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March 19, 2008

I stopped almost all I was doing on that cold sun-drenched morning to stand close by and admire this young mockingbird singing.

She was alone on a low branch laden with little black berries when she sang as if all in the Universe were listening.

I looked all around to see if perhaps she was singing for another mockingbird, but as far as I could see there was no other.

With the impatient Henry Hudson traffic on one side of us, and a city of people too busy to hear her sing on the other I felt like her sweet voice was being wasted.

But when she sang so loud and with such effort, I knew that her songs were not being wasted at all.

In fact she sang like she knew her audience was all around her and that they were happy and cheering.

Perhaps, I thought, it was to the berry tree she was singing...

to offer thanks for the nourishing food she received from it.

But by the way the Wind was dancing and by the happy manner the Sun was shining...

I was convinced that more than just the ole berry tree was rejoicing for the delightful voice of this lone little mockingbird.

Was it possible that the stars were hearing her and so they were twinkling with delight on that sunny day?

I think that they were, even if on several selfish moments I felt like I was the only one hearing her sing.

If indeed I was the only listener to her wonderful voice then that would certainly have been a waste of her beautiful songs.

I feel sad that my little friend's voice can reach as far as the Sun and Stars...

but not into the ears, and even less, the hearts of so many of my fellow men.

Perhaps it's best not to worry about who's not listening...

and just delight at every moment you get to hear a mockingbird sing.

Photographed on Sunday March 9th, 2008 in Riverside Park. Note that the Mockingbird may not be a female.

Mail about this day's posting:

Just another note of thanks for your wonderful photography. I loved the Mockingbird tribute. Your site is sure a great way for me to end my day.

Diane N. Santa Barbara


Hi there, just wanted to let you know that about a year ago we had a lonely mocking bird that sang all day and all night, I found out that the reason he does that is because he is looking for a mate. I live in Austin, Texas. Have a Happy Easter.

P.S. I look forward to opening your web site everyday to view your wonderful work.

Sylvia G. Chief Clerk's Office


Thank you for the exquisite photos of one of my favorite Birds. In the Spring summer and fall, there is One who does his concert from one of the chimney tops of the beautiful refurbished Brownstone on the corner across the street, from me on 75th. Because I have my windows open all year except for the occasional winter assault off the river, I can hear his arias begin. He sings first to the east then turns to the south, then to the west and then to the North, that's me. Each presentation lasts a few minutes, and I believe he repeats it, on each direction. His repetoire is extensive, beautiful and most of all his song warms my heart. thank you for sharing your reaction, I understand completely.

Meg Myles


Loved the pictures of the mockingbird on the site today. We "grow" generations of mocks in our neighborhood and delight in singing back at them ("birdy, birdy, birdy"). They lend music to our yard, along with our cardinals, grackles (really comical fellows), wrens, and blue jays. Going broke buying all the bird seed but definitely worth it!

Hoping for the first hatched egg for Pale Male and Lola around April 5th or so. My calendar is marked and fingers are crossed. Keep up the great work!


Lincoln - I loved your pictures of the mockingbird in Riverside Park today. However, it most likely a male bird - males sing to protect their territory and to attract females. See the excerpt below from this PBS website

In most species, a male bird owning a territory is essential for attracting a female and breeding successfully. Males claim a territory by singing in it. They generally use shorter, simpler songs for territorial defense. They are addressing their songs to rival males. These territorial songs carry over long distances and convey detailed information about the location and identity of the singer. Gaps in the song enable the singer to listen for replies, and determine where their rival is and how far off.

Birds can distinguish neighbors from strangers by individual differences in their songs. Males use this information to concentrate their defense efforts. They will not react aggressively against a neighbor as long as he stays on his own territory. But a singing stranger could mean a threat to the territory; a strong response is required to see this potential invader off.

When they are trying to attract females onto their territory, males become operatic. They sing longer and more complex songs. Females listen, but do not generally respond. Male great reed warblers, for example, sing long and elaborate songs when advertising for females. The females will spend several days visiting a selection of singing males before making their decision. They prefer to mate with males singing the most complex songs with the largest repertoire. Large song repertoires are an advantage in many birds, because they increase a male's attractiveness to females.

Bill B. Operations Manager Brooklyn, NY


This is a lovely story. But I must take exception to one thing you seem to think. That mockingbird's song is never wasted, never useless no matter who is there to hear it. Like the tree falling in the wood, it is what it is, and does what it does. She sings because she must (and I like to believe that she's also serenading herself.

YOU HEARD IT!! And in the end, that's what counts. YOU were her audience from afar. And Lincoln, maybe she was calling to her kin but you were there and YOU ARE deserving of her song. And so much more!

So there!

Love and kudos, Kathy


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