The Close Mockingbird has his cough. He sits on the Privet, spluttering, and this is not a throat clearing splutter, this is a whole body splutter that rattles. And I bleed for him in the foul weather he has recently endured. His feathers so puffed, I can hardly see his legs. His head suddenly little. There was a time when I believed his cough a quality of some kind of infectious pox forced upon him by Sparrow, many of whom will go milky eyed as winter enters mid February and everyone starts getting worked up because sap is rising.
More recently, I have come to a conclusion that his cough is a reaction to
a scarcity of food that forces him to eat the berries of Privet. Down
yonder all the Privet berries are gone, but the Close Mockingbird's Privet
bush has a plenty, which he has defended against even the curious. He is
not remotely interested in me, which does mean I am able to
get near to him, and his eyes look fine, his feathers
in excellent condition. I have from time to time thought
about cultivating maggots for him to eat, but there has
always been a somewhat vociferous reaction to this
shoe wearing members of our community..