It’s unusual to hear birdsong in November so when I heard a flock singing the other day, I had to investigate.
My first problem was finding them. Their voices were faint and far away. Which tree were they in?
I walked around listening until I homed in on an apple tree but when I looked at the tree I saw no birds at all. I could hear robins, cardinals, blue jays and… wait… the contact call of a scarlet tanager?!?
Scarlet tanagers are in South America now so the only voice that could have uttered that sound was a mimic: a brown thrasher or a mockingbird. Brown thrashers have left Pittsburgh too — they’re in the southern U.S. — so the songster had to be the fellow pictured above. A northern mockingbird.
Eventually I found him hiding among the curled, dried, apple leaves, whisper-singing like a hundred different birds.
(photo by Chuck Tague)