Here’s the start of a new birding column I wrote for The Hour and Keene Sentinel. It involves listening to a Northern Mockingbirds singing at night — about 11:30 p.m.
“I walked out of work following one of my night shifts here at The Hour. It was about 11:30 p.m. so the last thing I expected was to have an interesting birdwatching experience in the parking lot. The birding world is full of surprises, though. I stepped out the front door of the office building and was greeted by the sound of a Blue Jay calling. Odd time for a Blue Jay to be singing, I thought. Must be raiding a nest or having its nest raided. The Blue Jay called three times and then another bird starting singing. At that point I knew it wasn’t a Blue Jay and another bird at all. It was a Northern Mockingbird. My frame of mind instantly went from wonder to amusement. I walked over to the area where the bird was singing, pulled out my cell phone and started recording. It kept on belting out the tunes even though I was standing right under its tree. Mockingbirds are master imitators. They imitate the song of a bird species three times and then move on to the next imitation. And it goes on and on. It is believed that the more impressive the repertoire, the better chance the bird has of attracting a mate. I like listening to a mockingbird and trying to figure out the birds it is imitating. I almost always get a Carolina Wren and American Robin. This particular mockingbird the other night had an impressive list of at least 15 species that also included Tufted Titmouse, Red-winged Blackbirds and Broad-winged Hawk. Many mockingbirds also mix in non-bird noises, such as squeaky fences or alarm clocks. The songs are not sung half-h
See how many bird species you can pick out from this impressive songster.