He sang in the shadow of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, competing with its constant and equally vigorous chorus of traffic noise. He and his mate raised one chick that I got a glimpse of, and maybe more that I did not see.
|The northern mockingbird is a medium sized, pale grey bird, eight to ten inches long, whitish below, with a thin black bill and two wide white wing bars across each wing that flash when the bird flies.|
Today I watched an adult mockingbird move warily through the red-berried broadleaf evergreen shrub outside my window. The bird moved silently. Mockingbirds are still here, but they are not singing. They're in winter mode. Mockingbirds don't migrate; they will stay put through cold winters as far north as southern Canada.
Instead of stalking the earthworms and insects of summer, they have switched to eating dried fruits and berries. Ornamental shrubs, especially multiflora rose, provide winter fruit for them too. The birds are possessive about their shrubs. Mockingbirds are among the few birds that defend a winter territory, sometimes as a couple. Like defending a breeding territory in spring, they defend their food in winter, chasing away robins, jays, and anyone else who covets winter fruit. My condo building's garden seems to be a good spot for mockingbirds year round.
If you are giving out birdseed this winter, consider adding a few grapes and an occasional opened pomegranate for the mockingbirds -- for the sake of summer songs that can be heard above New York City traffic.