Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I know you have heard them.

They are widespread in Alabama and the rest of the southern states. They sing from treetops, power lines, and rooftops.

The mockingbird's scientific name is Mimus ployglottos, which means 'many-tongued mimic'. The naturalist John Borroughs called it "the lark and the nightingale in one".

The mockingbird can imitate other birds' song so accurately that only electronic analysis can detect the difference. They can have hundreds of songs or noises that they imitate, in addition to songs of their own. They have been heard imitating gate hinges, dogs barking, whistles, calls of frogs and insects in addition to various bird songs.

It is rather plain-looking, this mockingbird, this most remarkable songbird. Perhaps he mimics the songs of other to make up for the fact that he is plain, gray and white with no splashes of blue, yellow, or deep red to brighten the landscape. Maybe he just doesn't like his own song, thinking it inadequate when compared to the songs of other birds. Could it be that he feels more comfortable when he is just a part of the crowd and doesn't have to risk his own creations? Is he worried that others may find his own song unacceptable, causing embarrassment and humiliation? He may be a bluegrass bird stuck in a rock world. I wonder if he struggles.

We can choose to be imitators, or walk out in faith with our own song.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3