November 28, 2011

Can you name this songbird?

Is this a Northern Mockingbird?

By J.D. Lasica

This summer and fall, the most melodious bird I’ve ever heard kept a regular vigil outside my home here in the San Francisco East Bay.

I’m really curious if anyone can identify it. Take a listen:

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Some observations:

• It spend a lot of time in a tree next door, and I snapped the photos above (but needed a more powerful lens) while it flitted up in the air about six feet and then descended on the top branch again.

• It was as nocturnal as I am, with much of its chirping and warbling taking place between midnight and 2 am. The sounds were fantastically primal, with at least a dozen variations coming from the same bird.

Leif Utne, who’s become something of a naturalist up in the Pacific Northwest, offered to take a crack at this a while back, and one Twitter friend sent along these links:

Northern Mockingbird, from Field Guide to Birds of North America, which notes that its terrain includes Northern California.

Know your garden bird song (Guardian) — the song thrush could be another candidate.

So, mockingbird, or not?

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