I rose early this morning and drove to a nearby natural area in hopes of getting some footage of a Northern Mockingbird. Luck was with me. Shortly after arriving, I found a singing male. He would sing for several minutes from a limb and then fly to a different perch. It took him about ten minutes to cover his territory, during which he would sing from maybe six or seven different locations, before returning and repeating the process again.

Most of the time, the male was perched too high for me to get good video (unless you like looking straight up at the belly of the bird). But on one occasion, he landed on a limb perhaps fifteen feet up, and I captured the sequence featured above. Yes, you’re looking up at the bird, but it’s quite an acceptable point of view. It’s my best singing mockingbird video to date… so I’m shouting hallelujah as I write this post!

Male mockingbirds sing a lot when they are looking for mates, even sounding off through the night, especially when the moon is bright. Once mated, however, singing drops off considerably. Apparently, this singing male has yet to find a mate, which is good in terms of my work. Not far away there is a pair of mockingbirds that spend time eating berries in a patch of junipers. A friend photographed them this morning and told me later that she didn’t hear any singing at all. So that proves the point, right? Why make a bunch of noise when you’re drowning in marital bliss?

Hope you like my video. The mockingbird is a common and well-known species. So it’s all the more important that I get stellar footage that will please even the most discerning eye. Perhaps I can do better, but this morning’s effort was well-rewarded, at least in my scheme of things.

What birds do I hear being imitated? Below is a list, in the order of appearance. Do you hear them? Do you hear any others? Have I made any mistakes?

  • Blue Jay (“jay” calls)
  • Carolina Wren (songs)
  • Eastern Bluebird (songs)
  • Common Yellowthroat (calls)
  • Ring-billed Gull (calls)
  • Eastern Phoebe (songs)
  • Blue Jay (various calls)
  • Tufted Titmouse (songs)
  • Great-crested Flycatcher (“prrrrrt” calls then “weeyups”)
  • Eastern Towhee (“chuwee” calls)
  • Blue Jay (calls)
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker (“chatter chi” then “querrr” calls)
  • Belted Kingfisher (one rattle)
  • White-breasted Nuthatch (typical calls)
  • Northern Cardinal (songs)
  • Eastern Phoebe (songs)
  • The neatest imitation in the video, I think, is where he gives three “far away” Red-bellied Woodpecker querrr calls at 1:23. It sounds to me as if it’s a distant woodpecker, at least a few hundred feet away. But I’m watching the mocker and can see clearly that it’s him making the sound. Why would he do that … make it sound distant, when most assuredly he could produce a “loud and close” version? Is he just practicing ventriloquy, or is he intentionally playing with my mind, or both?

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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