Not a Mockingbird

I’ve been reading Richard Feynman again after many years away (for a great read: “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”). I am enlightened by the curiosity and light-hearted reasoning of this brilliant scientist. He is as curious about his own psychology as he is about quantum electrodynamics, for which he won a Nobel Prize.

Yesterday, I heard a bird singing that I’d never heard before. It’s song was peculiar and all over the place, like riffing to jazz then swing then bluegrass then funk. Curiosity overtook me; I had to see this bird. So I stalked its voice through the arroyo scrub until it flushed, revealing distinct white wing bars. A mockingbird! Of course! But it sounded so foreign, so completely different from any mockingbird I’d ever heard. Does mockingbird song vary by region? Of course, it must!


Feynman, who would not be scientifically convinced by the minor proof of my mockingbird theory, would immediately begin experimenting in his whimsical way, perhaps by learning to whistle the birdsong of all mockingbirds. Doubt suddenly shadowed my conviction and I thought: Or must it?

Fortunately, my conviction was reinstated by sheer laziness.

Oh yes, and this photo. Not a mockingbird. Not at all.

2 Replies to “Not a Mockingbird”

  1. Alternative test: Steal 10 mockingbirds from a single locale, make them travel around the world with you and see if they eventually start saying “dude” or “bro.”


  2. I’ve reach a bunch of Feyman’s books. My first was Surely, You’re Joking. They are all brilliant. Renaissance man.

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