Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mockingbird on a foggy morning

with 26 comments

Because February 27th came up foggy, I set out for the Riata Trace Pond, where my hopes of getting some good fog pictures were realized. At one point while walking the path around the pond I spotted this bird, which Shannon Westveer has confirmed was a northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos. Normally I’d have slowly moved closer, but a guy walking a dog was coming up behind me so I had to grab a few quick shots from where I was before the bird retreated into the bushes, which it soon did. In the end this framing pleased me with the extra details the branches afforded and the subject’s somewhat off-center placement.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2021 at 4:44 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

26 Responses

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  1. I love it too, Steve ♥ Wonderful light.


    March 6, 2021 at 5:26 AM

    • While the fog isn’t obvious here, as it was in pictures looking out at the pond, the fog did soften and subdue this portrait. I welcome the change from my often brighter style.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2021 at 7:27 AM

  2. It’s very nicely framed by those slightly curved branches. I’m sure you know it’s our state bird, as well as the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee. I couldn’t find an answer to the obvious question: why is it a ‘northern’ rather than a ‘southern’ mockingbird? It started out in the south, and moved northward over time, so I suppose the explanation’s somehow in that movement.

    In 1927, when the Texas legislature declared the Northern Mockingbird the state’s official bird, it declared the species is “a fighter for the protection of his home, falling, if need be, in its defense, like any true Texan.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that the mockingbird at my feeder has been cowed by only one other bird: the robin. The fights I saw between those two were a little nerve-wracking, and the robin always seemed to win.


    March 6, 2021 at 7:40 AM

    • Like you, I’d puzzled over the “northern” part of the common name when I prepared this post, just as I’d done when preparing previous posts showing mockingbirds. I wondered if the name “northern mockingbird” originally applied only to those of their species that had moved north, and then somehow mistakenly got applied to the species as a whole. In searching further just now I think that’s wrong, and that the “northern” distinguishes our species from those in the genus Mimus that live in Central and South America. The article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mockingbird mentions mockingbird species in Socorro (Mexico), the Bahamas, Chile, and Patagonia.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2021 at 7:55 AM

      • By Jove, I think he’s got it!


        March 6, 2021 at 7:59 AM

        • And I’ve also got my typo fixed: my subconscious may have been thinking of cacao when I wrote Mexicao. Some Mexican chocolate company should trademark that name. A search for Mexicao brings up thousands of hits. The ones I looked at are typos for Mexico or Mexicano.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 6, 2021 at 8:16 AM

  3. Your quick reaction paid off and you were rewarded with this amazingly sharp photo of a mockingbird.

    Peter Klopp

    March 6, 2021 at 7:53 AM

  4. Good spotting!


    March 6, 2021 at 9:20 AM

  5. I like the darker composition and the off center placement. The bird is sharp and detailed.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 6, 2021 at 10:09 AM

    • Those two elements appealed to me as well. Sometimes this photographer, like the bird, is sharp and detailed too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2021 at 10:13 AM

  6. How far away were you for your shots, before the dog walker arrived? It’s very clear, and as you’ve said, the subdued light is very pleasing. I also like the little lichens on the branches.


    March 6, 2021 at 2:31 PM

    • I’m guessing 10–12 ft. away, and I used my telephoto zoomed to its maximum 400mm. Even then I had to crop somewhat to get rid of stuff I didn’t want at the left and across the top. Generally I like lichens but I worried that the patch closest to the bird’s head might seem distracting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2021 at 3:42 PM

  7. Closer isn’t always better and I like both the composition and the surrounds which add a bit more to the story.

    Steve Gingold

    March 6, 2021 at 6:00 PM

    • Well said: closer isn’t always better. I sometimes remind myself of that because my natural tendency is for tight framing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2021 at 8:02 PM

  8. I love this photo!


    March 6, 2021 at 9:23 PM

  9. I like the flow of the branches in this image. That “V” in the branching really showcases the mockingbird. We have a lot of mockingbirds around here and to me, they seem to be very friendly and tolerant of humans. I can often get within ten feet of them in the woodlands.


    March 7, 2021 at 7:51 AM

    • You said it: that V leads the viewer’s glance to the mockingbird, which you might say is a form of visual V for victory. We have plenty of mockingbirds here, too, and as you said, they often seem friendly and not as skittish around people as many other kinds of birds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 7, 2021 at 9:15 AM

  10. Very nicely framed photo. I’ve always found mockingbirds fascinating, both their looks and their behavior and calls. In the case of this photo I also like the lichen encrusted tree limbs, adds a touch more color.

    Todd Henson

    March 7, 2021 at 11:24 AM

    • The lichens made me feel ambivalent. As much as I normally like them and have often made them subjects of photographs in their own right, in this case I wondered whether the pale green patches would detract from the mockingbird. I’m glad you didn’t feel that way, and no one else mentioned finding them distracting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 7, 2021 at 3:11 PM

  11. Lovely image, Steve!

    Sheila Creighton

    March 7, 2021 at 1:15 PM

  12. I like the dark setting. It helps the bird, even while gray, stand out.


    March 12, 2021 at 2:31 PM

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