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To Fool A Mockingbird

Mimus polyglottos

*Artist, Chris Rose

The Northern Mockingbird (so-called because there is a tropical variety), is a mimic thrush, recognized as one of the "most brilliant and remarkable vocalists of all birds," the very "king of song". 1

He dah Man.

His love songs are profound, although he's been known to drive people nuts singing all night. He is also very territorial. This past Fall, after love season, on a gorgeous sky blue day, my resident sought the top of the highest tree (a Holly) and staked his claim with joy. "Mine!" "All Mine!!" "Isn't It A Lovely Day!" followed by a cresendo of swells and trills and bits of arias borrowed from every other song bird in the vicinity.

"Warble!Warble!Warble!" Joy and hubris gushed over the garden as my mockingbird flew tree top to tree top expounding his claim. Finally, covering all bases he headed for the Magnolia at the side of the house. "I'm The Man!!!"

A wicked thought occurred to me. Quietly I slipped a tape player onto the window ledge and started a tape of "Songbirds of Equador". As Ten Tenors suddenly poured forth, there was a stunning silence. Then a reply. First courageous; then desperate; finally a championship effort of outrageous cacophony at full volume, when he abruptly broke off; shat, and departed the field.

I knew that next Spring this Mockingbird would be the stud of the neighborhood, with the extraordinary repertoire he had just obtained. None-the-less, next day I was relieved to hear him back at the top of the Holly rejoicing again, "This is Mine! Do You Hear?? All Mine!! " But he never went back to the Magnolia, which served me right.

It's not nice to fool a Mockingbird.

1. T. Gilbert Pearson, editor-in-chief, Birds of America,(New York: Garden City Publishing Company, Inc. 1917;1936), page 174.

Northern Mockingbirds in Winter

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