Hi all, The idea of identifying winter ranges from songs that are mimicked is neat, and while it may not work for Northern Mockingbirds, it possibly could be used for other species. I know of only a single person who ever tried doing this (there could easily be more…I don’t know the song literature at all), and he was trying to identify where the few Marsh Warblers that nest in England spend the winter in Africa. As best I know, that part of the student’s research never came to fruition. As an aside, if you’ve got a few minutes, you can listen to Marsh Warbler recordings either at the Macaulay Library (a bird mimicking at least Great Tit, Barn Swallow, Skylark, House Sparrow, and Chiffchaff: http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/71611), or a marathon song session at xeno-canto: http://www.xeno-canto.org/135647 . I find it interesting that these two mimics (mockingbirds and Marsh Warblers), although not at all closely related, some roughly the same sort of song quality: jarring, abrupt notes with very few whistles.
Oh, and while mockingbirds can have repertoires of a couple hundred song types, these are not necessarily all mimicked songs of other species, but just recognizable and repeated phrases. “Sampled” sounds from other species just happen to be part of the mix of phrases that the birds can use. Wesley From: bounce-116224129-3494...@list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-116224129-3494...@list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Mike Pitzrick Sent: Sunday, June 08, 2014 9:40 AM To: Richard Tkachuck Cc: CAYUGABIRDS-L Subject: Re: [cayugabirds-l] Mockingbirds on our house 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 Birds<http://www.amazon.com/The-Singing-Life-Birds-Listening/dp/0618840761/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402234001&sr=8-1&keywords=kroodsma> by Donald Kroodsma. The book discusses Northern Mockingbird among other species, comes with a CD, and is full of sonograms. -Mike On Sat, Jun 7, 2014 at 8:25 AM, Richard Tkachuck <rictkal...@gmail.com<mailto:rictkal...@gmail.com>> wrote: 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? 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