Let’s see, a one, a two, a three, a four, a five… uhhh a five…crap! I’m guessing everyone out there is figuring this time I was surely beat. Even with the late blitz I’m STILL one short for the monthly quota. Is it time to panic, time to break out the shame sign and walk the local mall? That would be a big fat NOPE. One advantage of being so far behind on processing my photo shoots is I have a lot to choose from when in a bind. Like the Copperhead posting (link here), I’ve opted with pulling one off the back of the FIFO queue.
This a brand new bird to the blog and to my birding list. My brother once asked me if there were birds that could be considered common that I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot yet. The answer to that thought provoking question is “yes”. One of the birds that has surprisingly alluded me is the Purple Martin. For a bird supposedly in everyone’s backyard around my neck of the woods, it has failed to make its way into my tin. Another supposedly common bird that was lacking from the list is this one – the Northern Mockingbird. Not so common around where I am, but definitely inhabits a large cross section of places Linda and I have been while out on shoots. As you can see, that is no longer the case.
This particular specimen was found while we were visiting the Biltmore Estates near Ashville, North Carolina. We actually spent two days exploring this amazing place. The first day we arrived in the late afternoon and opted to simply explore the grounds and save the house viewing for the next day. When we first arrived the first thing I noticed was how perfectly laid out and clean the grounds were – it was like someone had handpicked the placement of every element of the forest. To my surprise, this ended up being the case as the construction pictures revealed that there was nothing in the area when the house was built. Along with that, they also cared for a massive flower garden. Clean forest and tons of flowers – what better conditions can you ask for when in search of birds. I’ll probably go into detail in a later post on the house, but we managed to pull a Big Ben, Parliament moment when we got there. Somehow we managed to miss the parking lot turnoff which meant we had to traverse the entire grounds a second time before we could get out and explore. If you have never been there, let me tell you, that is not a short drive.
Check out how much meaner this bird looks when you are head on – I can imagine how prey must feel – well, those with eyes – they are omnivores.
Hit the jump to even more pictures of the Mockingbird!
Oh, these pictures were taken in their flower garden. I had heard a very distinct sound while walking the grounds but was unable to pinpoint the location. Eventually we made it over to the other side of the gardens and there it was singing away while chasing something across the pavers. It must have been use to all the people that visit this place since it paid me very little attention. At first the reach of the Beast was used thinking it would spook and head off into the woods. Once there was confidence there was a least one decent picture from afar the foot zoom was employed.
All these first shots were from the closer set. They are pretty active birds in that this one didn’t really stand still very much – it would land, show off the voice, intently look around and then start hopping to another location. Tired of chasing him I figured out it would eventually come back to the same locations so settled in for a bit and let it come to me for a change. The intent was to capture as many interesting poses as possible from as many different angles – always like it when I can show my readers the complete specimen! Here is one with the wings up that gives a nice profile and highlights the white markings on the wings.
When they fold out their wings you can see a very distinctive white band that almost goes all the way across. You can’t miss seeing a Mockingbird in flight – kind of reminds me of a lighter colored Pileated since they have a similar distinctive line on their wings. I decided to go ahead and throw in some of the way back shots for some variety. Due to the tight cropping these files came out way to small for prints, but definitely still useful for the blog.
I will say that the Beast did an excellent job of getting shots from the distance I was from the subject. The bird was actually barely larger than the central focus point of the glass. The shot above does an excellent job of showing off the large feet on these birds. Again, trying to give you access to all the angles, here is a view from the back which shows the black striping on the outer parts of the wings. Yes, you knew I’d get my signature shot before leaving there heheheh.
Not the crispiest shot of the lot, but this one gave a little better idea of the white band on their wings. Still not completely folded out, but that band on the tips ends up traversing quite a ways across the width. Another interesting feature of these birds is the long spindly legs.
Actually, here is a better shot of those legs – looks like it is wearing designer socks! The neck is primarily white/cream colored with brown speckles that slowly dissipates the farther down the breast you go.
to the point where it is basically a solid color at the tail.
Don’t get to accustomed to the smorgasbord of viewpoints on this set. Birding was pretty weak up to this point on the trip so made up for it by shooting the hell out of this bird. I was getting pretty grumpy about the lack of subjects (just ask Linda) and the fact that this one was going to be a new check meant it got extra attention.
Wow, can’t believe I’m through the shots already. Figured with the large set I had plenty of time to get to the interesting facts. Let’s remedy that now. Clearly observed in the field, the Mockingbird loves to sings – like almost nonstop while we were there. According to All About Birds, they don’t appreciate other birds coming into their territory and will let the intruders know about it – you would think simply sticking out those long legs and displaying the larger than average talons would make fast work of scaring others away. Appears they have quite the territorial display between other males starting with a hopping standoff and then a Footloose tractor chicken contest should the adversary decide to stick it out. A Mockingbird can learn in the range of 200 songs throughout its life which is probably why their population declined significantly during the nineteenth century thanks to everyone capturing them for their house cages. The good news is they now have a Conservation Listing as Least Concern.
Just remember, it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird – “they don’t do one thing for us but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us”
Hope you enjoyed reading about my new entry on the bird list! Now I’m going to whistle a happy tune having put the finishing touches on the last post of the month!