Darwin hated peacocks because he couldn't explain their excess beauty. He likely would have hated mockingbirds for the excessive complexity of their songs. Where many birds are content with a few simple chirps, mockingbirds learn hundreds of sounds from other birds and animals and mix them together using sophisticated musical techniques, the kind human musicians often employ. Their songs go far, far beyond anything necessary to find food, defend territory, or attract a mate. Why do they do it?
David Rothenberg, author, composer, musician, and Distinguished Professor of Humanities & Social Sciences at the New Jersey Institute of Technology
Dave Gammon, Professor of Biology, Elon University