A mockingbird sang from a crabapple tree.
A mermaid replied from the depths of the sea,
And the message of both was the same as I send
Of happiness and joy to you without end.
—Bobbie, April 16, 1941*
The Northern Mockingbird is the only mockingbird species commonly found in North America, and is well known for its skillful mimicking of sounds and calls and large, diverse repertoire of songs as well as its intelligence and fierce protective instincts. Males and females look alike, and both sing; however, the male mockingbird is more vocal, starting up in late January/February and continuing into summer in order to attract mates and establish its territory.
The mockingbird has also influenced American culture, appearing in books, songs, lullabies, poetry, folklore, and mythology as a symbol of intelligence, protection, communication, innocence and generosity.
Jarbas Agnelli, a multimedia artist and founder of AD Studio in São Paulo, Brazil, uses film, photography, illustrations and music to create ideas. When he ran across a photo of birds perched on wires in a newspaper, he was curious to hear the melody created by the birds in the image, and composed the song “Birds on the Wires” using the exact position of the birds on wires as musical notes. So clever—just like a mockingbird, and beautiful. Listen and enjoy here.
The “Birds on the Wires” video visually illustrates Agnelli’s remarkable graphic score, and has been viewed millions of times online and exhibited at the Guggenheim museums in New York, Berlin, Bilbao and Venice.
If you’ve ever had the experience of waking up to the musical sounds of birdsong, you know there’s no better way to start the day. Dawn Chorus, a free alarm phone app, makes it possible to create that perfect moment in nature and wake each morning (or, after a Sunday afternoon nap) to the peaceful sounds of birds. App features include customization of 20 different birdsong (with bird info & photos), snooze, and phone shake to stop. Available at the Apple App Store and Google Play.
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*The “a mockingbird sang” rhyme was written in my mother’s autograph book by her childhood friend.
Feature photo of mockingbird in pyracantha by Flickr user, Sandy Harris CC BY-NC 2.0