"Couperin's Birds" (June, 2015)

Northern mockingbirds are common where I live. In early spring they like to give recitals. The bird will sit in a tree and run through his repertoire (almost all of the loud singers are unmated males). This consists of the songs of other birds along with sirens, car alarms, and other sounds of the suburbs. Sing a song, repeat, repeat, pause briefly, sing a different song, repeat - the bird can go on this way for hours.

Although this is a wondrous and interesting thing to hear for a few minutes, it is not an unalloyed pleasure in larger doses. In my case the recital stage was an oak tree only twenty-five or thirty feet from my bedroom window - did I mention they are very loud? - and the bird's favorite time to concertize was between midnight and five in the morning. This would go on for weeks. I confess to having extremely uncharitable thoughts toward this bird from time to time.

Eventually it moved on. Maybe it found a mate. Wikipedia says the mated males and the females do sing, but quietly.

I had not thought of this bird for a while, until I was playing through some of Couperin's harpsichord music (on the piano) one afternoon, and was struck by the thought that the endlessly trilled, turned, and ornamented upper lines of a Couperin keyboard piece reminded me of this mockingbird. "Couperin's Birds" is a short piece for my own take on this musical character.