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Sunday, September 22, 2013

avian mimic

Northern Mockingbird
A few species of birds are the only living creatures, other than humans, that can imitate sounds that they weren’t born to produce. This ability to learn and imitate strange sounds is called verbal mimicry, and the species of birds that can do it are called mimics. The most notable Texas bird that can do it happens to be our state bird:  the Mockingbird. I've heard of them (technically, Northern Mockingbirds) mimicking phone ringing, computer "dings" and backing up "beeps" of trucks.

Starlings actually belong elsewhere   

Like Kudzu vine and Dutch Elm disease, starlings (technically, European Starlings) didn’t occur naturally in this hemisphere at first. An
Starling (in fall)


eccentric Shakespeare enthusiast released about 100 starlings in New York in the 1890s. Before that time they only existed in Europe. He thought it a clever idea to bring to the “New World” every species mentioned in Shakespeare’s writings, with no thought about natural prey, habitats, native-ness etc. Now we have over 200 million of them, and fewer native species.  Alas!

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.

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