Today, a guest post from Bob Yates.
If I could interview a mockingbird after one of its concerts on a power line near me, I think my first question would be: “Who are your major influences?”
Admission to these shows is free. They feature medleys from lower registers to high in the same breath, from Caruso and Barry White to Tom Waits and Tiny Tim, all rapid-fire in the same sitting. Some mockingbirds belt out the plagiarism to such a degree, you can hear them down the block.
Who they’re attempting to attract with these musical homages is anybody’s guess. For other nearby species, the northern mockingbird can be The Neighbor Who Drives You Nuts, and keeps you up at night. Mated and unmated male mockingbirds have been known for their seasonal set lists of songs, hundreds of them performed mornings and evenings, while females sing more softly and briefly.
Nineteenth-century humans bought and sold them as caged birds, historic proof of their entertainment value. Fast-forward to today, and one of these extended solos (click for YouTube link) could be breaking out right now, on your street, even as you read this. Enjoy the show!