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> For example, a mockingbird in South Carolina was heard to blend
> the songs of thirty-two different kinds of birds into a ten-minute
> performance, a virtuoso display that served no practical purpose, falling,
> therefore, into the realm of pure art.
Perhaps serving "no practical purpose" for either observer or author,
but, FOR THE MOCKINGBIRD.... ? Having engaged frequently in discourse
with the critters I suspect that the chatter hardly represents such an
inanity as "pure art". My friends are more than willing to "argue" with
me over the possession of the sonic space we share and easily fall into a
call/response exchange. To my mind, we seem to be engaging in a
competition of skill in improvisisation and repetition. I suspect to the
birds mind the experience is /somewhat/ different. :-) IF, "if" mind you,
competition is a part of this exchange then the "winner" seems to be
the one gaining control of the auditory space upon abandonment of the
exchange by the other. Older birds (judged by size) will out-last and out
elaborate me. younger birds will give up _or_ get bored with the "game"
much sooner than I. Mostly this is just my fantasy of course who knows
what any of us: bird or human, DO, knows what we really MEAN.