No. 10.—The Northern Mockingbird.

MOCKINGBIRDS ARE MEMBERS of the thrasher family, but none of their relatives will speak to them, and they have stopped going to family reunions. The plumage of the Northern Mockingbird is grey above and somewhat less grey below. Having no striking colors with which to allure the opposite sex, the mockingbird must rely on its talent—always a dubious advantage at best in such an endeavor, for mockingbirds as for human beings. Having no creative faculty of its own, the mockingbird simply mimics the songs of other more talented species. This practice has led to numerous lawsuits alleging copyright infringement; but in spite of consistent findings for the plaintiffs, the lack of a common currency or other means of exchange in the avian world has prevented the judgments against the mockingbirds from ever being enforced, and it appears that the mockingbird will ever remain an incorrigible plagiarist. Such open defiance of the legal system only intensifies the distaste with which the other bird species regard the mockingbirds. For their part, the mockingbirds tend to regard the other species as irredeemable squares. Mockingbirds seldom gather in large flocks, but they do form small gangs, and may be found tagging mailboxes, breaking windshields, and committing other minor acts of mischief when they think they can get away with it. In the laboratory, mockingbirds with intellectual pretensions have displayed a marked preference for the art of Andy Warhol, although this preference can be corrected by standard behavior-modification techniques.

The mockingbird signifies the virtue of using both lanes to merge point.