Thursday, May 6, 2010

Feathered Karaoke

There is a very loud Brown Thrasher outside the window, and he has been going through his routine all week.  Brown Thrashers are large birds related to the mockingbird; they mimic the calls of other birds for two or three seconds per bird, before moving on to a different call.  This one likes to perch at the top of our pecan tree.  There are a lot of birds in our yard, so this thrasher has quite a repertoire.  I am hearing short versions of every birdcall that has been heard in our yard for the past several years.  In many cases, this is the only time I have heard the call, because the thrasher is much bolder, louder, and more persistent than most of the birds it copies.

My mom can identify most of the calls, but sometimes she cannot.  Often this is because the thrasher has gotten the call wrong, mangling it beyond recognition.  But the female thrasher does not seem to mind.  The male is advertising his memory, stamina, lung capacity, and fearlessness.  Some human mating rituals are not so different.

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