Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Juvenile Northern Mockingbird

Once a year for the last three years, a Northern Mockingbird has shown up in the St. John's area. Two were in residential areas and our latest visitor, this juvenile bird, appeared at Cape Spear on Sept. 26 and was last seen on Sept. 30.  Typical of all of the Mockingbirds that have come here, they stick around a while.
While I had seen this juvenile on the day it was first found, I was very far for pictures. Quite by luck, Allison Mews and I came upon this one that was a little closer and had better lighting.  We had just trekked through a tangled patch of tuckamore and were pretty weary when we emerged back out on the road. However, had we not made that jaunt, we may not have seen this bird.  Allison quickly sighted a bird sitting on a branch near the water. When we approached, this is what we found.
Unlike the juvenile shown above, the mature Northern Mockingbird has no breast spots, as seen in this winter picture taken two years ago.

Despite that difference, the mockingbird has such a distinct patch on the wing and such a long tail, making identification very easy.
This juvenile, photographed in Arkansas, is much browner because it is quite young. Nevertheless, the patch, tail and stance are so typical of the species.
The adult Arkansas version again looks different, leaner and meaner, than the birds that show up here. Perhaps even a bit faded from the powerful sun and heat. Northern Mockingbirds are commonplace in Arkansas and can sometimes be a bit of a nuisance.  By contrast, we love having the annual visit of strays that happen to show up in Newfoundland.  I have never really had the opportunity to listen to this bird mimicing other species. Yet one more thing to look forward to.

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