Curious Aerial Display, Mockingbird
Wanted to share this with y'all. I noticed this Mockingbird jumping up and down. It did so most of the morning. Very curious. Apparently some kind of aerial display. I had my digital camera along, so I put it in video mode to grab this. After it flew away, a Northern Cardinal took it's place and started to sing.
The video is at:
Taken 1 April 2007
I was at Copper Breaks State Park, near Quanah Texas, on the other side of Wichita Falls from DFW, camping with friends, but managed to spot a few birds while I was at it.
My list is odinary, but here it is: Mockingbird, Cardinal, Eastern Meadowlark, Kestral, Red Tail Hawk, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Belted Kingfisher (on small lake and Pease River), Bewicks Wren, Eastern Phoebe, Tufted Titmouse, Coot, Comorant, Turkey Vulture, Great Tailed Grackle (they're everywhere)
Cardinals were especially vocal. Heard Mockingbirds in the wee hours of the night.
Re: Curious Aerial Display, Mockingbird
Oh, yes, EastLawther, male mockers do that every spring. Apparently it's not enough to perch in a conspicuous place and sing at the tops of their lungs -- they feel a need to advertise even more by jumping/flying up and flashing those white wing patches. You can see them doing that right here in the city -- from chimney tops or any other elevated and conspicuous perch they can find.
I was just reading in Kent Rylander's book on The Behavior of Texas Birds that "It is said that only unmated males sing at night." Unmated males fly upwards a few feet and glide back down -- the behavior you videoed -- more often than mated males, too. Like Avis, they have to try harder. Mockers apparently often mate for life, so the ones with mates don't need to advertise quite so much.
It also says in this book that, strictly speaking, mockers are not engaging in mimicry, which implies an intent to decieve and an advantage to be gained from deception, despite their Latin names. Instead, they "appropriate" sounds into their singing. Whatever word you want to call it by, the effect upon the ear is the same -- when a mocker appropriates or imitates the sound of an alarm clock, it sounds like an alarm clock!