The Mockingbird, Discover Everything You Didn’t Know About This Bird

The Mockingbird, is one of the best known birds for its great ability to imitate various types of sounds among which the songs of other birds to the noises of car alarms and many others, among the other types of songbirds this is the best known which inhabits very often in the regions of North America. In the following article we will learn more about this very peculiar bird.

The Mockingbird

The Mockingbird, scientifically named Mimus Polyglottos, is the only mockingbird commonly found in the North American regions. This bird is primarily a permanent resident, however northern birds may move south during bad weather. This species has very rarely been seen in the regions of Europe. This bird was first described by the famous zoologist Linnaeus in his Systema Naturæ in 1758 as Turdus polyglottos.

The Northern Mockingbird is known for its great ability to mimic, as reflected in the meaning of its scientific name, “mimicry of many languages”. The Northern Mockingbird has gray to brown upper feathers and a belly that is paler. Its tail and wings have white spots which are visible during flight.

The Northern Mockingbird is an omnivorous bird. That is, it usually eats insects and also feeds on fruits. It is often found in open areas and forest edges, but forages on grassy land. The Northern Mockingbird breeds in southeastern Canada, the United States, northern Mexico, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and also in the Greater Antilles. ( see article: Why Birds Sing ).

It is replaced further south by its closest living relative, the Tropical Mockingbird. The Socorro Mockingbird, an endangered species, is also closely related, contrary to previous opinion. The Northern Mockingbird is listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Mockingbird is known for its great intelligence. A 2009 study showed that the bird was able to recognize individual people, particularly by pointing out those who had previously been intruders or threats. They also recognize breeding sites and tend to return to areas where they have been most successful in previous years.

Urban birds are more likely to demonstrate this type of behavior. Finally, the Common Mockingbird is influential in U.S. culture, being the state bird of all 5 states, appearing in book titles, secular songs and lullabies, and otherwise making other appearances in popular culture.


The Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus first described this species in his Systema Naturae in 1758 as Turdus polyglottos. Its current generic name, Mimus is in the Latin language meaning “imitator” and the specific polyglottos, is from the ancient Greek language poluglottos, meaning “harmonious”, from polus, “many” and glossa, “tongue”, representing its outstanding ability to imitate various sounds. The Common Mockingbird is considered conspecific with the Tropical Mockingbird ( Mimus gilvus ).

This species is classified as the northern mockingbird as the closest living relative of the Mimus gilvus.


As mentioned above, the Common Mockingbird is influential in U.S. culture, being the state bird of all 5 states, appearing in book titles, secular songs and lullabies, and otherwise making other appearances in popular culture.

It also appears in the title and central metaphor of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In that novel, the Mockingbirds are portrayed as innocent and generous, and 2 of the main characters, Atticus Finch and Miss Maudie, say that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because “they don’t do a thing for us, they make music for us”. to enjoy. They don’t eat people’s gardens, they don’t tend to nest in gardens, they don’t do 1 thing but sing their hearts out for us”.

” Hush, Little Baby ” ( Hush, little baby ) is a traditional lullaby, which is believed to have been written in the southern United States, its first key lines says: ” Hush, baby, don’t say a word, mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don’t sing, mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

The song of the northern mockingbird inspired many classic American folk songs in the mid-19th century, such as ” Listen to the Mocking Bird ” ( Listen to the Mockingbird ).


There are three subspecies recognized for the Mockingbird which are as follows:

Mimus Polyglottos Polyglottos

Described by the well-known Linnaeus, in the year 1758 it is generally located in the eastern portion of the regions of North America, from Nova Scotia to Nebraska, until reaching places as far away as Texas and also Florida.

Mimus Polyglottos Leucopterus ‘ Western Nightingale ‘

Discovered by Vigors in 1839, it is usually found in western North America, from northwestern Nebraska and western Texas to the Pacific coast, and in southern Mexico on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and Socorro Island. This species is larger than Mimus Polyglottos Polyglottos and has a tail that is slightly shorter, the upperparts are more buff and also paler, the underparts have a buff pigment that is stronger.

Mimus Polyglottos Orfeo

Also detailed by Linnaeus, in the same year 1758 this species is a resident of the Bahamas to the Greater Antilles, it is also located in the Cayman Islands and in the Virgin Islands. It is one of the subspecies most similar to Mimus Polyglottos Polyglottos, except for the smaller ones, with a lighter gray tone on its back, and on the underparts with practically little, if any polish.


The Mockingbird is a medium-sized mimid with long legs and a long tail. Males and females look very similar physically. Their upperparts are gray, while the underparts have a color that is white or otherwise whitish-gray. This bird has the parallel bars in the middle of the wings connected near the white patch, which gives it a sort of distinctive appearance in flight.

