Monday, April 30, 2007

Mocking the Mockingbird

I love to hear the Mockingbird
That sits up in my tree

I wonder why he sings so much,
Or if he sings to me...

~Rita P. Hestand

A couple of years ago on a summer evening, Romie and I took our usual walk down the road to the cemetery and the bridge over Blue Creek that we affectionately call Poohsticks Bridge. While we were strolling through the lanes of the cemetery, we were stopped in our tracks by the loud and beautiful song of a bird. A Cardinal, perhaps? No, it sounded like a Goldfinch. Wait ... maybe a Warbler ... and then we realized it was all of them. It was a Mockingbird.

We located it and we sat and listened to a regular concert of arias from just about every bird we'd ever heard. It was mesmerizing. Such a plain looking bird with all those melodious tones coming out of it!

We never heard the Mockingbird again during our evening walks. In fact, we didn't hear
any Mockingbird again until last week, when we went to Beining Nursery to get our flagstone. As we were waiting to take care of our purchases, we heard it and saw it in the top of a maple tree by the main building. It was so much better than any music we'd heard while on hold on the telephone and we didn't mind waiting our turn. The owner told us that many people had asked if they could please deliver the Mockingbird along with their trees or bushes.

We also purchased mulch while we were there and they delivered it last Wednesday. As we were eating lunch outside yesterday, we heard a familiar loud series of bird songs coming from a nearby tree. Did Beining's deliver their Mockingbird, too, by mistake?

We got up to see where it was, and once we located it, I ran into the house for the camera. It was too far away for me to see any detail on its body and to identify it positively as a Mockingbird, but it definitely sounded like one. When I zoomed in on it with the camera, took its picture, and downloaded it to the computer later, it didn't look like the Mockingbird we'd seen last week. After doing some research online and with my Birds of Ohio Field Guide, we determined that it was a Brown Thrasher.

I didn't know there were other birds that mimicked like the Mockingbird, but the Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) is well known as an accomplished singer. Having a repertoire of over 1,100 songs, it sings more songs than any other bird in North America. It's also a staunch defender of its nesting area, capable of striking a person or a dog or cat hard enough to draw blood, so we'll just listen from a distance.

The University of Michigan website says, "
The best time to observe these birds is in April, before nest sites are established. During this time males sing on high branches to attract mates."

I wonder if he was successful...

*Small pictures of Mockingbird and Brown Thrasher from Wikipedia. The large picture of the Brown Thrasher in the tree was taken by me on 4-29-07.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kylee, thanks for commenting on my blog. The ghost orchid is sort of a fable down here in Florida. You may recall a book called "The Orchid Thief" or have heard of the movie "Adaptation" on which is based from the book. It's all about orchids and most importantly rare leafless orchids in Florida.

We've been hiking in area's similar to this looking and searching and nada. We've seen other leafless and tons of other "normal" orchids, but this is exciting! Hopefully in a few weeks we can see it bloom.

Now, I'm off to check out your blog!

Unknown said...

Kylee, I can hardly keep up with all of your lovely posts this week! :) I never knew that there was a bird that mocked the mockingbird, either... how cool.

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