Mockingbird

This week an old familiar lullaby has invaded my head and just won’t let go. Over and over the words continue…”Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.” We’ve all heard and sung the song many times. I’m not sure of the origin, but I do know the bird is a “New World” variety, so it didn’t arrive on the Mayflower. I also know mockingbirds were popular as pets, for their beautiful singing, during the late 1700s and early 1800s. It is also know that President Thomas Jefferson had a pet mockingbird named Dick, and in 1933 the mockingbird became the state bird of Tennessee. With this information, I can guess the lullaby probably originated during the time the mocking bird was purchased as a pet, as the tune says.

But, back to my memory… there is a reason the lullaby is stuck in my head. You see, I have been blessed with mockingbird residents in my yard for a number of years. They sing beautiful songs for my enjoyment. I love a leisurely bath, and, fortunately, my little mockingbird is aware of my need to unwind in this manner, as he provides wonderful serenades right outside my bathroom window. And on most mornings I awake to his songs outside my bedroom window. I find the music almost tantalizing, never annoying. Appropriately, the scientific name for the mockingbird is Mimus Polyglottos, translated as “many-tongued mimic.” The name highlights the mockingbird’s ability to mimic not only dozens of other birds’ songs, but also man-made devices such as musical instruments, warning bells, cell phones, car horns, and creaky hinges. They often sing through the night or when the moon is full. Since they are year-round residents, and can sing as many as 200 distinct song types, you can imagine my enjoyment, as my little bird is no exception.

While I often heard the mockingbird sing, I had never seen him singing until the day, to my surprise, my little friend was singing on the side of my house, where open windows are not plentiful. When I looked, he had perched on the mirror of my car, singing loudly. The medium-sized songbird was beautiful, with gray and white feathers, white breast, darker wings with 2 white wing bars, and a long tail with white outer tail feathers carried in a cocked position. My little mockingbird was giving “wing flashes,” spreading his beautiful wings in waves, as if fanning the air around him, as he belted his beautiful songs. But, this time, it was not me he was serenading, it was his reflection in the mirror. He sang and fluffed every day to the bird in the mirror, leaving evidence of his ever perched body (if you know what I mean) on my car door.

Mockingbirds are supposed to be intelligent birds. In 2009, mockingbirds were reportedly able to pick out a threatening person from a crowd. Researchers had one person stand near a mockingbird nest and touch it, while other people avoided the nest. Later, the mockingbirds recognized the intruder and attacked him, while ignoring the other people. Well… if he can do that, there is hope he will figure out the bird he sings to is his own reflection… or maybe he knows and is infatuated with himself. Who knows what this funny little bird is doing? I know he brings me great joy and white spots on my car. I know he reminds me of my childhood on the farm, when he routinely showered me with his beautiful music. I know he reminds me of the song “On Mockingbird Hill,” remember that one? And I know that “Hush Little Baby” is playing over and over in my head. And now I’m hearing, “Tra la la, twiddle dee dee dee… It gives me a thrill… To wake up in the morning… To the mockingbird’s trill… Tra la la twiddle dee dee dee… There’s peace and good will… You’re welcome as the flowers… On Mockingbird Hill.”

Source: K. P. Guessen

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014