Mockingbird mimicry: Biologist Dave Gammon shares insights with The Atlantic

A reporter for the national media outlet talked with Gammon for her article focused on how a variety of bird mimic other animals and sounds and why.

Keeping up with the musical repertoire of mockingbirds can be a constant challenge, Professor of Biology Dave Gammon told Katherine Wu with The Atlantic for her recent article, “You’ve Almost Certainly Been Duped by a Bird.”

Dave Gammon, professor of biology

Gammon has conducted extensive research into how mockingbirds mimic other species and even non-animal sounds, and told Wu that he and other scientists have to “become experts on the acoustics of every sound made by any species in the local area” if they want to keep up with what Wu describes as “cross-species karaoke.”

The article, which contains recordings of mockingbird songs made by Gammon for his research, examines how and why birds in particular rely on mimicking the sounds of other birds, other animals and even human-generated sounds.

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Gammon and others interviewed for the article confess to having been tricked by the mimicry of mockingbirds. “Those mockingbirds keep me guessing all the time,” Gammon said, noting that he falls for the birds tricks less than he used to.

Visit The Atlantic to read the full article.