Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

And If that Mockingbird Don’t Ring

A few years ago we went camping up near Colorado Bend. All through the night we kept hearing what sounded like a cell phone ringing up in a tree above our camp site. We initially suspected it to be the mysterious birdus ringus loudus (commonly known as the central Texas greater telephone bird), but it was, of course, none other than mimus polyglottos, the northern mockingbird and our state’s rep among the avifauna.

I have mixed feelings about the fact that there are so many cell phones out on camping trips that birds are mimicing the sound, but still, that’s probably what made me start really paying attention to these ubiquitous little singers. Maybe he was just showing off anyway, thinking to himself, “I can play that… what else you got?” like a jazz musician at a jam session.

Lately, the ones around the neighborhood have begun the spring concert season, making mornings just that much more pleasant.

They can be ferocius little birds, too. I’ve seen them chasing hawks off their territory and people out of their parking lots. It’s hard to not admire such a fearless little animal who also manages to so eloquently grace the trees with his song.

Atticus was right: It is a sin to kill a mockingbird. And that from a finch, no less.


  1. My grandparents used to have a cabin on a small lake in West Texas. Every afternoon my grandfather would take a nap on the porch and snore his head off. One afternoon there was a mockingbird in the tree by the porch who developed a dead-on “snore”! It was the strangest thing to hear my grandfather snore and then have it “echo” from the tree!

  2. Too funny. It’s amazing how quick they pick up on things.

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