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Tchaikovsky Would Have Loved My Mockingbird!

Mar 29, 2008
Yesterday I listened to the happiest mockingbird in creation. Perched on a limb in a spring time maple tree, he cast a spell on his audience below. We listened to song after song until he wearied of all the applause and left the stage. In a few moments he came back for a curtain call and once again was greeted with applause.

Enchanted by the musical ability of this particular bird, I and a friend sat beneath the tree for a half hour and absorbed every note he sang. He had to have realized that he had an enthralled audience for he performed as if it were a command performance for the queen!

This bird was loud! Everyone in the neighborhood must have heard it and marveled at the different sounds that he was singing. I commented to my friend that the bird had voiced at least 50 different sounds, including one wolf whistle. I learned later that a Mockingbird can master up to 180 different calls and up to 200 song types in only a few months.

Yesterday was one of those beautiful sunny early spring mornings that we have down here in the south during the month of March. Yellow Forsythia and white Bradford Pear blossoms decorated the back yard as if placed there by a master landscape engineer. On reflection I suspect that they were. Yellow, white and pastel daffodils stretched toward the sun as we listened to a concert by an artist that knew he had captivated his audience.

I assume that it was a male bird that was welcoming spring with such passion. Female Mockingbirds do sing, but not as loudly or with as much enthusiasm as the male bird. Males sing all through the day and sometimes during the night in the spring and fall, especially if they're unmated males.

Mockingbirds are everywhere in North America and they're famous for being able to imitate other birds and even some animals. Sounds of frogs, cell phone ringing tones and even the imitation of a barking dog has been part of their repertoire. My bird has even learned the sound of my car horn; at least I think that's the sound I heard.

The Mockingbird in my back yard was putting on the performance of a lifetime just for me I thought, but I've learned differently. The endless songs during the spring are simply a vocal marking of his mating territory as he flies from tree to tree and serenades any female within hearing distance.

If the night is warm and there's a full moon, you'll probably hear an unmated male bird sharing his enthusiasm with the world. The female sings too, though the male is much louder. The one I saw in the tree was obviously a male. He was loud, he was boastful and he had a beautiful voice!

When the Mockingbird finally finds a mate, they build a nest of grass, feathers, rags and just about anything soft. Their nest is never far from the ground and the 4 to 6 eggs the female lays are bluish green with spattered spots of brown. Bushes and small ornamental trees are favorite places to begin a family.

Mockingbirds do not like anyone to get too close to their home, especially if the nest is filled with eggs or newly hatched birds. A couple of years ago my cat Spike was listening to the chirping of baby birds coming from a holly tree, when he was dive bombed by an angry momma Mockingbird. I'm guessing it was the mother because it's hard to tell the difference between the male and the female; they both look alike.

Spike lost all interest in the nest in the tree after being pecked hard on the top of his head by the protecting Mockingbird. He stills walks carefully around that part of the yard, even though that nest has been gone for a year.

Anyone who is familiar with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture can hear the cheering crowds, bells ringing and the town's people singing and rejoicing after the Russian Army turned back the French invasion of Russia at the Battle of Borodino. My Mockingbird would have fitted right in and no doubt would have made that piece of music even more recognizable than it is today!
About the Author
Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, fishing and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at:
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