The central rectrices are black and the lateral rectrices are typical white which are also noticeable in flight. The iris is usually light greenish yellow or yellow, but there have been cases where it has been seen to be orange. The bill is black with a brownish black appearance at the base. The juvenile appearance is marked by stripes on its back, distinguishable spots and stripes on its breast, and a gray or grayish-green iris. Meet the Bluebird .

Distribution and Habitat

The breeding range of the Mockingbird extends from the maritime provinces of Canada westward to British Columbia, virtually the entire continental United States south to the northern Plains states and also to the Pacific Northwest, and most regions of Mexico east to Oaxaca and Veracruz. The Mockingbird is generally a year-round resident of its range, but birds inhabiting the northern part of its range have been observed heading farther south during the winter season.

Sightings of the Common Mockingbird have also been recorded in Hawaii where it was introduced in the 1920s, in southeastern Alaska, and twice as many transatlantic vagrants in Great Britain.

The Common Mockingbird is believed to be at least partially migratory in the northern portions of its range, but migratory behavior is not yet well understood.

During the 19th century, the range of the Mockingbird expanded northward into provinces such as Nova Scotia and Ontario and states such as Massachusetts, although sightings were sporadic.

In the first 5 decades of the 20th century, the regions that received an influx of Common Mockingbirds were:

In western states such as California, the population was restricted to the lower regions of Sonora, but by the 1970s Common Mockingbirds were residential in most counties. Islands that saw Common Mockingbird introductions include the:

What is their Food

During the summer, most of the Northern Mockingbird’s diet is insects, and then it switches to eating fruits during the fall and winter seasons. Some of its prey animals are the:

They eat a wide variety of berries, such as those from ornamental gardens, and also consume the fruit of multi-flowered roses. They have also been seen drinking from the sap of freshly pruned tree cuttings.

The Northern Mockingbird is an omnivorous bird. Mockingbirds can drink from puddles, from the edges of rivers and lakes, or from dew and raindrops that clump on plants.

Adult Northern Mockingbirds have also been seen drinking from the sap of cuttings on recently pruned trees. Their diet consists primarily of animal prey during the breeding season, but shifts dramatically to fruits during the fall and winter seasons.

The mid-winter fruit drive has been noted by the geographic expansion of the Northern Mockingbird, and in particular, the fruit of Rosa multiflora, a favorite of the birds, is a possible link. Northern Mockingbirds also eat garden fruits such as tomatoes, apples and berries.


Northern Mockingbirds are perhaps best known for their remarkable singing abilities. This species can perform at least 39 different songs and 50 call notes. Northern Mockingbirds also possess the ability to imitate sounds such as barking dogs or the songs of other bird species.

Mockingbirds are solitary and territorial. During the nesting season, they are very often aggressive; they often attack other animals in defense of their own territory, including animals the size of cats, dogs and even humans.

Northern mockingbirds are diurnal birds. They are also partly migratory birds. Most individuals that breed in the northern part of the range migrate southward during the winter. Those nesting in the southern part of the range are traditionally year-round residents.

How is your song

Although many bird species imitate the vocalizations of other birds, the Mockingbird is the best known in North America for doing so. Among the species and vocalizations imitated are Carolina wren, northern cardinal, tufted titmouse, eastern towhee, sparrow, wood thrush, and eastern bluebird songs, northern flicker calls, and great crested flycatcher.

This not only imitates birds, but also other animals such as cats, dogs, frogs, crickets and the sounds of man-made items like ungreased tires and even car alarms. As convincing as these imitations may be to humans, they often do not fool other birds, such as the Florida scrub jay.

Mockingbirds are very famous for their song repertoires. Studies have shown that males sing songs at the beginning of the breeding season to attract females. Unpaired males sing songs in more directions and sing more bouts than paired males. In addition, unpaired males perform more flight displays than males that are already mated.

Their Care

Mockingbirds are altricial birds, which means that, when they are born, they are relatively immobile and defenseless and, therefore, require some nourishment from their parents. Juveniles have a survival bottleneck at the chick stage because there are higher levels of chick predation than egg predation. The levels of belligerence exhibited by the parents, therefore, increase once the eggs have already hatched, but there is no increase during the egg stage.

A recent study has shown that both food availability and temperature affect parental incubation of eggs in Mockingbirds. Increased food availability provides females with more time to care for the nest and to perform self-maintenance tasks. Increased temperature, however, reduces the time females spend in the nest and there is a higher energy cost to cool the eggs. Incubation behavior is a trade-off between several environmental factors.

Shelf Life

Northern Mockingbirds are known to live up to 8 years in the wild. Captive Northern Mockingbirds have been known to live up to 20 years.


Both males and females of the species reach sexual maturity after one year of age. The breeding season occurs in the spring and early summer. Males arrive before the start of the season to establish their territories. Males use a series of courtship displays to attract females to their sites.

