Mockingbirds are well-named.
Despite popular perception, they don’t actually mimic other birds. Instead, they have long and complicated songs that sound vaguely similar to several other species. That’s probably how they got their name, but that’s not why I say they’re well-named.
I encountered this particular Northern Mockingbird on my most recent trip to the Leslie Street Spit, about two weeks ago. I saw hardly any birds at all, which was frustrating because that had been the whole point of the trip, but I did meet this one.
As I walked along the path beside the lake I became aware of a small bird keeping pace with me, flying from tree to tree exactly opposite me, about twenty or thirty feet from the path. Whenever I stopped to take a picture of him, he would settle behind a branch and peer out at me, obscured by twigs. Whenever I stopped to take a picture of something else, he would fly on ahead, settle on an open branch and say “chip chip”, then fly away before I could get my camera onto him. I must have taken a couple of dozen absolutely useless photos before I go this one, and another dozen useless photos after it. At the end, he flew to a little bush at the top of a hill that was too icy for me to climb and sat there, too far away for me to get a clear picture of him. He proceeded to chirp and sing very happily for some time, hopping from branch to branch and wagging his tail up and down.
That’s right – the Mockingbird was mocking me.
Songbirds will break your heart.