NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
DESCRIPTION: The Northern Mockingbird is mainly medium grey with two white wing bands. The under parts are light grey. The bill is slightly downcurved and black. It has a long tail with white outer feathers. The legs and feet are grey. Sexes are similar, and juveniles have a streaked breast. The bird is about 25 cm (10 inches) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Mimus-polyglottos – The northern mockingbird can imitate the song of dozens of other birds but also sounds from other animals, and even artificial objects. It sings most of the day and even during the night.
NAME: The English name is self-explanatory, and the Latin genus name ‘Mimus’ means a ‘mimic’. As for the Latin species name ‘polyglottos’ it means ‘speaking many languages’.
HABITAT: The preferred habitat of this bird includes open areas such as parks in residential areas, or desert scrubland. It has well adapted to urban environments.
DIET: Northern mockingbirds are omnivorous, i.e. will eat arthropods, insects, seeds and fruit. They forage both on the ground and in trees.
NESTING: This bird will aggressively defend its nest from potential predators, including humans. The nest is built in a tree or shrub near the ground. About four green-blue eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female. Both parents feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: The northern mockingbird is common in its range, which includes most of the USA, Mexico, Cuba, and southern Canada. It is usually a permanent resident on its distribution area. There might be some partial migration south for the birds at the northernmost part of their range.
ON HAWAII: The northern mockingbird has been introduced to Oahu in 1928. Since then it has spread to most main islands, but it is uncommon. Some individuals have even ended up on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands chain.
CONSERVATION: The vocal skills of the northern mockingbird almost doomed the species in decades past, as the bird was hunted and sold for the caged bird market. It is now protected and its population has rebounded since, except in the last few decades when it has declined again. In spite of that trend, because of its still large population and wide range, it is listed as ‘least concern’.
NOTES: This species is territorial and sill wing from a perch to defend its territory year-round.
The northern mockingbird is a culturally important bird in the United States. It is the state bird of several states – Arkansas, Florida, Mississipi, Tennessee and Texas. It also is referred to in songs, books, and a movie based on a novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Northern Shrike, Grey Catbird
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritime Breeding Birds Atlas)
http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/mockingbird.htm (New Hampshire PBS)
This Northern mockingbird below was filmed near the Long Island Sound in Stratford, CT: