Gibbous Moon Northern Mockingbird singing at night with crickets and gray treefrogs sounding off in the background. 11:30pm 27 May 2016, near Upperville, Virginia. © Lang Elliott.

The Northern Mockingbird is well-known for its habit of singing at night. What most folks do not know is that the night-singers are primarily unmated males, which may sing almost continuously both day and night (especially when the moon is bright), in their quest to locate a mate.

I managed to capture the featured recording during my recent expedition, which began with a social event: my partner’s niece was graduating from high school and we went down to attend the ceremony. Given how close we were to Washington D.C., I never imagined that I would get a usable recording (too many cars and jets). But we spent the night in a ranch house surrounded by large fields, and as luck would have it, there was a resident mockingbird that sang throughout much of the night.

Resisting my urge to get some much-needed sleep (I was up until nearly 2am the night before, recording frogs), I ventured out around 11pm and walked a considerable distance to his singing tree, which was at the edge of a field. Crickets trilled gently from the grass and a chorus of Gray Treefrogs produced a drone from nearby forest, no doubt sounding off from a pond or swampy area. Not a bad catch for countryside near a major metropolis.

Although not exactly a meditative recording, I am quite pleased to document night-singing in this species, along with enough ambient sounds to add spaciousness to the recording. This particular singer is doing some imitations, but the majority of his phrases seem to be of his own device. Rather than analyze his song phrases, I’ve chosen to simply enjoy the soundscape without thinking too much about it. Mockingbird Nightsong, delivered to you on a golden platter!

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