Northern Mockingbirds Index
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.