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J R's Guide to the Birds of White Rock Lake

Northern Mockingbirds   Index

Tree-top Aerobatics 10-20 feet above the tallest tree in the meadow:

Mockingbird in Ground Display Mode

Birds employ a variety of Displays. The Northern Mockingbird's tree-top aerobatics and their ground-level wing flappings are similarly attractive and distractive. I'm sure I'd seen them before, but until I tuned in to what was happening, I never noticed.

The mocks' tree-top dance has to do with distracting predators from their nests. The bird in the quartet of smaller images above may have seen me as that predator, since I kept getting closer (though I was at least 40 feet away and on the ground), aiming a long dark cylinder (my telephoto zoom lens) at him.

I didn't time its jumps, but there was a regular, several-minute pause between, so I had time to talk with Anna and photograph other things before tuning back to the mock's madcap jumps,

The ground wing dance is about exposing the flashing whites of their wings to distract predators, scare prey (mostly bugs) out of hiding, or to frighten off those who intrude on its territory.

There's a remarkable series of photographs of Mockingbirds fighting in the Amateur Birder's Journal for May 2007.

Mockingbird Flying - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Mockingbird in Flight