by Donnie Hayden
© 2014, all rights reserved
I was outside on Tuesday afternoon on May 20th, just sitting, when a little mockingbird showed up. She was maybe three feet away from me. When she saw me she flew away. Later, around 12:30 am eastern daylight time (EDT), the following morning, I was still awake and I went outside to see the night sky and if there were any stars visible. As I came out of the side door, I could hear her singing in a nearby tree. So I recorded her songs. Later I played it back and she imitated herself. It was quite amusing. 🙂
I’m not sure why she was up so late or why she was singing? I counted at least 7 or 8 different sounds she made and one sounded like a hawk. Maybe this was a defense thing, just in case there was a real hawk closeby? Maybe it was to discourage a real hawk, from thinking they had first ‘dibs’ on sounds like many birds, a varietal early morning breakfast in the tree, because another hawk, had gotten there first? 🙂
I mentioned food. What do mockingbirds eat? Mockingbirds eat mostly insects during the summer and switch to fruits in the fall and winter.
Mockingbirds are best known for the habit of some species, mimicking the songs of other birds and the sounds of insects and amphibians They often sing loudly and in rapid succession. Our little bird’s scientific name is, (Mimus polyglottos) and means, “many tongued mimic.” The Northern Mockingbird is known for its intelligence. A 2009, study showed that the bird was able to recognize individual humans. Maybe she knows me? Maybe she likes me? Maybe she will stay here and raise a family?
Some mockingbirds may learn as much as 200 songs, throughout their lives. Some have been known to imitate car alarms and animals and frogs.
I call my Mockingbird a “she” because, OK, I like guys, but I love girls, alright? 🙂
But my mockingbird is most likely a he. It is usually unmated males that sing at night and particularly, during a full moon, which by the way, happened recently and is still a pretty good size. Maybe this is part of the reason, for it’s late-night/early-morning singing?
The oldest (Northern Mockingbird), on record was, 14 years and 10 months. source: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/northern_mockingbird/lifehistory
Mockingbirds are the the ‘state birds,’ for five (5) states in the United States: Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. It used to be the state bird for South Carolina from 1939-1948, when it was changed to the Carolina Wren until 1976, when it was changed again, to the present state bird which is, the Wild Turkey.
Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, had a pet mockingbird named, ‘Dick.”
Mockingbirds are found quite often in works of American culture. I’m sure most of you recall one in a title of a book that was made into a movie – ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ by Harper Lee. In the book, mockingbirds are portrayed as innocent and generous. Two of the major characters, Atticus Finch (played in the movie by Gregory Peck) and Miss Maudie, say it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because,
“They don’t do one thing for us but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing, but sing their hearts out for us”.
Source: Lee, Harper. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird (50th Anniversary (2010) ed.). HarperCollins. p. 148. ISBN 0-06-174352-6.
Scene from the movie
“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. Your father’s right, she said. Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
The previous lines are from from Chapter 10 of the book and are the source of the novel’s title and introduce one of the key metaphors of the book: the idea of mockingbirds as good, innocent people who are destroyed by evil.
Well, I don’t know if it is a “sin” to kill a mockingbird or if they are so “innocent,” but there may be some truth to their singing being, just for us or mostly, for us because, apparently their songs don’t fool other birds. Their singing and songs seem to warn their own kind to stay away from their territory. The males also sing, to tell other males to stay away from their ‘girl’ or that, “all’s fair in love and war,” and as if to say: “I’m moving in on your girl to make her mine!” Right, the males sing to get “chicks.” Oh, that was literal, not figurative. 🙂 But to get “chicks,” (baby birds), you first, have to attract the ‘Lady Bird’ to become the ‘Mama Bird.’ I can attest to the fact that singing does work in attracting females! Yep, singing does work for sure! It is after all, how I attracted my Susan. OK, actually it was with poetry, but Susan said it was purty’. 🙂
Male or female mockingbird recorded below? Enjoy the singing. 🙂
[audio http://i-imagine.biz/mockbird.mp3 | loop=yes]
recorded live, May 21, 2014 about 12:30 am, eastern daylight time (EDT) outside The Gathering Place