Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who's Your Psycho Daddy?

He's not our Psycho Daddy, but we have one in our yard. He's a Hepatic Tanager who earned his nickname by attacking his own evil image wherever he could find it "in" our house. This all began in May with his attacks on the mirror we put up over the outdoor laundry sink. We covered the mirror. So he went to the front windows. We tried opening the sheer curtains, closing the sheer curtains, but of course neither strategy worked. It was the reflection on the outside of the window where he could still see that bad guy. Unsightly as it was, we taped a black plastic garbage bag over the outside of the window. (Can anybody tell me why not a single one of our visitors ever asked us why we had a garbage bag taped over our front window?) He went to the other front window, but I didn't care so much if he bashed his head against that one, since he was no longer perching on and soiling terrace furniture nor making a mess on the terrace floor. After a few weeks, we noticed a chick following him and his mate around at the banana feeders. We took the garbage bag down - he seemed cool, so we took the covering off the mirror. All was calm for a couple of weeks, but then he resumed his efforts with gusto: come in for a snack at the feeders, go to the laundry sink and perch there in between fluttering jumps a couple of feet up to the mirror, peck the hell out of his reflection, have a few more bites of bananas, go to the front window and mount another assault.

He had his routine and so did we. We covered the mirror and window for a second and then a third time and waited for him and his mate to raise another chick, which they did. We uncovered things during the calm periods. There has been a lot of construction activity on the front and side terrace lately, and now there is a roof over the side terrace where the laundry sink is located. We wondered if he would be intimidated by the new structure, but we need not have worried. He continues to feel completely at home here, roof or no roof, and has found opportunities for occasional attacks between disruptions by the crew.

To his credit (and with the help of his level-headed and hard-working mate; she's the one who usually feeds the begging chicks, although we have seen P. Daddy pitch in occasionally) he has been a highly successful father over the past 4 months. And he has kept all other male Hepatic intruders out of the yard. But he just can't seem to get rid of the one who lives inside the house.

If you would like to see the well-honed technique, here is Marco's footage of P. Daddy in action. Note that only a corner of the mirror is exposed, but that's all he needs.


  1. I think his lifesytle may work for him - he's learned that with constant vigilance he can keep his foe at bay and raise his family. You may get to know your P Daddy for years, and many more broods, to come, and he may pass his Braveheart code on to some of his male offspring.