My experience with a Mockingbird

I chose to read and reflect on chapter 3 of the reading. I enjoyed the sentiment of the reading that circled around how modern science drastically minimizes the essence of Nature by “name[ing] the facts of Nature away” (34). Giving a species a name makes it so humans tend to not look beyond the label; we know what the species is, therefore, there is nothing else to learn. The scientific process of labeling and briefly explaining Nature makes it so humans believe they know everything they need to know about a species. 

As the reading points out, this way of looking at Nature benefits those who want to exploit Nature. The reading uses the example of the woodcutter’s relationship to the nightingale: “He isn’t going to let that hopeless unstoppable song prevent him from cutting down their homes so people can have wood to burn and build. The birds will need to sing somewhere else” (35). Looking at Nature through labels removes the mystery, the curiosity, and the uniqueness. Species become uniform, all members are interchangeable. Removing the individualism of a species removes fault from the harming of a few; it doesn’t matter if these five birds are killed because they are identical to the other thousands of them in this forest. However, each animal and plant in Nature is unique and has its own story.

I related to this reading as I have had an experience with a particular male mockingbird. I took the year off school last year to travel around the country to volunteer on organic farms. While I was on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, I noticed a bird who sat on the very top of the evergreen tree by the main house. I noticed that he sat there for hours every day. He would often leave but would come back every morning. I noticed he had hundreds of different calls and could switch between them effortlessly. Every few minutes, he jumped up into the air, flapping his wings and showing off his beautiful patterns. I spent a few minutes each day observing this beautiful bird. With great confidence, he sang his little heart out, and, like clockwork, he leaped into the sky. Mockingbirds learn their songs over time, so this bird’s songs were unique to his life experiences.

 It was impactful to see the same bird every day; I began to rely on his presence. There was a period, perhaps a month, where he was nowhere to be found. I had assumed that he had found a mate, and had left his perch for good. However, one morning in early summer, I heard his familiar call (which was multiple tunes strung together). He had come back to his tree and was leaping in the morning light. He was unique. He was not just one of many mockingbirds, but he was his own bird, with his own tree and his own unique songs. 

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