E-mail us: amdb@ucalgary.ca

Date produced: 1977


Sidney N. Laverents

Country of Production:

United States






1 reel





Sound Notes:



Canadian International Amateur Film Festival 1977 - Best Sound
PSA Ten Best 1977, PSA Best Nature Film 1977
Society of Amateur Cinematographers Contest 1977 - First Prize
10 Best of the West, 1977
UCLA Film & Television Archive list of titled amateur films


"An award-­winning, detailed study of the life of this fascinating bird. Exciting sequences of their remarkable courage in defense of their young." Oldfilm.org


This film is a part of the Sid Laverents Collection held by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Discussed in "His Goal: To Catch a Mockingbird – on Film," in Chula Vista Star News, Nov. 27, 1977, 15. This feature lists the film's award haul and describes scenes in the film:

It isn't Universal Studios, but Sidney Laverents' half acre at 3705 Mesa Vista Way in Bonita was perfect as the location for his latest movie, "Listen to the Mockingbird." The 16mm nature film documents the life of the mockingbird in sound and color. And it has won Laverents, 69, several national and international awards. It was chosen best nature film of 1977 and one of the 10 best films from more than 140 entries in the Photographic Society of America's international competition. It also won the award for best sound in the Canadian International Film Festival and took first place in the Society of Amateur Cinematographers competition. And it was chosen as one of the 10 best films in the 10 Best of the West competition. The film, which took almost four years to complete, opens with a colorful sunrise and the star of the show silhouetted on a treetop. Laverents said the effort started when two mockingbirds built a nest just outside his living room window. He and his wife, Adelaide, cooperated in the filming effort. And that filming sometimes required a great deal of ingenuity to get close enough to effectively photograph the shy birds which are so well known throughout the southern half of North America. One attempt to get close-up shots of young birds in a nest resulted in the frightened fledglings jumping out onto the ground. Laverents put them back repeatedly. No success in keeping them there, so he put them in a box. The parent birds accepted that, and tended the young birds devotedly. The film footage which shows Laverents working with the birds or special effects equipment is shot by either remote control or with his wife operating the camera. It's very effective. Laverents' attempts to get tight close-ups of the birds in the free state were frustrated by the birds' shyness. So he built a trap which caught birds in soft fabric nets. Then he built a glass-sided box in which he placed them for photography. With these aids, some innocent looking "blinds" and the willingness to assume undignified positions, he has captured some exceptional close shots. Such as a sequence in which the birds' double eyelid can be seen clearly as it blinks its eyes. Or a straight-on shot which shows the unexpected prominent "eyebrows." The sound which accompanies the film is worthy of the award it has on. Some is simply the faithful recording of mockingbird songs. Some drops the pitch down to the point where every shade of sound is audible to the human ear. At this speed and pitch, the difference between the Laverents or the mockingbird and the birds it mocks is easily heard. Like many nature films, this one is nice because it includes so much beauty. But it does not lack drama, either. A sequence near the end shows the birds fighting to protect the nest from a tree-climbing gopher snake. Laverents says his audiences usually applaud the outcome of that struggle.


  • Bonita, San Diego County, California (Filming)






Sid Laverents Collection, UCLA Film & Television Archive


  • Screened by the Hamilton Movie Club on Oct. 28, 1977 (Panorama, Jan-Feb. 1978, 20): Hamilton, ON
  • Screened by the Toronto Movie Club on Dec. 1, 1977 (Panorama, Winter 1977, 16): Toronto, ON
  • Screened at the Casa del Prado auditorium in 1978 (Chula Vista Star-News, Feb. 2, 1978, 23): San Diego, CA