Photos and article by Charly Mann
The world's greatest impressionist, the Northern Mockingbird, singing the song of another bird species
In the Human world comedy impressionists like Rich Little, Fred Travalena, and Frank Gorshin made millions of dollars imitating the voice of celebrities and politicians. But the real master impressionist is the Northern Mockingbird who can so perfectly imitate the songs of more than 50 species of birds that neither an experienced bird watcher or electronic analysis can distinguish the real bird's song from the Mockingbirds' mimicry. Not only that but Northern Mockingbirds can also perfectly recreate a human's whistle, a police siren, dog barking, and the sounds of a piano.
Northern Mockingbird on the top of juniper in northeast Oklahoma
Northern Mockingbirds are about 10 inches in length and weigh only 2 ounces. It has a slender build with long legs and is primarily gray. They have a white chest and belly. It has distinctive white stripes on its wings. The outer edge of their long tail is white. Males and females look almost identical.
Male Northern Mockingbird doing his impression of the song of a Blue Bunting
The Northern Mockingbird can be found throughout all the lower 48 states and is sometimes called the American Nightingale, which I think is a more accurate name for this remarkable bird.
The Northern Mockingbird's diet is made up of insects, berries, and seeds.
Northern mockingbirds can typically live up to 8 years. Some have lived more than twice than long.
This Mockingbird was sitting on a pine tree along the ScenicTalimena Highway in the mountains of southeast Oklahoma
Mockingbirds are usually found alone or in a pair. They typically inhabit open country with thickets and farmland. I usually see a couple of Northern Mockingbirds while on my morning walk, running across an open meadow as they hunt for insects. If I get too close they will fly up to the top of a nearby tree and then survey the ground below for another spot to forage from.
This is a baby Northern Mockingbird that performed the songs of at least a dozen different birds as I stood close by for at least forty minutes
Male Mockingbirds are the singers in the Spring during mating season, and often serenade from their large repertoire for more than eight hours. On a moonlit night they often sing their songs until almost dawn. Female Mockingbirds do not join the mockingbird choir until the Fall. Mockingbirds learn new songs each year. The older the mockingbird, the more birds and sounds they can imitate.
Besides all the birds it mimics, the Northern Mockingbird also has its own unique song.