There’s an oft-quoted line from “To Kill A Mockingbird”: “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy … but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
I mean, it’s a lovely sentiment, and a poignant metaphor that plays out throughout the book, but the problem is, it wouldn’t hold up in bird court. It’s the repeated phrase “for us” that’s the rub because, like more things than we care to admit in the world, it’s not really about us humans. (Though, to be clear, it is still a sin to kill a mockingbird.)
Bird song, as far as we know, tends to...