his tail in the water, but not low enough to catch the bug.

Back up on the pool deck he watched the Phoebe some more and again tried to catch a bug. Again his tail skimmed the water with no catch.

Back to the deck and walking on the edge with wings flapping he fell into the water. He couldn’t free himself and was floating with his wings outstretched. I went and lifted him out. He stayed in my hand for awhile. I set him down on the deck where he sat. He was wet, and perhaps in shock.

After a bit he hopped into the flowerbed. He stayed there until he dried out.

Since then, he has not tried to hunt off the water. What I was amazed at, was his observing another bird and learning from it. Far more capacity than we credit them with.

— Bill Hoffrage, Madera

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