A birder walks into a clearing, and there’s a Song Sparrow singing its heart out. In chimes a Robin, followed by a Grosbeak and a Tanager, a Wood Thrush and a Warbler, all chirping at the same time.
Sounds like a bunch of songbirds out having a party. But it’s only the Northern Mockingbird. He is the party.
This could be the start of a great joke, but it’s just too infuriating. So many times it sounds like you’ve hit the birding jackpot only to be fooled by one wily, nondescript, gray-and-white bird.
It’s awful having your dopamine high dashed like that, and it’s happened more times than I care to count. Over the years I’ve come to seriously resent this bird.
So. The Mockingbird is a “mimic” – a type of bird who’s remarkable for his ability to imitate the songs of other birds. The male can have a repertoire of more than 150 songs, and he continues to learn new ones throughout his life. He even mimics the sounds of insects, animals and things that aren’t alive. Machinery for example. Researchers have identified Mockingbirds with 203 imitations.