Friday, April 15, 2011

Dance of the Mockingbird

Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) are one of my favorite birds, but I know they are not everybody's.  My friend Sara has a mockingbird that will sit in a tree right outside her bedroom window and sing at the top of its lungs all night long.  She said she could kill it.  But I like the way they sing, and I can sit and listen for hours. Well, 5 or 10 minutes anyway.  I used to hear them at night and fall asleep while I listened to their many songs.

Once upon a time when I was a kid, I was walking through an open field approaching a barbed wire fence.  As I approached I heard a frog croaking at the base of the fence and I noticed a bird sitting on the top wire, directly above the frog.  "Croak-croak" went the frog, then "croak-croak" went the bird, a very good imitation of the frog.  I was amazed.  Yes, it was a mockingbird, mocking the frog.  Some mockingbirds will sing like a robin for a minute, then sing like a sparrow for another.  Then they change to a titmouse or oriole or nuthatch.  Some have amazing repetoirs.

We haven't heard many mockingbirds around our house here in the hills, probably because there aren't many berry bushes nearby, and mockingbirds do like berries.  But last evening when we got home from work, the mocker pictured here was sitting at the top of a pine tree singing his heart out and performing an aerial show. Every minute or two he would leap up off his perch, do a somersault or simply flutter about and then land again on the same perch.  Why was he doing this dance?  Probably so I could get some good pictures for this blog!

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