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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote®: Mockingbird

Air Date: Week of

Northern Mockingbird (Laura Gooch)

Out in the garden, the cardinal is loudly telling the world who owns this territory. But another distinctive songster is also singing fit to beat the band and as Michael Stein reports in today's Birdnote®, the mockingbird can sound just like the cardinal.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth, I'm Steve Curwood.



CURWOOD: Those of us up in the northern part of North America are starting to think about getting out into our gardens - at last - but already the cardinals are singing loudly outside the windows. And as Michael Stein explains in today's BirdNote®, they're not alone.

The Mockingbird – A Virtuoso of Variety

Northern Mockingbird Perched. (Tom Grey)


STEIN: Some birds have a lot to say. But few surpass the Northern Mockingbird.


Within its range in the US, which is most of the country except the northern West and Midwest, you’ll recognize the mockingbird’s song instantly.


A very distinctive song, but perhaps not a thing of beauty.

Northern Mockingbird (Kenneth Cole Schneider)

But while the mockingbird may not sing beautifully, it’s a virtuoso of variety, persistence, and mimicry. Mockingbirds sing all year – in the breeding season to attract mates, the rest of the year to claim feeding territories. In spring, a male mockingbird sings all day, hundreds of variations – then sings all through the night!


The aptly named mockingbird is also an uncanny mimic. A mockingbird might imitate, in succession, birds as different as a bobwhite quail, a chat, a sandpiper – even a cardinal - then cap it off with meow of a cat and a few phrases of car alarm.


And he’s just getting warmed up. [MOCKINGBIRD]



Written by Bob Sundstrom

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds (ML) at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Songs of the Mockingbird [94375] and [94374] and [85197] recorded by W. Hershberger; and [118628] recorded by G.A. Keller.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org March 2014 Narrator: Michael Stein

CURWOOD: For photos of the mockingbird looking like himself, not some other bird, hop on over to our website LOE.org.



BirdNote ®


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