This past week I took a walk through the Preserve with a man who had recently buried his mother on the Foxfield prairie. It was obviously an emotional visit, and he generously shared with me that he was feeling a great sense of peace that this was the perfect spot for her final resting place. She would have greatly enjoyed the all wildflowers, butterflies and birds. Shortly after he spoke these words, a mockingbird landed on a tree almost directly in front of us and cut loose with its long selection of songs. I felt goosebumps raise on my arms. It was one of those moments that feel too beautiful to be coincidence. Like something in the Universe is winking at you.
Although this mockingbird sighting was beautifully timed, it is by no means a rarity to see them on the Preserve. According to TWC Executive Director Gordon Maupin, Foxfield Preserve probably should have been called Mimic Hill. In this excerpt from a previous blog, he shares his experiences birding at Foxfield:
“As we walked toward the crest of the hill, the distinctive call of a Yellow-breasted Chat greeted us. As we moved closer, another Chat could be heard farther away.We never quite saw the birds. Chats are highly vocal but often stay in the thick of tree leaves making them difficult to spot. A Yellow-breasted Chat creates a lot of noise and makes many different sounds, and it’s understandable how they could remind people of Mockingbirds.
As we walked through Foxfield, Gray Catbirds were also calling. Earlier in the spring, I had seen a true Mockingbird during a visit to the Preserve. I have seen Brown Thrashers many times while driving past. All this makes me think we should have called it Mimic Hill instead of Foxfield Preserve. The Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, and Gray Catbird are in the mimic family—Mimidae. They are famous for their calls borrowed from other birds. While the Chat is not a true mimic, its crazy calling fits the mimic pattern.”
I don’t know that I would like the name Mimic Hill nearly as well as Foxfield Preserve. I am certainly fond of the songs of these mimics, though. The daily chorus on the Preserve wouldn’t be the same without them!