They run around the area to show their territory to females or to chase females. Males also board to show off their wings. They sing and call while performing all these displays. The species can remain monogamous for many years, but cases of polygamy and bigamy have been reported during the bird’s lifetime.


Both the male and female are involved in nest building. The male does most of this work, while the female perches in the bush or tree where the nest is being built to watch for predators, which means she keeps an eye out for them. The nest is built approximately 1 to 3 meters above the ground.The outer part of the nest is composed of twigs, while the inner part is filled with various grasses, dead leaves, moss or artificial fibers.

The eggs are light blue or even greenish in color and dotted with many dots. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, and incubates them for about 2 weeks. Once the eggs are incubated, both the male and the female will take care of feeding the chicks.


The nest of the Northern Mockingbird consists of an open cup made of dry branches, which is lined with grasses, rootlets, twigs and garbage, sometimes including pieces of plastic, aluminum foil and cigarette filters. The male builds the foundation with mosses, while the female is more concerned with the lining.

How to fit if it is a female

Mockingbirds adjust the sex ratio of their offspring according to food availability and population density. Male offspring usually require more parental investment. Therefore, there is a bias to bring the more expensive sex at the beginning of a breeding season when food is in abundance.

Local resource competition predicts that parents should share resources with offspring that remain at the natal site after maturation. In passerine birds, such as the Mockingbird, females are more likely to disperse than the males themselves. Therefore, it is adaptive to produce more dispersive sex than philopatricel sex when population density is high and competition for local resources is intense.

As Common Mockingbirds are abundant in urban environments, it is possible that pollution in cities affects the sex hormones of this species and thus plays a role in the sexual relationship between offspring.

Types of Mockingbirds

There are 2 types of this species which are the following:

Tropical Mockingbird

The Tropical Mockingbird ( Mimus Gilvus ) is a resident breeding bird from southern Mexico to southern northern Brazil, and in the Lesser Antilles and other Caribbean islands. Birds located in Panama and Trinidad may have been introduced. The Common Mockingbird ( M. Polyglottos ) is its closest living relative, but the Critically Endangered Relief Mockingbird ( M.Graysoni ) is also much closer to these 2 than previously believed.

Adults tend to be about 25 cm long and weigh up to 54 grams. They are gray on the head and upperparts with yellow eyes, a white eye stripe and a dark eye patch. The underparts are whitish and the wings are blackish tones with 2 white wing bars and white edges to the flight feathers. They possess a long dark tail with white feather tips, a slender bill that is black with a slight downward curve and long dark legs.

Water Mockingbird

The clay-colored thrush or Water Mockingbird ( Turdus grayi ) is a common Middle American field bird of the thrush family (Turdidae). It is the national bird of Costa Rica, where it is well known as the yigüirro. Other common names include the clay-colored robin.

It extends from southern Texas where it is found, rapidly expanding its range to northern Colombia; west and north of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This species is restricted to the Atlantic slope, except for a population around the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, which probably originates from escaped cage birds.

In appearance and habits, it resembles others of the Turdus thrushes such as the American robin. They are about the same length or slightly smaller at 23 to 27 cm, and tend to weigh 74 to 76 grams on average. The plumage is brownish, a little lighter underneath than above, and is lighter on the flanks. Birds from humid regions are darker than those from dry regions. The throat is slightly streaked.

Endangered and Conservation Endangered

Populations of the Northern Mockingbird are very extensive and are not currently of great conservation concern. There are approximately 45,000,000 Mockingbirds in most of the world. This species is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.


Adult Common Mockingbirds can be the victims of raptors such as great horned owls, screech owls, and sharp-shinned hawks, however their tenacious behavior makes them less likely to be captured. Scrub mockingbirds have also killed and eaten Common Mockingbirds. Snakes rarely capture incubating females.

Mockingbirds have been preyed upon by domestic cats, red-tailed hawks and crows. Eggs and chicks are consumed by Blue Jay, fish crows and American crows, also by red-tailed hawks, swallow-tailed kites, snakes, squirrels and cats. Blowfly and Haemoproteus larvae have been found in Florida and Arizona populations, respectively.

Known Predators

Among the best known predators are the following mammals and birds, some of which prey on adults and others on hatchlings and eggs.

Sharp-tipped Hawks ( Accipiter Striatus )

Eastern Screech Owls ( Otus Asio )

Scrub Jays ( Aphelocoma Coerulescense )

Great Horned Owl ( Bubo Virginianus )

Blue Jay ( Cyanocitta Cristata )

Fish Crow ( Corvus Ossifragus )

American Crows ( Corvus Brachyrhynchos )

Squirrels ( Sciruidae )

Snakes ( Serpentes )

American Crocodiles ( Alligator Mississipiensis )

Birds of Prey ( Falconiformes )

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