Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Other Mockingbird

Barb called me outside yesterday morning to hear the mockingbird calling.  I went back for the camera and managed to get a picture of the bird when it dropped down to the ground.  When I saw it was a brown thrasher I was momentarily disappointed.  Then Barb did a quick search and found that it was the "mockingbird" we heard.

According to Allaboutbirds, the Brown Thrasher has one of the largest repertoires of any North American songbird, up to 1,100 song types.  Ours was playing its greatest hits but kept coming back to its version of the whip-poor-will, a nocturnal bird that has kept us awake during its breeding season. The other key to identifying the call was its repeating the song twice, then immediately starting the next tune while a mockingbird tends to repeat it three times.

The Brown Thrasher is rather distinctive with its long, slightly curved beak, long tail and a bright yellow eye that is prominent.  They migrate up this time of year, extending all the way to Canada.  There are reports of individual birds reaching Germany and England once each, probably on a foreign vacation.  Lisa Berger came up with more range data:  "
"They are listed as an uncommon Southern Missouri winter resident.  Locally, we see them on Christmas Bird Counts, similar to E. Phoebe.  These guys are more common in winter than my perception simply because they aren’t singing!"

They feed on the ground as well as gleaning fruit and berries in season.  Currently they are working our lawn, sweeping it with their long beaks looking for any available insects.  Then they fly up into the trees or wires to announce their presence, call for a mate, or just sing because it is a beautiful morning.  I went out to listen again this morning and was rewarded with a bird singing on the wire.  While our great sonic "discovery" didn't advance ornithological science, it made our day a little brighter.


  1. Just saw a beautiful Springfield Plateau Mockingbird visit my neighbors bird feeder today. I had never seen this bird before and thought someone's parrot might be loose. But when it flew closer on the fence I could see it was a copper brown beautiful mockingbird. There are plenty of bugs in the big oak trees around for this bird to eat and maybe feast and fly. We have had horrible strong southern winds recently and figured it caught on and eased on up from South America or Mexico. For a few nights we had been hearing a whip-poor-will or so we thought. Normally in SW Florida we do not get whip-poor-wills. I believe we were hearing the mockingbird. I was so excited to see this bird it gave me palpitations. How beautiful. We get hundreds of Robins feasting in Feb; Baltimore Oreoles in March and then they are gone leaving us with our wading birds and our brand of Mockingbirds, etc. Do you have any kingfishers in your area? Thanks.

  2. We have Belted Kingfishers along our creek and Barb saw one last week