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DECEMBER 2003
Volume 96, Issue 2
 

GRAPHIC:  Also in every issueLETTERS
Upon what meat have you fed that you can…

Have they heard the mockingbird?

I have just read Catherine Gianaro’s fascinating article, “Pop starlings and their melodies” (“Investigations,” October/03). I don’t know whether I have something to tell the scientists that will aid their research or something that they already know and have long since dismissed.

I grew up in Alabama and have always known that the mockingbird picks up and sings the songs of all the other birds in the neighborhood. At least that is the folklore of the South. If it is correct, then the starlings can’t match a feather to the accomplishments of that orchestra that never leaves the South.

I wish you would check with the researchers to see if Southerners in this belief are still fighting the Civil War.

Ray Browne
Bowling Green, Ohio

Investigator Daniel Margoliash responds: Mockingbirds are Mimus polyglottos, part of the family Mimidae, or mimics. They are very well known to mimic a wide variety of sounds in their environments, including but not limited to songs of other birds.


The University of Chicago Magazine welcomes letters on its contents or on topics related to the University. Letters must be signed and may be edited for space and clarity. We ask readers to keep correspondence to 300 words or less. Write:

Editor, University of Chicago Magazine,
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