But as it turns out, it wasn't the nest she was concerned about. When I went to water my flowers I almost watered this little guy...
"How on earth did he get there?" I thought. These planters weren't under any trees, or anywhere else there might be a nest. I wondered what I should do...but in the meantime brought my children out to take a look.
"Do you see the baby bird? Don't get too close. You don't want to scare it. Just look...don't touch."
Afterwards I went online to identify it's mom, and see what I should do. Our mother and baby were Mockingbirds--the Texas State Bird. I can't believe I've lived here all this time and never knew what our state bird looked like. I've seen these birds all around but just never tried to find out what they were. I didn't get a good picture of the mom, but here's one from Wikimedia Commons...
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Photo by DickDaniels - http://carolinabirds.org
Not only is this bird the Texas State Bird, it's also the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee (and used to be the state bird of South Carolina). On Florida's site about this bird I learn this...
When the chicks are about 12 days old, they will venture from the nest and hop around on the ground or in low shrubs. During this transitional period (after leaving the nest and before they can fly), the young birds are still in the care of the parents, who feed them up to five times per hour. If found hopping around on the ground, they should be placed low in a tree or in a shrub and left alone. The parents will continue to care for them for several days until they learn to forage for themselves.
- The Florida Gardener
My mom, who always kept birdfeeders out and full, once commented on this bird. "I used to like those birds," she said, "...until I saw how they bullied the other birds. They chase away any other birds that come around." I wish I could have shared with her what I learned (she passed away last summer). She would have loved seeing the baby bird we found, and I think knowing that these birds acted the way they did to protect their fledglings would have warmed her heart towards them. She was fierce like that as a mother too.