I sometimes find myself impersonating my mother when I babysit my sister. I will look over the pretend frames of pretend spectacles in the same way my mother looks over her real ones and I will say “that’s not very good listening, Louisa,” or “no dessert until you finish your acacia leaves, Louisa.” I try to imitate the patient tone of voice my mother uses when she utters these oft-repeated phrases. I confess my impersonation of my mother is not very good. I am not a talented mimic.
But do you know who are fantastic mimics? Northern mockingbirds. And they don’t limit their efforts to the avian world; mockingbirds imitate a wide variety of creatures. The poet Randall Jarrell wrote “A mockingbird can sound like anything.” These intelligent birds continue learning to make new sounds their whole lives and some will learn to do hundreds of impressions.
The talents of northern mockingbirds have long been appreciated by humans; so much so that these birds were once prized pets. Thomas Jefferson owned a few. Caging migratory birds is no longer legal, but over 100 years ago captured mockingbirds came with hefty price tags.
I don’t hear northern mockingbirds in my garden frequently, but they do live in these parts year-round, so sometimes my ears get lucky. Do you have mockingbirds where you live?
5 responses to “A Mockingbird Can Sound Like Anything”
Hi, Bernice. I have to say that I love northern mockingbirds. I read somewhere that they mimic other birds to discourage them from settling in the area that the mockingbird occupies creating the illusion that the area is heavily populated, That is an interesting theory but doesn’t help explain why they also mimic insects and amphibians (like frogs). Just think if we giraffes could mimic monkeys or lions or elephants! Lots to think about, Bernice. Best to Hector.
Hi Dad! Thanks for the comment!
Maybe northern mockingbirds are the SNL stars of the avian world and they do impressions in comedy routines that comment on life in the modern world… maybe if we were mockingbirds we would get their genius to the fullest extent 😉
I love you.
Happy birthday to A! We have been vacationing and celebrating, so haven’t had a chance to sit down and enjoy your blog posts. But now we just caught up!
We love your blog posts! In the video you shared, Mommy was so excited to hear that Mockingbirds can meow like a cat – that is so cool (according to her – we are sassing her, and therefore our true feelings may never come to light)!
Thank you for all you do for this blog – we just love it!
E and A
Hello E, A, and M! Thank you so much for your comment!
And a belated Happy Birthday to you, A 🙂
I am so glad you enjoy my posts and the links I include for more information on various topics.
I love you! I hope you’re having a fantastic day today.
Bernice, will you point out the next mockingbird we see and/or hear? That would be great. I am not sure if I can identify one.