Hi Richard,

The range map for Northern Mockingbird in *Birds of North America*
indicates that they breed as far north as southern Ontario, and are
permanent residents as far north as Watertown, NY.  Regarding migratory
habits, BNA says it is

Not well understood. Reported to be partly migratory in northern portion of
> range, but at least some individuals remain in winter at northern limits of
> breeding range. Perceptions of status could be affected by reduced
> visibility of mockingbirds during winter.

About the number of songs types one bird can make,

The vocal repertoires of individual males have been estimated to be as low
> as 45 and as high as 203 song types ... Song types appear to be added
> continuously to the vocal repertoire, suggesting that an individual bird
> may not have an upper limit to its repertoire.

The BNA account does not appear to address the issue of the fidelity of
mimicry, so I will venture into the realm of my own impressions of how
mockingbird mimicry can be distinguished from the songs of birds they
imitate.  I would welcome commentary from others who have similar or
different impressions.

BNA mention that

Mockingbirds typically repeat one song type several times before switching
> to another. Songs are presented in “bouts,” with each bout consisting of
> repetitions of only one song type. Song types of short duration are
> repeated more often within a bout than are longer song types

This suggests one of the cues that might clue me into the fact that I'm
hearing an imitation of a cardinal song rather than a real cardinal song.
The mockingbird is likely to make several identical repetitions of the same
cardinal song in a pretty short time frame.

Beyond that, it appears to me that while many aspects of the cardinal song
are faithfully reproduced to my ear, there are definitely alterations.  To
me, a real cardinal song has more dynamic range, more change in pitch, more
variety between repetitions of the same song, more variability in song
length, etc.

To anthropomorphize, when I hear a real cardinal, I sometimes form a mental
image of an opera singer.  I hear years of voice lessons.  Each note is
milked for every possible ounce of melodrama and emotion.  I can almost see
the exaggerated facial expressions.

The mockingbird reminds me more of an advanced beginner pianist.  The
repertoire is getting to be quite large and increasing every week, but each
of the pieces is of similar length because it gets boiled down to a single
page in the piano lesson book.  The performance is lacking in dynamic
range, change of tempo, and creativity.  Each repetition is rendered
mechanically and identically.  My impression is that of a rote performance.

Does this ring true for other observers?

Richard, I'm guessing you would really enjoy reading The Singing Life of
by Donald Kroodsma.  The book discusses Northern Mockingbird among other
species, comes with a CD, and is full of sonograms.


On Sat, Jun 7, 2014 at 8:25 AM, Richard Tkachuck <rictkal...@gmail.com>

> A mockingbird has selected our house as a place to display his wide
> variety of sounds from early morning until the sun sets. This has raised
> some questions.
> 1, How large a collection of different sounds can one bird make?
> 2. I recognize some of the sounds. Would a cardinal be confused in hearing
> his call?
> 3. Are the sonograms of a mockingbird and a cardinal about the same, or
> can you tell them apart.
> 4. Mockingbirds migrate. Can you tell where they spent the winter by the
> songs they sing?
> 5. Do mockingbirds make calls of predators like owls or hawks?
> Thanks,
> Richard Tkachuck
> --


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