Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
- The Northern Mockingbird, a medium-sized songbird, is dull gray above with paler underparts. The white outer tail feathers of the long tail and white wing patches are visible in flight.
- Life History
- Mockingbirds are one of the most commonly noticed birds in the state. They are either applauded for their audaciousness or cursed for their persistence in nocturnal singing or in the defense of their territory. Insects, fruit, crustaceans and small vertebrates make up the mockingbird's diet. The fact that they enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables hasn't exactly made them gardeners' friends either, although they do eat lots of insects.
Mockingbirds are found in just about every habitat type in the state. The males' territoriality and constant singing and displaying during the breeding season make them the most noticeable bird in Texas. Often this territoriality takes on the form of early morning singing sessions or diving attacks on other animals or people!
Unmated male mockingbirds sing more than mated ones, and only unmated males sing at night. Both sexes sing in the fall to claim winter feeding territories. These areas are often different than their spring breeding territories. Mockingbirds mimic 50 other bird's songs. They have also been known to imitate other sounds they hear such as rusty hinges, whistling, cackling hens, and dogs barking so expertly that even an electronic analysis could not tell the difference between the mockingbird and the original. Scientists have found that female mockingbirds are attracted to males that can make the most different sounds.
- Mockingbirds are one of the few birds found in every kind of habitat, from desert to forest to city.
- The northern mockingbird is distributed widely and it has extended its range much farther north in recent years. They range throughout North America from southern Canada south to Mexico. They even have been introduced and established in Hawaii. Mockingbirds live year-around across Texas.