A Northern Mockingbird spreads its wings. Pict...Image via Wikipedia

I am listening to a northern mockingbird outside in the big maple below the garden, as I have most mornings this summer.  I delight each day in listening to his enthusiastic impressions of all the birds around here and some I can’t even identify.  I have even tried to count them several times, but I get lost as he occasionally repeats a favorite and he offers them in random order.  He is usually so passionate and energetic that I can’t help but join his mood as I sip my morning coffee.  It has been a particularly rain free and hot summer, so he has had a lot of good mornings to sing.  This morning, though, he seems a bit off.  His delivery is not as crisp, he takes breaks – usually he goes on for hours – and he seems to be using just a few of his favorites, the robin, the kill deer.


I think I know why.  For the last several nights, my baby has been waking up hungry, and I have had to get her a fresh bottle.  As I pass through the the hall to the kitchen, illuminated by a bright full moon, I can hear a hundred bird songs out in the maple.  At midnight.  I can’t help but wonder why he is up singing in the moonlight.  Oh, I was young once too and may have sung the occasional midnight operata, but I put that down to the foolishness of youth.  But what biological imperative, what evolutionary adaptation – what the heck is that crazy bird doing?


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