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The king of the back yard. Ever vigilant, this mockingbird spends his day chasing all other birds away from his stuff: "That's my yaupon holly tree, my grass, my azalea bush, my bread crumbs, my oak tree. Mine! And all you cardinals, blue jays and crows can just clear off, yes?" Lots of personality.
More photos of same bird:
The Northern mockingbird's scientific name means "many-tongued mimic" and they incorporate bits of the sounds of their environment into their songs. My mother knew one who could imitate the sound of her telephone ringing ... there was much running back into the house to answer until she figured it out. Mockingbird nests are usually built low to the ground, so you can get pretty close to them. My grandmother used to tell a story about standing near nursery nests, whistling the opening notes of well-known songs over and over and ending up with mockingbirds that sang those songs as adults. They also imitate the songs of other birds.
I joked about this mockingbird's possessiveness, but it's fearless about defending its territory. I saw him engage a much larger blue jay in mid-air, talons tangling, tumbling, both birds crying out ... but mostly the jay. He won, the blue jay retreated (temporarily) and the mockingbird resumed his watch from the top of a yaupon.
Mockingbirds are year-round residents. Noted for their intelligence, they are known to recognize individual humans and don't seem to startle easily when people are on their turf. The bird in these photos allowed me to get within five or six feet with my camera ... watching, curious. As a result, these aren't the only nice photos I took of him over two or three days.
Spotted on Dec 26, 2013
Submitted on Dec 30, 2013
and 15 other people favorited this spotting